Northpointe Community Church has been up and running in DeWitt since 1840—177 years this May.
“We have been blessed over the years, and I can’t thank God enough,” said lead pastor Rick Ruble. “Most churches have significant and steady growth the first 15 to 20 years, and then a plateau that lasts for a few decades occurs before decline sets in and the church eventually dies.”
The lifespan of a church is similar to that of a human, but this historical church has outlasted all of those in it’s community and in nearby areas.
Last May, the church wanted to create a community service project that would help give back to the members of the DeWitt Township community. Their mission at Northpointe is to impact their neighborhoods, their workplaces, and their communities with the grace that Jesus showed.
“We adopted a vision of impacting 50,000 people in the next five years with the grace of Jesus,” said Northpointe Director of Community Impact Aimee Beltran.
Their initial wording of their community service project vision specified that those 50,000 people would be in Clinton County—that was their target. As they looked at the demographics of the county, it became clear that impacting 50,000 people would have them expending resources in many rural areas that were not in their realistic ministry area.
“If we were going to interact with tens of thousands of people, we were going to have to go below I-69 into the southern part of DeWitt Township and Clinton County,” said Beltran. “We had no idea what that might look like, and up until the start of our project, we didn’t have a clear set of strategies,” she continued.
As discussions moved forward, they began to talk about the Rotunda Trailer Park located in the southwest corner of DeWitt Township. It was a rough place that didn’t get much care and attention. During the summer of 2016, Beltran met with Teresa Hayes, the manager at Rotunda, and asked to build a relationship with them.
In August of last year, a group of about ten people from Northpointe spent an afternoon at the trailer park meeting and spending time with its residents. Three hairstylists, brought in by Northpointe, gave free haircuts to kids before they went back to school. They set up games and activities for the kids and provided hot dogs and drinks to the community.
In October, the same group of people from the church returned to give more free haircuts and hosted a harvest party for the kids. This allowed for the start of new friendships.
In November, Ruble and Beltran worked with Hayes to identify families from Rotunda that could use extra help providing a Thanksgiving dinner; Northpointe families paired up and provided that food. The church hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for residents of Rotunda at Gier Community Center in DeWitt.
In December, Northpointe leaders worked with Hayes to figure out which families might need help getting gifts for their children. Families from Northpointe helped make that happen, too.
“Are we making a difference in that community is what I ask my self all the time,” said Ruble. “I like to think that we are instead making a difference in the lives of the people of Rotunda.”
Two years ago, Northpointe partnered with an organization to pack 60,000 meals that were shipped to Haiti after the earthquake. They partnered with that same organization last year to pack another 50,000 meals that went to Haiti as well.
“That was great, but we kept facing the question of what were we doing here, in mid-Michigan, in Lansing and Dewitt Township,” said Beltran. “We decided ‘Let’s do something like our Haiti project here at home.’”
On March 11, somewhere between 150-200 DeWitt residents are going to gather at DeWitt Junior High to pack 10,000 meals that will be distributed in backpack programs for kids on the free and reduced lunch programs and in local food pantries. The meal pack will take about two hours and they’ll finish with 10,000 dehydrated meals that only need boiling water to be used in a variety of ways to combat hungry stomachs.
“This pack is different than that of our previous ones in that the packing team is coming primarily from people outside of Northpointe,” said Ruble.
They’re providing the infrastructure, but the man power will come from local athletic teams, DeWitt High School student council, groups of people from local businesses and even Sparrow Hospital nurses and doctors. Members of the DeWitt Township Board of Trustees will also be in attendance to help with the pack.
“I will definitely be there with my grandchildren,” said city clerk Diane Mossier. “What this church is doing is so amazing and unheard of in the area, so I’m glad that I’m going to be a part of this.”
For information on how to get involved, contact Rick Ruble at 517-669-5133 or visit http://www.northpointecc.org/main/welcome.