He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Our Love Mercy Do Justice ministry encourages and enables our Thornapple family to reach beyond our walls to respond to needs in our urban community and to work to end injustices, both locally and around the world. We join God in making things right in our broken world.
Questions about Love Mercy Do Justice Ministry? Want to join the team? Contact Chuck Hahn
Our Mercy efforts focus on local urban ministries. We serve at homeless organizations, house homeless families in our church, collect needed in-kind donations, work on homes that will be for previously homeless families, reach out to senior shut ins and more.
Scroll down on this page to learn more about our work in the areas of mercy and justice.
Our Justice efforts focus on growing our awareness of racial justice, building relationships with all ethnic groups, helping to stop human trafficking and slavery, offering justice conferences regularly and more.
Most of our regular volunteering options are on hold
due to the pandemic. As soon as organizations begin
to accept volunteers again, we will restart those options.
Homelessness is on the rise in West Michigan. It can happen to anyone.
Over the last 5 years, housing costs in Grand Rapids have skyrocketed while wages have remained the same. A lack of affordable housing and social supports are driving many families out of their homes and into their cars, tents or other unsafe places. Grand Rapids is blessed to have a number of great organizations addressing this. Thornapple comes alongside these organizations and helps where we can.
Below is a small sampling of organizations and ways that Thornapple helps with homelessness.
Family Promise of GR helps homeless families. Thornapple houses families in our facility four times a year as a host church. We have also helped to renovate mobile homes to become homes for families served by Family Promise.
Degage Ministries helps the GR homeless population in many ways. They serve breakfast and dinner every day, house homeless women in their facility, offer a hygiene floor where patrons can get showers, mail, help finding jobs, and more. Thornapple groups serve dinner at Degage on the first Saturday evening of every month. If you would like to be on our list of servers to periodically help, please contact Thornapple member Karen Knister. Also members of our congregation volunteer regularly on the hygiene floor.
Servants Center reaches out to the mentally ill homeless population. Thornapple supports Servants Center financially as well as through a number of our members being on their board.
Habitat for Humanity of Kent County builds homes for people in need of affordable housing. Thornapple has had groups work on their homes throughout the years.
Periodically urban organizations that we support are in need of items like food, clothing and Christmas gifts. We offer this opportunity as one tangible way our congregation can help.
- Family Promise is currently housing homeless families in hotels during the pandemic. We are helping to supply food for these families.
- Every March we collect food for Safe Haven Ministries. They offer emergency shelter and domestic abuse services to women and children.
- In the fall we collect items for children in poverty in conjunction with In the Image. In recent years we have collected socks, backpacks, and more.
- In December we support Degage’s Christmas store. Our congregation generously donates many gifts that are then made available in Dégagés Christmas store. People living in poverty purchase gifts extremely inexpensively. The proceeds are used to purchase bus passes for those without transportation.
Glenn VanNoord Short-Term Urban Missions Program
Through this program high school and college students serve in short-term summer placements in Grand Rapids. Local urban ministries receive free help and our students gain invaluable experience.
Learn more about this program.
Thornapple is committed to work towards justice. We lament the pandemic of systemic racism and the tragedy of human trafficking and slavery. Our goal is to resource and equip the church community in its call to love, serve, and work together with people at the margins toward holistic individual, family and community transformation. Below are some ways to learn, engage and respond.
Our efforts have focused on awareness, relationships and commitment. We have worked for years to increase our congregation’s awareness and educate ourselves on the history and facts about racial injustice. Recent startling events including the pandemic and police encounters have brought racial justice to the foreground of our society, minds and hearts. As believers in Christ we are commanded to love all people. There are no exceptions for race. We are falling short.
So what can we do? We can start by understanding what is happening and the burdens some face. We can talk to one another, learning from not only books, videos and movies, but from each other. Most importantly we can understand what the Bible says. Then as individuals and as a community, we can take actions big and small in our immediate corner of the world so that all people are loved, as they are by God.
Here are some great places to start with your small group or individual studies:
- Watch Pastor Remy’s video interview with Paul Robinson, Covenant Executive Director of LMDJ
- Watch Phil Vischer’s short videos on Race in America: Part 1 and Part 2
- Read this article from the CEO of Christianity Today (note the Zacchaeus Fund idea)
- Read The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby (podcasts – beginning at #64 – on each chapter from Madison Square Church, Grand Rapids, MI) OR you can access The Color of Compromise content on RightNow Media (email Thornapple to request access if you aren’t already signed up for RNM)
If you’d like to go a bit deeper:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
Take the next step
Are you interested in starting a discussion? Attending a viewing event hosted by Pastor Remy? Would your small group like to tackle this topic? Please fill out the form below to express your interest. Someone from the LMDJ team will be in touch to follow up.
