For the North End Community Ministry / food pantry visit or call (616) 454-1097.

We meet for worship at 214 Spencer Street NE. Directions.
Service begins Sundays at 10:00AM.


Council of Elders

New City Church is led by a Council of Elders.  The Elders are those who meet the qualifications listed by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and are gifted and called by the Lord to this role. Those whom the church sets apart as Elders have made public vows of faithfulness to the Lord and to his church and have been affirmed by the people of New City Church as Elders.

The office of elder as described in the New Testament Scriptures is one of responsibility for serving the local church. In Acts 6:1-4, the apostles and elders in the church in Jerusalem emphasized their responsibility was to “prayer and the ministry of the word”. This did not mean other tasks were unimportant. In Acts 6 they recognized the importance of caring for widows but since their direct responsibility lay elsewhere, they ensured the widows were cared for by calling for the church to choose seven others to provide this valuable and necessary service.

The two primary words to describe this office in the New Testament are elder and overseer. The word “pastor” is not used specifically of elders/overseers, though it is the most common word used in our culture to refer to elders/overseers. The word “pastor” is used as a verb, however. In Acts 20:17 Paul calls for the elders from the church in Ephesus. He tells them in verse 28 that as overseers, they are to care for—or more literally—to pastor the church. This indicates they have a pastoral role in the church. When he calls them overseers, he implies an organizational responsibility and authority. The distinction between the words “elder” and “overseer” appear to be primarily cultural. The idea of an “elder” would have been recognizable to Jews in the first century Greeks / Romans would have recognized the idea of an “overseer”. These two terms appear largely interchangeable.

It is because of the great responsibility of elders that the requirements for the office are so high. New followers of Jesus are not qualified, for example. This is because an elder must be a man who exhibits spiritual maturity by living a life that is above reproach. This does not mean he is sinless. It means that his life is not characterized by uncontrolled sin. As Paul says, he’s not a drunkard or violent and is a faithful man. His character exhibits self-control and maturity in his faith.

At New City an elder does not serve for a specified term. In many churches elders serve for a period of time and then must be selected again. At New City a man who is called as an elder serves for life, so long as he is able and remains qualified and continues to be willing to serve. Because our Council of Elders does not function as a “board” (though they certainly have administrative functions), they are free to love the church and spend time leading people well, without being burdened by “administrivia”.

To select elders, the Council of Elders seeks to find those God identifies as candidates. We look for men who are already shepherding others, who care for and are highly committed to the church. We then seek to know if they are qualified according to Scripture’s requirements. When it becomes clear God is identifying an individual to serve the church as an elder, he is presented as a candidate to the church. The church then has a month to vote “no” by communicating with the Council of Elders any concern(s) they may have as to his character and qualifications. After the required time, the candidate is presented in a church meeting for a “yes” vote. Should the church vote to affirm him as an elder, both the church and the new elder make vows to one another, vows focused on serving and loving one another.

The Council of Elders is currently comprised of four men: J-T Richards, Dan Lane, Dave Vermilye, and Jim Wynalda.

J-T Richards

“God rescued me at the age of fifteen, and continues to rescue me many, many years later. Through many circumstances, twists, and turns God led me to plant and lead New City Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’ve been married since 1994. At my best I don’t deserve my wife (and at her worst she doesn’t deserve me). I loving being Dad to my three children. I bleed Boston Celtic green and love computers and technology. I am a Linux nerd and write my sermons in LaTeX (a typesetting program) with vim.”

J-T was on staff at Calvary Church for three years as a Pastoral Resident. Calvary sent him to plant New City Church which launched on Easter Sunday, 2011. He is a graduate of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, with a Master’s Degree in New Testament. He serves as the Lead Elder of New City Church.

Dan Lane

“The apostle Paul once said he was the chief of all sinners and held that record until I came along! I am utterly amazed by God’s grace and the power of the Gospel to transform lives, especially my own. Initially God saved me from a life of sin and later he saved me from a life of self-righteousness. Now I get to serve Him, love his people and share how the good news of WHO God is and WHAT He does changes who we are and what we do.

I am a proud father of two awesome sons and the husband of a beautiful and sassy wife. I love to teach and host people. And every once in a while I even get to preach. How cool is that?

I have been with New City Church since just before our official launch and I love the family that God has created us to be together. It is an incredible and humble honor to love and serve the people of New City and see what God is doing in the everyday stuff of their lives!”

Dan has been in youth ministry since he was 18 and has been an elder at New City Church since 2012. He has a passion to see people understand the impact of the Gospel in every part of their lives.

Dave Vermilye

“I am follower of Jesus and desire to become more like Him. I have had the opportunity to be the recipient of God’s transforming power. He pulled me from the pits of chaos and has given me the privilege of over 30 years of marriage, 2 sons, a beautiful daughter-in-law and a wonderful grandson. Over the years, God has allowed me to minister in many ways and in many places. Most recently, He has given me the opportunity to serve at New City Church. It is an honor to do so.”

Dave’s undergraduate and graduate educational background is in missions and Christian education, focusing on cross cultural communication, anthropology, and experiential education. Dave graduated from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has a love for people and enjoys seeing them develop as disciples of Christ.

Jim Wynalda

“Jesus said to all who would be his disciple—Come, follow Me.’ Jesus called me to an apprenticeship with Himself when I was in my late teens. An apprenticeship is one who learns from the master, so in the situation of  a believer’s apprenticeship to Christ, we come under the authority of our Master in everything in order to put off our old lives and put on Christ. Being an apprentice demands a Desire for Christ, Discipline to put off the old and put on the new, and Dedication. Jesus, the great I AM, YHWH—beckons us to follow. That is my desire.”

