What's In A Name?
From the former, founding pastor, Brian Steenhoek:
"When I first arrived to start a new church in the Wayland area, I decided to examine the history of the early church in the book of Acts. I felt it would give insight into what we might take as principles for starting a new church.
Three things became evident as I read. The first was the early Christians' love and devotion to God. They truly believed God and his promises and testified to the resurrection of Jesus--sometimes with life and death consequences i.e. tephen. Secondly, they were radically devoted to one another. They loved one another and literally gave to anyone as they had need. In one instance, Barnabas sold some of his property and gave the proceeds to the apostles for distribution. Finally, they were bold in their mission. They proclaimed the hope of the resurrection and the promise of new life in Christ and called people to repentance and faith. Because of their faith in God, love for one another and bold proclamation of a future hope, the early church thrived and the number being saved and added to their fellowship grew daily.
Taking this a step further, I read from some of Paul's letters to the churches that he helped to form. Reading in Colossians I read, "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints--the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven..." They too, were people characterized by faith, love, and hope. In fact, over and over again Paul uses that trilogy of words to describe the kind of new community that God desires to create.
It dawned on me that those rich ideas should be the vision of this new church--'to be a God-centered community that lives by faith, is known by love, and is a voice of hope.' When I first shared that vision with the task force charged with hiring me in early September 2004, one of the members stopped me in my tracks when he said, 'That's the name.' I asked 'What's the name?' He replied, 'Voice of Hope.' There was a stunned silence, for it seemed to me, and those who had been praying for this new church, that the phrase struck a nerve. It was as if God was confirming this vision and the name of this new community He was forming.
Even after Pastor Brian Steenhoek has passed the baton to new leadership, the purpose, theme and moniker of the church rings: To be a Voice of Hope to northeast Allegan County.