Relational Ministry Makes an Impact
The Other Way Ministries walks alongside families in the urban Westown neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to help them grow spiritually, relationally, and economically.
That mission takes many forms. "Relational ministry is our greatest strength," says program director Kurt Reppart. "There are weekly Bible studies, ongoing classes, goal setting and coaching, along with many family outings and activities.
"Our desire is to walk alongside the people in our neighborhood and to offer a community of support for families and individuals. These relationships are the heart of our ministry.
"Ultimately, we seek to offer real help and real hope in the name of Jesus."
The Other Way Ministries was established as a boys' activity center in 1967 with a $500 grant from Ninth Reformed Church. In 1981, The Other Way helped organize a new RCA congregation, Servant's Community Church; the ministries still have a special relationship and work closely together. More than 30 RCA churches are involved in The Other Way on an annual basis, often with volunteers or work groups.
Executive director Wayburn Dean points out that partnerships extend beyond the RCA. "The Other Way Ministries has relationships with other churches and faiths all over the greater Grand Rapids area who share our vision and partner with us to make a difference in our community for Christ," he says.
"We are excited and honored that God is using The Other Way to make an impact in Westown," Dean says. That impact is visible in concrete ways: neighbors helping neighbors, food assistance through a recently expanded food pantry, families reaching goals through coaching services, and full classrooms at The Other Way's community center. "Additionally, there is wonderful spiritual growth taking place through active Bible study groups."
Reppart gives one example, Proud Fathers, a new group for community dads. "This intergenerational group met every week for 12 weeks to talk about becoming better men and better fathers," he says. "It was powerful.
"Our staff, volunteers, and supporters have a great love for the people who live on the lower West Side of Grand Rapids," Reppart says. "We appreciate the uniqueness of our place and the diverse people that make it up."
Dean credits an increased diversity among staff members for facilitating better connections with the diverse neighbors, and Reppart points to trust that has been established over 45 years of ministry. "This valued trust is due to the vision of leadership and faithful service of many staff members over the years and is bolstered by a continued goal to walk with families and individuals through our programs and services," he says.