Restarting a New Life

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Located in California’s Napa Valley, Valley Community Christian Reformed Church considered shutting its doors. The congregation’s membership had dwindled.  

But then a turnaround began in 2009, when Valley Community elder David Burma met Rev. Ron Vanderwell, who planted a Sacramento-area church in 2000, with support from Christian Reformed Home Missions.

David Buurma and his wife Laurie, who helped re-start Valley Community CRC

Vanderwell sensed that God wanted the two to work together. The men and their spouses prayed about this and eventually moved ahead, deciding the church needed a restart.

After hearing the idea, the 40 members of the church prayed and considered the proposal, then unanimously decided to close for a time and restart.

Over the next nine months, members met in homes, prayed, planned, and strategized. The process proved difficult. Many did not have the energy to continue, and membership dropped to nine people.

The church returned to its building on Easter 2010, but the struggles remained. Two more people left. Discouragement set in. Was God still calling them to this? 

After praying for a month, the Valley Community congregation was convinced God wanted this restart. Within a month of recommitting, the congregation received grants from the denomination and classis (regional group of churches).

 “We started with nine people and now average about 25 to 30 on a typical Sunday morning,” says Burma. “We continue to see new people almost every Sunday, which is very exciting.”

The church offers one daytime and one evening Bible study, a chronic pain support group, a “20-Somethings” group, and a community garden.

Home Missions, its West Coast Regional Team, and Classis Central California are partners in this rebirth.

Burma attended the Sierra Leadership Development Network, a local Home Missions-funded and mentor-driven church-based leadership program. He became an ordained ministry associate and was installed as Valley Community’s bi-vocational pastor.

In February, Burma and his wife, Laurie, attended the Fresh Start training event, a joint effort of Home Missions and the Reformed Church in America Church Multiplication and Revitalization Team.

“This church is a miracle,” says Burma, “but if we really want to see God work in a huge way, we need people to pray for this ministry.”

About the Author

Laura Posthumus, Christian Reformed Home Missions
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