In the Fall of 1977, a church-planting team from Ames, Iowa moved into town to start a college church on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. The idea was to use homes and university classrooms as meeting facilities, and pour energy and resources into people. The two leaders, Dave Bovenmyer and Larry Clemente, desired to help college students come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and then to disciple them in their Christian walk. They came armed with vision and motivation from Christ’s “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20), a deep desire to please God with all their hearts, and a trained, volunteer team with ready and willing attitudes.
This team of twelve individuals, three couples and six singles located near MSU, began to reach out on and near the campus. They were joined initially with a small group of students who had become believers over the previous months through a summer training program in East Lansing. So from these small beginnings, God put together the original “flock” that would later become Riverview Church.
From the start, the leadership of the church had two key desires. First, their goal was to train pastoral staff through an apprenticeship-training program within the church. In doing so, they were following the Biblical pattern of the church found in the Book of Acts. Here the example of the first century church was to train up leadership through applying scriptural principles to everyday life, while building solid Christian character qualities. Leaders were then appointed as pastors in the local church, after it was evident that they had achieved the character described in I Timothy 3, and Titus 1.
Second, their goal was to send out those pastors to start other churches in other campuses and cities in the U.S. and the world. Since then, leaders have been “raised up” and sent out to Mt. Pleasant, Ann Arbor, Novi, Kalamazoo, Ypsilanti, West Lafayette (Indiana), Chicago (Illinois), State College (Pennsylvania), Columbus (Ohio), and the Washington D.C. area. Also, many short-term and long-term mission workers have been, or are presently, out in the field. Countries include Canada, Venezuela, Honduras, Germany, Russia, the Ukraine, and China.
Over the years, as church members graduated and entered the marketplace, the church grew and added couples, young families, and high school students to its ranks. Even though times and people have changed, our goals remain the same, in obedience to Christ’s Great Commission. Our desire for the future is built on the legacy and blessing of our past: that the Lord will continue to cause our church to grow both in spiritual maturity and in number, as we continue to “press on” winning unbelievers to Christ, building believers spiritually in the church, training leaders into maturity, and sending workers into the harvest fields for Christ. May God bless us as we sense the urgency to endeavor “to work while it is still day, for night is coming when no man can work”.