in the city, ‘as one who serves’
affirming and welcoming all as Jesus
with doors and hearts open wide
‘to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.’
Covenant Church was organized on May 15, 1920. As the pages from the wonderful historical account Covenant Chronicles attest, there is very little written about our beautiful building. This is duly noted because at Covenant, the emphasis has been on people and ministry. The church is not a building. The church is a people, and the church is ministry. Throughout her history, the common threads of worship, education, music, rich fellowship, and authentic servanthood weave together a tapestry of deep gratitude.
The following persons have pastored Covenant over the years:
- 1920-1922: Rev. Oliver Droppers
- 1922-1925: Rev. Bernard Mulder
- 1925-1947: Rev. James A. Stegeman
- 1948-1954: Rev. William Miller
- 1955-1963: Rev. J. Robert Steegstra
- 1964-1969: Rev. Harlan E. Ratmeyer
- 1970-1983: Rev. Bruce A. Menning
- 1978-1982: Rev. Robert Huizenga
- 1972-1979: Rev. Richard Rienstra
- 1981-1986: Rev. Eugene Sutton
- 1984-2009: Rev. Miriam Bush
- 1984-Present: Rev. Mark Bush
Covenant has traveled through many challenging hills and valleys over all its years, and there seems to be a consensus that she always had the right pastor at the right time. The relationship between pastor and congregation has typically been strong and positive, and we understand that said relationships are a primary reason that Covenant has traversed those hills and valleys with a strong sense of faith, purpose and grace.
Covenant has always been diverse and mission-oriented. That probably started right at the outset. For a Reformed congregation, Covenant was never real Dutch, although many of our steadfast, life giving members over all the years were, and are, of Dutch descent. That is probably probably because the Covenant neighborhood has always been diverse. In 1920, …the citizens of Muskegon Heights were largely working people. Many had emigrated quite recently from eastern and southeastern Europe; a fairly large segment came from western Europe including the Dutch, German, English and Scandinavians, and a very few were from minority groups… So, we have been diverse and inclusive from our outset, and mission-oriented as a result.Several transition points stand out in the history of Covenant Church, including the challenges associated with the great depression, World War II and its aftermath, and the transition from the economic security of the years following World War II, to the transition and subsequent uncertainties of the sixties and seventies. In short, our neighborhood changed dramatically. What was once stable and middle class, was and is now very, very poor and at-risk.
Here is the God Thing: In the transition that sent most white, middle class churches off for the suburbs, Covenant, by the grace of God, found its defining call, to be: In the city “as one who serves”. So now, while we lift up our call to worship, learn, pray, and care, we also thank God for the call to keep incarnational ministry constantly before our eyes and in our hearts. Diversity and inclusion is at the core of our very being. It is more than just tolerance. It is a call to share in the thirst of Jesus. Jesus had a thirst for those left out of the mainstream, be it poverty, discrimination, disability, or any wall we erect to keep people out. We pray we are always breaking down our own walls, so we may continue our Journey: Inward, Outward, and to Community.