By Judy Reed
Just two years after celebrating 50 years as a congregation, Pioneer Christian Reformed Church sold the church building and property, at 3110 17 Mile Road, west of Meijer, without knowing where they were going to meet. They just knew that God said it was time—so they took a leap of faith.
According to Pastor Jim Alblas, the congregation had purchased 60 acres of land at the corner of Algoma and 17 Mile about 12 years ago, with the intent to someday build. He said that at the time, the congregation had seen increased activity, with more young families, and a need for a larger facility with bigger classroom sizes. “They were looking for a structure that would be more enticing and were looking to the future,” he explained.
But that was as far as it went. They listed the church for sale, but didn’t actively pursue selling it. “Then one day out of the blue we got a call asking if it was for sale,” explained Alblas. “They must have gotten it from an old listing.”
Alblas said they listened to the offer from the Catholic Church of Grand Rapids, and then had several congregational meetings on it. “We felt God was calling us that way again, to build a new facility. Maybe we had gotten cold feet where we were and this was His way of telling us it’s time.”
So, Alblas said the congregation of 100 people did something unorthodox in the business world. “We took a leap of faith and agreed to sell it without knowing where we were going to go until we could build,” he said. “If operating by business standards, that’s not something we would do.”
But God provided a place for them at the Cedarfield Community clubhouse, just west of Meijer. They currently meet there for worship and hold Bible studies in people’s homes. They also have a committee working on the blueprint plans for the new facility. With the sale of the church, they were able to pay off their 60 acres, and can now focus on building.
“We will probably build in phases, and add on as we go along,” explained Alblas. There is no set time for completion of the building.
When they sold the church and property, they also sold the parsonage, so Alblas is looking to buy a new home for his family. “I have until January, but we are already looking for a new place,” he said.
The congregation bought and built on the property they just sold in 1958, and was officially recognized as a congregation in 1961. They started out meeting in 1950 at Pioneer School on 19 Mile Road, as an outreach of Grant Christian Reformed Church.