Recommended Reading from the ECC’s LMDJ Team
- Sankofa Bibliography, by the LMDJ Team – Download PDF
- Whiteness Bibliography, by the LMDJ Team – Download PDF
- Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman
- Divided by Faith, by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith
- The Cross and the Lynching Tree, by James Cone
- Prophetic Lament, by Soong-Chan Rah
- Roadmap to Reconciliation, by Brenda Salter McNeil
- The Death of Race, by Brian Bantum
- The Very Good Gospel, by Lisa Sharon Harper
- Disunity in Christ, by Christena Cleveland
- Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church, by Ed Gilbreath
- Dear White Christians: For those still longing for Racial Reconciliation, by Jennifer Harvey
- Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith, by Mae Elise Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Troy Jackson, and Soong-Chan Rah
- Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Radical Reconciliation: Beyond Political Pietism and Christian Quietism, by Allan Boesak and Curtiss Paul DeYoung
- The Little Book of Restorative Justice, by Howard Zehr
- Social Justice Handbook, by Mae Elise Cannon and John Perkins
- The Next Evangelicalism, by Soong-Chan Rah
- Out of Every Tribe and Nation, by Justo Gonzalez
- Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism, by Drew Hart
Racial Righteousness for Youth
- The Justice Mission, by Jim Hancock
- Deep Justice in a Broken World: Helping your Kids Serve Others and Right the Wrongs Around Them, by Chap Clark and Kara Powell
- Deep Justice Journeys Leader’s Guide: 50 Activities to Move from Mission Trips to Missional Living, by Kara Powell and Brad Griffin
- 40 Way to Raise a Non-Racist Child, by Barbara Mathias and Mary Ann French
- Hand in Hand Leader’s Guide: Helping Children Celebrate Diversity, by Ella Campbell
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of Stamped from the Beginning, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- Stamped (For Kids): Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
Over the years we have worked to shed light on these issues which are both local and around the world. One organization we have worked with is the International Justice Mission. We have supported them financially and also brought in speakers from their organization to help us learn and respond to these issues.
We have also connected with local organizations like Sacred Beginnings and Women at Risk International in an effort to help right here in Grand Rapids. We recently offered the Civilian First Responder course at Thornapple which equipped our people to identify and respond to local trafficking.
Thornapple has been holding Justice Conferences almost every year since 2010. Our goal is to increase our understanding and response to various issues of justice. We have had speakers from the International Justice Mission, Women at Risk International, local universities, Sacred Beginnings, etc.
We hope to hold our next conference in the winter of 2022. More details to come.
A few international and local organizations that we work with in the area of Justice are:
International Justice Mission partners with local authorities in 21 program offices in 13 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children, and police abuse of power against people who are poor.
The Hope Project‘s mission is to support the healing of girls and women who have survived sex trafficking and prevent further cases through mentoring and education.
Sacred Beginnings supports victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and beyond.
Twelve:12Hope equips community leaders to offer healing and hope to traumatized children in Burma (Myanmar), The Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, Mongolia and Kurdish Iraq.
Women at Risk International address a variety of risk issues—poverty, inequality, violence, abuse, and more—but are mostly known for their persistent fight against human trafficking.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization helping children, families, and their communities overcome poverty and injustice around the world.
Ideas for Families
We encourage families to serve together.
Below you will find information on local urban ministries where children are welcome to serve (note age restrictions). There are also many other ways in which children can serve. We’ve included lists of ideas as food for thought as you seek ways that would work in your family to encourage reaching out and helping others.
- Family Promise | Their mission is to help homeless families. In their day center parents can volunteer and bring children as young as 3 years old. For their Partners in Housing program children must be at least 14.
- Feeding America | This is a warehouse with food supplied to local pantries and low income people. The minimum age to volunteer is 7 years old accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- In the Image | In The Image links new and gently-used clothing, household necessities, and furniture for free, with those in need, in a welcoming store environment. Minimum age for children is 8 accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- Kids Food Basket | Makes sack suppers for children at risk in GR. Sign up through their online volunteer hub: kidsfoodbasket.volunteerhub.com. They post volunteer openings 2 months in advance. Children age 5 and up can serve when accompanied by a parent or guardian. 16 and up can serve on their own.
- United in Christ Ministries | Ministering to low income people in the Blackhills neighborhood of GR. Minimum age to serve is 8 with parent or guardian. They have opportunities on both weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.
Along with the opportunities listed in the previous category, below are opportunities for serving alongside your older children:
- Degage Ministries | They offer help to homeless and disadvantaged people in GR through meals offered, life enrichment services, and accommodations for homeless women. To work in the kitchen at Degage children need to be 16. Younger children can serve alongside adults at the special serving station in the dining room, but this is not recommended for very young children.
- Habitat for Humanity | Their goal is to provide affordable housing for low income people. They have a garden where kids 10 and up can help with their parents. The garden is used to grow plants to be transplanted at new homes, plus it is used to teach new homeowners about gardening. Older children can help work at the homes (16 and up for landscaping and 18 and up for working in the houses).
