New Congregation Rises from Three Declining Churches

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When three Christian Reformed Churches in the Chicago suburbs found their membership declining, they knew it was time to talk. This year all three churches merged, giving birth to Grace Community Christian Reformed Church.

The new church’s vision is to preserve the Reformed witness in the area and also plant a new church within two years.

The former Kedvale Avenue, Evergreen Park, and Park Lane CRCs, whose combined history numbers nearly 250 years, all experienced declining membership as members moved south and west to newer communities.

“None were in danger of closing their doors tomorrow,” said Rev. Dan Ackerman of Christian Reformed Home Missions, “but over the next 10 years all three churches would have faced the possibility of closing. These folks were spiritually ready to engage in a conversation about what God would have them do.” Ackerman helped lead them through the consolidation process, and they began worshiping together on May 15.

Deacon Tim Goudzwaard said, “It’s amazing how God laid the path in front of us. We spent the summer getting to know each other and the facilities. We’re getting into the nitty gritty when we start the fall programs.”

The consolidation was not easy. There was pain in letting two ministers go. Rev. Duane Van Loo and Rev. Cal Aardsma led their churches into the consolidation process knowing it was likely their pastorates would end.

Until a new pastor is called, the congregation is being led by interim specialist Rev. Harvey Brink. “It’s a very exciting opportunity. The Lord has chosen to offer this challenge to a group of very good people,” he said.

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