Rockford Reformed Church Memorial Prayer Garden

Tragedy results in Faith, Hope, and Love

November 3, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Early this spring a single redbud tree, having heart-shaped leaves, was planted on a hillside overlooking the City of Rockford. Planted in the grassy acreage fronting the West side of Rockford Reformed Church (RRC), located on the southeast corner of Wolverine Blvd. and Eleven Mile Road, the tree was meant to commemorate and memorialize the life of Audra Brownell. Squire readers will recall the tragic death of the 17-year old Algoma Township teen in June of 2010 while on a backpacking adventure in Colorado with the Senior-High Youth group of RRC. While in a parking area at the base of a cliff, Audra was struck by a large falling rock that had been recklessly dislodged from above. Understandably, the Brownell family and the entire church family at RRC were devastated by the seemingly senseless loss of life to “a fabulous Christian young lady,” said Lead Pastor Rick Tigchon at the time. He noted that she and her family were very involved in the ministry at the church, and that Audra was especially involved in kid’s ministry. The grieving, the reconciliation, and acceptance of the passing of a loved one is a many stepped process that knows no defined time frame. For the Brownell family, simply planting a single tree was part of the process. Shortly thereafter the tree germinated an idea that blossomed in the minds of Audra’s parents, Scott and Diane Brownell, along with best friends and church members Scott and Julie Kruizenga and the entire RRC family – why not create a prayer memorial garden? RRC had an expansive sloping lawn fronting the west side of the church, a site it seemed the Good Lord had waiting for just such an undertaking. And so it began. The design of the garden would be based on the biblical verse found in 1 Corinthians 13:13 that tells us, “There are three things that remain – faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” Angie Rummler, of Cedar Springs’ River Ridge Landscaping, embraced the message in the biblical verse and designed a breath-taking memorial garden to be completed in three separate and distinctly unique phases. Phase I would be designated – “Love”; Phase II designated – “Faith”; and Phase III […]