The History of Ionia County Churches
Part 2

LeValley United Methodist Church
It is interesting to see how the church or the Southeast corner of Kelsey and David Highways has grown out of the past. In the 1870's there were several places about the countryside shere poeple met for worship.. One group met at a meeting house where the Tuttle Cemetery now stands. Another group met at the Benedict School and yet another met at Berlin Center. There were too many groups to serve, so it was suggested that the two groups that met at the Tuttle Cemetery and the Benedict school should build a church together. After much discussion it was decided that a church should be built on a plat of ground offered for the purpose by Ira F. LeValley, with the stipulation, by him, that the church must be called the LeValley Church. This church was built of brick and stone by D. L. Ritenberg in 1876 at a cost of $4,000. On February 19, 1923, the church burned to the ground and was immediately replaced with a new church on the old site. The cost of building the new church was $40,000.

St. John's Lutheran Church
     St. John's Lutheran Church was one of the first churches built in the new American settlement of Dexter. One of the first things on the agenda of the new settlers was to build a church. Many of the German immigrants came to America to find religious freedom. In 1880 the congregation who had been meeting in the home of Robert Gierman on North Jefferson Street and at the Fireman's hall built their first church. For many years services were given in both English and German.

St. John's Episcopal Church
The first services for Episcopalians were conducted by a lay-missionary, David Burger, in 1836. In 1841, William Tryon, Lawson Warner, Hampton Rich, G.W. Southwick, James Kidd and A. S. Wadsworth were elected to the first vestry of the Parish. The original building had the distinction of being the oldest Episcopal Church in the State of Michigan. The building was completed in the spring of 1842 on land donated by Samuel Dexter.


(From Ionia Michigan Centennial Book 1873-1973)

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Last update December 24, 2007