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  • Coffee an Example of God's Faithfulness?


  • Discovering Happiness


  • Counterfeit Love?


  • How Evil Works


  • Are selfies really new?


  • Sex and the Bible


  • Mooning for Jesus


  • Godmercials


  • littering


  • Is July 4th Worth Celebrating?


  • Listen to Donkeys


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Featured Articles

Stewardship Is About More Than Money

stewardshipStewardship" is a Christian jargon word. It's part of Church culture.

There's nothing wrong with the word. In fact, it's a good and useful one. But in my view stewardship has been pigeonholed by the Church, co-opted for one purpose at the expense of others.

Generally, when Pastor announces he's going to speak on "Stewardship" his topic is money...or more specifically, giving. And people run for the exits.

Crowder Offers a “Front Porch” View on New Tour

crowder235On his previous tour, singer-songwriter David Crowder went for the feel of a rural front porch.

"That's the sound we were going for," noted the artist from near his Atlanta-area home of his mix of acoustic instruments.

But now, with his "Neon Steeple" tour, Crowder, 43, has taken the next step – construct an actual front porch for his concert stage set. (Crowder comes to Ridge Point Community Church in Holland on April 17 – see info below).

New Music Review: “Y.W.N.T.M.D.”

BeaconLight235In late April, Grand Rapids area native Beacon Light (aka Brandon Clahassey) will issue his third rap/hip-hop collection, "Open Eyes." He's already released one of the new songs, "Y.W.N.T.M.D."

The beats and lyrics come fast and furious in the tune, which repeats the theme represented by the title letters: "You Will Never Turn Me Down."

This is not about getting turned down for a job or a favor. Rather, it's about refusing to turn the volume down on sharing God's biblical truth.

Woman of Influence: Marjory McClure, Wonderfully Made

Marjory PictureIn 1992 Marjory McClure, of Wonderfully Made, was inspired to develop a faith-based childbirth education program after overhearing nurses discussing such a program at a childbirth education conference. "From 1992-1996, I was busy raising a family, but I compiled information and began to transform the traditional childbirth program to Wonderfully Made," McClure explained. The Wonderfully Made program includes all the elements of a traditional childbirth program, but weaves in spiritual elements with scripture, prayer, and meditation.

McClure recalled how she had taken childbirth prep classes for her two pregnancies. "I felt some of the things in the classes instilled more fear than confidence in me, and I felt something was missing." As she began to develop the Wonderfully Made program, McClure wanted to incorporate the joy and sanctity of childbirth into the program bringing in the component of God's presence in labor and birth.

Worship the Focus of All Sons & Daughters

All Sons and Daughters live shot235All Sons & Daughters (David Leonard, left, and Leslie Jordan, right)The band All Sons & Daughters works hard at creating a worship environment wherever it performs.

And on the group's current tour, the players are taking along their church pastor.

The worship band, connected with Journey Church in Franklin, Tenn. brings its "Night of Worship and Conversation" to Life Church in Grand Haven on April 9 (see info below).

Marketplace Ministry Counsels People with God’s Wisdom

Rob Ellis235Rob Ellis has been director of Marketplace Ministry for seven years.Rob Ellis, director of Marketplace Ministry, flips through the New Living Translation of the Bible so he can read out loud a certain scripture from the Old Testament.

"Get all the advice and instruction you can," Proverbs 19:20 reads, "so you will be wise the rest of your life."

Ellis knows there are a number of people who need a rudder to guide them through life's challenges and heartaches. That's why Marketplace Ministry is here.

"There are a number of people who have not learned this yet," Ellis said.

Terry’s Picks: April 2015

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts, entertainment and conference events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for April:

*"Undaunted"- The annual Easter drama at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford is based on the true-life story of the Jim Bowers family, the West Michigan missionary family whose plane was shot down over Peru in 2001. Several family members died in the mistaken-identity attack. The story is told as an uplifting musical testimony to the faith that sustained them. Performances are at 7 p.m. April 2-4 with a 2 p.m. matinee on April 4 in the church at 6727 Kuttshill Dr. NE. Tickets are $5 suggested donation and are available on line via www.bhbconline.org/easterdrama. Call 866-9597 ext. 134 for more information.

