Spiritual community seeks to revive old East Hills church

Unveiled working to raise $300,000 to buy and refurbish Hermitage Street church

east hills, church, unveiled
The vacant church on Hermitage Street SE that the Unveiled spiritual community wants to buy. (Sept. 18, 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Members of a spiritual community hope to refurbish an historic Grand Rapids church, but they say several investors are interested in tearing it down and building apartments instead.

The spiritual group, Unveiled, is working to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy and fix up the old church on the corner of Hermitage Street and Diamond Avenue SE in the East Hills neighborhood. The group has been looking for a permanent home for months. Members said they knew the Hermitage Street church would be perfect as soon as the ‘for sale’ sign went up.

east hills, church, unveiled
The vacant church on Hermitage Street SE that the Unveiled spiritual community wants to buy. (Sept. 18, 2016)

The building has been vacant for some time and needs some repairs: Its siding is weathered and a stained-glass rose window is missing a pane. But Unveiled members are ready to put in the time and work to revive it.

“Revival is awakening something to the reality of its identity, what it was created for originally and a restoration back to the perfection,” Unveiled member and pastor Josh Fedney said. “The old roughness of the building is part of the beauty. And to put the modern flares in there I think would just really set it off, and that’s very similar to what we aim to do spiritually. We’re taking Christ-centered spiritually and we’re giving it a second look.”

Fedney said updating the building would fit in with Unveiled’s goal of making faith relevant to current culture, giving people a place of community no matter their sexual orientation. And the church’s rich history is in a neighborhood that makes sense for Unveiled, members say.

“It’s in the perfect location the Eastown/East Hills area. It can see lots of people. We can use it for lots of different purposes. We’d like to be able to get multiple churches in here,” Unveiled co-founder Michael Coller said.

But Unveiled members fear it will be torn down and become new apartments.

“The ability to preserve it — otherwise, it ends up just getting bulldozed,” Coller said.

Despite other competitive offers, Unveiled members are determined to raise the money to preserve the detail, the paint and the place of worship. Members say they need to raise $300,000 to purchase and restore the church. The group is taking donations on its website.

Unveiled members say the church will pay for itself as an investment as they either rent out two attached apartments or turn them into a bed and breakfast. They could also host various events at the church.

Unveiled currently meets at Ambrosia Theater off Lake Drive on Tuesday evenings for prayer and spiritual discussion.

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