Jim is married to Priscilla and they have eight children and even though they look young, grandchildren, too!


In support of the Council of Elders and the church, New City Church is served by various deacons. Deacons are men or women who meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:8-13. Some translations of this text renders the beginning of verse 11 as “Their wives.” The Greek word for woman is the same as that for wife; context must determine which is intended. The plural possessive “their” is not in the Greek text and is supplied by translators to help explain whose wives / women are meant. At New City we believe Paul meant this very literally: “The women likewise.” That is, the women who serve as deacons must also be qualified in the same manner as the men who serve as deacons. Paul then summarizes the qualifications he has already detailed. There are many reasons for believing he meant women deacons. One strong example of this is he referred to a woman deacon in his letter in Romans 16:1 (translated as “servant” in the ESV). Early church history agrees with this understanding as we have thousands of women named as deacons in the first several centuries of the church. In fact, the word “deaconess”—the feminine form of the word deacon—did not exist until centuries after Paul. Deacons were deacons, whether male or female.

Unlike elders, deacons are given no specific responsibilities in Scripture. Following the example of Acts 6 would suggest that deacons serve in whatever capacity they are needed. In the Jerusalem church it was caring for widows. Often deacons have been involved in preparations for worship in the gathered assembly on Sundays and in caring for the finances of a church and in benevolence. Simply put, deacons serve in whatever capacity is needed so that the Council of Elders can continue to focus on prayer and the ministry of the word. Therefore deacons assist the Council of Elders and the church by implementing the various ministries of the church. They work and function under the authority of the Council of Elders.

For this reason deacons are chosen to fill specific needs in the church. We seek individuals who are gifted and competent to serve in the area of need and then we determine whether they are qualified. Qualified candidate(s) are then presented to the church in a similar manner as elder candidates.

The Deacons currently serving New City Church are Ray Scholtens, Erik Martin, Sherilyn Shaffer, Beth Vermilye, Rachael Passarelli, Ryan Misenhimer, Diana Tant-Barstow, Dawnae Richards, Joel Shaffer, and Pete Ford.

Here are our Deacons.

Ray Scholtens (Worship Team)

Ray is one of our two Worship Team Leaders who plan and lead our worship music and the worship team.

Erik Martin (Worship Team)

Erik has been serving in church music in various ways since junior high and loves making music for Jesus alongside the gifted musicians at New City Church. Amidst the joys and difficulties of life, Erik is thankful for a God who came down to this world to rescue us and who gives us countless reasons to praise him. The Lord has used the people of New City in powerful ways in Erik’s life, and he is thankful for our community of average folk who pray, sing, laugh, cry, struggle against sin, and walk by faith together. Erik has two kids, enjoys reading if he puts his phone down long enough, and lives within walking distance of the church building.

Erik is one of our two Worship Team Leaders who plan and lead our worship music and the worship team.

Ryan Misenheimer (Building and Facilities)

“My journey to Christ has been long and adventurous. Through my parents divorce, and moving more times than I can count, it took a friend at the age of 18 to get me to church and start my relationship with Christ. Since then God has done wondrous things in my life. Christ has blessed me so many times, most recently with the most wonderful Christian wife a man could ever pray for. This journey to deaconship is just the start of what God has in store for me. Through the support and prayer of New City Church my walk and faith in the Lord will grow and help transform me to be the disciple of Christ we are all meant to be.”

Ryan is married to Lisa. They are the proud caretakers of their Goldendoodle, Better. Ryan is in charge of the cleaning and maintenance of the building that God provided New City Church to meet in.

Sherilyn Shaffer (Benevolence)

My husband, Joel, and I live and minister on the North side of Grand Rapids to urban youth and their families. God has blessed us with four wonderful children. I am a para-pro at Northpointe Christian High School and am doing my Counseling Internship at Cornerstone University this fall, with a focus on Trauma. I minister as the Benevolence Person at New City Church.

Sherilyn is married to Joel and they have four children. They have been involved in urban ministry for 20+ years in Grand Rapids, MI.

Beth Vermilye (Financial)

Beth is married to Dave and they have two adult sons and 5 grandkids which they dote on.

Rachael Passarelli (Nursery)

I am honored to serve the church by coordinating nursery care and ministering to young children.  I strive to ensure that nursery is a place where young children can be exposed to the love of Jesus and where parents can expect their children to be tended to in a safe environment.

Rachael has been married to Tim for 2 ½ years and they have been attending New City Church for 6 years. In her free time you will find her enjoying the company of  family and exploring the city with her husband and their dog.

Diana Tant (Prayer)

Diana has been married to her husband Ron for 20+ years. They share an avid compulsion to live in nature~camp!

Dawnae Richards (Administrative)

I am not morbid but do admit to finding enjoyment in reading the obituaries. The thing about obituaries is that each one is a stand alone story. You read where they are born, die, and the things they valued, whether it was family, or sports teams, boats, nature, work, hobbies, etc. They are small reminders that our lives matter. That what we do in the here and now and our motives and desires for doing them impact others. I love that! I love the fact whether it is typing a bulletin, updating a website, or buying diapers for the nursery—it matters! Revelation 14:12-13 echoes these sentiments. The fact I get to spend part of my day, week, life serving the church in small matters—Matters!

Dawnae loves being a wife to J-T, mother, and dog caretaker. Dawnae and J-T have 3 children and planted New City in 2011.

Pete Ford (Hospitality)

Pete coordinates our hospitality team.

Joel Shaffer (Outreach)