Mel Trotter Ministries


Mel Trotter Ministries has been demonstrating the compassion of Jesus Christ to the hungry, homeless and hurting in West Michigan for more than 116 years. What you may not know is that Mel Trotter was an actual man, a former alcoholic and abusive man who surrendered his life to Jesus Christ at a gospel rescue mission. Trotter started the City Rescue Mission in Grand Rapids in 1900 - the rescue mission that would one day bear his name. He went on to live a radically changed life and helped establish 68 other rescue missions across the country. The transforming work that Christ has done in this one man's life is the foundation of Mel Trotter Ministries.

Contact information

Mailing address:
Mel Trotter Ministries
225 Commerce Ave. SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


Phone: (616) 454-8249


Organization details

EIN: 381410467

CEO/President: Dennis Van Kampen

Chairman: Kurt Hein

Board size: 25

Founder: Mel Trotter

Year founded: 1960

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 06/30

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 1990


Through the power of Christ, our vision is to bring an end to homelessness in West Michigan, one life at a time. We believe everyone is made in the image of a God who loves and has a plan for them-and therefore-deserves value, dignity and respect.

Mission statement

Mel Trotter Ministries exists to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus Christ, through rescue and restoration for anyone experiencing hunger and homelessness.

Statement of faith

Mel Trotter Ministries is a Christian organization and member of a broader Citygate Network. As such, we have core statements of Christian belief that are captured here in the MTM Statement of Faith. The Statement of Faith begins with the Apostle's Creed and then continues with additional statements also representative of our beliefs.

The Apostle's Creed contains a brief summary of the teachings of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. It sets forth their beliefs in a simple way, with concise language, in excellent order, and with a spirit of dignity and worship. It is recognized as a symbol of faith that represents many different Christian denominations. This allows for a safe and non-judgmental work environment for differing ways of practicing these beliefs and diversity in thought not central to our core beliefs.

Apostle's Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell.

On the third day he rose again.

He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Additional Statements

We have all sinned, are broken, and have come short of being in favor with God. We meet our guests and fellow team members at their place of brokenness and walk alongside them to help them discover the life that God intends them to have.

The journey of discovery is one of faith. Faith is surrendering to what is, letting go of what was, and having a belief of what will be. This means turning away from sinful choices and following Jesus, trying to live the life He teaches us to live.

We acknowledge that being homeless, living at or near poverty, having addictions, dealing with behavioral or mental health issues, or working through other struggles, doesn't mean a person does not have faith.

We are imperfect people ministering to others, striving to know Jesus and make him known.

Because we are a Christ centered mission and our guests live in community, we hold all staff, guests, volunteers, and visitors to the principles set out in the Ten Commandments. These can be summed up by the greatest commandment, "Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them." (Matthew 22:36-40, The Message)

Transparency grade


To understand our transparency grade, click here.

Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Rescue Missions/Homeless Shelters

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating553 of 725112 of 145
Fund acquisition rating605 of 726126 of 145
Resource allocation rating668 of 726136 of 145
Asset utilization rating154 of 72533 of 145

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$127,940$91,238$463,083$352,189$295,821
Short-term investments$127,577$115,657$122,300$132,011$61,680
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$4,060,663$2,895,876$2,437,056$1,247,091$1,673,510
Long-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Fixed assets$2,761,511$3,055,125$3,276,240$5,027,715$5,932,349
Other long-term assets$623,187$650,000$650,000$0$0
Total long-term assets$3,384,698$3,705,125$3,926,240$5,027,715$5,932,349
Total assets$7,445,361$6,601,001$6,363,296$6,274,806$7,605,859
Payables and accrued expenses$518,201$607,293$431,853$450,640$520,267
Other current liabilities$79,650$0$0$0$0
Total current liabilities$597,851$607,293$431,853$450,640$520,267
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$73,767$77,709$87,342$91,787$157,244
Total long-term liabilities$114,943$96,248$122,677$487,761$224,217
Total liabilities$712,794$703,541$554,530$938,401$744,484
Net assets20192018201720162015
Temporarily restricted$68,268$130,928$80,764$64,977$60,202
Permanently restricted$100,000$100,000$100,000$100,000$0
Net assets$6,732,567$5,897,460$5,808,766$5,336,405$6,861,375
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$10,025,229$9,462,214$9,252,215$8,628,114$9,018,258
Program service revenue$141,670$85,767$120,146$92,951$66,611
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$37,388$30,192$555,577$30,256$12,577
Other revenue$1,177,517$933,329$348,797$16,788$840,843
Total other revenue$1,356,575$1,049,288$1,024,520$139,995$920,031
Total revenue$11,381,804$10,511,502$10,276,735$8,768,109$9,938,289
Program services$6,702,959$6,803,985$6,984,404$7,949,993$8,155,160
Management and general$1,975,752$1,724,134$1,160,943$785,733$774,119
Total expenses$10,549,245$10,348,745$9,808,537$9,926,966$10,159,793
Change in net assets20192018201720162015
Surplus (deficit)$832,559$162,757$468,198($1,158,857)($221,504)
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$832,559$162,757$468,198($1,158,857)($221,504)

Response from ministry

No response has been provided by this ministry.


