THIS IS THE LORD'S DOING At the turn of the century, Robinson Township was six square miles of western Michigan wilderness. Bordered on the North by the meandering Grand River, and consisting largely of swampy lowlands, it was sparsely populated. Many who settled the area were European immigrants of great self-reliance.
In 1935, a Christian layman, Mr. James Postma, who delivered milk in the township, looked at the area and saw a harvest field of souls. He shared this vision with a missionary friend, Mr. James VerLee, and a gospel witness came to Robinson. Mr. VerLee was a Bible Club Movement Missionary.
Mr. VerLee and his wife, Alice, of the Baptist Church on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids and then charter members of First Baptist Church in Zeeland, MI were invited to be superintendent of the Sunday Schools since Mrs. VerLee already worked in the rural schools with Bible memory work. Students and parents were won to the Lord and a new work was begun. VerLee labored seven years holding Sunday evening services in the town hall, prayer meetings on Wednesdays at local homes and even a bus ministry for Sunday School transportation. Officially the ministry was called Robinson Gospel Tabernacle.
Dr. J. Gordon Krause followed Mr. VerLee in 1943, imparting to the flock a greater missions consciousness. Krause, whose health began to fail, resigned in March 1948. He was followed in April 1948 by Albert VandenBosch, under whose ministry a building program was started. A basement structure was completed on North Cedar Drive with Rev. Floyd Baker as Pastor in 1952. This building and ministry would be renamed in 1965 to what it is today... Robinson Grace Church._
In December 1958, the Lord led a number from that early congregation to separate themselves on doctrinal principles to form a distinctly Baptist witness, and the seeds of Robinson Baptist Church were sown.
The faithful who were dedicated to the establishment of a fundamental Baptist outreach in Robinson Township assembled for the first service in the home of Robert and Marian Wolf on December 4, 1958. Present, in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Wolf and their children, Rita and Danny, were Hazel Crandle; Ruby, Delores, and Russ Chaffee; Paul and Lillian Zellar and children; Jane and Lavina Wolf; Shirley Brown and sons, Randy, Robin, Ross and Ricky; Arthur, Arlene and Ricky Kammeraad; Tony and Julia Wolf; Addison Wolf; and Harold Cherry. The speaker was Willard Zimmer and Mrs. Zimmer was the pianist._
At a meeting on February 19, 1959, the decision was made to establish the group as a Baptist Church and to call Rev. Walter Peterson as interim pastor. In March 1959, services began in the Robinson Township Hall. The challenges of attempting to conduct a church ministry in that location are vividly described in the filmstrip, "This is The Lord's Doing," a project of Baptist General Conference Home Missions. Because of a lack of space, Sunday school classes were held in every available space, including boiler rooms and entryways. Several area homes were also used to hold classes.
The work was further established with the calling of Rev. Fred Prinzing in October of 1959. Shortly after Rev. Prinzing assumed the pastorate, the Lord used an evangelistic team known as God's Invasion Army to make an impact in the area._
From October 1959 until April 1960, the work progressed and on April 13, the organizational meeting was held and Robinson Baptist Church became a formal entity, complete with officers, by-laws and budget. This newly established church moved forward in looking for a permanent location to meet. On June 15, 1960, property directly across 120th Avenue from the Township Hall was purchased.. On September 13, 1963, the church dedicated the first structure to call its own_.
One of the themes that runs throughout the Year of Jubilee as recorded in Leviticus is the provision of the Lord. We have seen this time and time again in our church's history and its present working. We remain debt free, operating completely in the black, and have been able to provide many upgrades and special offerings to our missionaries. All through the faithfulness of God's people and the provisions of a loving God. Should the Lord tarry...May the next 50 years be marked by genuine discipleship, unwavering commitment to the Word of God and a deep burden to reach the lost. The great commission is still the mission of the church. So is now as it was 50 years ago...looking out on the Robinson Township area we see a harvest field ripe, and we stand ready to continue to be the laborers in the field_
Later that year, Rev. Prinzing was called to a different harvest field and Rev. Lester Potrofka became pastor in January 1964 and served until November of that year.
Pastor Erwin Evans became pastor in March 1965 on an interim basis, as he was looking toward foreign missionary ministry as his ultimate goal. As Rev. Evans received the go ahead for missionary service in Brazil, he left Robinson in
June of 1966. The Evans family would remain missionaries of Robinson Baptist Church until their retirement.
Rev. Morris Osbeck assumed the pastorate in March 1967 and served until March 1971. During Rev. Osbeck's tenure, the church carried an effective drive-in church program on Sunday evenings. The congregation grew until it became necessary for the Osbecks to move from the apartment quarters at the rear of the church into separate housing. No longer did worshipers get to sniff the aroma of Mrs. Osbeck's Sunday dinner.
Rev. Osbeck completed his ministry at Robinson in March 1971. Later that year, the congregation was able to complete a new parsonage on Buchanan Street.In February 1972, Rev. John Kaufield began his ministry at Robinson and was able to move his family into this new home.
