Conference Grounds Celebrates New Worship Center

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

cgrounds235Dawn Bouman can't wait to hear how the music will sound in the new Worship Center at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds (CRCG).

"We have top of the line audio and video opportunities," said Bouman, worship and program director at the campground/conference/recreation facility on Lake Michigan. "Actually, I'm both nervous and excited."

The 14,000 sq. ft. project officially opens on Sunday May 29, with ribbon cutting ceremonies and a dedication service. It marks the start of a busy summer with worship, concerts, and various other summer programs until early September. The debut concert in the new building will be at 7 p.m. Mon. May 30 featuring the longtime area group The Heralders.

"They have been real conference grounds supporters through this whole thing, and they offered to come out of retirement for this first concert," Bouman said.


Throughout most of its 65 year history, the CRCG had a rustic, covered auditorium to use for worship and concerts, tucked into its 43-acre footprint along Lakeshore Drive, south of Grand Haven. The structure was definitely "old school," but it could seat 1,000 persons on folding chairs. However, heavy snowfall in the winter of 2014 collapsed the roof and the building was a total loss. It left the staff scrambling to determine their best course.

"For the next two summers we did everything under a big tent," Bouman said of their stop gap measure.

A more modern and efficient multi-purpose building for worship and concerts was always part of the long range plan. But the loss accelerated the timetable, and the wheels began turning on the new project.

Between insurance proceeds and gifts from supporters, officials felt confident in going ahead with the new center, which still needs $800,000 to meet the total project cost.
"What was a tragedy turned into a huge opportunity," Bouman offered.

Despite the "Christian Reformed" in its title, the conference ministry is not owned or operated by the denomination, although more than a dozen individual churches do contribute to it.

The new facility has both heat and air conditioning - a welcome addition for both audience and artists. There also are additional restrooms and other amenities.

"In the old building doing good sound was difficult," Bouman recalled of the competing factors which made audio acoustics challenging. "I'm especially excited for The King's Brass (concert Aug. 13), to hear what all those instruments will sound like," she added of the 9,000 sq. foot worship space.

There are also three separate rooms available for meetings and a smaller platform area suitable for weddings or other functions, with space for banquet seating. They expect to make the facility available to outside groups as scheduling permits.


Bouman is entering her 12th year on the CRCG staff. She's an experienced musician and leads worship at Inspirit Church, a church plant north of Byron Center. She has an eye and ear for putting together inspiring and entertaining concert schedules each summer.

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"I love the Matthews Brothers, and they'll be back this year," she said of the July 23 concert featuring Ron and Gary Matthews (Gary is pastor of worship and arts at Christ Memorial Church in Holland). The brothers play both trumpet and keyboards.

A Monday July 4 concert features the Big Band of Praise.

Whether it's worship, concerts or other gatherings, hundreds of residents at its summer campsites and cottages – along with hundreds of area music fans - will be enjoying the new space's serene and beautiful setting.

"After that news of two years ago, and now to literally see everything's been a blessing," Bouman said.

The concert schedule at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds, 12253 Lakeshore Dr., south of Grand Haven. All concerts begin at 7 p.m. and are on a free-will offering basis.  More info:, 616-842-4478

May 30 – The Heralders Quartet
June 11 – The Burgess Brothers
June 25 – Voices of Victory
July 2 – Mark Trammell Quartet
July 4 – Big Band of Praise
July 16 – Singing Hims
July 23 – The Matthews Brothers
July 30 – Jim Brady Trio
Aug. 13 – Tim Zimmerman & The King's Brass
Aug. 20 – The Hope Heralds
Aug. 27 – Evening of Praise with Marilyn DeMann and Judy Bouma
Sept. 5 – Travelogue
Sept. 10 – The King's Choraliers
Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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