It’s never easy for a church and its members to end its active ministry. Yet in the midst of sadness, members of Central Christian Church, Grand Rapids, also are experiencing some celebration by leaving a legacy that lives on for years to come.
Almost one million will support Disciples and local missions
With assets close to $1 million from the sale of their church on East Leonard, and other restricted assets, they have set up an ongoing endowment fund in which annual proceeds will support several Grand Rapids organizations plus the Michigan Disciples of Christ region and conference center, as well as the denomination’s Week of Compassion.
“We chose to honor our tradition of service to the Grand Rapids community, to teaching and spreading Christ’s message in Michigan, and to supporting those in need in the United States and around the world by establishing a permanent fund that would continue our legacy of support into the future,” said Ron Osgood, Chair of the congregation’s transition team. “We all feel very blessed that we can be a blessing to others for years to come,” he added.
Central Christian partnered with the Christian Church Foundation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to set up the funds that will generate annual earnings in perpetuity to each of the selected organizations. A total of 55% of assets have been designated for Disciples causes with 45% going to six Grand Rapids not-for-profits.
Disciples receive 55%
The Disciples Michigan Region will receive 27% of endowed funds (approximately $260,000), plus a one-time donation of approximately $80,000 designated toward Crystal Conference Center facilities improvements. Annual earnings from fifteen percent of the regional endowment, approximately $115,000, has been designated for Crystal Conference Center scholarships to help offset the cost of summer camps.
Week of Compassion, the global emergency and disaster relief agency for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis, will receive 20% of distributed funds, approximately $192,000.
Six Local ministries receive 45%
“We selected six local non-profits for support based on our current relationships and on input from the congregation,” Osgood explained. “We chose a few smaller organizations in order to have more impact on each one, he added.” Local ministries each will receive approximately 7 to 8 percent of total distribution in endowment funds with annual earnings to the groups estimated at $3,000 to $4,000 each.
Local ministries selected were, Family Promise of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, North End Community Ministry, Oasis Community of West Michigan, Servants Center, and the Manasseh Project of Wedgewood Christian Services.
The church also has donated a significant amount of their furnishings and materials to several Disciples of Christ congregations and other churches across Michigan and Indiana.
Final worship service
Central Christian concluded its ministry on January 2 with a closing worship and de-consecration service, led by the Rev. John Delger, pastor for the past 13 years.
In a letter to the congregation, Rev. Dr. Theresa Dulyea-Parker, Disciples Regional Minister of Michigan and Illinois/Wisconsin, said, “I write to you on behalf of the regional church in Michigan and Illinois/Wisconsin, as well as the wider Disciples community, as you hold your last worship service.
“We may not be with you in person, but we are with you in spirit. The clergy from our two regions, including our General Minister and President, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens, are holding you in prayer… May God uphold you in remembering your legacy, and may you be strengthened for the way ahead.”