>The following article appeared in the September 15, 2010 issue of Christian Renewal, and is one of two reports of news from Classis Michigan of the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA).
URCNA Classis Michigan: One new church plant
by Glenda Mathes
God’s grace and His sovereignty are reflected in the name of a new URCNA church plant on the northeast side of Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace URC.
About 200 people attended the group’s first worship service on August 15 in the Vos Chapel at Kuyper College. Trinity URC in Caledonia, MI, supervises the church plant, and its pastor, Rev. Brian Vos, led the inaugural worship service.
Rev. Vos preached on “The Acts of Jesus Christ” from Acts 1:1-3, pointing out Luke’s understanding of Christ’s ascension as the pivotal point between his gospel and his book of church history.
“In Luke’s gospel, the ascension of Jesus is the culmination of His earthly work,” says Rev. Vos. “In Acts, the ascension of Jesus in the beginning of His heavenly work. I sought to emphasize the theme that Jesus is alive and active. Machen put it this way: ‘The church is founded not upon the memory of a dead teacher, but upon the presence of a living Lord.’”
The church plant began when some families saw the need for a committed Reformed witness on the northeast side of Grand Rapids and began meeting last March.
Brad Baker, one of the organizers, explains: “A group of committed Reformed families believed the need was real for witness on the northeast side of Grand Rapids and possessed a desire to work toward planting a confessionally Reformed church.”
He elaborates that while the new URCNA plant will fill a geographical gap for many believers, it is also the group’s desire to go beyond merely maintaining a Reformed witness to reach unbelievers with the riches of the Reformed faith.
Toward that end, the group sought the spiritual oversight of Trinity URC, which was granted by the council early in May and approved by the congregation early in June.
Also in June, a Bible study began meeting in the homes of some members of the core group. Five to seven families are represented at each Bible study, which is led by that evening’s host. Mr. Baker explains that some of the core group are already members of Trinity and others will be become members soon.
From the start, the group’s goal was to begin holding worship services by the end of the summer.
“Since we believe the official preaching of the gospel is the primary tool God uses to build His Church,” says Mr. Baker, “we believe it is necessary to have that official proclamation as we—under God’s blessing—seek to build His church in northeast Grand Rapids. From a more human perspective, it is much easier to invite folks to become a member of something that is official and tangible.”
Continuing worship services are scheduled for 9:30 am and 5:30 pm at the Vos Chapel. Trinity URC will continue to supervise the preaching of the Word by sending an elder to each worship service. Pastors scheduled to lead the services come from the URCNA, the OPC, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Seminary (PA), Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and the Church of Scotland. Plans are for sermons to be available for listening or downloading at SermonAudio.com.
For more information, check out the group’s website at http://www.sgurc.org or the blog at trinitychurchplant.blogspot.com. Contact information for Sovereign Grace URC is firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-676-6075.
“We are excited to be moving forward,” says Mr. Baker, “and cannot adequately express our wonder at the doors the Lord has opened and the blessing He has poured down to this point. It would be easy to complicate this work and over-humanize it. Pray that God will keep us in reliance upon Him and His Word. Out ultimate end is not men or numbers; our ultimate end is the glory of God.”