In 1899, city leaders in Grand Rapids discovered an influx of homelessness and addiction. They called the Pacific Garden Rescue Mission in Chicago for help and Melvin E. Trotter, a former homeless and hopeless alcoholic, was tapped to start the Grand Rapids City Rescue Mission in 1900. In his forty years of running the Mission, he tapped many others to help start 68 other Rescue Missions across the country.

Born in 1870 in Orangeville, IL to an alcoholic-bartending father and a Christian mother, Melvin E. Trotter had little schooling. By age 19, he was drinking and gambling heavily. In 1891, he met and married Lottie Fisher. Sadly, Mel continued to drink and gamble, causing his family to lack necessities. Following ten days of a drinking binge, Mel went home and found that his two year old son had died. He promised his wife he'd never drink again, but in just two hours he broke his vow. Abandoning his family, Mel ended up homeless and suicidal in Chicago. On his way to drown himself, Mel was pulled inside the Pacific Garden Rescue Mission. There he heard of God's redemption of another alcoholic and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord.

Through Christ, Mel conquered his addiction and claimed 2 Corinthians 5:17 as his favorite verse: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." Mel quickly found a job, was reunited with his wife, and became very active at the Mission. In January of 1900, he went with the Mission's superintendent to Grand Rapids, MI. There, Mel became the superintendent of a new Mission. On February 24, 1900, it opened at 95 Canal Street.

Soon the Grand Rapids Mission moved to a new building on Market Street, which seated 750, the largest Mission auditorium in the country. In 1906 the Mission purchased the old Smith Opera House, which could seat more than 1,300. The old opera house was the home of the Mission until 1956.

Trotter, along with his brothers George and Will, helped to open 67 Missions across the country. In April 1940, he was stricken while doing Mission work in North Carolina, and never fully recovered. He died on September 11, 1940. Trotter's body is entombed in the Graceland Mausoleum in Grand Rapids Township.

Between the time of Mel Trotter's passing and the start of WWII, John Shy became the MTM leader. During the hardships of the home front, we cared for the hungry and hurting of our community, did our part for the war effort, and offered support and prayers to servicemen.

By 1951, Rev. John W. Kershaw became our interim superintendent, and his ministry changed with the community. During the 1960s, our community's needs changed even more dramatically, and we turned our focus to young people, children, and families. A great achievement of this time was the founding of Camp Mel Trotter, a free camp created to protect children from the daily problems of inner city life.

As always, MTM continued to update its services to meet the community's needs. In 1970s, we saw increasing numbers of men in their late teens and early twenties with substance abuse problems. To help them, we opened the first licensed Center for Substance Abuse Services (CSAS) in the Heartside District.

As more disadvantaged families struggled to meet their own basic needs, we started our Annual Back-to-School Day to distribute school supplies, and our Christmas Adopt-a-Family program. We also purchased the neighboring four-story John K. Burch building, which gave us the room to open our Women and Children's Shelter, the largest facility of its kind in West Michigan.

In 1999, MTM started a vehicle donation and auto sales program, which enabled us to offer vocational training to our residents. The vehicles our residents reconditioned were sold to raise revenue for our ministry.

Finding new and better ways to meet the needs of the Grand Rapids Community has always been the goal of MTM. Doing this requires revenue. To this end we opened five retail locations that directly support the work of the ministry.

We also found a new way to assist publicly intoxicated people by taking a leading role in the Grand Rapids Public Inebriates Task Force. Thanks to the program, intoxicated people are no longer brought to expensive hospital emergency rooms. They're brought to specially equipped facilities at our shelter, where trained staff can monitor and assist them.

To help live-in recovery program residents, we offer free or greatly reduced dental, vision, and chiropractic services from local medical professionals. This strengthens their ability to become healthy, self-sufficient and productive. Moving forward, we'll continue to find effective new ways to help the hurting and homeless of our community.

Program accomplishments