Embrace Parenting

children235I recently watched a TV segment called, "You Can Love Your Children
but Hate Parenting." It was based on an article that appeared in New York magazine about this concept of loving your children but not parenting.

I think there is some truth in that statement, even though hate is kind of a strong word. Most parents would never admit to it—publicly at least. It seems almost unthinkable to confess that you don't always like parenting. I mean what kind of parent doesn't enjoy every minute of changing diapers, stepping on toys, cleaning up vomit, listening to a temper tantrum or running after a two-year-old with a fork in her hand? The answer is every kind of parent! There are minutes, hours, days, weeks and even months where parents would trade their role of caregiver for sewer cleaner.

A Look Behind the Leader: Rachel Fuller

Fuller Rachel235     Rachel Fuller of The Well Church and Training Center says her church is all about family.
      
   Rachel is director of worship at The Well. Her husband Matthew is assistant pastor, and her mother-in-law and father-in-law Kathy and Michael Scott are co-founders and co-pastors of the congregation.

     “Our heart and vision is to restore families and people really feel a part of family when they come to The Well,” she noted.

     Originally beginning as a house church, then sharing a building with another church, The Well now has its own facility – in a storefront along Breton Rd. SE just south of 44th St. SE.

Photo Exhibition Engenders God’s Peace, Contentment

Dianne Carroll BurdickDianne Carroll Burdick loves her work as a photographer.Photographer Dianne Carroll Burdick has a certain affinity for landscapes and Michigan-grown food. And since it's the beginning of spring, it's a perfect time to share it with others.

Through May 1 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 47 Jefferson Ave SE in Grand Rapids, Carroll Burdick has on display 60 hand-colored prints that are from two of her books.

A calming presence

The response from people clearly indicates a calming presence reflected in God's creation that resonates with people who live in a hurried society.

Musical Battle With A Twist

 ThirstyGroundPic235Steve Bacinski, Billy Hirt, Justin White, Michael Engel.     The Battle of the Bands, a friendly competition-fundraiser for Algoma Christian School in Kent City, is back again this year – with a new wrinkle.

     “This year we’re having fan voting,” said Rob Guerin, coordinator of the March 28 event to be held at Kent City Baptist Church (see accompanying details).

     “The voting is done with a phone app we’ll share at the event,” he added.

Do You Believe? is the Best Faith-based Film I have seen

dyb235It occurred to me while watching "Do You Believe?" at a press screening that I was watching the best faith-based film I had seen. This movie, which opens nationally on March 20, has all the right ingredients to make it work in a powerful way. For one thing, the acting is top notch. I have seen too many Christian films that fall short on the production and quality side.

2nd Chance School Will Harness at-risk Teens thru God and Horses

horseRon Silverman has reached a purchase agreement with Calvary Assembly of God church shown here.Ron Silverman is discussing the future of his faith-based school for at-risk teens when suddenly he stops in midsentence to watch 16-year-old Ty Sturgis adeptly slip a harness around a colt.

"Look at that," Silverman said, with obvious pride in his voice. "Six months ago he didn't know the front end of the horse from the back end."

Ty's life has improved beyond knowing equine skills since he started living with Silverman and his wife, Patti, in June when the Kent County Juvenile Court granted the Solon Township couple power of attorney and permanent custody of the teen.

Benefit Concert Set For Summer Praise Series

Carpenters Cross live shot225Carpenter’s Cross is one of the bands to perform at the March 28 benefit.Richard Moll has already planned this summer's "Praise in the Park" Sunday night outdoor music series in downtown Rockford.

And a benefit concert set for March 28 should give the series a welcome boost.
"A couple of music groups have stepped forward and offered to help with a benefit," said Moll, founder and coordinator of the series held each summer in the lovely setting of Garden Club Park along the Rogue River in downtown Rockford.

Third Day Ready to “Lead Us Back….”

Third Day hillside235 Mark Lee, Mac Powell, David Carr, Tai Anderson (l. to r.)     The faith-based, pop-rock band Third Day has a new album and a new tour. And lead singer Mac Powell says he couldn’t be more excited about it.

     “We knew we wanted to present something musically different from we’ve done before,” said Powell during a conference call from Atlanta. “We wanted something new and fresh musically and lyrically.”

     The result is “Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship,” a new collection released earlier this month. The first single, the blues-touched “Soul On Fire,” is already climbing Christian music charts and provides the title for the new tour.