- “Adopt” an elderly neighbor. Visit them, help with lawn care or other things around the house, drop off food, take them out, send them cards, invite them over for a meal, make sure they have family to be with for the holidays, etc.
- Visit your local bulk grocery store, like Sam’s Club or Costco, and stock up on several nonperishable food items. Have the kids pack bags with the items you purchased and deliver them to individuals in need. Keep a few bags in the car so you are prepared when you see a homeless person or someone in need.
- Degage also has $2.00 vouchers that can be purchased on their website. Keep vouchers with you and have kids give them to panhandlers who can then use the vouchers to purchase food or a haircut or other services at Degage. Be sure you kids understand what they are for and why they are needed.
- Sponsor a family. There are many organizations that give you the opportunity to sponsor a family or a child. Find organizations where you can be a sponsor, like Family Promise. These are often advertised around the holidays.
- Gather up gently used no longer needed clothes and toys and donate them to places like In the Image, Family Promise or Mel Trotter.
- Volunteer your time at a local school, church or retirement community. Call and see what kind of help they could use. It could be cleaning inside, working on their grounds, organizing the toys in the nursery or… the possibilities are endless.
- Put together a care package for a shut in, or a missionary, or someone in the military and give or send it to them.
- Clean the house of someone who is sick or pregnant. There may be people you know, or that church can connect you up with, who may be having health challenges. Helping during these times with housework or outdoor work can be a great benefit to them.
- Clean up trash at a local park. Have your kids get gloves and garbage bags and then help by cleaning up trash and debris at local parks.
- Random act of kindness. Find a stranger or a family you know and do something kind for them. Send a card. Help a senior carry their groceries to their car. Drop off some cookies.
Organizations We Support
Learn more about our standards for choosing partner organizations.
Alpha Women’s Center offers hope, acceptance, grace and help to women and families facing unplanned pregnancy, poverty and the lack of a home.
Baxter Community Center ministers in the Baxter neighborhood offering medical and dental services, a nationally accredited child development center, mentoring programs for young and old, community services (food, clothing, gardening and canning classes), and more.
Degage Ministries offers help and hope to homeless and disadvantaged individuals in our community. Responsive programming is designed to address immediate and long-term needs such as overnight respite for women in crisis, food, referral services and hygiene facilities.
Exalta Health‘s mission is to provide compassionate, accessible healthcare. They envision a collaborative community where accessible, quality healthcare promotes wellness for all.
Family Promise works to end homelessness, one family at a time, by engaging faith-based and community organizations to provide emergency shelter and basic needs to families with children who are homeless.
Feeding America of West Michigan‘s mission is to gather and distribute food to relieve hunger and increase food security in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
Glenn VanNoord Short Term Urban Missions Program is a ministry of Thornapple Covenant Church that began in 2000. We wanted to help ministries operating in our city and also to give students a chance to serve and be exposed to the realities and needs present in the urban community.
Guiding Light Mission helps men on the street get back to work and back to life. They restore self-worth, faith and the ability to contribute.
Habitat for Humanity Kent County Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity of Kent County brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope with the goal of providing everyone with a decent place to live.
Heartside Ministry offers hospitality through educational opportunities, artistic expression, advocacy, pastoral care and a place to belong. It is now a division of Mel Trotter Ministries which exists to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ, through rescue and restoration for anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness.
Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) is a nonprofit housing corporation whose leadership is motivated by, and programs shaped by, its belief that all people deserve safe, clean, affordable housing.
Kids Food Basket provides a simple evening meal to children living at or near the poverty level. They began over a decade ago by serving 125 kids each school day through their Sack Supper program and now serve nearly 8,800 kids each weekday in West Michigan.
Next Step of West Michigan is a faith-based nonprofit employing people coming out of prison or rehab and providing them with a community of support that will help them integrate into the workforce, regain hope and empower themselves to create a better future.
Safe Haven Ministries helps individuals and families find freedom from domestic violence through an emergency shelter, support groups, children’s programming and more.
Servants Center provides high quality, relationship based street outreach and ongoing support services to the mentally ill poor and homeless people in Grand Rapids,
United in Christ Ministries is a faith-based nonprofit organization serving kids living in the Black Hills and Roosevelt Park communities of Grand Rapids. They offer programs for children, youth and their families.
Denominational Love Mercy Do Justice Ministry
From the Evangelical Covenant Church’s LMDJ webpage: From our inception the Covenant has been concerned with helping hurting people (love mercy), and addressing the causes of that hurt (do justice). The mission of Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ) is to “Join God in making things right in our broken world.” Our goal is to resource and equip the local church in its call to love, serve, and work together with people at the margins toward holistic individual, family and community transformation.