Reverend Edward Jarvis Bottum was born on Palm Sunday April 5, 1936 to Curtis Edward Bottum Sr. and Gladys Jarvis Bottum in Ann Arbor MI. He had a beloved older brother Curtis (“Bill”) Edward Bottum Jr. He had a happy childhood with the love and support of his parents and brother.
Rev. Bottum graduated from University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s in Business, then earned a law degree from University of Michigan. He practiced law in the army for 3 years. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was stationed in Texas and stayed up all night writing wills for soldiers who thought they were headed for nuclear war. On leaving the army, he worked in international law in Washington DC. During this time, he had a life changing dream in which he felt God calling him into the ministry. He graduated from Andover Newton Seminary in Massachusetts and became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He was the pastor of Smith Memorial United Church of Christ in Grand Rapids MI for 3 years and helped them develop a community outreach program including a food pantry, a clothing supply and a youth ministry group.
In 1973 Rev. Bottum left Smith Memorial to form Koinonia, a non-denominational church. Koinonia was his life’s work. He believed passionately that “every person is a child of God and endowed with infinite worth” as he wrote in a song he composed for Koinonia. He was deeply moved by the dream of Martin Luther King Jr and was proud of the fact that despite the segregation which can run so deeply in American Christianity, Koinonia always had active members of African and European descent. Pastor Ed was especially drawn to (some said gifted in) working with people who experienced mental illness, intellectual disabilities or past/current incarceration. He believed that no matter how many mistakes one has made or what limitations one has, there is always great potential in each person to make a difference in the world. He ministered to people in practical matters such as giving them rides, helping them move and buying them food. He also continually believed in the value and worth of each person and tried to support them emotionally and spiritually. Rev. Bottum earned a Master of Social Work from Western Michigan University in the 1980’s, specializing in addiction.
In 1959 Ed married Mary Peacock Bottum, the mother of his 2 children, Kathleen Bottum (born 1962, life partner Shelley Tischkau) and Christopher Bottum (born 1970, wife Jennylyn Daarol Bottum). All survive him. Ed and Mary divorced in 1974. Ed had 2 long term relationships with first Orpha Meyers and then Willella Barnes; both preceded him in death. Ed was delighted by the pregnancy of Jennylyn and Christopher. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to see the birth of his first grandchild, a boy expected in May 2021.
Rev. Bottum died on Feb. 4, 2021 of cardiac complications from a house fire (which started when he fell asleep smoking in bed). Memorial service(s) will be the afternoon of Sunday, February 28, 2021 at Koinonia Church, 707 Eastern Ave. (please RSVP your contact info to MKD Funeral Home, 616-377-9207). Covid restrictions will apply (masks MUST be worn and there is a limit on the number of people at any one time in the church). We will try to accommodate all who wish to attend. Services will be recorded and available the following day at www.mkdfuneralhome.com. Rev. Bottum will be buried near his parents and brother in Forest Hill Cemetery, Ann Arbor MI. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Koinonia or the charity of your choice.
Finally, please remember Pastor Ed’s motto – “God loves all people!” This applies to you and everyone you meet.
- Tammy Johnston
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