On October 28, 1915, 24 men in Grand Rapids, Mich., met to talk and pray about the need for a new church. These family heads were members of the Sherman Street and Oakdale Park Christian Reformed Churches.
Both Sherman Street and Oakdale Park originally conducted worship services in Dutch. Neland Avenue CRC was one of the first churches in Grand Rapids to conduct services only in English. Although membership dwindled at times, the church has grown to include over 655 members.
Centennial celebration organizers Karen Weaver and Harry Boonstra commented on the changes Neland has undergone since its beginnings, noting that worship has continued to accommodate the changing times.
“Neland follows a blended form of worship,” they wrote in an email, “using traditional hymns, a great variety of instruments and international music traditions. [Members of] all ages participate in worship—from liturgies, ensembles, dance, dramatic interpretations, prayer gathering and testimony.”
During the centennial celebration, the church also implemented a story share program into their services. All members of Neland are invited to record a story or memory experienced in the church. These memories are shared during the offering in the worship service and during an after-church adult education class.
“Neland is a church on a journey” Weaver and Boonstra continued. “We seek to minister to our community, remain united in the face of cultural change, carry each other through life’s trials, and rejoice in the amazing gift of grace through Jesus Christ.”
The church’s month of celebration included a church picnic and block party. Celebrations will continue into December, ending with a centennial banquet.