History of the Waterford Riverside SDA Church
New church under construction. Many volunteers
helped during the more than year long project.
The Waterford Riverside Seventh-day Adventist Church, located at 5725 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford, Michigan, had its beginnings in Pontiac, Michigan, seven miles to the east. A group of 13 Adventist believers was meeting each Sabbath in each other's homes as early as 1901. Their first known meeting place was at the corner of Pinegrove and Johnson Avenue in Pontiac.
In 1915, a Lutheran Church on Hill Street was rented for a meeting place, then bought soon afterward. The first pastor, Harry Westcott, organized a church with 16 charter members, some of whom were: LeClair Reed, Mrs. Springer, Mrs. Lottie Litchfield, Mrs. Floy Hanson, Ola Butler, and Mrs. Martha (Litchfield) Glennie. It was incorporated in 1916.
The first church school classes were conducted in 1916 in the basement of the rented Lutheran Church . Marian Briggs was the teacher of the six students who comprised the student body.
Elder L. Wellman came to assist with a tent effort on the Elks Temple grounds. The next pastor, Elder Slater, held efforts in South Lyon and Pleasant Ridge, with the help of Bible worker, Etta Young.
Elder M. Peden came from the mission fields of India to be the next pastor, holding meetings at the corner of Auburn and Paddock Streets with assistance from Cleo Bunker and Bible worker, Myrtle Morrison. Elder Bunker was the first minister to reside in the new parsonage on Judson Street.
The next pastor was Elder Morrison, followed by Donald Hunter, who later accepted a call to India. The next pastor, Elder Kaiser, held a tent effort on Johnson Avenue. After his transfer, Evangelist Hulse conducted tent meetings on Perry Street, with the assistance of Edward Heppenstall. Donald Haynes helped organize the effort and was afterwards installed as pastor.
Because of church growth and the need for larger facilities, the building was sold back to the Lutherans in 1933 for $2,600. Services were then conducted in the Latter-day Saints Church on Front Street. During this time, the school was conducted in a rented storefront on Pike Street.
As A. R. Sherman became pastor, plans were underway for acquiring land to erect a building to house the church and school. A large frame house at 81 East Howard Street at Edison Street was purchased, where school was convened in 1936 and new construction began. In September of 1937, a modern two-room school was opened. Classes were conducted upstairs and church services were held in the school basement. A tent meeting was held on the property during the summer, including regular Sabbath services.
The membership outgrew this facility and moved to 156 Mt. Clemens Street which later was renamed University Drive. Here a church was erected, with the first services conducted December 7, 1951, with Elder Herbert Lohr, Pastor officiating. The school had grown to the point that seventh and eighth grade classes were being held in the basement of the Howard Street School and first and second grades met in the basement of the new church, with Lorraine Fankhouser teaching.
In 1958, a house next door to the church was purchased to serve as a Community Service Center. Prior to this, all activities were conducted from several rooms in the church basement. The Pontiac facility was the 61st welfare center to open in the state of Michigan. The same year the area public schools began an annual clothing drive, channeling most of the clothing to a popular agency. When they learned that the Adventists give clothing away, they began sending 80% of the clothing to our center. In 1968, a gift of $12,000 from the Kresge Foundation enable the center to expand. Clothing was distributed, disaster kits prepared, food baskets distributed besides cooking schools that were conducted and classes for the Adventist Nursing Service Agency. In recent times, hundreds of boxes of clothing were packed to send to ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency). In April of 1997, the center in Pontiac was sold for $60,000.
In 1961, the cornerstone was laid for Pontiac Junior Academy in Waterford, some seven miles to the west of the church. There were 4 classrooms situated on 13 acres of land. In the early 1970s, 2 more classrooms and a large gymnasium were added. Enrollment in 1975 was 95 with 110 expected the next year.
In 1985, the congregation sold their church building in Pontiac to Pathway Church of God and began holding services in the gymnasium of Pontiac Junior Academy. In 1991 the congregation laid the foundation of a sanctuary, combining the church and school buildings into one structure in Waterford. Providing much of the labor themselves, the congregation dedicated their new facility on September 28, 1991, Pastor Michael Nickless officiating. Since the school was a two teacher school at this time, four of the classrooms were converted to Sabbath School rooms in the renovation and building project.
These are our three church locations, over the years.
Pastors have included:
1916 Harry Westcott
1940s Donald Haynes
A. R. Sherman
1972 James Papendick
1950s Herbert Lohr
James 0. Cunnington
1960 John Erhard
1964 Jeremia Florea (missionary from Romania)
1966 Elmer L. Malcolm
1970 E. Robert Priebe
1975 Henry Mattson
1978 Phillip Colburn
1985 Michael Nickless
1994 Lyle Davis
1998 Michael Conley
2005 Marshall McKenzie
2009 Tony Ludwig
2011 Stanley Cottrell, interim pastor
2012 John Hood
2017 Bruce Moore, interim pastor
2017 Todd Ervin
Teachers have included:
Bertha Bollinger (Plunz)
W. J. Wilkinson
Mrs. Percy Marsa
Mrs. Ben Beardsley
Don and Marie Redwine
Charlotte Smith Dennis
Mrs. Charles Glidden
Mr & Mrs. Padgett
Helen Racine (Jacobs)
Mr & Mrs. William Slabach
Mr & Mrs. Emil Kahler
Tom & Rene Coffee
Sue Snelling (Kohltfarber)
James & Nancy Clayburn