In September 1902, a group of women from the Methodist Churches of the Grand Rapids District organized a club to do settlement work. They selected Irene Cummings, a Deaconess, to supervise the project. The place of operation was a store building on Ellsworth Avenue. The program included classes for kindergarten and early elementary children (all girls). By the second year, two evenings a week were devoted to a program for boys. As the project grew, Irene Cummings was succeeded by Bertha Clark with Nellie Shorter as an assistant. Classes were offered in Bible study, citizenship, cooking, sewing and handy-crafts. Already the program was beginning to meet the needs of ethnically-diverse people, among them several Syrian families.
After a decade of service, it was evident that here was a growing and deserving program that merited expansion. Property was purchased at 314 Wealthy Street. Individuals were chosen from several Methodist Churches to serve on a governing board. The name of the organization was changed to the Methodist Community House. As the project grew, financial support was obtained from the Woman’s House Missionary Society.