Nortonville Gospel Chapel celebrates 125 years

Marie Havenga • Sep 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM

SPRING LAKE TWP. — Nortonville Gospel Chapel will celebrate its 125th anniversary this weekend with a pig roast, and the community is invited.

The event kicks off at 10:45 a.m. Sunday with a celebration service followed by a catered outdoor pig roast.

The church's history runs wide and deep, steeped in the hard-working values of a community committed to logging.

Back in 1893, when Thomas Edison completed the world's first movie studio in New Jersey and the first zipper was patented in Chicago, a community was building the church in the Ottawa County township of Nortonville, southeast of Spring Lake. Nortonville was a thriving community at the time, with the Norton Sawmill providing prosperity for locals. Thousands of logs were floated down the Grand River and shipped all over the United States.

Despite its employment opportunities, Nortonville had no place to worship.

A local woman named Louise Deremo saw the need and took action. She organized a Ladies Aide Society and sought to raise money to buy land for a church site through dinner and ice cream socials, quilting bees and prayer.

George Young donated land near the corner of Leonard Road and 144th Avenue where local volunteers built the small brick church with a bell tower, which still exists today. It was called Nortonville Baptist Church.

Sunday school was launched March 19, 1893, with 20 students and six teachers. Worship services were held when preachers were available — supplied by the Spring Lake Baptist Church, and later by the Spring Lake Presbyterian and First Reformed churches.

In 1956, the church’s name was changed to Nortonville Gospel Chapel to better reflect the non-denominational view of the congregation. A new sanctuary was added in 1987 and an education wing constructed in 2013.

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