What does it mean to love our neighbors? More than 25 members of various Christian Reformed churches and ministries in Holland, Mich., gathered recently to reflect on this question at the area’s first Modular Home Ministry Summit.
They gathered at Maranatha CRC for a conversation about the blessings and unique challenges of ministry in Holland’s modular (or manufactured) home communities. Mark Quist, senior pastor at Park CRC and chair of Classis Holland’s mission-focused team, which organized the event, said a key theme of the evening was working alongside people in these neighborhoods “rather than for or to them.”
The group included a resident of a mobile home park in nearby West Olive. “It was awesome to get that firsthand perspective,” said Jennifer Roudebush of Neighbors Plus, a nonprofit ministry run by Harderwyk Ministries. Neighbors Plus offers an alternative suspension program for local students, many of whom are residents of a modular home community.
Art Van Wyhe, pastor of outreach and missions at VictoryPoint Ministries, enjoyed the chance to hear what others are doing and to share some of what VictoryPoint has learned through trial and error. The church has been building relationships at a local mobile home park through several avenues, including food distribution, repair projects, social events, and mentoring. The summit was helpful for “connecting and listening to each other,” he said. “We need to collaborate. No doubt we’ll be working together.”
Not every church will have connections with a mobile home community, but Quist believes the summit may stimulate further and perhaps broader conversations about how churches reach out to their neighborhoods. “This may lead to a larger discussion about how we as churches become better neighbors where the wholeness of the gospel is communicated [in a way] that is built on relationship.”