Brief History of Eastern Avenue

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Eastern Avenue CRC is a church that had its roots in the Spring Street True Dutch Reformed Church (1st CRC), and was started as a mission venture for that church.  They started meeting in a building on East Street, and on September 15, 1879 the new congregation began with about 80 families. The East Street True Holland Reformed Church drew most of its members from the Dutch province of Groningen.  Most of the congregation lived within a few blocks of the church, where they settled after immigrating.

The building that the church started in was located on East Street between Bemis and Logan with a parsonage next to it. By 1883 the building had doubled in size and by 1887 plans were underway to build a larger building shaped in a Latin Cross (T-shaped). The 1883 structure was turned 90 degrees and the western part of the church was added. The church remained the same until 1916 when it was bricked over and the single stairway and tower were replaced with two shorter towers, a double entryway, and the rose window. Over the years there have been changes in the interior, but the latest changes to the exterior took place in 2000/2001 when the fellowship room/classrooms were added to the north side of church.  Then in 2013 the sanctuary went through an extensive renovation.

The congregation remained a parish church until the 1950’s when the neighborhood changed and so did the congregation. People started to move further away from church, and by the 1960’s most people drove to church instead of walking.  In 1962 the congregation, led by Dr. Mel Hugen, made a decision to stay on Eastern Avenue and work in the community.  That decision helped the congregation adjust its focus to work more closely with the people who lived around Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church.  A number of programs came from this such as Block Captains, Baxter Community Center, Project Conserve (ICCF), the Saturday Food Program, and the tutoring program.   The Evangelism and Social Concerns committees also helped the congregation find ways to work with the people around church.  The latest development is the second   service which helps address the needs of the Hispanic community around the church.