East View celebrates 100 years

James W. Wade III | 2/5/2014, 12:23 p.m.
The church started in December 1912 at 137th and Kinsman; the first twenty-five years were full of struggles and successes.
Rev. Valentino Lassiter Photo by James W. Wade III

East View United Church of Christ celebrated 100 years at the Doubletree Hotel in Beachwood with guest speaker the Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle. The evening featured Eleanor Hayes and Ulysses Jackson and a packed ballroom of members of various churches.

Dr. McMickle was introduced by the rev. Gloria Chaney-Robinson, Senior pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Pennsylvania.

The church started in December 1912 at 137th and Kinsman; the first twenty-five years were full of struggles and successes. Two formal votes were taken, one in 1919 and another in 1920, to disband the church due 1o financial difficulties. Each time, the congregation voted for the church to continue. Also to save money, East View held joint services with Kinsman Heights M.E. Church and Warrensville M.E. Church during the summer months. The Sunday School Rooms were damaged by fire on January 12, 1922. Sunday School was held in the house until repairs were complete. April 17, 1926 a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the building we now occupy. The new building was dedicated on February 19, 1928 with baptisms and a reception for members.

Pastor described in the history the first half of the second twenty-five years brought stabilization. Attendance remained steady and the church was able to burn its Union Trust mortgage in November 1936. As time marched forward, the winds of change blew in. Nationally, the Congregational Christian Churches merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Churches to form the United Church of Christ in 1957. However, it wasn’t until April 7, 1961 that the members of East View Congregational Church voted to accept the constitution of the United Church of Christ. Locally, the surrounding neighborhoods were changing racially. Members discussed the segregation question at the January 18, 1957 meeting. It was decided that is was not yet a problem; therefore, the present status quo could be held and nothing further need to be done at that time. Financially, the church was in dire straits. It held its third vote in January 1959 to disband due to money issues. Again, it was voted to continue serving the neighborhood but they decided to have the minister be part-time.

Years fifty-one through seventy-five were ones of changes and challenges. The finances of the church were of a major concern. For three years in the 1960’s and almost two years in the 1970’s, the church relied on interim ministers to be spiritual leaders. On January 17, 1965, the church took its fourth official vote to keep the doors open for the future. Concurrently, as the Moreland neighborhood of Shaker Heights became more integrated, so did the membership of East View. To solve the problems of finances and integration, in April 1965, the Regional Church Planning Office proposed that East View disaffiliate from the United Church of Christ and become a Community Church. As a Community Church, they would have co-pastors, one Negro and one white. The congregation decided against this proposition. After finally hiring a minister after the three year absence, the congregation made the decision to legally change its name to East View United Church of Christ (Congregational). By the end of the 1960’s, East View UCC had become a predominantly African-American congregation. Rev. George R. Castillo became East View’s first minister of color in 1970. Financial difficulties continued and membership declined in the 1970’s only to slowly turn around in the 1980’s as the pulpit leadership stabilized.

Rev. Valentino Lassiter has been with East View for the longest tenure and shared that East View will continue to carry out the ‘Great Commission’, building on a heritage rich in service and dedication to the community.