Over 127 Years in the Community!
Many interesting things happened in 1893: Thomas Edison completed the world’s first movie studio in New Jersey; the first "zipper" for clothing was patented in Chicago; and New Zealand became the first country to allow all women the right to vote. But for some people on the southeast side of Spring Lake, the best thing that happened in 1893 was the construction of a church for the growing township of Nortonville.
Nortonville was a community which centered around the Norton Sawmill. The sawmill was a prosperous business, as thousands upon thousands of logs were floated down the Grand River every year and needed to be milled and packed for shipping around the growing population of the United States. And though people found steady work at the Norton Sawmill, many were not attending a church, because there was no local church for the Nortonville area (east of Lloyd's Bayou and south towards the Grand River).
A woman named Louise Deremo became burdened for the area because she recognized that many boys and girls were growing up unchurched. So Louise went to work, first contacting the people of her community and then organizing a Ladies Aide Society, with the main purpose of raising enough money and finding the right land so that a church might be constructed. Through prayer, work, ice cream socials, dinner socials, and quilting bees, God blessed the efforts of these faithful women. Mr. George Young donated a small plot of property near the corner of Leonard Rd. and 144th. And in 1893, local volunteers constructed a small brick church with a bell tower which still exists today. The church was called Nortonville Baptist Church.
The church began offering Sunday School on March 19, 1893, with 20 students and 6 teachers. The offering was 50 cents! The Sunday School ministry has met consistently over the years and has helped many in the Nortonville area learn the Bible and the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. Worship services were held when preachers were available. These preachers were first supplied by the Spring Lake Baptist Church, and later by the local Presbyterian and First Reformed churches.
In 1955, Rev. John Verseput helped organize the church meetings, and on May 1, 1956 the name of the church was officially changed to Nortonville Gospel Chapel to reflect the non-denominational view of the congregants. A new sanctuary was added on in 1987, and an education wing was added in 2013. The emphasis of the church has always been to lead people to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to help them grow in their love for God and their fellow man. The church presently supports 16 local and international missionaries.
The church is thankful to God for His sustaining grace these past 127 years and is trusting the Lord Jesus for His guidance for the future!