Learning rather providentially that First Cutlerville would be celebrating their 125th Anniversary as a church, I suggested to my wife that it would be right for us to forgo Covenant CRC and join the festivities. She readily agreed!
As Classis Grand Rapids South’s Stated Clerk and Regional Pastor, I wanted to share with one of our congregations and its pastors the joy of celebrating God’s faithfulness. First Cutlerville is not Grand Rapid South’s oldest congregation, I believe Kelloggsville claims that position, but being First sounds like it could’ve been. 🙂
Arriving in time to ensure seating, we sensed an air of excitement, heard a multitude of buzzing of voices and were welcomed repeatedly by their membership. We were off to a good start! We were seated by a friendly usher who recognized us as grandparents of several of his students at South Christian. Our anonymity blown, we entered into an attitude of worship as the pianist played an engaging rendition of a familiar hymn. A former pastor, Dan Gritter, welcomed everyone and led in the “Prayer for Church Anniversary.” (It’s not in the Lift Up Your Hearts!)
Upon receiving God’s Greeting, we were welcomed profusely by fellow worshipers as we greeted one another. (First Cutlerville must like guests joining them!) All of this buzzing was followed by the First Cutlerville Centennial Hymn: “Your Hand, O God, Has Guided.” We responded with a reading of Psalm 90 and singing “O God, Our Help in Ages Past,” “Ancient Words,” and reciting the Apostles’ Creed. All done with great enthusiasm!
Another previous pastor, Ken Van Wyk, led in the congregational prayer, reflecting the reasons for the celebrating. Further appropriate liturgy, including an offering of thanksgiving, followed as we anticipated Rev. Stan Mast’s message on “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” With a text like that, what could go wrong? Preacher Mast did it justice and we followed his lead and sang, “Now Thank We All Our God.”
Our celebrating entered an even more intense level as the interim pastor, Dr. Doug Kamstra, moved us into worship and remembrance by way of The Lord’s Supper. How climactic and appropriate! Guests and members joined together as part of one body, remembering one Lord, and determined to serve one Lord!
We are one faith with many faces!
As is right, we sang again. God’s people are a singing people and congregational singing continues to be such a powerful affirmation of our being together as one body. We sang, ”God is Here,” but knew it too! Now and for over 125 years! Reason to rejoice! Rev. Walter Swets then pronounced, as he had done for so many years, The Blessing of our God as we were concluding our time together. As invited, others joined the choir and praise team to sing “Revelation 19” with zest and anticipation. We listened and our hearts quickened.
Will First Cutlerville CRC be around for another one hundred and twenty five years? Only its Lord knows! But, it has living members and a life-giving message. May they enjoy God’s grace and blessing as they’re faithful in living and proclaiming it—until the Lord returns!
Shirley and I headed home, a little guilty for missing our “own” church, but more than grateful as we’d been enriched by sharing First’s celebration.
We’re in it together!
Pastor George Vink