By Brandon M. Patterson

On Western Michigan University’s campus sits a quaint, solid white building that is the home of Solid Grounds Church, which is led by Pastor Mark Couch. Couch has been with Solid Grounds since 2010 and has helped WMU and the Kalamazoo community in a number of ways.

“Pastor Mark”, as he is known, leads a Bible study on Tuesday nights and holds a student-led Bible study on Thursdays. There is also Sunday service at noon every week throughout the semester. Solid Grounds also serves as a home for four students in the three bedrooms in the upstairs of the house that the service is held.

Solid Grounds is not a typical church in the sense of a pulpit and rows of benches with stained glass windows in a giant cathedral building. Solid Grounds is held in a modest home, supplied and maintained by a grant. The service is held in a living room, where there are a few couches around the wall and folding chairs to complete a circle of fellowship.

Couch wouldn’t be considered a typical pastor either. Despite Tuesday Bible study being led by him, he is perfectly content to sit back and allow members of his congregation to expound on the knowledge and wisdom that they’ve obtained from the Bible.

Outside of the WMU community, Couch and Solid Grounds holds a mentorship program with the youth from Kalamazoo’s Edison neighborhood. According to Couch, over half of the families there live in poverty so a Christian school, Tree of Life, was started in 2010, allowing families to pay a minimum of $25 a month for their children to attend.

Once the foundation had been laid for Tree of Life students, who are in grades K-5, Solid Grounds began providing WMU student mentors.

“We started in the fall of 2012…it’s like being a big brother or big sister,” Couch said.

The mentorship is held on the fourth Sunday of every month. There are 58 students at Tree of Life and 37 are in the mentoring program. The mentors go one-on-one with their littles, but it is held in a group setting in the service on the designated Sunday. They worship, eat pizza and then go to an event

“We’ve been blessed to have a grant to provide for the cost of all the monthly events. That’s one of our big outreaches that we do,” Couch said.