Maranatha’s New Look Ready for Summer Ministry

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

The Martins235The Martins perform on August 6Gary Feenstra is finally back in his office and behind his desk.

The Maranatha Bible Conference executive director and his staff had to temporarily relocate during extensive renovations to the Lodge, the main guest room/office facility for the Christian conference/retreat ministry. "We're now using the building at full capacity as we touch up a few very minor things," he reported.

It's the latest step for the multi-faceted, non-denominational campus which through 80 years has marked its Christian mission with Bible teaching, concerts, recreation, worship, youth activities and various special events.

The nearly 90-acre facility (on Lake Michigan south of Muskegon) begins its weekly summer schedule on Sat. June 25, with a concert featuring the Korean Children's Choir (complete concert schedule below).


The hotel-style guest rooms in the Lodge have been completely remade – new furniture, flooring, doors and windows, heating/cooling, in-room refrigerators, and improved insulation. And there are now more "double rooms" – rooms with a common doorway for larger families to share.

A new barrier-free entrance was added at the rear of the building, which also includes the dining room.

"We've been open for over a month to groups...and everyone loves it," he said.

The major project (more than $2 million) is part of a long term strategy for Maranatha to develop its facilities and programming to meet the needs and expectations of guests and residents while remaining true to its ministry-focused mission. There's a residential community at Maranatha in its cottages, condos and apartments, as well as those visitors who may stay in the Lodge or simply come by car for activities.

Throughout the summer various mission/non-profits such as International Aid, CURE, and Moody Bible are highlighted, with speakers from the organizations offering presentations. These are open to the public free of charge. In addition to the Saturday concerts, there are several special events. A "Women's Breakaway" on July 20 features Chrissy Toledo of the Chicago Tabernacle (tickets are $30 and include lunch and snacks).


Feenstra has been the full-time executive director for less than a year. But he's not short on experience with Maranatha or in administration. Former superintendent of the Zeeland Public Schools for 20 years, Feenstra has been a member/resident at Maranatha for at least that long, and has served several terms on its board of directors.

"Actually, I was born and raised in Hudsonville and I remember coming here since I was 4 years old," recalled Feenstra, now 65.

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The trend of facility improvements and added amenities is common among Christian conference ministries. Example: For many years Maranatha offered residents/visitors canoes in which to venture out from the adjoining Mona Lake Channel. Now they also have kayaks and longboards.

"People are looking for those newer kinds of things," he said. "Even with food, people are asking for higher quality, gluten-free options, meatless menu items and generally healthier choices."

As well as the more traditional tennis, volleyball and shuffleboard courts, there's also pickleball, a zip line and climbing tower. And of course, there is still a swimming pool located near the Lake Michigan shoreline.


Again this year Maranatha has a fine line-up for its Saturday concerts, including several contemporary Christian music veterans.

The award-winning quartet Avalon (and its signature song "Testify to Love") performs on July 2. The inspirational Fernando Ortega (July 23) and guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy (July 16) have long track-records on Christian radio as well as on concert platforms.

The sibling trio The Martins (Aug. 6) has footholds in both Southern gospel and inspirational country music, as is known for its part in many Gaither Homecoming concerts and videos.

"We have underwriters to help with the cost for these concerts," said Feenstra of the free-will offering series. "But it's been a viable outreach to greater West Michigan and even beyond of people coming to see them." Feenstra says that approximately half the audience in Maranatha's 1,000-seat Tabernacle drives in from around the area to see a concert.

Saturday evening concert series at Maranatha Bible Conference
4759 Lake Harbor Road, Muskegon
Concerts begin at 7 p.m.
No tickets necessary, a free-will offering is received., 231-798-2161
June 25 – Korean Children's Choir
July 2 – Avalon
July 9 – Michael Card
July 16 – Phil Keaggy
July 23 – Fernando Ortega
July 30 – J.J. Heller
Aug. 6 – The Martins
Aug. 13 – Huntley Brown
Aug. 20 – Ginny Owens
Aug. 27 – Damaris Carbaugh
Sept. 3 – "Captivating Keyboards"
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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