Michigan Churches Expand Water Quality Efforts

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Efforts by a Christian Reformed congregation in West Michigan to improve the water quality of a creek that runs near their church are expanding with additional churches joining the campaign.

Trinity Christian Reformed Church in Grandville, Mich., has worked on the water quality campaign for nearly a decade; joining them are Messiah CRC in Hudsonville and Fairway CRC in Jenison. Other congregations are also getting involved, along with public school students from Jenison and Hudsonville.

Trinity CRC members collect samples of insects and other organisms from the creek, which are a sign of the health of the waterway. Gerry Koning, Trinity’s pastor, uses passages from both Genesis and Revelation, as well as from Article 2 of the Belgic Confession, to illustrate the importance of caring for the water that is part of God’s creation. “God gives life to everything, and his means of giving life is a river,” Koning said. “Rivers are a metaphor for spiritual life, but also physical life. God has placed his imprint on all that he has created.”

Getting more people involved will result in more areas being sampled for water quality, Koning said.

A late June event gave people from the three churches an opportunity to be trained on how to properly collect samples and identify insects, which are then forwarded to state environmental officials.

Melissa Dykema, whose family attends Trinity, says getting involved in the restoration is an important spiritual and biological lesson for her three daughters, ages 10 to 14.

“If we can be a part of that restoration of God’s creation, it’s wonderful,” Dykema said.

Nate Meldrim, pastor at Messiah CRC, said Rush Creek runs along the southern border of their church’s property. The son of a retired environmental scientist who studied water quality, Meldrim says getting involved in the study was a natural fit.

“In participating in the stream study, I hope that as a congregation we will grow in our understanding of the charge to be stewards of creation, and in the process grow in our appreciation for how great God is by looking at the smallest of his creations,” Meldrim said.

Fairway CRC pastor Dave Den Haan agrees. His congregation decided to get involved after Den Haan met with Koning last winter to learn more about what Trinity has been doing. “I then shared that information with our people here—our social justice deacons particularly. I used the project as an opening example in a sermon recently,” he said.

Trinity CRC recently received a grant of more than $13,000 from the state to expand its efforts to study water quality on Rush Creek, which is a tributary of the nearby Grand River, one of the state’s longest rivers. The church partnered with the local township on the grant.

About the Author

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

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