Remembrance Church, Grand Rapids

Remembrance Reformed, Grand Rapids Michigan, USA


Info and corrections →

Mystery Worshipper:
Church: Remembrance Reformed
Location: Grand Rapids Michigan, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 9 April 2023, 10:00am

The building

This is a modern, spacious church, built about 20 years ago, with a central lobby with a glass oculus providing access to the sanctuary, chapel, fellowship and classroom spaces. The main sanctuary has an industrial construction , with block walls, small windows, a gable ceiling painted black, and a gabled stage with a plain cross. Two large screens on either side of the stage are used for video or worship lyrics.

The church

The church began life in 1952 as Leonard Heights Chapel, and became known as Remembrance Reformed in 1956. It belongs to the Alliance of Reformed Churches, which was formed in 2021 when the conservative churches belonging to the Reformed Church in America broke away over the issue of same-sex marriage. Remembrance has several adult programs, including Rooted, a 10-week ‘small group experience designed to connect you to God, the church, and your purpose’, plus study groups, discipleship triads, and youth programs.

The neighborhood

The church is in an open field located on a slight hill in a semi-rural residential area of central Michigan.

The cast

The worship pastor led the music, an assistant pastor gave the greeting and announcements, and the head pastor gave the message.

What was the name of the service?

Easter Service.

How full was the building?

It was completely full. They had to put out additional rows of chairs.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

The greeters stationed at the doors to the building and the sanctuary were very friendly, and welcomed us with, ‘Glad you’re here!’

Was your pew comfortable?

There were individual chairs with integral cushions that were very comfortable. While the rows were full, it didn't feel cramped.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

It was Easter, so there was much activity with people taking their seats and talking with others. It was clear that people enjoyed being in church and being with each other, and there were many conversations happening both before and after the service.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

‘Well, good morning, it’s great to be here this morning! What a beautiful day to come and worship our Lord Jesus Christ. We are glad you are here with us!’

What books did the congregation use during the service?

Bible verses and hymn lyrics were projected on the two large screens at the front. No Bibles or hymn books were available in the seating, but many people had brought their own Bibles.

What musical instruments were played?

The worship band instruments included a keyboard, drums, electric violin, electric acoustic guitar, and two electric guitars.

Did anything distract you?

During the closing prayer, musical background was played that I found extraneous and unhelpful. In the sermon, several affirmations were spoken by individuals in the congregation that I appreciated, even though they were slightly distracting.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

The hymns were mostly contemporary, and even the older hymn, ‘Victory in Jesus’, was updated musically and we were encouraged to clap along to it. Most of the worship favored songs with meaningful lyrics.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

41 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

8 — The pastor was an experienced communicator who brought his points forward well. What he said carried a sense of authenticity, that he believed what he was saying, and had an immediacy that made what he was saying more than an address. His style was conversational and at times interactive. He conveyed a sense of welcome, and multiple times addressed his comments to any guests that were there.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

It was Easter, so the topic was the resurrection, and the pastor compared interesting but almost unbelievable true facts as a way of highlighting that the resurrection may be incredible as well as true. The pastor kept bringing the sermon back to the person of Jesus Christ, and he finished with verses about Christ and an invitation to the congregation.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

The congregational singing of 300 (or more) people led by skilled musicians was engaging, but the inspiring part was the pastor’s focus on Jesus.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

The sanctuary is spacious, but both the sanctuary ceiling and the entire stage are black, and the many small windows along the sides were covered over with blinds so that the only light is artificial. It was welcome when they opened the blinds on the last song at the end of the service. I found it awkward when we were directed to turn to our neighbor – a stranger – and tell them how God had worked in our lives in the past week.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

I stood in the main courtyard for about 10 minutes, near where the tables of food were set out, and while many people walked past me, no one said anything or approached me. However, the people at the welcome station were very approachable and helpful.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

They had an abundant amount of bagels, danish pastries and fresh fruit set out in the center of the courtyard on two long tables that were self-serve. There was a coffee station as well.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

7 — I would be interested in visiting on a non-holiday, when it is less busy, to see how things might be different.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes, the service and the atmosphere were upbeat and positive, with a challenge to deepen your faith.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

That the pastor pointed to Jesus, and how well the congregation responded to the message.

Our Mystery Worshippers are volunteers who warm church pews for us around the world. If you’d like to become a Mystery Worshipper, start here.

Find out how to reproduce this report in your church magazine or website.

Comments and corrections

To comment, please scroll to the end of this report and add your thoughts there. To send us factual corrections, please contact us. We also discuss reports on our Ecclesiantics bulletin board.

© Ship of Fools