Wedding Without Merry Xmas

A Place Where All Can Flourish

Article Type: Life Stories

Supporting Church Vision Through the Stewards Fund

When Doug and Gail first learned their church was planning to add an additional campus, they were “all in.”

Through its 415 Project, Madison Square CRC in Grand Rapids, MI will reclaim the building formerly occupied by Grand Rapids Christian High School. Located just across the street from the old site of Calvin Theological Seminary, the project aims to transform the campus into a dynamic hub of activity serving the physical, social and spiritual needs of neighbors.

“The more we looked at it, the more excited we became,” recalls Doug, Founder and CEO of Partners Worldwide.

Plans for the 65,000-square foot building include a community center, affordable housing and offices for a partnership with a refugee education ministry.

The Stewards Fund (Barnabas Foundation’s donor-advised fund) provided the Doug and Gail a simple way to give appreciated stock toward the 415 Project. They see it as a way to support both their church’s ongoing mission and to affirm their family values.

In particular, the church’s vision for restorative justice dovetails with their passion for reconciliation. When they married at Madison Square CRC in 1982, Doug had already been doing agricultural development in Bangladesh. Together, they spent another 14 years leading international development work in eight African countries.

In addition to their two eldest children (Lucas and Maisha) born in Uganda, Doug and Gail have three adopted children. When an Ethiopian famine produced 100,000 orphans, they were prompted to welcome Marcos into their family. A year later, they adopted their daughter Jordana from Ethiopia and three years later, their youngest Ethiopian daughter, Jember, from an orphanage in Kenya.

With plans to move stateside in 1996, the Doug and Gail anticipated the challenges of being a racially diverse family. “Our kids were caught in two worlds,” recalls Doug. “One of our daughters said once, ‘It’s hard being me because some people tease me for having white parents, while others tease me for being from Africa.’”

The right neighborhood and church became a critical factor for the family’s relocation. “We wanted them to be with people of color, and to see people in leadership who are of color,” recalls Doug.

Returning to the fellowship and neighborhood of Madison Square CRC, their “go-to” church during home-service, proved to be a good fit. With nearly 36 nations represented in its current membership, the mission of the church was exactly what they had been pursuing.

The 415 Project captures Doug and Gail’s imagination for what’s possible in a reconciling community.

“It’s just so beautiful!” exclaims Doug. “This will become a place of flourishing for all.”

“Our dream,” he continues, “is that it would yield a hundredfold for the families and community there – socially, physically, spiritually and economically. It will be a rebirth.”

To learn more about the Stewards Fund and other giving options, contact Barnabas Foundation at 1.888.448.3040 or