The new Wilson Church building opened for service on Aug. 29 and is the third Adventist church on this site since 1908. The first two were both destroyed by fire. | Photo credit: Aaron Berger
After a fire three years ago heavily damaged the Wilson Church building, members of the Michigan Upper Peninsula church worshiped in their new permanent home for the first time on Sabbath August 29.
“To have this building complete is significant,” said Wilson Church Pastor, Tom Hubbard. “We’re thrilled at the opportunity to labor for the Lord and use it as a tool for outreach in our community and beyond.”
Excitement was high for this first Sabbath service, and word of mouth about it brought a large number of neighbors and friends to share in the experience. Normally, there are 150 in attendance but over 200 people showed up. This could be called a “practice run,” or “maiden voyage,” or “shakedown cruise,” as lists were made of things that needed to be added to make services welcoming and run smoothly. For instance, the guest book from the old church has not been replaced, so an accurate recording of who came was not obtained. But several who have not attended recently were noted to be present.
One of those in attendance was Howard Berger, whose 101th birthday was a few weeks prior. He helped build the previous structure and last spring turned the first shovel of dirt at the groundbreaking for this newest sanctuary. “It is good,” he said. “This building has so many features like the big foyer, and it’s all on one level, so no damp basement.” But then he noted, tongue-in-cheek, “It’s disgusting that they’ve been able to do this without me.”
For the month of September special services are planned. Michigan Conference President Jim Micheff will dedicate the space, and other Adventist churches are invited to attend on Sabbath, Sept. 12th. The following week, September 19, Hubbard will speak, acknowledge and thank those who did the actual work of building this House of the Lord. The last Sabbath local friends and neighbors will be specifically invited. Anyone from a distance who plan to attend should be aware that this church functions on Eastern time.
On March 31, 2019, members of the church gathered for a groundbreaking celebration to begin construction on the 12,500 sq. ft. Initially the building, constructed by Moyle Construction out of Houghton, Michigan was slated for completion in Dec. 2019 but there were several delays. First, it was weather and then the pandemic caused construction to grind to a halt when the Michigan stay-at-home order was announced.
While the building was under construction, members met in the school’s gymnasium across the street. According to Hubbard, it was a challenge getting the space ready each Sabbath, as every week during the school year students would take down the chairs on Monday morning and then set it back up on Friday afternoon. “It was quite the effort to bridge the gap,” said Hubbard.
Hubbard is grateful to Adventist Risk Management for ensuring a smooth process and helping the church achieve a debt-free status. “The Lord just richly blessed us on all levels through this process,” said Hubbard. “The church is a testimony to His blessings!” Now that the building is complete, Hubbard said, “It’s nice to have it behind us so we can focus is on hastening of the coming of Jesus.”
Of interest about the setting for this church: There has been a church on this site for well over 100 years. It is called the Wilson Church because it is on the Wilson mail route, but in fact the town of Wilson has been virtually extinct for several decades. Even the mail for the mail route is no longer “put up” in the tiny post office. County Road 551 in Gourley Township of Menominee County is a busy road serving as a connection between Highway 2 & 41 and M35. It is well traveled by folks going to Lake Michigan for boating, fishing, camping. It is a favorite of motorcyclists. Several large loads of logs go by every day. And for the entire length of this road there is not one commercial establishment. Thus, the presence of this structure which is obviously a place of Christian worship in this very rural setting makes a strong statement that we have this Hope in the coming of the Lord.
Charlotte Moon, member of the Wilson Church Building Committee