Who We Are
Our mission is to inspire and empower people on their own spiritual path, the quest to live a good life and meaningful life, and to help support the ongoing work of justice and compassion in the world.
Rather than doctrine or dogma, we gather around shared values, which both inform who we are, and what we aspire to be.
You might be wondering…
Are you a church?
No, but we were. We’re a spiritual community, we meet on Sundays, there’s music and teaching, but there’s no doctrine or traditionally religious affiliation.
Who attends C3?
There’s a good mix. We have many retried people, couples and singles. We have a few families, and some young people. Our in-person gatherings average around 120 people, so you’ll not feel alone or overwhelmed. We also have a strong online community from around the world.
Are you religious?
That depends on what you mean. Some of us resonant with being “spiritual but not religious,” while others might call themselves religious in some respect. We also have some people who identify as agnostics or atheists. So, it’s a bit complicated. If by religious you mean a life oriented toward pursing meaning, then yes. If by religious you mean adherence to ridged beliefs or fixed doctrines, then no. We like to say, “Well, that’s a question worth wrestling with.”
Kent Dobson is our lead teacher. We also invite a wide variety of guests, from local West Michigan leaders and thinkers, to well-known authors and teachers. Kent teaches a little more than half the Sundays a year. The teachings are often part of a larger series or theme (Check them out here).
What kind of music?
We are committed to supporting artists. We bring in local, and sometimes national, musicians and bands. They play their own music, often contributing to the theme of the week or month, in their own creative way.
Where and when do you meet?
What can I expect if I show up?
Friendly people, music, teaching, and an informal feel.
Does C3 provide childcare on Sunday mornings?
C3 has a long history of providing quality childcare. We have an Education Committee comprised of retired teachers, a social worker, a bookstore manager and a children’s book author. Our Youth Director was Teen Youth Group leader for seven years at a previous church, and has been a professional nanny for ten years. We have a large, welcoming space for the children, toys for imaginative play, a library that includes many new books on inclusion and environmental awareness, and extensive arts and crafts supplies. We keep all toys, surfaces and play areas sanitized and we practice safety measures as recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. All volunteers and staff are background checked and trained in abuse prevention.
What is Talkback?
Talkback is a tradition we value where after the teaching, there’s a chance to engage the teacher and community with questions or brief comments. We do this in-person at the community center following the gathering.
How can I get involved?
Join the newsletter (link), it’s the best way to stay informed and join our community efforts.
Who runs the place?
We are a board-directed 501c3. The board consists of community members with term limits. Every other aspect of organization is also very community-led, with many opportunities to volunteer, lead, or join an interest group. Check out what makes us unique.
A Community for the Big Questions
In a world that’s evolving and changing so fast, we’re a community that’s committed to facing these changes, asking questions, and wrestling with meaning.
Our own community is a living reflection of the big shifts in culture and society. We’ve been around for 150 years, navigating profound changes, most of which were spent as a church. But now, we call ourselves a Spiritual Community, in part because we no longer have any centralized doctrine and are open to people of faith or no faith, the spiritual and secular.
We also call ourselves Spiritual because we’re still drawn to the big questions of life, to the transcend and mysterious, and to helping one another live what the ancient philosophers and spiritual teachers call the good life. We like to imagine ourselves out on the edge of what is means to be a Spiritual Community in the 21st Century, hoping to make a small contribution and to offer a place for those feeling the challenges of our present age.
You’ll find a home here, especially if you’re feeling a little spiritually homeless, like questions more than answers, have an evolving sense of your own path, are drawn to diverse perspectives, or think that the barriers between science and religion, the brain and psychology, the past and the present, the right and left, ought to be blurred.
Without a dogma or doctrine, we have tried instead to gather around shared values, which both inform who we are, and what we aspire to be. See if you resonant with one or more of our values.
Kent has been the lead teacher at C3 since 2017. He’s also in the guide-in-training program at Animas Valley Institute in Colorado, an organization specializing in wilderness intensives. Kent leads Israel study tours, wilderness retreats, and has his own podcast called Hints and Guesses. He’s the author of Bitten by a Camel, a memoir about his time living in Israel and his departure from the Evangelical church he was pastoring. He’s also the editor of the First Century Study Bible. Prior to joining C3, Kent was the Teacher Pastor, and before that the Worship Leader, at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville MI. He also taught High School Religion and Bible for several years. Kent is married with three children and lives in Ada, MI.
We invite you to walk with us back to 1870, the founding year of our evolving Community…..