History of the
Charlotte SDA Church
It was in June of 1862, one year before the Seventh-day Adventist church was officially organized, that Elders J.N. Loughborough and Moses Hull came to the village of Charlotte, erected a tent at the fairgrounds, and began to preach. The novelty of religious meetings in tents attracted much attention and during the week it was reported that between 200 and 800 people attended regularly. It was noted that some local Methodists had already begun to keep the Sabbath. On June 22, the first Charlotte Adventist was baptized in the Battle Creek River just south of the fairgrounds. Excitement grew through the city, and even the local newspapers carried news of the 6 weeks of meetings held by the Adventists, which at times were preached by Elder James White.
Four months later, on Oct. 25, the local believers met after Sabbath sundown to formally organize a local church, and to sign a covenant. Of these original seventeen members, Benjamin Hill was elected as elder, and George Johnson as the clerk and treasurer. At the next Conference Session, May 22, 1863, the Charlotte Church became a part of the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Since the pastor in those days had sixty churches to serve, he was only able to meet with the local church on rare occasions. (This remained true through the 1930’s.)
Charlotte was a favorite of many early Adventists, and in September 1870, a “Grand Campmeeting” was held on the shady banks of the Battle Creek River. The abundant shade, water, and level area for pitching tents pleased all, and 7 more campmeetings were held here.
In the summer of 1881, another tent meeting was held in Charlotte, and Elder James and Mrs. Ellen White preached and helped with the meetings. For several days the weather was reported as “oppressively hot,” then quickly changed to chillingly cold. Elder White caught a cold, but continued to preach to the conclusion of the series of meetings. As he and Mrs. White traveled back to their home in Battle Creek, he complained that he felt worse. A few days later, on August 6, he passed away. His passing was a great loss to those who loved him, and to the cause he so loved.
In the fall of 1884, the Charlotte SDA Church decided to build a 26 x 44 feet “meeting house.” Nine years later, in 1893, $25 was spent to buy an organ. The church’s membership had grown to 73, and was known as “a missionary-minded church”. Members liberally distributed literature, formed a group to provide aid to the needy and destitute, and to reach out to the community in various ways.
Early in the new century the church felt the need to start a church school, and a room at the back of the Sheldon Street Church was set aside for this purpose. In December of 1943 a fire destroyed most of the church, and the Congregational Church graciously offered the use of their building. Within seven short months, the church was repaired. By 1944 it was apparent that there was a need for a new school, but because of the war and shortage of supplies, construction was delayed. In 1950 a new school building was built on the corner of High and Harris Streets.
Up to this point, the Charlotte Church had only had one resident pastor, W.B. White. A request was made of the conference, and received favorable consideration, and after nearly 20 years without a resident pastor, Elder Stuart Snyder moved to Charlotte to pastor the Church.
Back at the church, conditions were crowded, and in 1960 plans were made to begin construction on a new facility. On June 16, 1962, one hundred years after Elder Loughborough and Hull pitched their meeting tent, the Charlotte Adventists moved into their current facility. Not far away is the same stretch of the Battle Creek River where the first local Seventh-day Adventist was baptized. In 1989, the Eaton Rapids and Bellevue churches both closed and quite a few members from those churches transferred to Charlotte.
When the land bordering the church property was offered for sale, the church took the opportunity to purchase it so that a new school could be built near the church to replace the now aging schoolhouse on High street. In 1994 a new school, with two classrooms, was completed, and in 2000 a gymnasium was added.