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Our History

The long awaited book about our history is here! This Far by Faith: The Unfinished Story of Madison Square Church describes our roots, God’s blessing over the years, the launch of multisite congregations, and the challenges He’s brought us through. A fascinating story of Madison’s first 100 years, captured in photos and prose.

This portion of the Madison website will contain additional information and various resources that went into the creation of our printed history.  What you’ll see as we add content will hopefully add to our shared legacy God graciously conceived here at Madison Square over 100 years ago.

The book is available for $15.95 at the Soul Pantry Bookstore.

For other questions about the book, contact the church office, 616.245.7791 or office@madisonsquarechurch.org.

Link to enhanced historical Timeline (created by Brenda Schulyer):
Downloadable PDF

Link to a power point highlighting some of the history of Madison:
Youtube link

Projects in the wings include previously written papers, old member directories, biographies of former church leaders, old photos, articles, and tidbits.

  • 1914: Madison Square Christian Reformed Church began as a storefront gospel mission through the initiative of Pastor W. P. VanWijk, the pastor of Oakdale Park CRC. It was called Madison Square Gospel Mission.
  • 1942: Tom Afman hired as Madison’s full-time lay evangelist and Mission Coordinator
  • 1943: Gertrude Holkeboer was hired as a second full-time staff person. She served for 11 years, much of that as a volunteer.
  • 1947: Afman left and Pastor Walter DuBois was called to lead the work at Madison. At this time Madison began to work toward becoming an organized, self-supporting church.
  • 1951: A new facility was built on Lafayette, just two blocks west of Madison. The building served as the meeting place until the summer of 1979. It was called Madison Square Chapel.
  • 1962: Pastor DuBois left to take another position. Mr. William Navis, an un-ordained graduate of Reformed Bible Institute, took up the work at Madison.
  • 1967: Pastor Geurkink was called by the supervisory board to serve as pastor at Madison.
  • 1970: After 56 years as Madison, the mission organized to become Madison Square Christian Reformed Church. Pastor Geurkink’s ministry helped the church consolidate its position.
  • 1974: Pastor Geurkink left Madison Square CRC and accepted a position at Calvin Seminary. A call was extended to Pastor Virgil Patterson. In September Pastor Patterson passed a “Colloquium Doctum” and became the third black ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church. His installation at Madison in October of that same year made him the first black Christian Reformed pastor to serve in the Grand Rapids area.
  • 1975: Madison hired a second black staff member, Mr. Tom Raysor, to concentrate in the area of youth work. Mr. Raysor was of Baptist background, was a graduate of a Bible college, and had pastorally been working for the Grand Rapids Christian Development Center. At least by way of appearance, Madison now seemed to have a staff able to work effectively with the congregation and the community. In July, four black families were baptized into the church. This was a very positive move toward integrated fellowship.
  • 1977: In June, Pastor Patterson resigned because of racist attitudes within the denomination and lack of openness to charismatic expression. In November, Pastor David Sieplinga arrived. He sought to develop in the church an identity as the Body of Christ reaching out to those in need. Madison began to see itself as a church that welcomed those who did not fit, the outcasts of society. If you didn’t “fit” anywhere else, you probably could “fit” at Madison. At this time there were 27 families, 63 communicant members, and 86 total members at Madison.
  • 1978: During the summer, Mr. Raysor resigned. The council met in an emergency session and decided to extend a call to Pastor Dante Venegas, a Puerto Rican from New York City. In September, Pastor Venegas accepted the position of “Minister of Evangelism” at Madison. Pastor Venegas and Pastor Sieplinga worked together to demonstrate that reconciliation is possible in an integrated fellowship. They set an example for the rest of the church and community by going out into the community together to serve and witness, claiming the neighborhood for Jesus Christ. The membership at Madison grew dramatically during the next few years. The building on Lafayette became inadequate for the needs of the church.
  • 1979: In early summer, 12 people committed themselves to receive training in evangelism and go out into the community once a week. Each week the group met and received instruction for 30 minutes, then went calling for 45 minutes. Many of those contacted became members of Madison. In August, a building vacated by Immanuel Presbyterian Church became the new residence of Madison. This building was about five times larger than the old building and came equipped with a fellowship-gym room and many classrooms. The congregation joyfully took its new home and grew to fill the building.
  • 1981: In October, 50 families, 135 communicant members, and 225 total members belonged to Madison.
  • 1982: Pastor Sieplinga took a call to Chicago. Then Pastor David Beelen was called. Pastor Beelen became co-pastor with Pastor Venegas. They formed a pastoral partnership which lasted until 1996.
  • 1985: Having reached the capacity at the morning worship service, a second morning service began.
  • 1988: In January, having reached capacity at two services, a third morning worship service began. The church committed to buy more land and expand the present facilities to accommodate the fast paced growth while at the same time remains committed to planting churches.
  • 1991: In December, a new sanctuary was completed. Almost immediately it was necessary to conduct two morning worship services. The Sunday morning attendance was approaching 800 souls. More and more people were being sent out by Madison to do mission work.
  • 1996: In August, after 15 years of partnership with Pastor Beelen, Pastor Venegas took a position as chaplain of Alternative Directions. The search began for a new co-pastor.
  • 1997: In June a call was extended to Pastor Samuel Reeves of Liberia, West Africa. He accepted the call and he was joyfully inducted as our co-pastor.
  • 2003: We began doing ministry based on our spiritual gifts, which are given to everyone by the Holy Spirit.
  • 2004: Pastor Sam was called to return to Monrovia, Liberia as the Pastor of Providence Baptist Church. He accepted and agreed to return to Liberia in 2005.
  • 2005: The Sunday morning worship schedule was changed to add a third worship service to allow more room for guests and more time to build community in Sunday School classes. Joy Bonnema, Cisco Gonzalez, and Alton Hardy were called to join Pastor Dave and together they formed the Preaching Team.
  • 2006: The church leadership is considering how best to grow the church because much of our space for ministry including Sunday morning worship is cramped. Creating new sites and connecting to worship through a video connection is one option being seriously considered.
  • 2007: Making Room for New Faces in New Places was our theme for a fundraising campaign to introduce new people to Christ. The funds were raised to renovate and add space to the current building, purchase a new building at 1401 Madison SE, and begin a worship service in a new location to reach new people.
  • 2008: A fourth Sunday morning worship service was added in a new location at the Gerald Ford Middle School about a half mile north of the church. Attendance started around 140 souls.
  • 2009: Strategic Planning to align ministry efforts and unify church begins.
  • 2010: Madison Place building renovation complete in November. Thank you AMDG Architects for the incredible design and Pinnacle Construction Group for the renovations.
  • 2011: Master Planning begins in earnest seeking to align the way we live out ministry life to better reflect our Vision, Mission, and Shared Values. Ultimately this leads to a refining of our ministry strategy which are defined in the Vision, Mission, and Shared Values.
  • 2012: Master Planning continues to define and direct our ministries and we realize that there is a pathway that connects all of our efforts, helps connect people, and helps them grow. We begin to call this our Disciple-Making pathway and are encouraging all congregants to grow themselves through this process to become a Disciple Maker. Pastor Brad Knetsch takes up the mantle of Campus Pastor leading the Ford congregation. Pastor David Beelen celebrates his 30th anniversary as Madison’s pastor.

 

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