A new housing project on the campus of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS) was completed at the end of December 2018. Fifteen of the sixteen apartments are occupied by students and families, while the remaining unit was left unfinished for use as a food pantry.
Apartment size is approximately 950-1000 square feet. In addition to two bedrooms, they include bathroom, laundry room, storage closet, as well as kitchen, dining, and living area. Each apartment has a private entrance and patio. Appliances and furnishings are standard, and furniture is provided if desired.
The facility is especially welcome to international students, studying in the United States on scholarship dollars. Paul VanEngelenhoven, at PhD student from the Netherlands, and his family moved from another apartment in Grand Rapids to the new campus facility on December 30. “The housing has been a great blessing already,” he says. “Being close to other families going through the same process has been a tremendous encouragement and enhancement of the learning process.” He explains that while he enjoyed fellowship with students and faculty, his wife and children (2 and 4) felt more isolated when they lived off campus. “Now my wife and children feel part of the Seminary, the community, and the purpose of our being in America.”
A shortage of affordable housing in the greater Grand Rapids area and an increasing student enrollment at PRTS led to the student housing plan, according to Chris Hanna, Director of Development and Marketing. The Seminary’s executive committee, Board of Trustees, and Heritage Reformed Synod approved the proposal in 2017. The project was built by B.D.D. Construction of Cedar Springs, MI, and sits on land southwest of the main building. Of the $2.7 million project total, about $300,000 remained to be raised.
Students who meet income requirements set by the government may take advantage of the food pantry, open on Tuesdays and staffed by four to six volunteers. Food is purchased by the local Heritage Reformed Congregation, and each week volunteers obtain a large trailer of items from Feeding American in Grand Rapids.
Mr. Hanna says, “It is the hope that these beautiful facilities will not only provided our on-campus students affordable housing, but many, many opportunities for Christian fellowship that will help to shape the thinking, hearts, and characters of each of the individuals living in them.”
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 10 of the February 15, 2019, issue of Christian Renewal.