The Old Rugged Cross Church & Others
Michigan Travel News ( Press Release )
Religious Sites Make Heavenly Destinations
* The Old Rugged Cross Church in Pokagon was built in 1862 as a hops barn. It was sold to the
Methodist Episcopal Church congregation in 1876 and converted into a church. In 1913, the Rev. George
Bennard completed the final version of his beloved hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross," while a guest in the
parsonage of The Rev. and Mrs. Leroy O. Bostwick. He sang it for the first time in its entirety at a revival
meeting held at the church that year. The choir joined in, singing from his penciled notes.
In 1915, the church was sold and was privately owned for nearly 83 years. For many years, it was used as
a storage barn. Now under the auspices of the Old Rugged Cross Foundation, the church is undergoing
restoration. The nearby Memorial Garden features a 13.5 foot cross, foot bridges and a picnic shelter.
The Old Rugged Cross Church is located just east of Highway M-51 between Niles and Dowagiac. 269-
683-4540 or www.the-oldruggedcross.com.
* Amicarelli Vineyard Italian Restaurant & Pizza in South Haven is housed in the former
Congregational Church, built around 1897 on the corner of Phoenix and Pearl streets. It was later moved
to its present location at 259 Broadway. It has been home to Amicarelli's for more than 11 years and is the
oldest church building in South Haven. 269-637-5732 or www.amicarellivineyard.com.
* The Pioneer Village at the Allegan County Fairground is home to a log church, originally
constructed in the Upper Peninsula. 269-673-6501 or www.allegancountyfair.org.
* For many years, the area now occupied by Charlton Park in Barry County was called Indian
Landing. During the early 1800s, Potawatomi tribes migrated from eastern Wisconsin to Southwest
Michigan. In 1833, the Treaty of Chicago deeded all Michigan lands held by the Potawatomi to the U.S.
Under the treaty, the Potawatomi agreed to move west of the Mississippi River. However, many living here
evaded the government and remained at Indian Landing.
In the 1840s, a Methodist mission and church was established at Indian Landing to serve both Native
Americans and European settlers. On Sunday mornings, the Native Americans blew a horn that could be
heard for up to four miles. Upon hearing the signal, the pioneers who lived across the Thornapple River
would proceed on horseback to its banks. There, the Native Americans would meet and transport them by
canoe to church services. In 1855, a log schoolhouse was built. In 1972, the old Indian Landing site was
placed on the Michigan Historical Register in recognition of its first Native American inhabitants.
Historic Charlton Park Village and Museum began as one man's dream for preserving the area's rich past.
In 1936, Irving Delos Charlton donated the land to Barry County for the purpose of building a museum and
recreational facility for local residents. He named the place in honor of his parents. After World War II
ended, museum construction was completed in 1950. Today, Charlton Park features a typical mid-
Michigan village of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Twenty-five historic residences, businesses and
community buildings were moved from throughout Barry County to recreate life in an early rural Michigan
village. Among the historic structures found at Charlton Park is the Charlton Center Church, constructed in
* The Noel Restaurant in Jamestown opened October 1, 1994 after serving as a church for 67
years. It served as the Jamestown Christian Reformed Church from 1927 until the congregation outgrew it
in 1976. Then it became home to the Jamestown Baptists. That congregation also outgrew the church and
held its last service there on Easter Sunday in 1994.
Robert Pressey and Phyllis Sjaarda had purchased the church in the spring of 1993 and begun plans for a
unique restaurant. It was to have aan all-Christmas theme, based on the French translation of "noel,"
which is "Christmas season." The dining room is decorated year-round in an elaborate Victorian Christmas
garden theme. The parsonage is known as the Holly House and is an option for private banquet dining for
35-50. Today, the Noel also offers the Sugarplums Gift Shop, Silver Bells Wedding Chapel and North Pole
Ice Cream Shop..616-896-NOEL or www.noelrestaurant.com.
* Grand Haven's Waterfront Stadium is home to "Worship on the Waterfront" each Sunday
evening from 8-9:15 p.m. Sponsored by the First Reformed Church of Grand Haven, services begin June
23 and run through Labor Day weekend. After services end, Waterfront Stadium offers the best seats
from which to view nightly performances of the "World's Largest Musical Fountain." In the event of rain,
the Sunday worship service is held at the Lakeshore Middle School on South Cutler Street. 800-303-4092
* Camp Concordia, located in Gowen, features an outdoor chapel and self-guided prayer trail as
well as retreat facilities. Founded in 1957 by a group of men and women from Lutheran Church Missouri
Synod congregations in West Michigan, it faithfully continues to offer a variety of scriptural spiritual
growth experiences which proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as understood in the Christian Creeds and in
Luther's Small Catechism.
