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Church moving into factory in Holland Township

AP Wire • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:22 PM

It isn't surprising to the Rev. Toby Gruppen that LifeQuest Church's next home will be in a factory. The Christ Memorial Reformed Church plant started in the back room at frozen-food-maker Request Foods as part of the Alpha program, a relaxed course in Christianity.

The church's next move was to a karate studio, before a Northside office park. Some summer Sundays, the church could be found meeting in Dunton Park.

Now the church of about 100 will take over unused office space at the Holland Awning Group on Chicago Drive in Holland Township.

"This is where people are," the LifeQuest pastor said. "Church has been so removed, off to the side of culture, and church needs to reinvent new ways to be where people are."

The company moved into the building about five years ago and never used this 5,783-square-foot section of office space. It will donate the space and make improvements to make it more usable for the church.

The congregation's leaders are trying to be good stewards of the church's resources, Gruppen said.

"His congregation isn't going to be the people who have a large economic background," said Todd Stockdale, vice president of corporate human resources of the Holland Awning Group.

The "eclectic diversity of folks" in the church and the factory fits well together, he said.

A sign at the company's entrance greets visitors and employees. In part, it says, "Live in faith."

The move started in the fall with an e-mail Gruppen sent to a few people asking if they had any extra space available. Holland Awning President Doug Buma, whom Gruppen knew through Christ Memorial, responded right away.

Another part of the arrangement benefits the company: Gruppen will offer his services as chaplain a few hours a week for Holland Awning employees who want someone to talk to.

LifeQuest has been around for a little more than three years. Gruppen describes the church as "real" and "authentic," a place where people from diverse backgrounds feel comfortable together. During services, Gruppen walks around the coffee shop-like setting and engages with attendees.

Many of the parishioners weren't church-goers before coming to LifeQuest. Still, he said, it doesn't shy away from its purpose — "in Christ's name, we are here."

The church will use the space for Sunday morning and evening worship services, as well as Bible studies and other informal services through the week.

— By Andrea Goodell, The Holland Sentinel

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