Love Mercy Do Justice

Our Love Mercy Do Justice ministry encourages and enables our Thornapple family to reach beyond our walls to respond to needs in our urban community and to work to end injustices, both locally and around the world. We join God in making things right in our broken world.

Questions about Love Mercy Do Justice Ministry? Want to join the team? Contact Joel Bartlett.
For current opportunities offering ways for you to make a difference, including information about the bi-monthly blood drives we co-host with our neighbor church, Cascade Fellowship, visit Making a Difference.
Our Mercy efforts focus on local urban ministries. We serve at homeless organizations, house homeless families in our church, collect needed in-kind donations, work on homes that will be for previously homeless families, reach out to senior shut ins and more.
Scroll down on this page to learn more about our work in the areas of mercy and justice.
Our Justice efforts focus on growing our awareness of racial justice, building relationships with all ethnic groups, helping to stop human trafficking and slavery, offering justice conferences regularly and more.


Homelessness is on the rise in West Michigan. It can happen to anyone.

Over the last 5 years, housing costs in Grand Rapids have skyrocketed while wages have remained the same. A lack of affordable housing and social supports are driving many families out of their homes and into their cars, tents or other unsafe places. Grand Rapids is blessed to have a number of great organizations addressing this. Thornapple comes alongside these organizations and helps where we can.

Below is a small sampling of organizations and ways that Thornapple helps with homelessness.
  • Family Promise of GR helps homeless families. Thornapple houses families in our facility four times a year as a host church. We have also helped to renovate mobile homes to become homes for families served by Family Promise. 
  • Degage Ministries helps the GR homeless population in many ways. They serve breakfast and dinner every day, house homeless women in their facility, offer a hygiene floor where patrons can get showers, mail, help finding jobs, and more. Thornapple groups serve dinner at Degage one Saturday a month. If you would like to be on our list of servers to periodically help, please contact Thornapple member Karen Knister
  • Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) is a nonprofit housing corporation that believes that all people deserve safe, clean, affordable housing. They assist low-income families in attaining affordable housing. Thornapple volunteers help in the renovation of their homes.
  • Servants Center reaches out to the mentally ill homeless population. Thornapple supports Servants Center financially as well as through a number of our members being on their board.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Kent County builds homes for people in need of affordable housing. Thornapple has had groups work on their homes throughout the years.

In-Kind Donations

Periodically urban organizations that we support are in need of items like food, clothing and Christmas gifts. We offer this opportunity as one tangible way our congregation can help.
  • Three times a year we host six Family Promise families. We need many people/small groups to offer hospitality and a safe place for the families.
  • We collect food or household items for Safe Haven Ministries, Family Promise and/or In the Image. 
  • In December we support Degage’s Christmas store. 

Glenn VanNoord Short-Term Urban Missions Program

Through this program high school and college students serve in short-term summer placements in Grand Rapids. Local urban ministries receive free help and our students gain invaluable experience.


Thornapple is committed to work towards justice. We lament the pandemic of systemic racism and the tragedy of human trafficking and slavery. Our goal is to resource and equip the church community in its call to love, serve, and work together with people at the margins toward holistic individual, family and community transformation. Below are some ways to learn, engage and respond.
Racial Reconciliation
We have worked for years to increase our congregation’s awareness and educate ourselves on the history and facts about racial injustice. To help we've developed the following resources:
Sex Trafficking & Slavery 
Over the years we have worked to shed light on these issues, locally and around the world. We have worked with International Justice Mission,  supporting them financially and bringing in speakers from their organization to help us learn and respond to these issues. We have also connected with local organizations like Sacred Beginnings and Women at Risk International in an effort to help right here in Grand Rapids. 

