aboutClancy Street Ministries, a local nonprofit organization that was organized through the Reformed Church of America in 1988, began its mission to reach the people in the Belknap area for Jesus Christ. The initial work of the ministry began with a Sunday School program and two game nights to children in the Belknap Neighborhood, which were lead by Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Brouwer.

The Brouwers soon realized that these efforts were not sufficient to meet the needs of the community. There were adults in the neighborhood who were plagued with a multitude of problems such as drugs, inadequate housing, inadequate food, clothing, medical and dental services, and the frustration and fear associated with increasing crime and violence. The Brouwers asked that the Advisory Board hire a full-time executive director to do the job. New programs were instituted to not only meet some of the needs of the children in the community, but to also address some of the needs of the adults in the neighborhood. During this time Clancy Street Ministries incorporated and obtained status as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity.

In 1992 a husband and wife team, Stephen and Carol Faas, were hired as Co-Executive Directors. Stephen’s background included serving as a Marriage and Family Therapist and Carol was a minister in the Reformed Church of America. The Advisory Board believed that the mixture of their skills, experiences and commitment to the Belknap Neighborhood would be a good match for the ministry.

A Board of Directors of 9 people was chosen. At a later date that number was increased to 12. Programs were gradually added to address the perceived need of the neighborhood. The ministry became part of a collaborative effort to bring together all the organizations working in the neighborhood to look at program needs and to eliminate duplication as much as possible. That group of Directors also worked to gain a community police officer and a place to house him or her.

The ministry operated out of a house and a three stall garage until October 2001 when a new, 7,200 square foot facility was built in the neighborhood. Along with classroom space and a large meeting room to do programming, the facility also has a laundry room for those who cannot afford to do laundry and showers for individuals who need a place to keep clean.

In 2003 the organization split into two separate organizations: Clancy Street Ministries, Inc. (CSM), a Christian community development organization (CCDO), and Clancy Street Fellowship, an organized church of the Reformed Church in America.

The church is a place where the grace of God is emphasized to a hurting neighborhood. CSM continues to carry on the work of housing, training of young men and women to be leaders, education of adults in life skills including financial management, job skills and values, marriage & relationships. CSM also continues to offer counseling, children’s programs, and support groups for people with addictions. The vision is that families in the Belknap Neighborhood will be impacted in a holistic way to become as healthy and functional as God created them to be.

Our Focus

The Belknap neighborhood of Grand Rapids is racially, religiously, and economically diverse. “In some a lack of hope breeds disrespect for self and others, while for some the sheer diversity makes it difficult to understand and accept others,” says Steve Faas, Executive Director of CSM. “There is work to do in reconciling ourselves to each other so we can live together in a community that cares for each other and our children.”

Addiction, abuse, violence, depression, and poor health are all problems that exist within the neighborhood. Many of the local individuals and families need an advocate to walk alongside them, to empower them, and to help them be committed to change.

Our Successes

CSM brings hope to the community. Trained volunteers facilitate various programs to provide children with a safe place to learn and grow. The financial literacy director, Stephanie Worden, empowers the neighborhood’s adults to take control of their finances. She works with them to set budgets, to improve credit, to buy homes, to develop businesses, and to prepare taxes. The ministry’s healthy marriages/healthy relationship coordinator sets up and manages classes and resources for adults to improve their relationship and parenting skills.