Royal Oak's Oldest Church Community Celebrates with Proclamation, Luncheon Event

From left: Dick LaCombe, Paul Perkins, Rev. John Hice and Mayor Jim Ellison
From left: Dick LaCombe, Paul Perkins, Rev. John Hice and Mayor Jim Ellison
Mayor Jim Ellison presented members of the Royal Oak First United Methodist Church (ROFUM) with a proclamation during Monday's City Commission meeting in recognition of 175 years of service.

ROFUM, which is city's first church community, was recognized for being an integral part of the development, function and growth of Royal Oak, Ellison said.

Rev. John Hice, Dick LaCombe and Paul Perkins accepted the honor on the church's behalf.

"We have been standing on the shoulders those who've gone before us and the great community that has supported this congregation and has offered us opportunities to serve God," Hice said.

The Methodists first gathered in a log school house in 1838, according to church records, and built their first house of worship in 1842, at a time when Woodward was merely a dirt track to Pontiac. In 1988, the church was listed in the State Register of Historical Sites.

"We have been so pleased to be community-minded throughout our history," Hice said, adding plans are in the works for new ministries and renovations to the church "to bring it into the 21st century."

Public invited to luncheon

Hice invited the public to join his congregation for a luncheon event on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 12:30 p.m. to celebrate the church's remarkable history. Special guests will include former staff members and clergy as well as Bishop Deborah Kiesey. 

Tickets, available at the church office located at 320 W. Seventh St, are $10 for adults; $5 for children 6-12.

History of ROFUM

The following information was provided by Royal Oak First United Methodist Church:

In 1838 Royal Oak’s first church community was formed: the Methodists. The congregants of the Royal Oak Methodist Episcopal Church gathered in a log school house, until they built their first house of worship in 1842, where they still gather today.  That same year, Sherman Stevens platted the entire downtown area, from Lincoln to Eleven Mile Road, from Troy Street on the east to West Street on the west.  Orson Starr was making his famous cow-bells.  At that time Woodward was a dirt track to Pontiac, Main Street was a sandy path lined with trees, and new farms were being cut out of the woods every month by the hearty founders of this town.  Everywhere you walked there were wildflowers, giant oaks, and year-round streams with lumber mills powered by their running water.  In 1894 the first brick structure was raised on the same spot, featuring bricks from the Starr family’s kiln at Thirteen Mile Road and Crooks.

Since 1838 many things have changed in what was simply called ‘the village”.  But one thing has stood the test of time for 175 years: Royal Oak’s First United Methodist Church, and the faith and fortitude of its community of good neighbors and friends. Famous for their Lenten Fish Dinners, Bethlehem Marketplace and generations of choirs, hand bells, organists and choir camps, the Church is listed in the State Register of Historical Sites and has proudly displayed its State Historical Marker since its 150th anniversary in 1988.  The marker stands out on the nicest lawn in downtown Royal Oak at the corner of corner of Seventh and Washington.  

The Duke of Royal Oak January 09, 2014 at 09:32 AM
Any more history on the Royal Oak First United Methodist Church such as original location and the building of the current church? Perhaps someone from the Royal Oak Historical Society would have more information and photos. Would be very interesting to have a historical section on Patch.
Judy Davids January 09, 2014 at 10:00 AM
Yes! There is more information on the history of the church and since you asked, I've added it to the end of the article. Thanks for the suggestion Your Royal Highness!
Judy Davids January 09, 2014 at 10:04 AM
BTW, the Royal Oak Historical Society is closed this week, but I will check with the curator next week about photos.
The Duke of Royal Oak January 09, 2014 at 03:53 PM
Thank you for the information on the history. It really makes one understand the way life was for the founders of the city Royal Oak.


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