A plan to give the Christian Reformed Church’s U.S. headquarters an $11 million overhaul got the green light from the CRC’s Council of Delegates in early October. (The Council acts on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church’s annual synod when it is not in session.) Necessary maintenance that has been deferred makes up about $3 million of that cost.
John Bolt, the CRC’s director of finance and operations, told The Banner that the overhaul is to make the building “more appropriate for our ministry into the 21st century, including right-sizing the facility” and making it more compatible with current collaborative ministry practices.
Bolt told the Council that the current building has excess space. “We have a 130,000-square-foot building and only need about 90,000,” he said. He said the current building was put together in five different stages over several decades, the newest section being 35 years old. “We’ve also changed the use of the building. We used to have a printing and bindery area, but have discontinued printing.”
At its October meeting, the U.S. members of the Council approved the plan, and it was subsequently endorsed by the whole Council.
The north section, the oldest part of the existing building, will be demolished. Excess warehouse space will be converted to offices. And deferred maintenance projects such as a new roof, air handling equipment, and repair and paving of the parking lot will be completed.
To pay for it, part of the 13 acres currently owned by the denomination will be sold. An additional $3 million will be raised in a capital campaign and the remaining $5.6 million will be borrowed.
Delegate William Koopmans from Classis Hamilton wondered about the timing. “It is interesting timing while also reimagining ministry shares. How might this impact the denomination? Will it be perceived as suddenly money being spent in Grand Rapids as we transition?” (Reimagining ministry shares is the current proposal to turn funding of denominational ministries into a pledge system.)
“We’re always able to look at various things that might impact something else,” Bolt replied. “It is a large organization of moving parts. We’re looking at a stewardly way to make the number as appropriate as we can.”
Delegate Wendell Davelaar from Classis Northcentral Iowa supported the plan. “You don’t see farmers use the old combine," he said. "They reach the point where they spend for a new combine. They do what they have to do to do the job.”
The Canadian headquarters of the CRC, in Burlington, Ont., was recently renovated and expanded at a cost of $3 million. The CRC’s office and recording studio in Palos Heights, Ill., were sold in 2018 and the operations of Back to God Ministries International were consolidated into the Grand Rapids facility.