We believe there is one divine being who has existed eternally. He exists and reveals Himself to man in three distinct, equally divine persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. At the beginning of time, God created the entire universe and all its creatures. He continues to exercise His supreme power to sustain His creation. Throughout history, He has expressed His desire to be our God and to have a personal, eternal relationship with us.
We seek to be transformed by the Scriptures, love and serve the people in Grand Rapids. Our hope is modeled after Jesus' prayer, that God's will would be done in Grand Rapids as it is in Heaven. We are a church for the city. We believe the church isn't a building, but a people in a place, working and living out the Gospel each day in our lives, in our city. We gather together to open the Scriptures, pray, worship, listen to the Spirit, and experience the presence of God. It is our desire to make the Kingdom accessible to our families, friends, neighbors and entire city.
We believe Jesus changes everything. We are people committed to living out His teachings in the world. We seek to spend our strength on others and to take risks to see the Kingdom expand because we believe there is hope and life in Jesus for everyone. We're not perfect and we don’t have everything figured out, but that won’t stop us from humbly holding up the Bread of Life to a hungry world. One beggar, showing another where to find food.
We are a new church in the city, and we meet at 1601 Galbraith Ave SE Suite 304 Grand Rapids, MI 49546 on Sundays at 8:30, 9:45 & 11:15AM. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from, with whatever you carry, we are for you. When you’re here, you’re Local.
WHAT WE BELIEVE...
We believe that Jesus is the eternal divine Son of God. He chose voluntarily to be made in human likeness and was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Although He lived a sinless life, He allowed Himself to be executed by crucifixion. However, as prophesied, He rose from the dead three days after His execution, securing salvation for all who will believe.
About the Holy Spirit
The third person of God is the Holy Spirit. We believe the Holy Spirit dwells in every Christ-follower. His indwelling presence gives spiritual life to believers and distinguishes them as children of God. The Holy Spirit guides Christ-followers in applying God’s principles, equips Christ-followers with talents and abilities for the purpose of building up God’s kingdom. The Spirit is an Advocate for us, helping us, defending us and empowering us.
God created mankind to live in relationship with Him. However, the first man and woman were deceived by Satan. They rebelled and chose to be wrongfully independent from God. We all fail to live up to the perfect standard God desires and are open to Satan’s deception. Our failure to please God, unless a relationship is re-established with Him, results in condemnation under God’s judgment and would cause us to spend eternity in hell. Furthermore, there is nothing we can do on our own (we can’t be “good enough” or do “more good deeds than bad deeds”) to re-establish our relationship with God.
About a Relationship with God
Our inability to re-establish our relationship with God leaves us dependent on God’s mercy. God graciously provided the means to reconcile this relationship through faith in Jesus Christ. Our relationship is re-established when we make a commitment to accept Jesus as God’s son and our Savior and Lord. We demonstrate our commitment privately by faith (acting upon our belief that God has the power to save us) and repentance (turning back to God and depending on Him to control our lives). At the same time, we publicly express our commitment by confessing our acceptance of God’s salvation and submitting ourselves in Christian baptism.
About the Christian Life
Once our relationship is re-established with God, we naturally want to spend time with Him and know Him better. The Holy Spirit enlightens us as we read God’s Word (the Bible), as we communicate with Him in prayer, and as we enter into loving relationships (Biblical community) with other Christ-followers. In this way, we begin to know God more intimately. The process of spiritual development motivates us to seek ways to serve God and prepares us to spend eternity in fellowship with Him.
About the Church
The word church literally means assembly or gathering. It is the gathering of Christ-followers around Jesus and was created by God for our benefit and His glory! The Bible speaks of the church as Christ’s body. It compares it to a living organism, where Jesus is the head. He gives each Christ-follower special functions to perform for the good of the body. To remain healthy, the body’s members must work together. Each part contributes to the growth and maturity of the body. For this reason, it is important for Christ-followers to regularly gather together for the purpose of celebration. Celebration in this way enables believers to serve one another and neighbors in their sphere of influence.
About the Bible
God divinely inspired human authors to write the sixty-six books of the Bible. He communicated through these writers the values, principles, and ideals which please Him and are in our best interests. We believe the Bible is entirely accurate, complete, and reliable. It can be trusted and it reveals who God is to us and how we can be reconciled to Him through Jesus.
