Revival without revolution : the story of how a white, agricultural church became a multi-racial, multi-generational body of Christ
Nestled along the Little Calumet River, 20 miles south of the city of Chicago, lies the 165 year old First Reformed Church in the historically Dutch village of South Holland, IL. With a rich and proud history as a flagship congregation in the Reformed Church in America, “First Church” has experienced a quarter of a century decline in membership, an exodus of younger families to more affluent areas in the Southwestern Suburbs of Illinois and into Northwest Indiana, and a lull in congregational morale amidst a rapidly diverse community that now is nearly 70% African American. Dynamics of sharp change experienced in racial migration resulting in a changing community, the legacy of past, consistorial leadership and in corporate worship haven given voice to charter a course for a future season of ministry.
As a result of racial migration, conflict in worship and a growing sense of congregational despair, First Church was forced to confront their ecclesial mortality in their given context for ministry. Together, they entered into a corporate journey of transformation that changed their congregational composition and renewed their congregational structures and practices which have led to a more robust sense of their identity as God’s diverse people and their purpose in God’s kingdom. This is a story of revival without revolution and a story of how a white, agricultural congregation became a multi-racial, multi-generational body of Christ.