Young and old gathered around the outside of the sanctuary to celebrate the joining of two churches and two cultures. It was a merger service for Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church and the Chinese Christian Assembly in Denver. The two churches, now known as Hillcrest Christian Church, joined their congregations to bless those in and around their church as well as future generations.
Newly formed church gathers to celebrate the merger of the Chinese Christian Assembly and Hillcrest CRC.
“Going into the merger, we saw the vision that we could bless one another,” said Ruth Febriana, pastor of the Chinese congregation. In 2010 Hillcrest had approximately 20 to 25 people attending their services. That number has now doubled. Pastor Tom Draayer reflected that the merger with the Christian Reformed Church is providing the Chinese church with the ability to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
Before joining the CRC, many in the Chinese congregation took membership classes led by Draayer. Febriana is seeking ordination in the CRC, which is a two-year process.
Merging two churches and two cultures has not been easy. “We are very solidly agreeing on the main teachings of Christianity and what that means. But there are some differences,” said Draayer. “There are still a lot of unknowns. We recognize this but we don’t worry about it. The Lord has brought us this far.”
Draayer credits the prompting of the Holy Spirit for the merger. The process began three years ago when the Chinese congregation asked to use Hillcrest church’s facilities. “We saw the generosity of Hillcrest. They said, ‘Come and use our facility!’” said Febriana. One year later, Hillcrest applied for a Sustaining Congregational Excellence grant to explore options for doing ministry with the Chinese congregation.
The new church now offers Sunday services at 9:30 a.m. in English and at 11:30 in Mandarin. Once a month the church has a combined service with a potluck afterward.