Thanks to a newly installed community ice skating rink, Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Zeeland, Mich., is now a hot spot for cold-weather recreation.
The project was jumpstarted by a $2,000 Mission Initiative Fund Grant from the Classis Zeeland Evangelism Team. The church contributed over $4,000 in additional funds toward the completion of the project.
The idea for a rink came from Daniel Kinnas, pastor at Bethel, during the church’s participation in The Church Renewal Lab, a two-year program through Calvin Theological Seminary that focuses on congregational renewal.
“Last year I was thinking of ways we could use our property during the winter to connect with our community. We have several things we do during the summer, including a community playground on our lot, but we didn’t have anything during the winter,” Kinnas said. “We thought this might be something our community would be interested in, and through which we could bless and get to know our neighbors more.”
Dan De Haan, a member at Bethel, found a 70 x 32 ft. (roughly 21 x 9.5 m) commercial rink for the church. After the site for the rink had been graded with fill, De Haan installed it with his son and a couple of church neighbors willing to lend a hand.
Despite unseasonably warm temperatures and only word-of-mouth advertising, the rink is getting good traffic. “It is right out my window,” said Kinnas, “so I’ve been able to see several people using it. We’ve also had several people call us to ask about it, so I know the interest level is there.”
Currently there are no restrictions on hours of use. “Night skating is an option,” said De Haan, because of parking-lot lighting. No hockey is allowed, but due to requests, broomball may be an option down the line.
De Haan has set up a portable canvas garage where people can put on their skates. The church has also begun collecting used skates for people to borrow if they don’t have their own, and there is talk of providing hot chocolate on occasion.
The church is looking forward to this warm, welcoming ministry being around for many chilly Michigan winters to come. As De Haan put it, “This year is just the christening party.”