Park Setting Inspires Worship

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

church in park signA sign welcomes Sunday worshipers to Wedgewood Park A Grandville church is keeping a summer tradition it helped begin nearly 30 years ago.

Grandville United Methodist Church offers "Church in the Park" each Sunday, an informal worship service in the outdoor beauty of nearby Wedgwood Park on Wilson Ave. SW.

"I've been to church in the park since it started," said church member Nancy Kitchen, who often serves as a liturgist at the 8:30am service. "I like being outdoors in the summer, and I like the early start, too."

The gathering consistently draws between 40 and 70 worshipers, most of whom bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for the 45-minute service. That number has held true this summer, even through a series of guest leaders in place of the church's on-sabbatical pastor Ryan Weiland. He has now returned.

"The park (worship) seems to be a decent mix of visitors from other churches or those who might not normally attend here the rest of the year. And there are those who prefer the outdoor setting, too," said church assistant administrator Jamie Dunn. The atmosphere is enhanced by the waters of Buck Creek which snake their way through the park's southern edge.

church in park rearLawn chairs serve as pews at “Church in the Park” The early morning service has not detracted from attendance at the church's usual 10am in-sanctuary worship. Dunn reports summer numbers there remain steady (the scripture and message and some of the music are similar to the park service).

Among attendees are some residents from Brookcrest Rehab and Life Center, a long-term care and nursing rehab facility located right across the street from Wedgwood Park.

"There have been a few new folks (this season)," added Kitchen. "Apparently they like it – how can you not like it being in God's great outdoors?"


Dunn says it was around 1990 when Grandville UMC and another local congregation began "Church in the Park." Likely it was an outreach to make worship more accessible to those uncomfortable in a traditional sanctuary, and to take advantage of the outdoor setting. When volunteer numbers from the other church dwindled, the Methodist church took the reins and kept it going.


Sign up here to receive WMC News in your inbox every Tuesday morning!

  * indicates required

We promise no spam or special offers!
"It's been a blessing that each new pastor we get is willing to lead two services all summer long," said Kitchen.

The "simplified" worship order is bolstered by a portable sound system and features music usually led by keyboards. Lyric sheets are distributed. There is a children's message time, although the majority of those gathered are baby boomer age or retired persons. The service is followed by refreshments.

"I love the (park) service," said church member Sue Merrell. "Being outside with the ducks waddling by and joggers running past – it's worship in the real world.
"I was looking up last Sunday at those towering trees overhead and thinking it was more majestic than a cathedral."

The worship space is just east of the large pavilion/shelter, which comes in handy should rain threaten. According to Dunn, only once in the last number of years has the service relocated to the church (several blocks north) because of storms and/or lightning.


A worship welcoming all and held in a wide-open, public space is subject to the unexpected visitor.

"The ducks seem to like it when we have communion," noted Kitchen. "I think they smell the bread because they like to linger around in hopes for leftovers."


"Church in the Park" at Wedgwood Park, 3391 Wilson Ave. SW Grandville. Conducted by Grandville United Methodist Church.
8:30am Sundays through Labor Day weekend.
For more information or 616-538-3070

  Manna Media FINAL LOGO reducedDid you know?

Manna Media is dedicated to telling stories of how God is working right in our own area. The story you just read is just one of the many amazing stories that we want to tell.

In addition to these stories, we also create high quality short films, Relevant Docs and Godmercials , that reach people around the world. We strive to engage people with the Gospel with our What If God website along with our billboards. But it takes a lot of hard work, time, and money to do what we do.

Would you consider partnering with us by supporting our ministry with a donation?  Donate safely here!

Thank You.

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Author: Terry DeBoer
Terry is a journalist/feature writer for newspapers, magazines and websites, with a background in radio broadcasting. His usual beat is arts and entertainment, specializing in Christian/gospel music. A married father of two, he is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan Contributing Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present Feature writer: (website and various newspapers) 1988– 2016 -Spotlight New Christian Music Magazine 1997-2008 -Church News Editor, Church Herald Magazine 2004-2009

Related Articles

No Related Articles Found

home app07 envelope
Submit News
RSS Feed
home app09 playVideos
faith-buttonPlease consider helping us by contributing to our publication. 

Donate directly or advertize your business on this site or in our newsletter.  It reaches thousands across West Michigan.