Toran is the lead pastor here at The Local Church and he still can’t believe he gets to do what he loves for a living. Toran loves to teach, mobilize, lead teams and is passionate about raising up young leaders. He’s been a pastor for nearly 20 years, working with students, young adults, in discipleship and as a teaching pastor. Toran did his undergrad at Cedarville University, Seminary at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and PhD at Western Michigan University.
Toran married his college crush way back in ‘98; she’s still his crush but also his best friend. He and Brenda have four very fun and crazy kids, Tayton, Isabella, Kingston and Maximilian.
Toran has had some interesting hobbies over the years, from building acoustic guitars to training police dogs, painting, woodworking and riding motorcycles on race tracks. He used to be active in a lot of sports but now he mostly complains about “straining his hammies”. His most interesting talent is that he can do the entire story of Jonah with balloon animals, seriously, ask him…
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Pastor of Worship Culture
Jordan leads the weekend gathering, and about a million other things here at The Local Church. He is passionate about crafting atmospheres of worship for people to experience the presence of God in a powerful way. He has led worship for various retreats and festivals, and has started a conference for worship teams called “The Worship Collective”.
Jordan and his wife Dana love hanging out together with their two kids, Judah and Selah. Spending time together enjoying the beach, camping, exploring the woods and watching movies are just a few things they love to do as a family.
Jordan loves music, playing the guitar, and creating art. He also loves all things tech - from video games to cell phones and is a total Apple fanboy. To his surprise, he has even become a runner and enjoys jogging to get exercise in. You can find him at the beach, eating tacos, or watching Lost.
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For the last 17 years, Christian has worked for various churches, conferences, and award-winning musical artists as Technical Director, Chief Audio Engineer, and/or Pastor. He's currently a Project Developer at Amplio Systems and helps churches accomplish their tech goals every day. He, his wife Connie and son Nathaniel call TLC home, and he lends his tech skills to us part-time! Christian is passionate about helping organizations accomplish goals with the right technical solutions. We also hear he's got some slick songwriting skills and does a little rapping in his free time, but you'll have to ask him...
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Family Ministries Pastor
Adam is the Family Pastor at TLC. He joined the team August 2021 after working as a family pastor in Boise, Idaho for thirteen years. There, he spent his time developing young leaders, encouraging and building up the next generation of world-changers. Adam grew up in Spam Town USA (Austin, MN) and graduated from Cornerstone University where he met his wife Kara. They now have three beautiful children (Corbin, Selah, Logan) and a dog named Bauer, and live in the Byron Center area.
Adam loves all things sports, sneakers, tech, and burgers. His greatest passion is to see families thriving, teaching what it looks like to follow the way of Jesus in their everyday lives.
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Pastor of Spiritual and Local Engagement
Austin is the Pastor of Spiritual and Local Engagement at TLC. Austin joined the staff in 2018 and helps create and facilitate the ways we love and serve our city (especially our awesome partnership with Ken-O-Sha Elementary) and creates pathways to help deepen our relationship with God. Austin enjoys learning, stories, teaching, and mobilizing others. He loves the way of Jesus and is passionate about showcasing the beauty of Christ to others in our City, and inviting others to do the same. Before serving at The Local Church, Austin spent time working with churches across the city with the Luis Palau Association as part of the CityFest movement. Austin earned his undergrad degree in Ministry and Bible and Theology from Huntington University.
Austin lives in downtown Grand Rapids with his wife Olivia and they love going to the beach, exploring downtown and delicious meals with friends. Austin is a movie and music buff who also loves a good book. Originally from Indianapolis, he’s a huge basketball fan and is fanatic about the Indiana Pacers. Also while growing up in Indianapolis, Austin may have been part of a bible quizzing team…that won nationals…when he was 12…(although rumor has it that he was the weak link).
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Rachel grew up in the church, but was always convinced she wouldn't work in one.
God had different plans. Before serving at The Local Church, Rachel spent time working with churches, non-profits, and city leaders across the city with the Luis Palau Association as part of the CityFest movement in Grand Rapids and Tyler, Texas.
This is where her love for bringing people to the Kingdom came to thrive. Rachel will be working in an administrative and creative role with our team at TLC. She is settling into her favorite city of Grand Rapids where she loves to go to Reeds Lake, walk around downtown, and explore new places to eat with friends. She is extremely excited to see what God is going to do through her at TLC!
