Prof seeks to create church plant


Photo courtesy David Noe.

In 2014, classics professor David Noe created a Bible study aimed at planting a confessional, Orthodox Presbyterian church, called Reformation, near Calvin’s campus. This group serves both Calvin students and the community at large and meets at Raybrook Manor, within walking distance of campus.

Composed of 6 students and 4 households, the Bible study has been working through the book of Acts since September. The directions for being a traditional Presbyterian operation come from Acts 2:42, focusing on prayer, Scripture and the sacraments, above all else.

Recently, the group met with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) to continue the process of becoming an official church plant, but the group has not yet attained that status. However, it runs like a “mini church service,” said study member Alli Zeilstra, a first-year student.

Noe believed that Grand Rapids needed a church plant such as Reformation because there is not a traditional Presbyterian option available. This style of worship means that the church will celebrate the Lord’s Supper every week because of how the Presbyterian tradition interprets Acts 2:42. Additionally, the group focuses on simple worship, avoiding worship that can be perceived as flashy or distracting. Reformation focuses on singing psalms and hymns, seeing “worship [as] an oasis … a time to set your mind on things eternal,” said Noe.

The hopeful church plant also focuses on worship inclusiveness in its services. According to Noe:

“You have two voices in worship […] the congregation and God. Everyone there is an active party. […] Worship is to be a close conversation between God and his people,” said Noe.

For this reason, the service focuses on aspects in which every congregant can participate: singing, prayer and the sacraments.

Every meeting opens with prayer and the singing of hymns. Afterwards, the group prays for the Scripture that is about to be read, and reads a small section of Scripture. They are currently working through the book of Acts. After a short message on the passage, Noe invites questions from the group, and they close with singing a psalm and a final prayer.

Zeilstra shared that she enjoys Noe’s prayers and sermons.

“[The study is] so focused on the Word, so Biblical […] is both intellectually challenging and spiritually challenging […] I feel now that I have a wider appreciation for the Word.”

Beyond its Scriptural emphasis, Zlstra appreciates the BIble study’s close fellowship and mentioned that Noe sends members notes of encouragement often. Noe hopes to use this church plant to allow students to engage easily in church life as well as on-campus religious life.

If students are interested in learning more about the study, they can contact Professor Noe at [email protected] or visit Reformation’s website at Anyone is welcome to join the study from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Raybrook Manor chapel.