Our Rich Heritage

Our History:

Raisin Valley Friends Church is the oldest active church in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Friends first worshiped in our building on June 11, 1835, but on June 28, 1831, in Darius Comstock’s home, they had their first official meeting. In 1834 David Baker donated the 6 acres of land that the church and the cemetery now sit on. The original building, built in true simple Quaker tradition, is still in use, though additions and modifications have been made over the years. Since the original Quakers of Raisin Valley came from New York, it was originally part of the New York Yearly Meeting but in 1869 it became a part of the Ohio Yearly Meeting.

A list of our pastors follows:

Daniel Smith ????-1841, David Harkness 1841-1847, Elijah Brownell 1847-1853,

None 1853-1860, Richard Harkness 1860-1876, Alfred H. Barlett 1876-1886,

None 1886-1888, Seth Rees 1888-1889, David J. Lewis 1889-1890,

Edward Mott 1890-1900, Morris Dillon 1900-1906, Charles Obee 1906-1907,

None 1907-1908, William Kennedy 1908-1909, Lewis Kerlin 1909,

Howard Moore 1909-1912, Merrill Coffin 1912-1914, Moses Mendenhall 1914,

Lawrence Linton 1915, No record 1915-1916, Willis R. Cook 1916-1921,

Howard Moore 1921-1927, Amos Henry 1927-1935, Harley Bowerman 1935-1945,

Roger Wood 1945-1948, Lawrence Cox 1948-1978,

Dale Chryst July 1, 1978-June 30, 1993, Kurt Whitcher July 1, 1993-June 30, 1996,

James H. Weeks July 1, 1996-June 30, 2001, Vance Z. Weeks July 1, 2001-June 30, 2006,

None July 2006-January 20, 2007, James Watson January 21, 2007-June 30, 2008,

Brian D. Beck July 1, 2008-June 30, 2010, None July 1, 2010-September 18, 2010,

James H. Brantingham September 19, 2010-June 30, 2014.

Interesting notes: The first pastor, Daniel Smith, was Laura Haviland’s father.

Direct decendents of Pastor Willis Cook continue to worship at Raisin Valley.

Howard and Mary Moore’s 2nd term as pastors came about when they heard that Raisin Valley was closing its doors. They came from Ypsilanti by horse and buggy and built the church back up.

Historically “significant” members of RVFC include:

Laura Haviland whose anti-slavery activities included accompanying escaped slaves from the south to Canada via the Underground Railroad and her beginning the Raisin Valley Seminary. Her life is chronicled in her autobiography, A Woman’s Life Work.

Lenna Stanley gave a number of years to mission work in China.

Jermain Emery gave a term of service in Brazil and Argentina.

Leonard Windes served for a term in a Friends Mission in Africa.

Howard Moore was a long-time missionary to Taiwan.

We have also had several members involved in other forms of ministry with other groups besides Friends.

Edith Salter Wendt was a member of our church her entire life, almost 100 years.

Heritage

The Friends Church began more than 300 years ago in England under the leadership of George Fox, a man who experienced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and spent his life sharing this experience with others. Those early Friends made great contributions to the spiritual and social needs of their country, taking the lead in securing prison reform, religious liberty, Christian education, and care for the suffering.

Before long the Friends (also called Quakers) began coming to the New World among many other colonists, and soon there were thousands of Friends in America. In 1681 the colony of Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, a prominent English Quaker, as a refuge from persecution for fellow Quakers.

For more information, visit our headquarters at

Evangelical Friends Church – Eastern Region

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