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150-year-old Ohio Church Still Reaching Out


East Side Christian Reformed Church in Cleveland, Ohio, will have been worshiping together and serving in its community for 151 years as of this spring. Founded April 9, 1872, as The True Holland Reformed Congregation at Cleveland, Ohio, it became East Side CRC in 1880 when part of the congregation split to form West Side CRC. Continuing on in the same location, the congregation now has fewer than 50 members, but church clerk Vivian Louis said those who attend enjoy fellowship with one another, sharing lunch each week following the service. 

In April of 2022 the congregation had a modest celebration of its 150 years, subdued by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members mounted display boards of photos of past picnics, VBS programs, and former pastors. Louis said they chose special hymns to sing, including “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and they read an anniversary liturgy. John Westra, one of East Side’s former pastors, put together a booklet of some of the early church history for East Side’s 130th celebration, and that was shared again in 2022. 

Louis said East Side is not financially able to call a full-time pastor, but Pastor Anthony “Tony” Fryer has served as part-time pastor since Pastor Emmett A. Harrison left in 2011. Louis said Fryer keeps in contact with members who are sick or unable to leave home and also keeps the congregation informed of those who are mourning the loss of a loved one or have other prayer requests. Fryer’s wife, Leatrice, serves as a GEMS counselor for the Cleveland East Side GEMS Girls Club, the church’s one remaining ministry outside of Sunday services. Leatrice Fryer ministers to a group of eight girls, seven of whom are participants from the surrounding area outside the church.


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