Project Small Creatures at Trinity CRC in Grandville, MI

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Trinity Christian Reformed Church is located near the mouth of Rush Creek where it empties into the Grand River. Most of Rush Creek has been channelized and is used primarily as a drain for snow melt and rain water in southeastern Ottawa and southwestern Kent counties. Unfortunately it is not seen as a natural resource. 

Ten years ago I preached a series of messages on types of stewardship: financial, time, talents and creation. I spent some time reflecting on Article 2 of the Belgic Confession. Here we learn that we come to know God through the universe that God has created, preserves, and governs. This universe is like a “beautiful book in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God.”

I began to wonder how many small creatures I could find in Rush Creek that would make me ponder the eternal power and divinity of God.  So I contacted an Ecologist from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and asked if we could adopt a section of Rush Creek to keep clean. The ecologist told me that we could also do annual macroinvertebrate studies and submit the results to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). I thought this would be a great way to get to know some of the “small letters” that would help us ponder our great God. We have been doing annual insect collection events on Rush Creek ever since. 

In 2015 we decided to apply for a MiCorps Start Up Grant to train more people in macroinvertebrate identification and also to learn how to organize insect collection events.  We were awarded a grant of about $3,000. 

We are the only church to have ever received this grant, and we have now trained five people on our Stream Team to supervise river insect collecting events. 

One of the requirements of the grant was that we attend a conference with dozens of environmental organizations and make a presentation about what we are doing with our grant monies. 

I was the only pastor there among people with graduate degrees in environmental science and ecology. When it was my turn to present, I unapologetically said that we are a church and we have a strong calling to care for God’s creation. 

I said the church has often been very negligent in this important task but we want to change that by leveraging our contacts with other churches to raise an army of volunteers who take caring for our watersheds seriously.

After my short presentation five different people came up and talked to me about how impressed they were that a church was getting involved in an important environmental issue. Some were shocked and asked why. I was able to tell them that as Reformed Christians we believe that God is the owner of every square inch of this creation and Christ died for its restoration. 

Trinity has since applied for a two-year $14,000 grant to expand our macroinvertebrate studies and begin enlisting many more churches in this important task.

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Thanks for posting, Gerry, and even more, thanks for taking on this project.  I have done some stream invertebrate study myself, and found it fascinating and eye-opening, a window into the wonder of creation that is right in front of us, but usually goes unnoticed.   I completely agree with you that we have a "we have a strong calling to care for God’s creation".  I am so grateful that CRC congregations across North America are taking this responsibility seriously.  Thanks, Trinity,  for taking a leadership role in our denomination!   And good luck with securing your 2-year grant. 

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Love this! It's great to hear about Trinity's passion for creation care. Please keep us updated on this project and other future creation care projects you may take on. Keep up the good work!

Thanks for putting your love for God and your "neighbors" into action, and then sharing that with us. As an upstream neighbor of this church, it is inspiring to me to know that there are others who put their faith in action by showing up and counting macros! I've seen kids suddenly come to life when they realize that things live in the creek.  These little insects have a lot to say if anyone is willing to slow down and listen. The type and quantities of insects reflect the health of the stream environment, and that alone is a life lesson worth experiencing.  Slow down, show up, take notice, and take action. Keep up the great work, Trinity CRC!

Wow great work Trinity. Thank you for being such an inspirational example of what local creation care means. I hope your work has ripple effects in the hearts of all those who are involved and learn about this project. 

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