Grand Rapids Church Closing After 150 Years of Community Service

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — A historic church in West Side Grand Rapids will close for good later this month.

After operating for 150 years, St. James Church, 733 Bridge St. NW, will host its final mass on Tuesday, June 7.

“I am aware that for those whose families have worshipped, received sacraments and called St. James home, it is not easy. I’m sure it’s emotionally devastating and will be quite a blow,” Reverend Ron Hutchinson wrote in an announcement from the church in a newsletter this week.

With its imposing steeple and intricate stained glass windows, St. James’s Church has served the community of Grand Rapids since its opening in 1872.

Primarily serving elderly parishioners at this point in its long history, St. James’s Church has not held Mass for more than two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hutchinson said several factors played a role in the decision to close the church, including declining attendance and the cost of maintaining the building.

“Nothing is more difficult for a pastor than making the decision to close a church. It’s like admitting defeat. But as with everything in life, reality cannot be ignored,” he wrote.

Church attendance has been declining in the United States for decades.

About 29% of American adults said they had attended a church service in the past seven days in a Gallup poll last year. This compares to 49% who said they went to a service in 1958.

This decline is steep for the Catholic Church, which has seen attendance drop from 76% to 58% over the past two decades.

“So many factors influenced the need to sell the property, not the least of which is the sad reality that fewer and fewer people over the past 30 years are attending church,” Hutchinson said in the announcement. .

St. James’s was merged with St. Adalbert’s Basilica when the Diocese of Grand Rapids underwent a major restructuring ten years ago. Hutchinson said the parish could no longer financially support two campuses.

“It is very sad to acknowledge this reality, however, I remain committed to doing everything in my power as your pastor to continue to develop thriving faith communities at St. Adalbert’s Basilica and St. Marie over the next few years,” he said. says in the ad.

The St. James property will go up for sale after Bishop David Walkowiak hosts the final Mass next week.

The church, parsonage, parking lot and parish center will all be available for purchase, according to Hutchinson.

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