Guiding LIght yellow 95th anniversary logo

History of Guiding Light: Our Road to Recovery Reimagined

Guiding Light itself has traveled many roads and locations to become the respected community resource for recovery that it is today, remaining faithful all along the way to its Christian foundations.

Our beginning in 1929 on West Fulton Street in Grand Rapids provided our first name: the West Fulton Mission. At the time, we were a traditional mission, providing gospel services, youth programs, family visits. In a sign of what was to become, we helped form an “Alcohol Victories” committee to help those suffering from alcohol abuse.

In 1956, the Grand Rapids Board of Evangelism of the Christian Reformed Church approved expanding the ministry to serve the lonely, the hopeless, and those addicted to alcohol and drugs. A new location was found at 50 S. Division Ave. The CRC’s Banner magazine had a contest for a new name, drawing more than 600 entries, with “The Guiding Light Mission” chosen as the winner.

In 1959 we expanded to a building at 101 S. Division. The new space allowed adding shelter for the homeless, clothing distribution and providing meals. This era saw the growth of our ministry with those suffering from addiction.

We relocated again in 1979, to the newly formed Center for Christian Hope, a building at Commerce Avenue and Weston Street SW, home to several inner-city ministries. Eventually we moved to our current main building at 255 S. Division — but that was not the end of our transformation.

By 2009 Guiding Light was sharpening its work to focus on long-term healing from addiction. The creation of a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program led to development of our Iron House sober living community for men. And our road continues: In recent years we have added sober living homes for women and, in 2024, we launched a residential recovery program for women in the Baxter Neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

Guiding Light has proved its capabilities with its long-term, intensive, 100% free rehabilitation program, with an emphasis on years of after-care. This is what we mean by “Recovery Reimagined.”

From the beginning of our journey to today, we have drawn strength and purpose from our Christian calling to serve and bring people into the light of new life. We are grateful to all our donors who have accompanied us on this path for nearly a century.


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