The URC building at 1001 East Huron was erected in 1962 at the height of Ann Arbor’s brief flirtation with modernism. Irreverently nicknamed the Holy Toaster because of its slab-sided design (by Gunnar Birkerts, who also did Domino’s Farms), it served its congregation for forty-six years—but the marriage wasn’t made in heaven.
“The building had issues,” Kim says. “The sanctuary is four stories high and made of concrete, so in the winter when you turn on the heat, it was never more than sixty degrees in there.”
After taking over as pastor in 2005, Kim soon concluded the building was “hindering us from doing basic ministry. Our demographics had changed from students to young professionals with children, and we needed a space that would better suit our needs.” Renamed Grace Ann Arbor, the congregation now meets in the U-M Modern Languages Building.
But the URC’s departure doesn’t mean that the Toaster will no longer be holy: the Harvest Mission Church has bought the building. Founded in 1996 by pastor Seth Kim—no relation to Sung Kim—the congregation first met in Angell Hall with a membership Seth Kim describes as “ninety-nine percent college students and one guy who worked for GM who made forty percent of the donations.