Nestled in a small group of pines, the outdoor chapel offers a breathtaking view of the stone altar, wooden
cross and Half Mile Lake. The natural outdoor setting is perfect for worship services, seminars, weddings
or any other Christian gathering. The permanent pews will accommodate 150. The prayer trail, located
among five miles of hiking paths, hosts eight prayer stations. Placed strategically throughout the camp
property, guests can enjoy a nature hike while traveling from station to station.
Jerusalem Lodge, the main building, has meeting space for up to 30 and an activity hall with fireplace.
Genesis Cabin is the perfect setup for those looking for a peaceful, quite escape from the rush of busy
days. This heated cabin offers a complete kitchen, private bath and three bedrooms to accommodate up
to six people. Joy Cabin is heated and available for groups up to 11 in a dorm room setting. 616-754-
37895 or www.iserve.net/~mordecaitent.html
* It was Michigan's rich farmland that attracted the Amish westward from Pennsylvania in the
early 1800s. Today, horse-drawn buggies, Amish communities and families dot the landscape along
Surrey and Colonville roads in Clare County, bearing silent testimony to the benefits of a plain and simple
life. The Old-Order Amish way of life, the most conservative of the various orders, began in Germany over
300 years ago. Multiple generations later, members continue to prosper here without benefit of electricity,
cars or other modern conveniences.
Twice a year, in May and September, the family of John Henry Yoder hosts an Amish flea market/craft
show and quilt auction at their home. Travelers flock to the Amish businesses to purchase fine-quality
products. The Clare County Convention and Visitors Bureau provides a self-guided tour map of the Amish
community, with marked stops at various businesses. 800-610-1902 or www.clarecounty.org
* The Chapel in the Pines was built in Hartwick Pines State Park in Grayling in 1952 and
dedicated in 1955. It was built with the help of an anonymous donor to honor the founder and first
president of Kiwanis International, Daniel A Johnson. The design is modeled after a chapel the donor's
architect saw in a museum in Norway, which dated back to the beginnings of Christianity. Its logs came
from Roscommon County and were allowed to dry for a full year before being used. In keeping with
traditional log cabin construction techniques, the chapel was crafted with hand tools and wooden pegs. A
large glass plated, cross-shaped window allows natural lighting to illuminate the interior. Small weddings
are held here, with seating for 18. A park day pass is $4 per motor vehicle. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 10
p.m. Take I-75 to exit 259 and proceed 7-®® miles north of Grayling. 517-348-7068
* The Old Mission Church on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City -- known simply as "The Old
Mission" -- is a replica of a log structure built in 1840. The Rev. Peter Doughterty, a missionary sent by the
Presbyterian Board of Missions in 1838, used the building as a church and a school for the native
Chippewa Indians. When peninsula lands were opened to white settlers in 1852, the Indians were forced
to move across West Bay to Omena, in what is now Leelanau County. The church, located on Mission
Road near the Old Mission General Store and Post Office, is open to the public and contains historic
photographs and information. www.oldmission.com
* At the Wayside Chapel on US-31, across from Friske Orchards in Atwood, visitors are invited to
"Pause--Rest--Meditate." In the early 1960s, The Rev. Alvin VanderGriend was visiting the area and the
Atwood Christian Reformed Church from Washington State. He spoke of wonderful little churches along
Washington's highways. With that seed of an idea, church members erected a road-side chapel in 1968.
Throughout the years, the church family has taken turns cutting the grass. The guest book inside shows
the chapel has been visited by people from all over the world. Thousands of tracts are distributed each
year as well, and donations left at the chapel are used for buying tracts and for the chapel's upkeep. The
Wayside Chapel is never locked. Call the Atwood Christian Reformed Church at 231-599-2581 for more
* In 1847, James Jesse Strang founded a small Mormon colony on Beaver Island. The
population grew quickly until 1850 when the Mormons outnumbered the "gentiles." By 1852, the non-
Mormons -- primarily Irish -- were crowded off the island. The Mormon people were hardworking and
industrious. The built roads and farms which are still in use, put up sturdy buildings which outlasted them
by a hundred years and started the first daily newspaper north of Grand Rapids.
Their leader, a flamboyant, magnetic, red-bearded lawyer, was elected to the State Legislature by his
people. But Strang appropriated land, claimed to receive divine commands, had himself crowned king and
began taking additional wives. In 1856, with his kingdom of over 2000 torn with strife, he was fatally shot
by two disgruntled former followers. To learn more about the Mormon history and the only king and
kingdom ever in the U.S., visit Beaver Island. 231-448-2505 or www.beaverisland.org
* In September of 1875, a group of Michigan Methodists met in Jackson to organize a Camp
Meeting, a popular form of religious gathering at that time "for intellectual and scientific culture and
promotion of the cause of religion and morality." They chose Bay View, just north of Petoskey, as the site
because of its fine summer climate, its location on the shores of Little Traverse Bay and its accessibility by
railroad and lake steamer.
The following year, ground was cleared and tents put up to house the several hundred people who came
for six days of religious talks and sermons delivered from the "preaching stand," the first building erected
on the grounds. It is now part of the Bay View Historical Museum. By 1877, streets, parks and public areas
were platted and 20 simple cottages built. Ten years later, there were 135 cottages, a hotel and a chapel.
The religious program expanded and grew into a Summer Assembly of eight weeks. Chatauqua-type
literary and scientific circles were formed.
Today, there are more than 400 cottages, most of which were built during the first 25 years, and over 30
public buildings including two historic inns: Stafford's Bay View Inn and The Terrace Inn. The season
extends from May 1 to October 31. The Summer Assembly Program carries on the tradition of the years.
Artists and students of the Conservatory of Music, activities of the Theatre Arts Department, Sunday
Services of Worship and the popular Sunday Vesper Concerts bring thousands to the John M. Hall
Auditorium each summer. The Bay View Library was established early and has been cited as the best
summer colony library in the U.S. The Bay View Historical Museum, organized in 1964, occupies the two
oldest buildings on the grounds. 800-845-2828 or www.boynecountry.com
The Cross in the Woods in Indian River had its origin in 1946 when The Rev. Charles D. Brophy was
inspired by the example of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. Kateri, also known as the Lil of the Mohawks, had
a custom of placing crosses on trees in the forest as places to stop and pray.
Rev. Brophy envisioned a large cross as the centerpiece for his shrine. The resulting 55-foot high cross
was made from an enormous Oregon redwood and was erected in 1954. Sculptor Marshall M. Fredericks
created a bronze, seven ton image of the crucified Jesus, which was raised into place on the cross in
1959. Also on site is a statute of the Madonna, which now sits in the lower grounds of the shrine. She has
been patroness of millions of travelers and pilgrims who have visited Cross in the Woods. The Shrine's
outdoor Stations of the Cross are nestled within the natural grace of a pine forest. The focal point of the
garden is the statue of the resurrected Jesus, the "fifteenth station" of this serene setting. A nun doll
museum is also on site, with more than 500 Nun figurines and replicas. 231-238-8973 or
* Mackinac Island is home to four religious structures. The first dates back to 1670 when Jesuit
Father Charles Dablon founded a birchbark mission chapel on the island. In such primitive huts, far from
civilization, the courageous French "black robes" lived and sought to turn the minds of the "savages" to
Christianity. Father Dablon was from the mission of Sault Ste. Marie and later became superior general of
the Jesuits of Canada. The bark chapel on the island is in his memory and that of other heroic pioneer
In 1671, Father Jacques Marquette relocated the mission to St. Ignace. Abandoned in 1706 and
reestablished at Fort Michilimackinac around 1715, the new church was named Sainte Anne de
Michelimackinack. During the winter of 1780-81, the British came to the island and moved the church
building across the ice. The church is the nation's oldest dedicated to Saint Anne and maintains baptismal
records dating from April of 1695.
The Mission Church is one of Michigan's oldest Protestant churches. It was built in 1829-30 by the
Presbyterian flock of The Rev. William Ferry, founder of the nearby Indian mission in 1823. Robert Stuart
and Henry Schoolcraft were lay leaders. About 1838, private owners bought the building. It is judged
Michigan's best example of Colonial church style.
The Union Congregational Church, affectionately called Little Stone Church, was established in 1900 by
11 charter members. Local residents and summer visitors donated funds for its construction. The
cornerstone was laid on August 2, 1904. Built of Mackinac Island stones in an eclectic Gothic style, its
handsome stained glass windows, installed in 1914, tell the story of the Protestant movement on the
island. Open only during the summer, this church is a landmark for visitors and a popular wedding site.
800-4-LILACS or www.mackinacisland.org
* The Martha-Mary Chapel was built in Greenfield Village in Dearborn in 1929, one of six non-
denominational chapels Henry Ford built around the country in honor of his mother, Mary Litogot Ford,
and his mother-in-law, Martha Bryant. Although no regularly-scheduled services are held here, the chapel
has been used for wedding ceremonies for many years. 313-271-1620 or www.hfmgv.org
For regional travel information, contact WMTA toll free at 800-442-2084 or log on to www.wmta.org.
Founded in 1917, WMTA is the oldest continually-operating tourist association in the nation. Representing
41 counties from the Michigan-Indiana state line north to Mackinac Island and covering the entire west half
of the Lower Peninsula, WMTA is dedicated to proving that "Nobody Knows West Michigan Like We
*These properties welcome the WMTA Gift Card.