From Music Stand to Pulpit
by Jenny deGroot in The Banner (CRC Publication) on April 5, 2012.
Pastor Grant Vander Hoek and his congregation were intrigued when a large item covered in a painter’s blanket was carried to the front of the sanctuary one Sunday morning at Mission Hills Community Christian Reformed Church in Mission, British Columbia. As Vander Hoek prepared to deliver his message from behind his usual music stand, he was interrupted for a timely unveiling of a new pulpit for the sanctuary.
The donor, who prefers not to be named, had found acceptance, love, and care at Mission Hills during a difficult time in his life. He had listened to many good messages but was bothered by the fact that Vander Hoek stood behind a music stand. The pulpit was his gift to the church.
The man said, “I have been coming here for the better part of eight months, and never have I felt so welcome in all my life. But one thing is wrong. When I am listening to Grant talk, it doesn’t feel right that he is speaking from a black music stand, so we are here to change that this morning.”
The pulpit is made from reclaimed wood and features a compartment for storage and a cross. Vander Hoek said, “It suits our church perfectly and is the perfect height for me.”
Mission Hills Community CRC has many hopes and dreams. Organized from a church plant, the church is tucked against the coastal mountains north of Abbotsford. With a membership of only 80, the church had set project priorities. A pulpit was not high on the list.
The donor has since moved on, but the pulpit reminds Vander Hoek and the congregation of paths that crossed and a gift that was given back to the church.
“If only I could have videotaped the reaction of the people in church,” says Vander Hoek with a smile. “It was amazing. Clapping, cheering, crying, the whole nine yards.”
Mission Hills CRC gives back to its community as it begins building campaign
The Banner, March 1, 2015
Mission Hills Community Christian Reformed Church in the town of Mission, B.C., is so grateful for where God has brought it that it has decided to give a portion of its building campaign to a community project for at-risk youth.
A series of small miracles unfolded to shape the church’s approach. It began with church member Gary Unger reading an article in the Banner in early 2013 about Trinity CRC in Goderich, Ont., which tithed from its building project to support a church in Haiti. A family connection to Trinity CRC provided the details of how the campaign was organized.
“Mission Hills CRC began as a [Christian Reformed] Home Missions church plant about 17 years ago. But the last two years have brought significant growth in the church membership, so we felt it was time to have our own building,” explained Roger Hoekstra, president of the church’s council.
“We also wanted a chance to serve … in the community, and then God put the Mission Youth House right in our laps,” Unger added.
Mission Youth House will serve as a resource for young people ages 14 to 25, providing mentorship for job interviews, cooking, parenting, and other skills the youth need to gain independence in difficult circumstances. “We are the family of God, but we realize not all young people have families to rely on, so we can step into that role in some way,” explained Unger. The house will be run by a separate nonprofit society in connection with local governments and Youth Unlimited. Local businesses and other community organizations have also come alongside the project as sponsors.The project involved renovating an old house; about 30 church members have been busy installing the kitchen, painting, and doing electrical work
“God has blessed us as a church, and we want to show our gratitude by sharing with others as well,” Hoekstra said.
The church has posted a video about its story and building campaign on its website.