By Sarah Shurge – A lot can happen in 175 years.
Through the test of time, First Congregational Church of Wayne has remained and recently celebrated 175 years.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this legacy, but it does come with a weight and responsibility to keep something good going or reinvent something,” said Bob Cooper, lead minister at First Congregational Church of Wayne. “I want to be able to be a part of that legacy – to do good work while I’m here.”
Rev. Cooper joined First Congregational Church of Wayne in July 2022. He has been in ministry for about 23 years.
“I was a salesman in Oakland County when I felt a call to ministry and I didn’t know what that was about,” said Rev. Cooper. “It led me to going back to school for a degree in ministry. During my ordination process, I was an associate minister at a church. The senior pastor there looked at me and said my calling was to be a senior pastor. Then it became clear that this is what it was leading to.”
Prior to joining First Congregational Church of Wayne, he was a minister for 10 years in Greenville, South Carolina, and then he was involved with online ministry.
“I was looking where to go and First Congregational Church of Wayne was too. We found each other and I’m thankful to be here,” said Rev. Cooper.
First Congregational Church of Wayne’s charter was signed on August 20th, 1848. The church celebrated their 175 year milestone on Saturday, October 28th, 2023.
The celebration began in the afternoon with a family festival, trunk-or-treat, costume contest, and a historical scavenger hunt. In the evening, there was dinner where former members attended.
“I’ve been told many teachers and leaders of the community used to attend the church back in the day,” said Rev. Cooper.
Tyler Moll from the Wayne Historical Museum did a presentation during the 175th celebration, and the evening ended with the singing of old fashioned hymns.
“It was nice to do. Everyone that attended had a great time,” said Rev. Cooper.
First Congregational Church received congratulations for 175 years from: Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, State Senator Darrin Camilleri, Wayne Mayor John Rhaesa, Westland Mayor Kevin Coleman, US Congressman Shri Thanedar, US Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Rev. Dr. Ashley Cleere, Executive Director of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.
“First Congregational Church of Wayne used to be a social heavy hub, a well established congregation. Now we’re trying to rediscover our purpose and how we can impact Wayne and the community,” said Rev. Cooper.
Cooper mentioned how the church was involved with many community events in the past.
“Wayne has needs and there’s a population that needs to be served and that’s why we’re here,” said Rev. Cooper. “We need to change our minds about what church is. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your beliefs are, we’re gonna accept you either way.”
A main focus for Cooper is adding more tech for the church. Cooper has a background in live streaming and YouTube, and started live streaming for First Congregational Church of Wayne since he joined in 2022.
“People get their info from websites and social media, so we need to do a better job at creating a presence there,” said Rev. Cooper.
A new website for the church will be launched after the start of 2024 and they plan on incorporating more social media. “We’re trying to get people to buy into a simple understanding of what we exist for: to love God and love people,” said Rev. Cooper. “We learn together, grow together, and figure it out together.”
First Congregational Church of Wayne is located at 2 Towne Square St, Wayne. Their worship service is every Sunday at 10:30 AM. They have a bible study on Thursday.
For more information about First Congregational Church of Wayne, you can find them on Facebook by searching “First Congregational Church of Wayne”, call (734)729-7550 or visit their website at fccwayne.com (will be launched soon).
Congratulations to First Congregational Church of Wayne on 175 years!