As we look back over the past 40 years, we see the unfolding of God’s plan as He established an assembly of His people called Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC). We rejoice in what God has done and will continue to do through us as we together serve our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our humble beginning was in 1977 with the closing of a Burton Heights CRC mission work called the Griggs St. Gospel Chapel. At that time, Mr. Henry Buikema, a CRC evangelist, was leading a mission work called the Grandville Gospel Fellowship. Mr. Buikema leased the Griggs St. Building (306 Griggs St. SW) for $1.00/year and began holding services there.
With financial assistance from the OPC, Griggs St. Chapel became a particular church of the OPC on September 9, 1979, adopted bylaws, and elected three elders and three deacons. A call to Mr. Buikema to serve the congregation as its first pastor was also extended. On September 23, 1979, he was ordained as a Minister of the Word in the Midwest Presbytery and served our congregation until 1981. (His widow, Mrs. Wilma Buikema, was a member of our congregation until she passed away.)
Rev. Robert Borger served as pastor from 1981-1986, but it was under the leadership of Rev. Calvin Malcor (who happens to be the father of member Deanna Chupp), who led the congregation from 1988-1992, that the Griggs St. OPC changed first its name and then its address. On August 13, 1989, its name became Harvest OPC, and on June 23, 1991, its home became the Calvin Christian Elementary School. That move was an important step for the congregation as it gave them room to grow! Whereas the average morning attendance in 1991 was 63, our current average morning attendance is around 415 and growing. The congregation was without a pastor for 2-1/2 years following Rev. Malcor’s departure.
The Midwest Presbytery approved OPC minister Rev. Doug Felch to serve our Session and the congregation as a pastoral advisor from 1992 -1995. The Lord was gracious in providing us with Mr. Felch’s pastoral leadership as he had just moved to Grand Rapids to work towards Th.M and Ph.D degrees at Calvin Seminary.
Mr. Dale Van Dyke preached his first Harvest sermon on January 15, 1994, and was extended a call from the congregation in May 1994. Since he was a seminary graduate and needed to stand before the Presbytery to take his ordination exams he was not yet eligible to receive the call but served as our stated pulpit supply from August 1, 1994, to his ordination on May 5, 1995. We are grateful for Pastor Van Dyke’s faithful preaching of the Gospel and continue to be blessed by his ministry among us still today.
In 1994 we were also blessed to have retired OPC pastor Ray Commeret move to Michigan and later serve the congregation as an adult Sunday School teacher, elder and as Associate Pastor of Visitation from 1998-1999. Both Ray and his wife Rosemary have since passed on.
After an extensive search for an associate pastor, Mr. Francis VanDelden was extended a call to serve Harvest in September, 2005. Since he had just graduated from Westminster Seminary California earlier that year, he began working as an intern until he sustained his ordination exams in January, 2006. On February 17, 2006, he was installed as Harvest’s associate pastor. In 2011, the Lord called Pastor VanDelden to ministry at another church in the OPC.
Through the years Harvest has continued to grow. In 2008, we moved into our own building at 930 52nd St SW. We immediately grew in size, reaching capacity in a little over five years. From this growth in ministry, a core group of members volunteered to participate in a church plant. Mika Edmondson was hired as an Associate Pastor at Harvest as New City Fellowship worked to launch. New City Fellowship held their first service on Easter Sunday in 2014, and became a particular congregation in June 2017.
In the spring of 2014, Mr. Jeff Shamess was hired as a year-long intern and ordained and installed as our new Congregational Life Pastor in October 2014. In June 2015 Mr. Wayne Veenstra was hired as a year-long intern. And in May 2017, he was ordained and licensed as an Associate Pastor here at Harvest OPC.
The Lord has been very good to his children at Harvest. What a delight to serve such a rich Father. Looking back over the years, we can even see how past blessings are bearing present fruit! God is gathering a family with a love for one another and a remarkable delight in worshiping the Lord. God is at work! We praise God for his faithfulness in the past and are relying on it for the future! Soli Deo Gloria!