Under the ministry of the Word through Pastor Kaufield, God's blessing was manifest, and soon it became clear that more worship space was needed. Groundbreaking for a second structure was held on January 11, 1976. Dedication of the new sanctuary building took place on September 23, 1976, and the original building began to be referred to as the Fellowship hall.
Throughout Pastor Kaufield's years of ministry at the church, outreach continued in many forms. "R" Club," an evangelistic program for young people, was established. The Shepherd's ministry, a program designed to reach the developmentally disabled, was spearheaded by Karen Dekker. Increased missionary vision resulted in the support of a variety of missionary endeavors. The church had the joy of seeing their very own, Monty and Gloria Moore and family, respond to the missionary call. As the Lord continued to add to the church, demands upon the pastor's time and energy increased to the point that the church was led to call first, Mike Allen and then Rev. Tim Brondyke to a special ministry with the young people of the church.
Early in 1984, RBC adopted a two-phase building design that would provide for present and future needs of the ministry, should the Lord tarry.
On April 14 1985, Robinson Baptist Church celebrated its 25th anniversary celebration. The celebration entitled "This is the Lord's Doing" was based on Psalm 118:23 and included a theme song "It Is Marvelous", which was sung to the tune of "It is Summertime". The event culminated in special services held that day with former pastors, Rev. Morris Osbeck and Rev. Erwin Evans preaching. The special day also included dinner on the grounds followed by an afternoon Hymn Sing.
In March 1985, after 15 years of faithful service for the Lord at Robinson Baptist Church, Pastor Kaufield turned in his resignation and in April 1986, the Lord led the church to call Pastor Jack Richard of Bay City, Michigan.
In October of the same year, the old parsonage on Buchanan Street was sold for $42,600.00 and it was also decided to buy Pastor Richard's new home on Lincoln Street (approximately a mile from the church) and make it the parsonage. The cost was about $ 65,000.00.
In January 1987, the Church voted to bring the Deacon and Trustee boards into one unified board. This was intended to streamline the leadership responsibilities and communication of the church board.
In April 1987, after 9 years of faithful service, Pastor Tim Brondyke's resignation as youth pastor was accepted.
In July 1987 after research and meeting with Awana Missionaries, the Awana program established for the children's ministries. Later that year, the Word of Life program was proposed and accepted for our teens. Paul Gille, missionary with Word of Life, was instrumental in programming and assistance. These decisions would carry on a heritage of insuring that the children and youth of Robinson would be reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ and to faithfully endeavor to disciple them into Christian maturity.
In February 1988, a letter of resignation was accepted from Pastor Richard. In April 1988, Pastor Virgil Bopp was called as Interim Pastor and later that year he became Pastor of Robinson Baptist Church.
After prayerful consideration and Biblical research, a formal doctrinal statement was written and accepted. as a replacement for the Affirmation of Faith in the Constitution. This was to give the church a clear statement of doctrine that upholds the traditional Baptist positions upon which the church was founded.
In January 1989, a building committee was appointed to work with Lakewood Construction on a new building project, a gymnasium. Along with the plans for the gym, a multi-phase plan was discussed for additional buildings and property needs as the Lord blesses.
The Board also approved a new way to accomplish various responsibilities of the church. In an effort to allow all things to be done "decently and in order", committees were formed:
• Building and grounds
• Christian Education
A member of the deacon board would chair each committee.
In May 1989 the Music Committee recommeded the purchase of a Rogers SX 645 organ. This purchase was made possible through various memorial gifts honoring: Arend Cox, John Deering, Stanley and Gertrude Michalak, Elmer Renfer and B.A. Gordanier, Christopher Sathre, Mrs. Beulah Smith, Benjamin Wiersma, Miriam Wolf, and Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Wolf.
In February 1990 a meeting was called to discuss and act on the final bidding for the building project with Lakeshore Construction as construction manager. The final proposal was $278,417.00. Construction begun and foundation was poured on April 12, 1990.
In April 1990 material was received for the Home Bible Study. Volunteers from the church worked at grading of the lessons.
In October 1990 a celebration banquet was held for the opening of the new building and on October 7 the building was dedicated to the Lord to be used for His glory.
As the church continued to grow, it became apparent that the work needed an assistant pastor to come along side of Pastor Bopp to serve in the area of outreach. In November 1990 RBC voted to seek a part-time assistant pastor. On July 21,1991, Wolfgang Kersting was called to this position.
In January 1993 revisions to the Constitution were made and voted on by the congregation. These revisions were to address methods of member admission and dismissal. This change was to allow for clarification and a clearer guideline upon which to receive new members into Robinson Baptist Church. Careful attention was given to insure that the constitution remained consistent with Biblical teaching in these areas.
In March 1993 the Lord led the body to phase out the position of Assistant Pastor for Outreach. After the position was phased out the church felt a leading to add a Youth Pastor, the focus to be on the students of Robinson Baptist and the surrounding community.
