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Thursday October 23, 2014
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From Church to Fraternity

 

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In 1922 the church was notified that its lot was needed to make room for the first building of the Law Quad. After what the history calls "friendly condemnation proceedings in order to determine just value," the congregation bought the Prescott home on the corner of Tappan and Hill. They considered a new building but decided instead to move the 1891 church. "Each stone was marked and moved to the present site," the history recalls. Lumber, doors, chimes, cut nails, and even mortar were also reused. They "flipped" the floor plan, rebuilding in mirror image so the tower wouldn't obscure the entrance facing Hill, and added a full basement to expand the Sunday school--by then, the church had 150 members.

The new location was still close enough to campus to serve students. Russell Fuller first attended during World War II, when the navy sent him to the U-M to study engineering. He was installed as minister in 1956 and in 1968 led the construction of an addition on the north side to expand the Sunday school. By then the church had 202 members, and "there were lots of kids, [so] we needed more room," he recalls. (Though he retired as minister in 1995, Fuller is still an active member of the congregation.)

Fuller strongly opposed the Vietnam War and made the church available for prayer vigils and other anti-war activities. His wife, Barbara Fuller, was a founder and first staff member of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. The church also helped organize the Interfaith Hospitality Network, which brings together local congregations to aid homeless families.

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