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First Christian Reformed Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2016 Cohort

First Christian Reformed Church

Grand Rapids, Michigan

First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was founded as one of the first four churches in the Christian Reformed Church of North America denomination.

First Christian Reformed Church courtesy First Christian Reformed Church

First Christian Reformed Church courtesy First Christian Reformed Church

2016 Cohort

First Christian Reformed Church

Grand Rapids, Michigan

First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was founded as one of the first four churches in the Christian Reformed Church of North America denomination.

In 1857, a small group of members left the Second Reformed Church of Grand Rapids over doctrinal differences, forming a Sunday Bible Study that grew into a full-fledged congregation. First Church played a prominent role in establishing six “daughter churches” in Grand Rapids as well as Calvin College (now Calvin University) and Calvin Theological Seminary. The congregation occupied two buildings in downtown Grand Rapids before commissioning architectural firm J&G Daverman to design a new church and parsonage in a residential neighborhood in 1911.  In contrast to other congregations, First Church elected to remain in its building instead of moving to the suburbs as the city’s demographics shifted in the 1960s. The congregation’s stewardship of and ongoing improvements to its historic building symbolize the church’s commitment to the city.

Today, First Church retains strong relationships with the neighboring community and partner organizations. The congregation funds a weekday drop-in center with a computer lab and public restrooms, participates in a food cooperative that supports 15 households in need, and mentors formerly incarcerated individuals. Every week, congregants tutor local schoolchildren and run programming with meals for children and adults. Students from Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary live on First Church’s campus, and the congregation partners with other churches and nonprofits to focus on issues of housing, physical and mental health, and higher education.

A National Fund grant of $100,000 with nearly $120,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation allowed First Church to restore the original stained-glass windows in the sanctuary, tuckpoint masonry, replace a boiler heat system in the 1960 wing, and remodel the former nursery into a space for high school youth programming. Upon completion, First Church reflected that the National Fund project enhanced its belief that the building is a “neighborhood asset that needs to be used in ways that strengthen the community,” including the development of new ministries and community partnerships.

First Christian Reformed Church courtesy First Christian Reformed Church

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

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