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Weekend Experience Coordinator
Freddy is the Weekend Experience Coordinator at TLC. In 2019, he joined staff as a worship resident, and has transitioned to help facilitate and coordinate all of the moving parts on a Sunday morning (to which there are a few). Overall, however, Freddy is truly passionate about seeing the next generation grow passionate about following Jesus. Born in England and moving to the US when he was young, his amazing parents instilled a fervor for Jesus at a young age. He graduated from Grand Valley with degrees in Marketing and Music, and he has worked and volunteered in the worship ministry space for close to 10 years at numerous different churches around the country.
Freddy and his wife Elise live downtown Grand Rapids with their dog Roa. Together, they like to drink copious amounts of coffee while watching the world go by from their window. In his free time, you can find Freddy playing video games, reading a book, or hiking across the country.
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FAMILY MINISTRIES COORDINATOR
Deanna is the Family Ministries Coordinator at TLC. Deanna helps facilitate the inner workings of all things kids and youth ministry. Deanna has a passion for the next generation as a whole, and loves to pour into youth and see their love and excitement for the Lord grow.
Originally from the east side of Michigan, Deanna moved to Grand Rapids to study at Grand Valley for a degree in Marketing with a minor in nonprofit administration. She has spent roughly 10 years working or volunteering with youth within either the church or camp ministry.
Deanna loves watching movies, painting, and taking pictures. In her spare time you can find her exploring new coffee shops, in your local thrift store, or binge watching a new show on Netflix. Rumor has it that she was the captain of a lego robotics team that won state championships three years in a row, but you won’t find any evidence of those days...
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Alana is our Facilities Coordinator and keeps the building clean and tidy. You might find her talking to
herself or to some inanimate objects as she cleans! She desires to serve Jesus and she loves to pray
while she works. If you ever have a prayer request and see her around, she would love to be praying
Despite hating to travel, Alana has been to SE Asia multiple times and even wrote a book about her first experience there. She lived in the UK while attending Capernwray Bible School and later working with a church in the northeast of England.
Alana enjoys writing, playing ukulele, eating chocolate, hiding rubber ducks for people to find, and spending time with people she cares about. She loves her dogs and expects others will as well. She thinks the whole world should be a bit more childlike and more people should embrace their strangeness. Her family and friends will be quick to tell you that Alana certainly does!
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LOCAL ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
Emily is TLC's Local Engagement Coordinator, and focuses on our commitment to foster care and
adoption, and our partnership with Ken-O-sha Elementary. Wholeheartedly embracing our value
“would she weep”, she loves finding opportunities to love and serve people well.
Emily says she's forever in her heart a small town Iowa girl. She played volleyball in college and graduated with a degree in Athletic Training and a hilarious, fun, and Uber talented basketball playing husband, Eric whose professional career led them to France for over a decade where we consumed an overabundance of baguettes & stinky cheese.
After returning to the U.S. with their four children, Emily and Eric felt called into refugee foster care. In 2015, they welcomed three refugee children from DR Congo into their home. This set in motion a passion and heart for the vulnerable and gave Emily with the immense privilege of being called “Mom” by many different children from many different places. She says one of the most exciting things ever to happen to her is watching God unite the nations through family.
She's a huge fan of cozy hot drinks year-round, getting whooped by her kids in beach volleyball, and spending loads of time in a gym or on a soccer field cheering on her favorite athletes in the whole world, the Joldersma kiddos.
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Carly is the (first!) Pastoral Resident at TLC. Over her year-long residency, she will work with Austin
on Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, and with Toran to develop her preaching gifts. Her dad was
a pastor and she says she sees how God has been shaping her and calling her to pastoral ministry
since she was a kid.
Carly is passionate about following Jesus and seeing lives holistically transformed by the Gospel. She's been part of church leadership teams for the past 15 years, and currently serves on TLC's Prayer Team and Belong Project team. She has a heart for moving toward people in vulnerable situations, just like Jesus did and longs to see everyone in the Church empowered and mobilized in using the unique gifts God has given them to show the world what He is like.
Carly lives on the west side of Grand Rapids with her husband (and best friend), Mike. They have 3 daughters, Savannah, Everly, and Clara. Besides keeping her children alive and getting them to all the places they need to be, she stays busy thrifting, cooking, exploring new places around Grand Rapids, listening to podcasts, and writing. Carly’s favorite thing is to have conversation over a shared meal, especially if it includes sauce because sauces are her favorite food group!
