In January of 1994, a meeting was held in the basement of Hope PRC to discuss the possibility and feasibility of forming a new congregation. On June 5, 1994, we began separate services at the Grand Valley Orthodox Christian Reformed Church on the corner of 8th Avenue and Lake Michigan Dr. We had to work around Grand Valley’s services, which were 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. We met at 1:00 in the afternoon and 7:30 in the evening.
Our pulpit was always supplied by either visiting ministers or seminary students. Rev. P. Breen consented to preach three Sunday evenings each month for us. Two elders and one deacon from Hope PRC came to each service to “watch over us,” as we were yet members of Hope.
By October 1994 our group had grown to 22 families and a committee of three was appointed to work toward organization. In February 1995, our group requested permission from Hope’s Council and Classis East to organize. When Classis East met in First PRC (Grand Rapids, MI), on May 10, our request was granted.
Organization as a church took place on Thursday evening, July 6, 1995. The front 13 rows on one side of Hope PRC were reserved for the families taking part in the organization. We all walked down the aisle together as a group. We began Grace PRC with 23 families and 9 individuals—55 confessing members and 52 baptized members.
Our first building committee went right to work looking for suitable land to purchase for a church building. In February, 1996, they sent a proposal to the Council to consider buying land on the corner of Leonard and 14th Avenue and also renting a house for our first parsonage. Both were approved at the congregational meeting held February 26, 1996. However, as we were proceeding with building plans, in December of 1997, the congregation of the Grand Valley OCRC decided to disband and offered to sell us the church and parsonage.
Our Council proposed to the congregation to accept the offer and to purchase an additional 2.4 acres of land directly to the north of the church property. These proposals passed at the congregational meeting on January 7, 1998. Already in March, we had to enlarge our sanctuary. We did this by removing an existing interior wall behind the pulpit area, which gave us quite a few more rows of seats. In 2001 we again needed to expand and put a large addition onto our church along with rooms for Sunday School classes, societies and larger catechism classes. In 2017, we began construction on a new sanctuary, converting our previous meeting area into our fellowship hall. The new sanctuary included a new organ and piano, and should last us for many years.
Rev M. Dick was our first pastor and faithfully served us for 12 years. Due to some conflict in our congregation regarding his homeschooling, he was released as our pastor in June 2008. The period of time without an under-shepherd was very short, for Rev. R. VanOverloop accepted our call to come over and help us. We witnessed his installation on November 23, 2008 as our second pastor. We are thankful for his ability to lead us through a rather difficult time and that he continues to this day, making plain the truth of the Scriptures.
As we approach our 25th anniversary as an instituted church, our congregation, by God’s grace, has grown numerically as well as spiritually. According to the recent Acts of Synod, we now have 97 families, 96 in catechism, with the total number of souls being 386. We are thankful for our church, our mother church, and above all, to God. Great is His faithfulness! And may His faithfulness inspire us to be faithful to Him (Lam. 3:23).