The DOCK, an after-school ministry program in Wyoming, Mich., that is supported by several Christian Reformed Church congregations, recently marked its 15th anniversary with an announcement of several new ministry initiatives, including a new partnership with a nationwide nonprofit organization that builds beds for people in need.
Craig Van Hill, a CRC pastor who led First CRC in Waupun, Wisc., for 10 years, became the new executive director at the DOCK last fall. During a live video presentation shared on the ministry’s Facebook page, he outlined details of the partnership with the Sleep In Heavenly Peace organization.
Van Hill said he became aware that some of the students he works with lack a bed from one of the ministry volunteers. “Students told her they slept on the floor because they couldn’t afford a bed at home,” he said.
Van Hill did some research on ways to address the need for beds and came across Sleep In Heavenly Peace, which had chapters around Michigan but did not have one in the Grand Rapids area.
“They have ‘building days’ where anyone in the community can come and help us build beds. We provide tools and materials, and this community builds beds for each other,” Van Hill said during the video presentation. “When their beds are made, we can bring them to those who are most in need.”
The DOCK (an acronym for Discipling Of Christ’s Kids) serves the Kelloggsville area of Wyoming, a suburb of Grand Rapids. About 75% of the students who attend the local high school are eligible for free and reduced lunches because they come from low-income backgrounds, Van Hill said.
Before the coronavirus pandemic struck in the spring, the DOCK was open Mondays and Wednesdays, as students played basketball, foosball, ping pong, did crafts and practiced hip-hop dancing. About 30-40 students attended the program on a typical day. Each day’s activities included sharing a gospel message with the students.
From March until now the ministry has had to put connections with students on hold, instead preparing for when school reopens in the fall and building partnerships with other agencies, including youth ministries in Classis Grand Rapids South.
Other new ministry initiatives in the works at the DOCK include a partnership with the Michigan State University extension service to teach students the basics of computer coding and a gardening program, where students can learn to grow vegetables.
The ministry is looking for volunteers and financial support to help make some of these new ministry opportunities come to fruition.
“We’re teaching them what it means to grow things and what that means to us as creatures,” Van Hill said.