Muskegon County Cooperating Churches History
We trace our origins to the organization of the Muskegon County Council of Churches on May 26th, 1941, growing out of informal discussions among downtown clergy. Representatives of 23 congregations gathered at Central United Methodist Church for the founding meeting. By the end of that year the council had 10 dues paying member congregations. From the beginning, the group has sought “to minister to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people” of our community.
One of our earliest projects during World War II was collaboration with area PTAs to provide milk to local school children. In the 1940s and the 1950s the educational programs included vacation Bible schools, and training events for Sunday School teachers. The Council sponsored choir workshops and pulpit exchanges.
During the 1960s, the mainstream Protestant organization found renewed energy as it grew to include Catholic and Orthodox traditions. The Council coordinated weekly religious services for Brookhaven and during summer months on The Milwaukee Clipper. In cooperation with the Labor Council, Labor Day Services were held in Walker Arena. As part of the Goose Egg Lake project (now the Blue Lake Cooperative) the Council worked with other social service agencies to organize a preschool program and a clinic. Housing needs were addressed through creation of a revolving loan fund.
One of the more visible and enduring projects from the 1970s was helping First Baptist Church begin their television production studio. The programming continues on local cable access Channel 7 and includes Muskegon County Cooperating Churches’ “Profiles on Muskegon” interview show on its regular schedule.
For twenty years (1975-1995) the Rev. Ed Rogers led the Jail/Prison Ministry.
Late in 1978 the organization changed its name to the Muskegon County Cooperating Churches. Replacing the term “council” with “cooperating” more accurately described the working relationship among member congregations in service to the community.
We contributed to the organization of the Westshore Jewish/Christian Dialogue in 1988 (now the West Michigan Academic Consortium). In partnership with the Michigan Ecumenical Forum, Muskegon County Cooperating Churches sponsored an environmental conference in 1994 titled “Dialogue on the Common Good: Seeking a Sustainable Society”. In 1997 Cooperating Churches co-sponsored a two day conference “Building Bridges in the Face of Hate” addressing hate groups and their flawed theology. A conference on poverty co-sponsored by Cooperating Churches in 2000 was “Faith in Action: Building a Just and Caring Society” with the Rev. Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action as speaker.
Since 2000 Muskegon County Cooperating Churches has also served as the fiduciary agent for new community organizations. Past agencies under MCCC’s umbrella included the Muskegon Responsible Fathers’ Initiative and In the City for Good. Current programs served in this way are Community Connects Choir and the Shoah Remembrance Committee of Muskegon.
Beginning in 2005, Muskegon County Cooperating Churches has worked to coordinate the food trucks coming in to Muskegon County from Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank, Inc. In addition, Cooperating Churches coordinates the Muskegon Depot Delivery Program. The Depot program brings food from Feeding America to the Hope Lighthouse Ministries’ Building at Wood and Irwin in Muskegon. Each individual pantry that is part of the program orders and pays for their own food, which is delivered by semi-truck to the central location in Muskegon. The Depot program was begun with funding from the Julia Hackley Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County and is currently supported by funds from the Thomas & Geraldine Seyferth Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County. The Depot program has been such a success it has been replicated in five other counties.
Looking to the future, Muskegon County Cooperating Churches is involved in the Muskegon Area Sustainability Coalition, Strengthening Muskegon, the Emergency Needs Committee, and other programs working to improve the lives of the people of Muskegon County.
Muskegon County Cooperating Churches
1095 Third Street Suite 10
Muskegon MI 49441-1976
Phone: 231.727.6000 Fax: 231.727.0841