CRC Michigan Headquarters Getting $11M Right-Sizing Overhaul

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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.

About the Author

Gayla Postma retired as news editor for The Banner in 2020.

See comments (2)


There's an old adage in the uniformed services that goes something like this: When they build the new commissary it's a certain sign they're going to close the base. $11,000,000.00 to be spent on a HQ for denomination in precipitous decline. Why does this make sense to anyone? 

The following was announced when the BTGMI facility was sold in Chicago:

"The purchase price for the property has not been disclosed, but BTGMI says proceeds from the sale are being used to offset the cost of the move and will be earmarked for specific ministry needs, including building a new studio in the Grand Rapids denominational building. Work on that studio has already begun and is expected to be completed by March 2018. A large part of the balance will be designated for specific BTGMI outreach projects."

It was never clear to me why the sale price was not disclosed.

Now land in GR might sold for $2.4 million (?) and deferred expenses fund a further $3 million leaving $5.6 million to be borrowed for a total revamp of the GR HO at a cost of $11 million (2.4+3+5.6=11). How much has the recording studio cost?  These are all pretty big numbers for a church that might be heading for an income decrease in the next few years.

I am not sure how the $3 million capital campaign fits into these numbers. Either you have not deferred expenses or you do not need the capital campaign or you are spending the deferred expenses anyway and the total project is really $14 million.

My recollection as a farm lender was that farmers often buy new equipment every two years. Buildings and equipment are not quite the same.

I am not against having quality facilities to house staff. I just like the numbers to be out in the open and clear.

Harry Boessenkool