Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ, a Cleveland landmark, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009. Founded by progressive, faith-filled individuals, the church is poised to continue its mission for the next 150 years.
Pilgrim and its history are intertwined with the Tremont neighborhood and the greater Cleveland community. From humble beginnings Pilgrim rose to influential heights, later faltered then experienced re-birth and renewal. Like the Tremont neighborhood where it’s located, Pilgrim church has an intriguing, storied past and bright future. Today, as the church enjoys a new period of revitalization and growth, its members seek to witness to a new generation of believers a message of extravagant welcome, inclusivity and social justice.
In The Beginning...
Pilgrim Church was born two blocks northeast of its present location, near the site of the current Tremont Elementary School. The Rev. William Brewster, a Wesleyan Methodist, came each Sunday to preach in a small red brick schoolhouse which was then a part of the Brooklyn Township school system. Originally the building had been a part of Cleveland University. The University existed for a few brief years and for a time the area was known as University Heights.
University Heights Congregational Church, Pilgrim’s predecessor, was founded on Sunday, November 13th, 1859, in the little red schoolhouse by 34 charter members. The group included 5 Wesleyan Methodist, 10 Methodist Episcopal, 4 Presbyterian and 11 Congregationalist. Outsiders expressed doubt that a church comprised of individuals with such diverse ideas on religion could hold together. However, with Rev. Brewster as their first pastor, the congregation moved forward asserting, "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity."