The situation was different almost a century later. In the middle of the 20th century, the Synod of Michigan, anticipating future growth in the area, purchased a six-acre site, which became the location of the present church. Official authorization for the establishment of the United Presbyterian Church of Okemos came in 1963. In August of that year, the Rev. Dr. Howard Kehde was called by the Presbytery of Grand River as the organizing pastor of this new church in Okemos. A manse was purchased at 4461 Arbor Drive. On September 8, 1963, Dr. Kehde preached at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in East Lansing.
The following Sunday the first service of the proposed church was held in the newly acquired manse. The first baptism, Roger Lyon, occurred on September 22. The congregation quickly outgrew the manse, and services were then held at Okemos High School. There was no organ there, and an interesting tale of those early years has come to light.
The church organ was stored in Wylie & Grace Rutherford’s dining room -where double doors made for easy placement and removal. Early each Sunday morning, Dr. Kehde would drive his car, with trailer attached, to the Rutherford's home, and Wylie would put the organ on the trailer for transport to the high school for the service. On one snowy morning, disaster struck as the trailer containing the organ crossed the railroad tracks on Dobie Road. The organ fell off the trailer, and with difficulty, was restored to the trailer by Wylie and Dr. Kehde, who, with the organ, survived the experience. Janne Rutherford, a senior in high school at that time, had been attending Eastminster Presbyterian, and hoped to continue there until her graduation. However, Dr. Kehde asked if she would play the organ. So, in her senior year, Janne changed her plans and played at the organ in the new Presbyterian Church of Okemos.
On August 26, 1963 Daniel DuByne was born, making him the first child born into the new congregation.
In 1963, candlelight Christmas Eve Service took place in the MSU Alumni Memorial Chapel. The church received its name at a congregational meeting on January 29, 1964. In the spring of that year, Maundy Thursday Communion was served in two homes. The first Senior High Retreat occurred in April 1964, at Mystic Lake Camp.
In 1964, an operating budget was proposed, and the first pledge drive was held. On Sunday, May 10, the Service of Organization occurred, as church membership had reached the required 100 members.
The United Presbyterian Church of Okemos was formally constituted at the Eastminster Presbyterian Church of East Lansing. The Commission of the Presbytery consisted of:
- Rev. Edward Brigham, Chairman, Department of Missions
- Rev. John Duley, University Pastor
- Rev. John Fuhrmeister, Pastor, Mt. Hope Church, Lansing
- Rev. Jack Harrison, Moderator
- Rev. Nicholas Kelzer, Pastor, North Church Lansing
- Rev. Robert Moreland, Stated Clerk and Pastor, Eastminster Church
- Rev. Seth Morrow, Pastor, First Church, Lansing
- Rev. Robert Woods, Field Administration, National Missions, Synod of Michigan
- Mr. John Anas, North Church, Lansing
- Mr. Victor Eichhorn, Eastminster Church, East Lansing
One hundred eight people signed the church charter. The Presbytery of Grand River presented the session Record Books as a gift.
May 1964, was a busy month, with many ”firsts” for the church: session meetings, communicants class, church picnic, junior high retreat, and sponsorship of Girl Scout Troop #433.
The Rev. Dr. Howard Kehde was installed as the first pastor in September 1964. Rev. Dr. Kehde was also a chemical engineer at the Dow Chemical Company. He required only a small salary since he worked part of the week there and was on their payroll. He was able to divide his time between Dow Chemical at Midland and the new church in Okemos. Building Campaign Sunday, December 13, 1964, found the congregation exceeding its pledge goal. Ground was broken for the church building on May 2, 1965, dedication taking place on September 18, 1966.
Tom and Bobbi DuByne were the first youth advisors. During the 1960s, Sue Wakely, a former Moravian, initiated the annual Agape Feast, The Moravians share hard rolls and coffee during their services. Dave Armstrong adapted the custom for us to use during the Thanksgiving season by sharing fruits and breads from the middle aisle during our service.
Midge Kerr designed and made the Christmas hangings for the front side windows. They were hung in December for many years.