West Michigan Church Observes Centennial Anniversary

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A West Michigan church whose colorful history includes church members using a ferry to get to Sunday services in its early days is marking its 100th anniversary this spring.

Hope Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Mich., is celebrating its centennial with worship services on April 24 and May 1.

Jerry Elders, chairman of the celebration committee, said the congregation began in 1916 in the Riverbend area of Walker, a city northwest of the current location. At the time, it was one of the first churches in that area. A ferry would bring some members across the Grand River to services. “Back then, many people didn’t drive or have cars like we do now,” Elders said.

The congregation also survived a 1925 split that resulted in one faction forming a Protestant Reformed church. Hope CRC relocated in Grandville in 1937, meeting first in a feed mill and then in rented space above a downtown retail store.

A so-called “basement church” was built at the church’s present location in 1940 and then a white wooden structure in 1942. In 1954 a new structure was built over the previous structure, and services went on without interruption. Once the new building was completed, “they removed the original building from the inside, board by board,” Elders said.

Church growth led to a building addition and remodeling in the late 1980s. Today Hope CRC has about 175 members. Its community outreach program includes working with students from a nearby elementary school. During the Christmas season, Hope hosts its “Trees of Hope” Christmas tree display on a vacant lot next to the church building.

About the Author

Greg Chandler is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.