If you had attended Lafayette Christian Reformed Church’s 150th anniversary celebration, you would have heard a lot of stories.
There’s the one about the nameless traveling worker who went to Wayside Chapel, built by Lafayette CRC in the 1960s, to pray on his way to work. “Wayside Chapel has served as a refuge of prayer, a needed time with God, and a way to bless many unknown brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Rev. Mark Bonnes, copastor of Lafayette CRC.
There’s the story of the Ladies Aid, a group that was established in 1914 and raised money to pay off church debt and fund the Christian school through their home-cooked meals. “But it was not their money-raising efforts that spoke volumes,” said Rev. Ashley Bonnes, the other copastor. “It was their acts of kindness and compassion in the duty of writing cards so that the sick and shut-ins knew they were loved, or in the devotionals written to increase the faith of the church, or in the funeral luncheons that were served to those just returning from burying a loved one.”
There were stories of the church building itself, what it offered, and what it held. “The Big Church” was built 86 years ago, just as the Great Depression began. In 1950, Lafayette Christian School was built; today the school hosts over 300 students. The church still has the Dutch-language Bible donated 125 years ago by Rev. Marcus Marcusse, pastor of the church from 1889-1894. It sits on the church’s communion table as “a reminder that what is central to God’s people is the Word of God,” explained Mark.
Lafayette’s history is not without conflict and uncertainty. There was a split within the church in 1888. “According to legend, someone nailed the doors of the church shut with a sign, that said, ‘The Gospel is no longer preached here,’” Mark said. “The stories of this church are as long and as complicated as the lives of its people,” said Ashley.
However, all the stories point to God’s faithfulness. We tell them, explained Ashley, to be reminded of that faithfulness. “We have gathered here to hear the history of this church and to give praise to God. This covenant community is 150 years old, but that is just a drop in the bucket of the thousand generations that God speaks of in his promise. May we all remember God’s faithfulness for the future.”
About the Author
Callie Feyen is a writer living in Ann Arbor, Mich. She attends First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. Callie writes news for The Banner and contributes to Coffee+Crumbs, and T.S. Poetry Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is the author of The Teacher Diaries: Romeo and Juliet, and Twirl: My Life in Stories, Writing, & Clothes.