In 1838 the Presbyterian Board of Missions commissioned the Rev. Peter Dougherty to establish a community and school centered around Jesus in the Grand Traverse area. Just one year later in 1839 Dougherty arrived in the emerging port town Elk Rapids on the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay.

Shortly thereafter, Dougherty established a mission and school on the peninsula jutting out into the middle of Grand Traverse Bay. In 1852, this new mission evolved into the Old Mission as settlement opened up o the Leelanau Peninsula. Dougherty, with many of his students, moved to the New Mission, later called Omena, and continued their work in Leelanau county.

This is New/Old Mission - as far as we can tell - is the seedbed of the Gospel in the Grand Traverse area. No doubt, the story of settlement and development in our country is littered with hurt and challenges, but amidst all this change, six years following Dougherty’s move, in 1858, the first church is organized in Traverse City. By 1906 another six faith communities emerged in Traverse City as diverse expressions of God’s grace in a small lumber town.

Sojourn’ STORY BEgins

In 1922 when Charles Bowman founded People's Gospel Church on the corner of State & Barlow in downtown TC. In 1929 People’s became Immanuel Baptist Tabernacle and 12 years later in 1941 we began broadcasting Sunday morning worship on WTCM which, at the time, was the only radio station in TC.

In 1946 our story continued to evolve and we changed our name to Immanuel Baptist Church and joined the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches. 1958 marked the construction of a new building on the opposite corner of State & Barlow. Less than two decades later in 1975 we moved from downtown to McRae Hill and today the 16+ acres campus continues to offer options for future growth.

In 1990 we paid off our mortgage and have been debt free since! In 2007 we embarked on major steps to engage hospitably with our community and in 2012 a significant remodeling of our lobby enabled us to welcome others, as Christ has welcomed us (Rom 15). In 2014 we voted to change our name to Sojourn Church; a constant reminder that because Christ is for us we can be a church not for ourselves.

Today our story is not over. It’s just getting started. As we look forward to 2022 there is a beautiful opportunity to trust Jesus in the next step in our journey.


Holmes, Amanda J. Omena, A Place in Time. Omena Historical Society, 2003. Print.

Johnson, Walter. “Once Upon a Time in Old Mission.” Northern Michigan Journal. Web. 17 July 2012.

Leach, M. L. A History of the Grand Traverse Region. 1883. Traverse City: Grand Traverse Pioneer & Historical Soc., 1988. Print.