Loving people is a core tenet of the Christian faith and Ward Church has made it their mission for over 65 years. In 1927, The Detroit News said of Ward’s predecessor, Central Presbyterian Church, that it “gave a greater amount to benevolences than it spent for its own sustenance.” We’ve worked hard to maintain that distinction, ever since. Read more about how Ward has loved and served the people around them in innovative ways, and where we hope to go from here.
Ward Church’s roots begin in Detroit, just as the Great Depression was poised to burst on the scene. In 1928, it started out as a “baby church” for Central Presbyterian Church. The initial 65 members were determined to love the community in unique and enduring ways, at a time in history when people would depend greatly on the local church for food, warmth and hope.
From 1928 to the early 1950s, the church, now named the Elizabeth W. Ward Memorial Presbyterian Church, grew. It went from renting out rooms at Parker School to building a church on Plymouth Road in Detroit and eventually to establishing a “satellite” church in Livonia. During the 1950s, when few had considered the possibility and opportunity, Ward also became one of the first in Michigan to air its services live on the radio, which continues to this day on WRDT 560 AM on Sundays at 11 a.m.
In the 1960s and 70s, when many churches were leaving the city entirely, Ward Church chose to keep a location in Detroit while building upon its second location in Livonia. In the mid-1970s, Ward Memorial in Detroit recognized the need for a day care and after-school program to help struggling parents. At a time when services like KinderCare weren’t even a concept, Ward Church stepped up to not only offer affordable care, but to hire a chef to cook nutritious meals and offer bus service to pick up and drop off kids around the city.
Through this ministry and many others to come, Ward endeavored to show that God cares about everyone, in any circumstance. The children and eventually their parents began to see, in tangible ways, what God’s eternal love, security and salvation looked like, as offered through Jesus Christ. Today, Ward Church continues the tradition of offering top-notch early childhood education through Ward Preschool at their current location in Northville.
Recognizing people’s needs, not just for the basic necessities of life, but also connection and community, has given rise to many creative programs designed to engage overlooked populations.
In the late 1960s, the church saw a need to show love for those recovering from divorce and the loss of a spouse. The number of single adults was growing rapidly. At a time when many divorced people didn’t feel welcome at church, Ward became a pioneer in Christian singles ministry. By the early 1980s, Ward’s program had become the premier singles ministry program in the nation, with hundreds of single adults from across the Metro Detroit area flocking to Ward to find a place for friendship, community and connection with God. Ward Singles exists today, seeking new ways to connect single adults and help them grow together.
This first step into offering recovery programs for hurting people was just the beginning. The singles ministry provided a template and passion for developing other similar support programs, such as grief support, addiction recovery, and most recently, mental health support. In the early 1980s, Ward began their special needs ministry. Today, the ministry serves children and adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities, and their families, providing a safe space for this special group of people to connect and grow.
Recent wars and crises in Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine, have resulted in a flood of refugees from these areas to our hometowns. Ward Church has developed refugee welcome teams to help make the transition to the U.S. easier for many immigrant families. These teams help to provide economic, educational and other assistance as they make a new home in a foreign place.
Although Ward no longer has a church located in Detroit, they never left the city behind. Today, they partner with organizations like CRU Inner City and Central Detroit Christian, which works with residents of Detroit to revitalize their neighborhoods. They also have partnered with the anti-human trafficking organization, All Worthy of Love, to provide care kits and lunch bags, and to participate in street ministry around Detroit. In the western suburbs, Ward Church partners with organizations like Help’s on the Way in Dearborn and Northville Civic Concern to provide clothing, food and other necessities throughout the year.
From the beginning, Ward has tried to keep its finger on the pulse of the community, continually asking, “what is needed and who is hurting?” Through developing partnerships with area non-profits and staying connected to those on the frontlines, Ward has been uniquely positioned to provide help at the moment it’s needed most.
So, when COVID-19 stopped everything in its tracks, Ward mobilized its army of Christian servants. They sewed masks, collected and distributed PPE, delivered cleaning supplies, fed the hungry and checked on the homebound. Out of this dark time came bursts of light, hope and renewed happiness. During this time, Ward developed a new partnership with Forgotten Harvest, who delivers 144,000 pounds of surplus food per day to local charities five days a week. In fall 2022, Ward celebrated its second year of partnership with Forgotten Harvest, serving 200 families on average, each week.
The world looks a lot different today than it did in 1956. The cultural landscape continues to undergo radical changes socially, racially and economically. And yet, Ward Church remains undeterred in its mission to “lead generations to live and love like Jesus.” Jesus modeled radical love – reaching out to women, minorities, the poor and the marginalized at a time in history when these groups were completely disregarded. And Ward means to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The following passage from Revelation 7:9 has become a guiding light for Ward, as it steps into this new era with renewed vigor for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
Keeping with Ward’s tradition of establishing new churches, and building ministries for a new set of neighbors, a new campus has opened in Farmington Hills at 27996 Halsted Road. We welcome you to join us on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. in Farmington Hills, or at 9 a.m. + 10:30 a.m. at our campus in Northville and online at ward.church/live.
If you are looking for a church home, or are interested in learning about Ward’s various outreach programs and partnerships, we want to connect with you. Fill out our contact us form, and we’ll be in touch!
Traditional: 9 a.m. + 2 p.m.
Contemporary: 10:30 a.m.
+ 4 p.m.
40000 Six Mile Rd
Northville, MI 48168
Traditional: 9 a.m.
Contemporary: 10:30 a.m.
27996 Halsted Rd
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
Contemporary: 10:30 a.m.