The fate of the Christian Reformed Church in North America’s denominational building at the corner of Kalamazoo Avenue and 28th Street SE in Grand Rapids, Mich., has been in question for some time. The denomination’s U.S. Ministry Board, in a specially-called virtual meeting Aug. 30, voted to approve putting the property up for sale. It will be listed this fall according to a Sept. 1 announcement from CRCNA’s communications department.
That same announcement said, “While the property is listed for sale, a staff team will continue exploring options for another location that will suitably meet the denomination’s needs and its vision for the future.”
The board had approved a vision, but not a concrete proposal, for the future of the Grand Rapids office at its May meeting. The vision, sketched out by a task force of several ministry staff, was for a building solution that will be more “accessible and flexible,” offer a “ministry showcase” and pursue “more shared spaces and resources.”
Michael Ten Haken, president of the U.S. Ministry Board, said that although the board had previously empowered its executive to to act in a legal capacity on behalf of the board regarding this property, “we did not yet know if selling the property would be the way forward. Once the recommendation to sell was received from the building futures task force, we reconvened the board to update, inform, and seek their endorsement for what was, at a previous time, one of several options.”
The U.S. Ministry Board is made up of members from each of the U.S. classes (regional assemblies) of the CRCNA. It’s responsible for governing the ministry of the CRCNA that takes place in the United States. Ten Haken, Jill Feikema, John R. Lee, and Drew Sweetman currently serve as its executive committee.
Ten Haken said, “The board desires to be stewardly with the resources we’ve been given while also providing a functional and enjoyable work environment for our staff. This decision (to sell) will help achieve those things so that we can continue to serve our churches and classes well.”
Dan DeKam, who became director of U.S. ministry operations in July, said three factors have contributed to the situation of having a bigger building than what’s currently needed: removal of the printing presses that used to print The Banner and other in-house publications; the relocation of World Renew staff at the beginning of 2022; and realities of post-COVID work habits where more people are working remotely or on a hybrid schedule.
The per-square-foot maintenance costs of the current building aren’t so high, DeKam said, “it’s just that there are so many square feet,” and much of that space isn’t regularly used. “All the money that we have comes from people giving to the good work of the church and we want to make sure that money is being used as well as we can.”
DeKam said that he, the denomination’s chief administrative officer Shirley DeVries, and ministry support services co-director Dean Heetderks are working with consultant Jonathan Bradford on relocation plans.
“A complete set of options are being considered,” DeKam said, including sharing a building with a potential partner, new construction, or renovating an existing building. The group is actively looking for what’s available and what would best meet the ministry needs, he said.
All current ministries and services working out of the 28th Street SE address would move together, De Kam said. Those include ReFrame Ministries, Resonate Global Mission, Thrive (the congregation-supporting agency that recently brought together nine separate ministries), the Office of General Secretary, ministry support services, finance, human resources, and information technology support.
The Canadian office of the Christian Reformed Church in North America is in Burlington, Ont. It completed a renovation of its 30-year-old building in November 2018. Canadian staff of Resonate, ReFrame, Thrive, World Renew, as well as advancement, finance, HR, and the transitional executive director, Al Postma, work out of that space.