We are a friendly community of faith – devoted to loving God and loving others through worship, fellowship and service. 

We are on a journey together seeking to be faithful in following Jesus Christ. We care for each other, hold each other up in prayer, and walk together through times of joy and sorrow.

We like to laugh. We like to eat. We like to meet new people. There are teaching and learning opportunities for every age. We look forward to meeting you at First.


As a member of the Reformed Church in America, above all, our faith is centered in Christ. Every need we experience finds its answer in Jesus Christ.

The final authority in the Reformed faith is Scripture, the living Word of God, spoken to the human heart through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who takes the Word of God and makes it real in our lives. This has always been and will always be the authentic wellspring of the Reformed faith.

The following confessions and creeds are historic statements of Reformed beliefs:

  • Four historic documentsthe Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the Belhar Confession
  • Three historic creedsthe Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed

Our Staff

Jeff Watson: Lead Pastor   jeffw@firstgrandville.org

Jeff served at First Church as the Director of Youth Ministries from 2014-2022. He began pastoring the church in January of 2023. Jeff graduated from Western Theological Seminary. Jeff is married to Jeanna, and they have two children.

Pastor Matt Cook:  Associate Pastor   matt@firstgrandville.org

Matt began as a pastor at First Church in October 2014. He graduated from Western Theological Seminary receiving a Masters of Divinity. His passion in ministry is the care and discipleship of the church, working together for God’s Kingdom and purpose here on Earth. Matt is married to Mary, and they have two young children.

Pastor Melanie Vlietstra-Kilgore:  Pastor of Worship, Outreach and Discipleship     melanie@firstgrandville.org

Melanie joined the staff in November 2022. She has a Worship Arts degree from Spring Arbor University and her MDiv from Western Theological Seminary. She was ordained in June of 2022.

Melanie oversees the worship ministry, discipleship, and is passionate about helping the church to love their neighbors like Jesus.

Melanie has been married to her husband Steve since 2014 and they have two daughters Johanna (2020) and Etta (2022). They love family time, trying out new restaurants around town, and working on their fixer upper house.

Jon Hull: Director of Youth Ministries/Young Life Church Partner jon@firstgrandville.org

Jon started working at First Church in 2021 as the youth director. Jon loves becoming a part of students’ lives and wants students to know that they have a caring adult in their life who wants to see and help them grow in their faith as they become young adults and beyond. Jon grew up in Mason, Michigan, which is close to Lansing, graduated from Lansing Christian High School in 2017 and received his undergraduate degree from the Calvin University in 2021.

Along with leading the youth at First Reformed, Jon also leads the Grandville Young Life Club.

Madelyn McConnon Alfaro: Director of Children’s Ministry   madelyn@firstgrandville.org

Madelyn joined the First staff in June 2022.  She oversees programming for kid’s birth – 5th grade.  She is excited to partner with families and the community to raise the next generation of faith.

Barb Nienhuis: Children’s Choir Director   barbnienhuis@gmail.com

Barb’s greatest passion is sharing the joy of music with the First church family because of the many ways music can uniquely influence and inspire us to grow closer to God. She directs our children’s choir, leads our praise team, and is part of the worship planning team. Barb has a joyful attitude that is contagious!

Rick N. Gossett: Director of Chancel Choir and Bells of Joy   rick.gossett@comcast.net

Rick has been leading church music since his graduation in 1972 from Ball State University where he received his BS and MA degrees.  He has conducted church choirs and praise teams in Indiana, and for the past 37 years has led those ministries at Beverly Reformed Church in Wyoming, MI.  He and his wife, Barbara, have three adult children and four grandchildren.

 Jeff VanDuinen: Church Administrator 


Jeff began his work as our part-time Church Administrator in January 2005. He oversees our facilities, budget, and supports the church staff. He works with our Finance Deacons as needed. Jeff helps keep everything running smoothly.

Deb Timmer: Office Manager deb@firstgrandville.org

Deb works with the Lead Pastor and Associate Pastor, church members and visitors, and the community to aide in the execution of the church’s mission, purpose and strategy. Deb brings a smile to her job and manages efficiently.

Jackie DeRuyter, Office Assistant  jackie@firstgrandville,org

Jackie works as office assistant and provides administrative support to the staff at First. Keeping things organized, Jackie contributes to the workplace with her friendly and welcoming interactions with others.

Harvey Kooistra: Custodian 

Harvey has been the church custodian for the past 13 years, and handles the repairs for the church, including the sanctuary, bathrooms, meeting areas, and offices. His landscaping skills are a gift and evident all around the church grounds. Harvey grew up on a farm in Iowa. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard, stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Minnetonka in Long Beach, California in the early 60’s. In his free time, Harvey enjoys creative writing and is the author of “A Book of Poems.” Harvey is married to Florence and they are blessed with three children and 13 grandchildren.


Serving at the Table

At First, everyone is welcome to the table of worship, fellowship, and community. But becoming a member means you are coming around to the side of the table where you are willing to serve and welcome others. No matter what side of the table you see yourself on today, you are always welcome.

Membership Classes
A “New Member’s Class” is held frequently throughout the year, led by Pastor Jeff Watson, and designed to help you determine if First Reformed Church is the place for you. The class will last for 2 Sundays (during the Sunday school hour). Individuals and/or families interested in membership or just wanting more information about the RCA or First Church are encouraged to attend this class. Theology is discussed, as well as church programming, expectations, history, and what it means to belong to the Reformed Church in America. At the end of the class, participants have an opportunity to join our family of faith.  Our next New Members class will be September 24, 2023 and October 1, 2023.  It meets at 11:00am in Pastor Jeff’s office.

Visitors receive a warm welcome at First Church, and if you are searching for a church home and would like more information, please call us at 616-534-5465 or email: deb@firstgrandville.org. 

On Sundays, stop by at the Welcome Desk near the main entrance, we look forward to meeting you!

History - Since 1860

As our name might suggest, First Reformed Church truly was one of the first to be built in greater Grand Rapids. In 1860, a small congregation purchased the land of our church’s present location (3060 Wilson Ave. SW) in order to serve the needs of the many young people who came to work in the area.

Our first church building was a wooden structure and our current brick structure was completed in 1959, our 100th anniversary. At that time, members reflected on the first century of history with words that still ring true today: “How good God has been! What blessings this church has had because of His unbounded love…May we continue to be true to the trust that has been placed in us.” 

In 2019, we continue to celebrate God’s promises and our 159 year history in the city of Grandville, Michigan.