History of URC
In 1959, the Synod of the Great Lakes, (of the Reformed Church in America) then known as the Synod of Michigan, initiated a campus-community ministry on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Two years later the newly formed congregation called its first pastor and began its building program, which resulted in the construction of University Reformed Church of Ann Arbor across Huron Street from the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
The Synod had a similar vision to establish a campus-community ministry at Michigan State University in East Lansing. In 1963, under the leadership of the Reverend James Schut, the Synod purchased a building site on the east side of Hagadorn Road across from the MSU campus.
The Synod’s goal for its ministry was to establish a congregation that drew worshipers from campus as well as non-university people who lived in the surrounding community. Part of the Synod’s vision included the desire to meet the spiritual needs of young men and women who came from Reformed Church families to a campus that grew to over 40,000 students by the end of the 1960s.
In 1966, the synod called Tom Stark to fulfill its vision for God’s work at MSU. He had graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 1962, had been licensed by the Chicago Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, USA, and had worked for four years on Intervarsity staff in Chicago and Urbana, Illinois. Tom Stark was ordained into the ministry in September 1966, at Immanuel Reformed Church in Lansing.
In October 1966, approximately 35 people attended the first worship service in the Alumni Chapel. During the first year, evening services were held in the MSU Union. After the ministry purchased a piano that could be left in the basement of the chapel, worship on Sunday nights occurred there.
During its first year and a half, the MSU ministry received the encouragement and strong support of a steering committee composed of Rev. Schut, Rev. Howard Schipper, pastor of Immanuel, and Dr. Calvin Malefyt, pastor of University Reformed Church in Ann Arbor. Every three months, elders from Immanuel served communion to the newly forming congregation.
Members of the campus-community ministry at Michigan State University and East Lansing formally recognized as a congregation, of between thirty and forty members, in the Reformed Church in America in the Spring of 1968. The first consistory had three elders and two deacons. The congregation continued to meet in the Alumni Chapel until it moved to its new building late June 1976.
In 1981 the church purchased an adjacent piece of property to the north. The building, now known as the Ministries House, has offices and meeting rooms. During 1999 and 2000 the congregation built a two-story addition creating more classroom space. The church office was also expanded at this time. In 2003 the kitchen, nursery, and toddlers’ room were remodeled.
Tom Stark retired as pastor in July 2002. In August 2004 the Reverend Kevin DeYoung became URC’s second pastor. Pastor DeYoung is a graduate of Hope College and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.