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Jenna is TLC's Ministry Intern. She helps out with some of our community engagement relationships
like Ken-O-Sha as well as our spiritual formation opportunities like Local Guides and getting new
guests plugged into community here at TLC. She is passionate about biblical justice - serving the
underserved and seeing hearts restored back to Christ, on Earth as it is in heaven. One of her favorite
things about this is helping others realize their identity as created in the image of God.
Originally from Vicksburg, MI, she studied exercise science at Hope College and went on to receive her doctorate of physical therapy at GVSU. She works part-time as a PT in Grand Rapids when she is not at TLC. The summer after college, she also completed a missions & discipleship training program in Zambia with a ministry called Poetice, which is when she first discovered her passion for ministry.
She and her husband, Matthew, met at TLC and enjoy finding new trails to mountain bike or hike with their bernedoodle puppy, Leo. They love to be outdoors as much as they can. Maybe you'll see them on a local trail near you!
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Kinsey is our Administrative Director and our go-to guru for all things database and office-related. She loves her some good ole fashioned binders - with cascading tabs, of course (Parks & Rec? Brooklyn Nine-Nine, anyone?). Getting to support each of TLC's ministries from behind the scenes in building God's Kingdom and growing His people is her dream job! Kinsey studied Public Relations and Philanthropy at Auburn University, and has worked in both the PR agency and small, local non-profit worlds before working at TLC.
She and her husband Matt are originally from Alabama, but fell in love with GR after moving here in 2015. They have two sweet, fun-loving toddlers: Ezra and Finn. If she's not working on a house project in her free time, you might see her stroller-ing her way to a coffee shop for a heart-filling cup and conversation with a friend. If you want to make her smile, talk about organization tools and HGTV, or just bring her a chocolate chip scone!
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Teaching Team Member
Reverend Erin Clifford joins the team as one of our teaching voices using her gifts for stellar biblical insight and winsome application to everyday life. When she’s not with us for a weekend teaching and spearheading some of our leadership development efforts she works full-time as the Director of Spiritual and Missional Formation at Fuller Theological Seminary. Erin is an international speaker, pastor and advocate for the poor.
From her years living in East Africa and London, Erin developed a passion to see humanity flourishing in other cultures, including the poorest of the poor. As a continuation of the belief in the role of the local church as a vehicle of God’s trans-formative hope for the world, Erin is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Missiology in the theology of suffering.
Erin can often be found eating cheddar cheese, drinking coffee, sitting in the sun, talking about Jesus or laughing loudly in or around Washington, DC where she currently resides.
TEACHING TEAM MEMBER
Dr. Gary Burge joins the team as one of our teaching voices. He is an internationally recognized New Testament scholar who has a passion for the Church and the Middle East and loves to make the Bible come alive. He has been an encouraging supporter of what God is doing at TLC and we’re super excited for his voice and investment in our community.
Gary is currently the Dean of Faculty at Calvin Seminary after teaching for 25 years at Wheaton College and Graduate School and when he’s not with us he and his wife are deeply involved with Church of the Servant here in GR. Gary holds degrees from the University of California and Fuller Seminary and received his PhD from Kings College, Aberdeen University, Scotland.
Gary continues to write both academically and pastorally and has a special love for the gospels, especially the Gospel of John. He has done extensive work in Israel and Palestine and has a passion for the Church in the Middle East where he regularly visits. He is an international speaker, esteemed professor and prolific author.
All of this you could easily find with a simple google search, but what you wouldn’t find is that Gary loves Volvos and IKEA (although his Swedish heritage is most likely the cause) and is a connoisseur of all things pickled (including herring). In fact if you ask nicely, he may even share some from his personal stash…
Spiritual Formation Guides
Philip and Bonnie serve as Spiritual Formation Guides to Staff at The Local Church, GR and have focused their lives on the pursuit of becoming like Jesus in word and deed. Philip taught at Cornerstone University for many years and Bonnie within the Grand Rapids Public School system and both love combining their teaching skills with their training in Spiritual Direction. Before that, they were long term missionary teachers in Kenya, East Africa at Moffat College of Bible. Over the years they have visited and taught in approximately 40 countries. Philip and Bonnie are the parents of four adult children and have 11 grandchildren. Being and making disciples of Jesus is the passion of their lives, whether that is through teaching, photography, or surfing the internet. They still haven’t found a Chai Tea to rival what they enjoyed in Africa but have not given up the hunt...