This is a true story of the grace of God at work in the life of a church:
As some of you may have heard, Providence Reformed Church burned extensively last week. This congregation is a group of Christians that split off from the Heritage Reformed Churches for reasons that were not related to doctrine or unbiblical practices on the part of the HNRC. They broke off of this congregation over a ministerial dispute with a pastor.
This week the HNRC offered the chapel at Puritan Seminary for Providence's Sunday services and educational instruction. The very minister that Providence Reformed opposed is now the one that is offering the use of 'his' building until Providence is able to have their building restored.
I see this as a great act of the grace of God in the life of a minister that has been very hurt by this schism. This is also to be seen as the grace of God in the life of a denomination- to offer their facilities to a group that publicly opposes them! May the Lord use this experience to heal this fracture within the body of Christ and call Providence to be reunited with their fellow believers.
Fire does $150,000 damages at Northeast Side church
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
By Dave Murray The Grand Rapids Press
GRAND RAPIDS -- Audrey Rusthoven pointed to the back corner of Providence Reformed Church as smoke poured through its windows. She thought of a day in 1960. "I got married in the chapel, right there," she said, fighting back tears. "It just makes you so sad to see this happen." Firefighters were called to the church around 12:30 p.m. Monday to put out a blaze that apparently started in the northeast corner of the basement and caused more than $150,000 in damage, officials said. Fire Chief John VanSolkema said firefighters broke windows along the back and side of the building to help knock down the fire, but he said stained glass windows and the sanctuary suffered only smoke damage. "I thought the guys really did an excellent job in there," he said. No one was in the building when the fire started, and a firefighter was treated at the scene for a minor injury. VanSolkema said the damage appeared to be contained to the basement and a room above the furnace that a parishioner called a "ladies' lounge." Investigators had yet to determine a cause. The church, at 1700 Coit Ave. NE, has been an anchor in the Northeast Side neighborhood since it was built in 1928. It was known as Bethel Reformed until 2000, when the congregation had dwindled to 35 aging members.
The building was passed on to a new congregation shortly afterward, said Irene Hart, who has worshipped with both groups. "I was just there yesterday," she said. "I've been going to church in that building for 50 years. My husband once worked as the janitor, so I know every square inch of it." It's the second large fire the church has endured. A 1994 blaze caused it to undergo a similar amount of repair. The church serves about 25 families, and is between pastors, although it has offered the job to someone, congregation member Elizabeth Rozeboom said. Neighbor Kirstyn Stevens said she came home for lunch, saw smoke and called firefighters. She ran into her house to grab her cat, Peanut, and some prized family photos. "It was pretty scary because I didn't know if anyone was inside the church," she said.