North Park has celebrated the blessings of God as a ministry for over nine decades. God’s provision of abundant growth has been experienced in several ways.
The church began as a mission work following the gift of property located on the west side of Grand Rapids near the power canal by the Valley City Milling Company in late 1908. The grandfather of long time deacon Gerald Robinson helped build a church building at the corner of Graceland and Lafayette Streets, N.E. For several years the ministry of the mission church was led by church members such as A. B. Gougward and Willis Signor, who had a great burden for outreach in the community, especially for children and teens. They hosted youth activities as was then called the “Home of Hope Mission.” In 1933, Miss Mina Wierda, a recent graduate of Moody Bible Institute and convert of Dr. M. R. DeHaan, took leadership responsibilities of the mission. The mission church was soon renamed Fairmount Park Mission and then Fairmount Park Church, once it was incorporated.
In 1945, Pastor Roy Botruff of Carson City was called to be pastor of Fairmount Park Church. When he assumed the pastorate, Pastor Botruff enrolled in the Baptist Bible Institute, which was being held at Wealthy Street Baptist Church. B. B. I., as it was known, was the forerunner of what is now Cornerstone University. It was during this time that Pastor Botruff led the Fairmount ministry into the Baptist heritage it still embraces. The church name was changed to Fairmount Baptist Church. Soon the church became a part of the local, state, and national fellowships of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (G. A. R. B. C.).
During the mid-40’s a man by the name of Burgess Kidder began attending the services at Fairmount. He rode a city bus from the North Park area, desirous of the spiritual nourishment which was lacking in his neighborhood. In the late 1940’s the Fairmount congregation began considering a move to the outskirts of the city. The North Park area was primarily vacant fields, with a few larger homes, including Mr. Kidder’s three story home. Burdened to reach his community for Christ, Mr. Kidder offered his property for sale to the Fairmount church family. The current church building was sold, which enabled the church to move more quickly to the new location and assume a new name, North Park Baptist Church.
The services were held in the Kidder home until a new auditorium was constructed on the back of the house (the current back educational wing of the current facility). The Botruff family lived in part of the Kidder home and the rest of the home was used for Sunday School classrooms. The Botruffs had three children (including one of our current pastor’s wives, Joyce Rohrer). Later, they were able to move to another home and the entire Kidder house was used for educational space. These were days of abundant growth, both spiritually and physically. In 1958, Pastor Botruff was led by God to another ministry. Joseph Balbach assumed the role of interim pastor from 1959 until 1961. Pastor Balbach brought great encouragement and stability to the North Park ministry during this time of transition.
In 1961, Pastor George White, from Hamilton, Ontario, accepted the call as pastor. Pastor White’s ministry was long and fruitful. During Pastor White’s ministry, the current auditorium was erected at the front of the property (1964). Then, the Kidder home was demolished so that the current Christian Education wing could be built (1972). A home located adjacent to the church property was purchase and demolished so that a parking lot could be expanded. Pastor White resigned in 1975. His 14 years of ministry were once again years to celebrate abundant growth spiritually and physically.
Pastor Jack Richard led the North Park ministry from 1976-79. During his time of ministry, the church was led to purchase 10+ acres of property off 4 Mile Rd. and Williamson Street for possible future relocation. Dr. N. A. Wiens, a current church member and deacon who served as a professor at Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary, became the senior pastor in 1978 and served until 1985. During Dr. Wien’s years of ministry, the attendance grew greatly. Dr. Wiens ministry was marked by his capable teaching of God’s Word and his compassionate ministry to the people. He continued a teaching ministry in the seminary, which allowed his ministry to be well known among the seminarians. Many attended North Park as a result, and many continue as members and leaders at North Park today.
Upon Dr. Wien’s retirement in 1985, the church called Pastor Jim Wells as senior pastor. Pastor Wells was well known for his strong oratorial approach to preaching. It was during Pastor Wells' ministry that the church began to seriously consider a potential relocation to 4 Mile as the Coit facility was reaching capacity. During this time, initial research was conducted regarding the feasibility of remaining at Coit or relocating to 4 Mile. It was the committee’s findings that it would be more economically and logistically responsible to relocate to the new property. Pastor Wells resigned in 1990 to accept the call to another church. Dr. Wilbert W. Welch, chancellor of Grand Rapids Baptist College and Seminary, became the interim senior pastor in 1992 and provided wise direction for the church ministry.
Pastor Ken Floyd began his ministry as senior pastor at North Park in 1993. During his thirteen years at North Park, the church experienced abundant growth in its vision for global outreach. This included the sending of several missionaries from the church family as well as promoting the growth of the West Michigan Missions Consortium, a cooperative ministry with other local churches to creatively accomplish missions objectives with greater efficiency, effectiveness, and energy. The church also embraced the findings of a second building task force and officially approved the process of relocating to the 4 Mile property. Pastor Floyd resigned in October, 2006 to take on the role of State Representative for the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches.
During this time of transition, in 2006-2007, the work on clearing the 4 Mile property and preparing it for future building began. The groundwork was laid, and a beautiful pavilion with enclosed kitchen and bathrooms was constructed, along with a driveway and parking area. In October, 2007, the church began using the property for activities and outreach opportunities.
The church called Associate Pastor Joe Daniels to become Lead Pastor, and he began his ministry in November, 2007. God continues to bless North Park with a wonderful spirit among the people, and many faithful servants involved in the ministry. We continue to see growth as new families and individuals attend and join the church, and we continue seeking God’s plan as we expand the outreach ministries of the church. Pastor Tom Rohrer continues to serve as the Pastor of Education after coming to North Park in 1995. Pastor John Nixon joined the staff in July, 2010 as the Pastor of Student Ministries.