Our History


The church was officially started in 1947 when Mrs. Clara Trombley and a few close friends decided to organize the informal séance group and conduct regular church services. They moved from Clara’s basement to a room over a small pharmacy in 1948. In April 1952 they moved to the I.O.O.F. hall in Bay City where the paid $25.00 per month rent! There were 30 church members at that time. During May of ’56 they applied for a charter in the Michigan Spiritualist Association under the name of “Congregation of Spiritual Unity” with Clara Trombley as President. March of 1962 found the church in the middle of a legal battle between the M.S.A. and the National Spiritualist Association over who owns or has rights to church property. It was decided to withdraw from all affiliations until these organizations settled their differences and go independent. The church purchased a new building of it’s own on S. Wenona for $2500.00 that year the name of the church changed to the “First Spiritualist Church”.This was changed to “First Spiritual Church of Bay City” in 1985.

Harold Williams made a motion to join the Spiritual Churches of Science and Revelations in a June 1965 meeting and drop the M.S.S.A. affiliation. It was passed unanimously. Our church, today, holds charter number two. The purchase of our current property took place in Sept. of 1972. The first service in the new building was held one year later, conducted by Rev. Maria Snyder. Records of early Pastors are not available. In 1975, Rev. Loretta Wayne stepped downas Pastor. Clara Trombley, founding President of over 30 years, retired and later passed away in 1979. Rev. Edith Berry was then appointed Pastor. She was followed over the years by Rev. G. Dean Phillips, Rev. M. Louise Wright, Rev. Losetta Radabaugh and is led today since 2002 by Rev. Laura MacLachlan, a member since 1987. Special members remembered through the years include the Hertel family, Ben and Erma Butler, Cliff and Agnes Piper, the Bildsteins, Frieda Bernathall (“the bread lady”) Mr. and Mrs. Whetters, The Carrs, Bernard and Elaine Tacey, Mr. and Mrs. ObieDorns, Harold and Clara Williams, and especially the very special UMC forerunners, sisters Clara Trombley and Rev. Esther (Tess) Whetzel.