After 5 years of faithful service to the Lord at Robinson Baptist Church, Pastor Bopp resigned.
His last message at Robinson was on June 30, 1993.
The Congregation was led of the Lord to call Pastor Mark Congrove in May 1994 as Pastor of Robinson Baptist. Pastor Congrove accepted the call.
The next few years marked many maintenance projects and updates to the existing facilities. The roof was replaced and in the Spring of 1997 the parking lot was finished, the first paved lot in the church's history.
Several other improvements were discussed in February 2001. The sound system, carpeting and pew upholstery were all updated.
After many years of prayerful consideration and leading of the Lord, Robinson voted to seek to add a youth pastor to the pastoral staff. In July 2003 RBC extended a call to Rick Howard for that position.
On February 2, 2005, a resolution was read regarding Gloria Moore's service as a Missionary with Baptist Mid- Missions. The Missionary Committee, Board of Deacons and the Church Body recognized her service as exemplary and concurred with Baptist Mid-Missions in conferring upon Gloria the title of Missionary Emeritus. The resolution was placed into the Church Records of Robinson Baptist Church on February 27, 2005.
In April 2005 the Board approved a change in the Sunday school and morning worship times. This enabled the Sunday school teachers to have more time with their students and allow a time of transition between the two services.
After many years of service, the boiler decided it was time to quit. Thanks to the Lord's provisions and the faithfulness of God's people, a new boiler was purchased in July 2005.
In early 2006, a recommendation from the Board was voted on and accepted to pursue the start of an Hispanic Ministry. There was a partnership developed with the Macedonia Baptist Church in Holland and with the help of Jose and Violeta Villa, the ministry began to take shape. English as a Second Language classes were taught and the youth group began a partnership with the young people at Macedonia Baptist.
After faithfully serving the Lord as Pastor of Robinson Baptist Church for thirteen years, Pastor Mark resigned as of October 2007.
In March 2009 the church was led by the Lord to call Pastor Tim Kitchen as Senior Pastor for Robinson Baptist Church and Pastor Tim answered the call.
In July 2009 a special project was undertaken to solve water problems in the church basement caused by high water in the area.
In October 2009 the Capital Improvement Fund was reintroduced and proposals were made concerning its usage. This is an ongoing fund, to be started with raising $ 15,000.00 in a special offering and the rest to come from the General Fund (up to $25,000.00 from the general fund surplus). Several improvements needed to be taken care of in the church and parsonage:
• repair the roof between old and new buildings
• cleaning of duct work in the gymnasium
• replacement and upgrade all lights in the gymnasium
• sealing of cracks in the parking lot
• several painting projects throughout the building
• updated and replacement of Sunday School bulletin boards, adding white boards, and fresh supplies
• replaced furnace in gymnasium
• sealed the block on the exterior of gym
• replaced deck on back of building outside nursery
• completed landscaping update
• sound system and audio visual upgrades
• completely renovate foyer area, adding a welcome center and handicapped bathroom
• remodeled office are to include sound proofing of Pastor's office for counseling purposes
• parsonage maintenance
Many projects were completed with dreams to continue to bring things to proper repair and meet the current needs of the body as the Lord provides. The original list presented to the congregation by the board continues to be "checked-off" as funds are available to complete each task.
On March 28, 2010, a letter of resignation was accepted from Youth Pastor Rick Howard. RBC continues to be committed to youth ministry and continues to pursue God's leading in this area. In August 2010 the congregation voted to hire a part-time youth pastor intern. Josh Curtis was offered and accepted this position.Then in August of 2011, Josh accepted the call to be the full-time Pastor of Student Ministries. The expansion of this title includes the responsibilities of all of our student ministries College age and down. Having grown our ministries and giving us a leg up to move forward, Pastor Josh resigned from RBC in the Spring of 2015.
In September 2015 Pastor Rob Tahtinen joined our team filling the vacant postion of Pastor of Studen ministries. He continues with us and guides those ministries up to the next level.
The Spring of 2017 brought some much needed changes to our exterior. After a $30,000 offering we began replacing the steel and adding stone facing to the existing Worship Center, and replaced the brick with stone on the Education building. Through God working in the hearts of some individuals a large gift of $60,000 was received. These monies have been used to reseal the parking lot, replace roofing on both the Main Worship Center and the Education Building; and replace the lighting in the santuary with brighter, new LED fixtures. These funds will also allow us to add a storage room off of the gymnasium to give us some much needed space for our various ministry supplies. As these projects finish up there is a plan in place to replace the metal folding chairs throughout the building with some "more comfortable" stacking chairs. We are still praying and planning and above all seeking God's face to be good stewards of the mon ies He has provided to continue HIS work here on our corner of Robinson Township. Believe it or not, and if the Lord tarries His return, in 2020 RBC will celebrate 60 years of ministry. An anniversary celebration will be in the works as we continue to live out the Great Commision.
RBC continues to be a church seeking God's Next Big Dream.