While vacationing in West Michigan in 1970, Rev. Ron Beyer was invited by his former high school speech teacher to preach at a Sunday evening service at Christ Memorial. Soon after that event, Rev. Beyer was installed as Christ Memorial’s third pastor on November 1, 1970. At that time the church consisted of 167 families and 626 members.
Soon after Rev. Beyer’s arrival, the consistory advised they needed to reduce the budget by $10,000. He challenged them to not cut the budget by $10,000 but raise it by $10,000. The following year’s budget was raised from $125,000 to $185,000, marking a turning point for the church reflecting a generous spirit among the congregation that has become a hallmark of the church.
Consideration was given to move the church to a more visible location in the Holland area, but a decision was made to stay where they were at the current location. In 1975 a project was approved to build a new south educational unit as the congregation’s size increased. Previously the church purchased the property located just south of the existing building on Graafschap Road to make more room for parking. The building included new classrooms, a fellowship hall, fireside room, a two-story office building, and a courtyard. It was dedicated “To the Glory of God” in June 1976. The church even attracted a family of ducks with little ducklings settling in the courtyard. The staff had to “sweep” them out of the courtyard and through the hallways so they could get outside.
Due to rapid and exciting growth from 1972 to 1978, three additional ordained staff were added: Rev. Donald Hoekstra as Minister of Education, Rev. Dick Doeden as Minister of Congregational Care, and Rev. John Kimmons as Minister to Youth. There was training in evangelism with a focus on reaching out to others. Bethel Bible Series became the center point for education. Because of an increase in youth, the “white house” parsonage became the youth house.
A key moment came when the “Z” Rock Band presented a concert. Following that event, an attempt was made to be contemporary and still bless the traditional. There were two worship services on Sunday mornings and one at night. Outreach ministries included becoming involved with the start of Community Action House in Holland and reaching out to people living in the Meadow Lanes Apartments.
The Bridgebuilder began monthly publication in March 1972. This written communication to all the church members included the Senior Pastor’s “Corner,” consistory notes, the nursery schedule, the monthly financial statement, the Women’s Guild’s news, Sunday School news, new members, favorite recipes and other relevant information about the happenings in the church. In 1978 Christ Memorial consisted of over 1,400 active members, 2,300 baptized members, and a budget of over $500,000.
The message of Christ Memorial to the community was, “To all who need rest, to all who need comfort, to all who need friendship, to all who need hope, to all who sin, to all who need a Savior, this church opens its doors, and in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord says ‘Welcome.”
Many broken lives were attracted to the church and God healed them. One expression of this message was that a funeral needed to be conducted for a motorcyclist who had died. The funeral director called Christ Memorial and Rev. Beyer agreed to conduct the service. Many of the cyclist’s friends attended. Several weeks later, one of the couples who attended the funeral asked Rev. Beyer if he would marry them which he did. Subsequently several members of the Road Knights attended worship at Christ
Memorial. This was also a time when divorce rates were increasing. Part of Rev. Beyer’s ministry was extensive counseling to young families which resulted in many people coming to Christ Memorial.
However, Rev. Beyer’s ministry ended abruptly in 1978 resulting in his deep sorrow and regret for the pain he caused the congregation. Rev. Hoekstra was asked to step into the role of interim pastor.