HISTORY OF THE
Mt. Pleasant Ward
Midland Michigan Stake
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its first meetings in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan in 1965-6 as a dependent Sunday School of the Midland Ward.
In the Spring of 1966, a Dependant Branch was organized in Alma, Michigan, with meetings being held in the basement of the Bank of Alma. Jay H. Shurtliff was the president of this new branch, with David M. Reid and 1st Counselor, and Monte L. Higgins as 2nd Counselor. A year later the Alma Branch became independent. Under the leadership of President Shurtliff, members held many fasts to bring strength to the branch, and several families moved into the Branch and new converts were added to the Branch membership.
In December, 1968, the Branch was relocated to Mt. Pleasant where meetings were held in the Vowles School Building. In February, 1969, the Branch was made into a Ward with Richard H. Headlee called as its first Bishop. David M. Reid was called as First Counselor with Sherwood E. Bridges as 2nd Counselor. O. David Rogers also served as a Counselor. At this point the Ward consisted of members from Isabella, Clare, Mecosta, and parts of Gratiot and Newaygo Counties.
When Bishop Headlee moved his family to the Detroit area in 1970, Arlen D. Beck was called as Bishop, with Sherwood E. Bridges as 1st Counselor and O. David Rogers as 2nd Counselor. Fund raising for a new building that had begun under Bishop Headlee continued. A building site was purchased and negotiations began to build a 1st Phase building. Robert Jellison and David Brant also served as Counselors to Bishop Beck.
Frank A. Eldredge was called as Bishop on June 24th, 1973 after Bishop Beck moved to the Detroit Area. David A. Brant was called as 1st Counselor and Roy Killinger as 2nd Counselor to Bishop Eldredge. Construction of the new building began in the fall of 1973. In August of 1974 the Ward began to hold their meetings in this Phase 1 building. At this time membership was about 300 members.
Sherwood E. Bridges was called to be Bishop on January 30th, 1977 with William C. Low and 1st Counselor and Jack A. Ware as 2nd Counselor. Richard Hardy also served as a Counselor to Bishop Bridges. The second phase of the building was begin in April 1977 and completed in November 1979. The Ward held an open house to celebrate the building’s completion with an organ recital on the new pipe organ. The pipe organ was purchased with donated funds and installed by Jack A. Ware. Melvin Dunn, a Salt Lake Tabernacle Organist, was brought in to play an organ recital to celebrate the building opening with the public invited to attend. The building was paid for in March 1980 and dedicated in September, 1980. George Romney, Regional Representative, and former Michigan Governor offered the dedicatory prayer and addressed the congregation. At this time membership stood at about 300, due to the creation of the Big Rapids and Clare County (now the Harrison) Branches. Each of these units had their origins in the Mt. Pleasant Ward.
Thomas A. Martin was ordained Bishop on Nov. 16th, 1980 and served for two years. Monte Higgins, John Forester, David Brant and David Reid each served as his Counselors.
Jack A. Ware was ordained Bishop of the Mt. Pleasant Ward on Sept 26th, 1982. During his administration the Ward continued to grow, and construction began on Phase III of the building. Bishop Ware died in 1985 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Prior to his becoming Bishop, Jack Ware operated a Seventy’s Bookstore in the Ward to raise money for the missionary program. He was also instrumental in starting the Ward’s successful Family History Center (then called a Branch Genealogical Library), and was the moving force behind the acquisition of the pipe organ.
David M. Reid, one of Jack Ware’s counselors was called an ordained Bishop on May 26th, 1985. Monte Higgins, William C. Low, Daniel Morrison and Joesph Barden served as Counselors to Bishop Reid. During Bishop Reid’s tenure, Phase III of the building was completed. President Wayne M. Hancock of the Midland Michigan Stake dedicated the building.
Roger L. Hammer was ordained Bishop of the Ward of February 14th, 1988 and served until February 1991. William C. Low, Kevin Moore, David Kaiser and Robert Wheeler served as his counselors.
Robert L. Wheeler was ordained Bishop on February 10th, 1991 and served until his release in March 1996. Counselors serving under Bishop Wheeler included Robert T. Becker, Jr., Charles R. Clarke, and Roger L. Henrie. In March 1996 just prior to the release of Bishop Wheeler, the Alma Branch (now the Ithaca Branch) was created from the Ward with Joseph L. Barden serving as its first Branch President.
Bishop Wheeler was succeeded by Robert T. Becker, Jr. who as ordained April 28th, 1996 and served until December 1998. Counselors to Bishop Becker included David A. Kaiser, Roger L. Henrie, Richard L. Shepherd, and Robert Marshall.
Bishop David A. Brant was called as Bishop on December 6th, 1998 with William C. Low as 1st Counselor and Roger L. Hammer as 2nd Counselor. It was during Bishop Brant’s term of office that the Detroit Michigan Temple was dedicated. Bishop Brant served as Bishop longer than any other Bishop in the history of our Ward.
Anton Jensen was ordained Bishop on October 30th, 2005 with Jerry G. Dimaria as 1st Counselor and Scott R. Bingham as 2nd Counselor. Bishop Jensen serves at the present time.
Much of the Ward’s growth and success has been due to the dedication of many of its individual members who have served so diligently to help the Kingdom of God roll forth.
This has ever been the trademark of our Church. Although this history lists the Bishops and their counselors in the Ward, the success of the ward has been due largely, to its many members who serve tirelessly. From the dedicated teachers, to the auxiliary and Priesthood leaders, each member participates and sacrifices to help others and the Ward to grow. Since its inception as a Ward, the Church has sponsored a Boy Scout Troop and has produced many Eagle Scouts. It’s Family History Center, open to the public for many years, has provided a free source of information and assistance to members and non-members alike in researching their genealogy. Of special significance to the Ward has been in the influx of students and faculty and staff at Central Michigan University, who have provided a constant stream of dedicated individuals and families to strengthen the Ward. We have also been blessed with many converts who have joined our ranks and added strength to the Ward. Many of our young men and women have sacrificed their personal time and funds, to go throughout the world and preach the gospel wherever they were called to go. Although many of our members have moved to other areas, each one of them will have a special place in their heart for the Mt. Pleasant Ward.
Written by Robert L. Wheeler
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