The City on a Hill story begins with a small group of women praying about human needs during a hurting economy. Funding was tight for ministries at a time when community needs were increasing.
As these women prayed, God opened doors. Just when Zeeland Community Hospital planned to vacate a building, a team inspired by the women’s prayers was pursuing the idea of a ministry center – a shared facility where nonprofits could work more efficiently to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the community.
It was a simple concept: Repurpose the former hospital building into a ministry center that could provide space as well as heat, electric, phones, and other amenities at a relatively low cost. This would allow ministries to focus more of their money and energy on their individual missions.
Making the concept happen was more complicated: Creating a new organization, getting nonprofit status, presenting a purchase offer, funding the purchase, and finding tenants all presented challenges. And the clock was running – the hospital board had already received another bid for the building.
But God controlled the time clock. A local church congregation agreed to lead organizational efforts until the new nonprofit could be formed. The team made a bid for the 100,000 squarefoot building. It was lower than the other bid, but the vision of a ministry center touched the heart of hospital leadership. In September, 2005, the board accepted the ministry center proposal – a move the team saw as confirmation of God’s leading. More confirmation came with a $40,000 gift that made up a shortfall at the deadline for the down payment on bank financing.
City on a Hill opened May 31, 2006 with twelve ministries on site. As more ministries moved in over the years, we renovated the space. City on a Hill has provided and continues to provide free incubator space to help fledgling ministries – a number of which have grown into significant regional programs. Today, the more than forty ministries working at City on a Hill serve thousands of people in West Michigan, across the United States, and around the world.
In addition to “serving those who serve others,” City on a Hill felt called to develop four ministries of its own to meet community needs. The Health Clinic provides medical care to uninsured and underinsured people. The Café offers low-cost or free meals to those in need and serves as a gathering place for ministry staff, clients, and neighbors. ATLAS is an adult mentoring ministry for persons in crisis. And Leader Renewal is a retreat and reflection space for pastors and leaders.