Dispelling Stereotypes in West Michigan

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When members of Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Mich., hosted members of Rosedale Park Baptist Church of Detroit for a weekend, it helped dispel racial stereotypes for both groups.

The visit was part of a cross-cultural partnership formed by the two churches two years ago to intentionally learn about each other and build relationships. The visit to Grandville by youths from the Detroit church marked the second time the two congregations got together. Trinity members previously traveled to Detroit, where the two groups worked on a service project together.

“We all came together as a whole,” said Rachael Kuipers, 15, of Trinity CRC. “It wasn’t as awkward as people might think.”

Trinity youths treated their Rosedale Park counterparts to conversation, movies, TV, and food. Rosedale Park member Taina Hughes, 20, enjoyed it. “Trinity people are my family,” she said. “They accept us, and I feel very comfortable being here.”

At the Sunday-morning worship service, Rev. Haman Cross Jr., pastor of Rosedale Park, emphasized unity in the diverse body of Christ. “We made a commitment to love each other. Can you spend time with people you don’t know and who don’t look like you?” he said.

Seven Rosedale Park youths led praise time singing. Cross and Trinity’s pastor, Rev. Gerald Koning, served communion.

Mary Ludwig, 49, loved the joint service. “The more people can get to know each other, the better,” she said.

Henry Smeenk, 81, agreed. “It’s unusual for a CRC to be in partnership with a Baptist church. I think we can all learn something from it.”

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It sounds like a beautiful service and a wonderful connection between two Christian congregations!

I am surprised they had to travel so far to find such a connection - perhaps there is a reason these two congregations have linked up from across the State. It does seem they could connect with near by churches and thus be able to get together more often. They could form deeper relationships.

This is not a criticism, I think what they are doing is wonderful. I think it's important to remember that there is diversity all around us. A stereotype of W Michigan is that it is a mono-culture, it is far from it. See the diversity that lives next door, down the street, across town.

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