Churches Come Together at Intersection
Things were at a crossroads at Intersection Ministries in Holland, Michigan, in 2014.
Two separate congregations—the well established Grace Community Church (RCA) and the relatively new Crosswinds Community (CRC)—had come together a few years earlier to share worship, facilities, and programming in their north Holland neighborhood. They became Intersection Ministries, a multicultural, joint effort to more effectively reach their largely Hispanic neighborhood.
In 2014, Grace’s pastor left, and Intersection looked to Art Wiers for help. For the next year, Wiers, head of Specialized Transition Ministries for the Regional Synod of the Great Lakes, assisted the church, along with Jeff Meyer, the pastor of Crosswinds, through the next steps of discernment and decision-making. One of the most difficult tasks, Wiers says, was to align the staff with Intersection’s renewed mission and vision to become more multicultural.
“That meant needing to bring in a Hispanic pastor,” Wiers says of the results of their discernment. (Meyer understands some Spanish, but is not fluent.)
So Intersection hired Tito Venegas, a native Costa Rican, to serve alongside Meyer. Venegas has been helping Intersection move toward multicultural ministry.
“It’s challenging with differing cultures and languages, but we have one thing in common, and that is Christ,” says Venegas. “Change is hard, but we want to have a kingdom-of-God focus and put others before ourselves.”
Intersection’s morning worship is in English, with Spanish translation provided via audio headsets. Earlier this year the church started a twice-monthly Sunday evening worship in Spanish.
“When you’re trying to shift to a multicultural ministry setting, sometimes you want to throw it out there all at once, and it’s too hard and you lose people,” says Venegas. “We decided to have space where our Hispanic members could worship more easily, so to speak, and read the Bible and hear songs in their heart language.”
At a recent Spanish service, English translation was provided.
The bilingual Venegas says the language he uses in ministry depends on the activity. “Some weeks we have a Spanish Bible study, so that’s in Spanish, but our community nights are in English, although there are some kids there who speak Spanish,” he says. “Basically I try to do 50–50.”
Meyer says Venegas’s gifts are serving him and the congregation well.
“Crossculturally he is masterful in how he handles himself,” says Meyer. “I think he has been well embraced and is making connections, getting to know the community, and building a foundation with some core people who give the prospect of bringing growth and future leadership to the ministry.”
With Venegas on board, Intersection is successfully including its Hispanic neighbors and members.
“Recently we had a mission opportunity with a local non-profit, fixing up a home for a housing project,” says Venegas. “Twenty volunteers were there, a mix of youth and older, Hispanic and Anglo. It got people talking with each other in ways they wouldn’t have on Sundays.
“I’m excited about the future.”