City on a Hill Celebrates 10th Anniversary

When a church in Zeeland, Mich., bought a hospital 11 years ago, it was one prayerful step of many toward turning a vacant medical building into City on a Hill Ministries (COAH), now celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The former hospital now provides low-cost office space to an array of 45 local and global ministries. The aim of City on a Hill is to serve those who serve.

“It’s a great place,” said Grace Spelde, managing director of Wings of Mercy, a transportation  ministry. With COAH’s low rent, she said, “We have that much more money to put into our ministry, so we can help more people.”

COAH also runs a free health clinic, a crisis mentoring ministry called ATLAS, and a vibrant, newly renovated cafe frequented by ministry partners, volunteers, and the general public. 

Turning a 100,000-sq.ft. medical facility into an office building was no small feat, especially on a shoestring budget. “It was an act of faith from its very inception,” said director Gary Ellens, a member of Brookside Christian Reformed Church in nearby Grand Rapids, Mich. “God was working through a number of different threads,” he said.

One such thread was Haven CRC, which played a key leadership role in getting the project off the ground. The church made an offer on the newly vacant building and helped secure financing. The accepted offer and mortgage were soon transferred to the new ministry’s leadership. Since then, COAH has enjoyed steady growth, reaching full capacity within eight years.

Living Threads has flourished since it moved to COAH from a single-stall garage. With six times the space, the ministry can now create 85 memory quilts a year for those grieving the loss of a loved one. But COAH has provided much more than space. “It gave us credibility and a safe place where anyone could come. It gave us visibility and a lot of networking,” founder and executive director Jill Dannenberg said. “They are always available to help us with whatever we need.”

A luncheon in June will kick off the official anniversary celebration. A fundraising campaign will also mark the ministry’s 10th year by focusing on 10 projects, including paying off the mortgage.

About the Author

X