Justice Organizations We Support

  • International Justice Mission partners with local authorities in 21 program offices in 13 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children, and police abuse of power against people who are poor.
  • The Hope Project‘s mission is to support the healing of girls and women who have survived sex trafficking and prevent further cases through mentoring and education.
  • Sacred Beginnings supports victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Grand Rapids, Michigan and beyond.
  • Twelve:12Hope equips community leaders to offer healing and hope to traumatized children in Burma (Myanmar), The Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, Mongolia and Kurdish Iraq.
  • Women at Risk International address a variety of risk issues—poverty, inequality, violence, abuse, and more—but are mostly known for their persistent fight against human trafficking.
  • World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization helping children, families, and their communities overcome poverty and injustice around the world.

Ideas for Families

We encourage families to serve together.
Below you will find links to information on local urban ministries where children are welcome to serve (note age restrictions). There are also many other ways in which children can serve. Our lists of ideas are food for thought as you seek ways that would work in your family to encourage reaching out and helping others.

organizations we support

Learn more about our standards for choosing partner organizations.  
Below are a few of the organizations we work with in the area of mercy.
  • Alpha Women’s Center offers hope, acceptance, grace and help to women and families facing unplanned pregnancy, poverty and the lack of a home.
  • Baxter Community Center ministers in the Baxter neighborhood offering medical and dental services, a nationally accredited child development center, mentoring programs for young and old, community services (food, clothing, gardening and canning classes), and more.
  • Degage Ministries offers help and hope to homeless and disadvantaged individuals in our community. Responsive programming is designed to address immediate and long-term needs such as overnight respite for women in crisis, food, referral services and hygiene facilities.
  • Exalta Health‘s mission is to provide compassionate, accessible healthcare. They envision a collaborative community where accessible, quality healthcare promotes wellness for all.
  • Family Promise works to end homelessness, one family at a time, by engaging faith-based and community organizations to provide emergency shelter and basic needs to families with children who are homeless.
  • Feeding America of West Michigan‘s mission is to gather and distribute food to relieve hunger and increase food security in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
  • Glenn VanNoord Short Term Urban Missions Program is a ministry of Thornapple Covenant Church that began in 2000. We wanted to help ministries operating in our city and also to give students a chance to serve and be exposed to the realities and needs present in the urban community.
  • Guiding Light Mission helps men on the street get back to work and back to life. They restore self-worth, faith and the ability to contribute.
  • Habitat for Humanity Kent County brings people together to build homes, communities and hope with the goal of providing everyone with a decent place to live.
  • Heartside Ministry offers hospitality through educational opportunities, artistic expression, advocacy, pastoral care and a place to belong. It is now a division of Mel Trotter Ministries which exists to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ, through rescue and restoration for anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness.
  • Inner City Christian Federation (ICCF) is a nonprofit housing corporation whose leadership is motivated by, and programs shaped by, its belief that all people deserve safe, clean, affordable housing.
  • Kids Food Basket provides a simple evening meal to children living at or near the poverty level. They began over a decade ago by serving 125 kids each school day through their Sack Supper program and now serve nearly 8,800 kids each weekday in West Michigan.
  • Next Step of West Michigan employs people coming out of prison or rehab, providing them with a community of support that will help them integrate into the workforce, regain hope and empower themselves to create a better future.
  • Safe Haven Ministries helps individuals and families find freedom from domestic violence through an emergency shelter, support groups, children’s programming and more.
  • Servants Center provides high quality, relationship based street outreach and ongoing support services to the mentally ill poor and homeless people in Grand Rapids,
  • United in Christ Ministries serves the Black Hills and Roosevelt Park communities of Grand Rapids. They offer programs for children, youth and their families.

Denominational Love Mercy Do Justice Ministry

From the Evangelical Covenant Church’s LMDJ webpage:
From our inception the Covenant has been concerned with helping hurting people (love mercy), and addressing the causes of that hurt (do justice). The mission of Love Mercy Do Justice (LMDJ) is to “Join God in making things right in our broken world.” Our goal is to resource and equip the local church in its call to love, serve, and work together with people at the margins toward holistic individual, family and community transformation.