Local Author Turns Blog Series into Hands-on Prayer Aid

azAmelia Rhodes remembers the call from a friend who wanted to talk about the events in her life, including a friend’s cancer diagnosis, and to ask Rhodes to pray. Of course she agreed, and added that request to her long list of things to pray for.

“I remember feeling frustrated, guilty and overwhelmed because I wasn’t sure how I could pray for all the needs in my community,” said Rhodes, who lives with her husband and two children in Lowell. “I thought that if I could organize my prayer list into categories, it would be easier.”

Panel Discussion Spotlights Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality

micah225(left to right) Panelists were Sarah MacDonald and Candace Cowling, moderated by Ruqaiyah Rogers-Baraza.Proverbs 31 — speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves — was the framework of a workshop that focused on racial disparities in infant mortality.

Sponsored by the nonprofit ministry, The Micah Center, the seminar was held recently at Hope Reformed Church in Southeast Grand Rapids. The panel discussion drew a capacity crowd who heard there's too wide a chasm between African-Americans' infant mortality rate compared with white babies.

Fast-paced After-school Ministry, En Gedi, Infuses Fun with Values

en gedi 225En Gedi’s logo is known among area students.There’s a loud silence in the hallways of Red Hawk Elementary School in Cedar Springs that quickly disappears when the 2:22 p.m. bell rings to announce the end of the school day. Then, a throng of students exit the classrooms filling the corridors with lively chatter. Not all will immediately head home, however.

An average of sixty 6th, 7th and 8th graders walk to the three rooms that’s dedicated to an after school program called the En Gedi Youth Center, which draws children from Red Hawk Elementary and also from the Creative Technology Academy, Algoma Christian School and home schooled students.

Woman of Influence – Christa Wetzel, Alpha Women's Center of Lowell

christa Wetzel225Christa Wetzel, Executive Director for the Alpha Women's Center of Lowell, always desired to walk alongside people in the midst of their hurts and offer hope, healing, and encouragement. This desire led her to major in criminal justice with the intention of working with youth. She followed this calling with a two-year internship at Alpha Women's Center of Hastings, a four-year stint at a homeless shelter in Holland, a year-long cross-cultural experience working with recovering alcoholics, and eventually a job at the Department of Human Services as a caseworker for the State of Michigan. While working in the Department of Human Services, Wetzel said she missed being able to share Christ and offer practical help.

New Music Review: “Yes You Can” by Marvin Sapp

Sapp Marvin  225West Michigan pastor and gospel music artist Marvin Sapp has released a new song "Yes You Can" from his forthcoming album.

Sapp, 47, is pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church on Madison Ave. SE in Grand Rapids. But he is nationally known for his award-winning music prowess, with several chart-topping songs and best-selling albums to his credit.

"Yes You Can," a hopeful, medium-tempo ballad, had already reached the top 20 of the Billboard gospel music chart less than a month after its release.

Project Hope’s Strong Community Backing Enables Ministry to Aid to Those in Need

hope1Project Hope’s thrift store offers for sale clothes, household goods, decorations, furniture and jewelry.Nestled in the largely rural and farming area of Dorr Township is a ministry Annetta Jansen initiated in the 1950s in her basement and garage on 142nd Avenue for people who lacked adequate food and clothing.

Few would have blamed Jansen if she chose to wallow in her own troubles. Divorced and responsible for raising five boys and a daughter, Jansen instead elected to pray with the people who accepted her donations.

The Magic of Blending

magicbullet225The Magic Bullet® is a clever blender/food processor invention that is handy for mixing food and liquids. I wish something that easy could be created for blending families, but there’s no magic to it. Although I don’t live in a blended family the way society defines it, I’ve talked to many people who do, and in some ways I believe all families are blended in one way or another.

A “blended” family consists of two people who join in marriage and come to the union with children from a previous relationship to form a new family. Experts say the keys to managing a blended family are communication, flexibility, and respect. It’s not so different for a traditional family who easily mix these priorities up.

Author, Apologist Speaks to Full Crowd at Founders

John Dickson 2014Dr. John Dickson, in Grand Rapids to promote his new book “A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics,” spoke to a full house at Founder’s Brewing Company last week.

His talk in the Centennial Room of the downtown brewery and restaurant drew about 60 people who heard him address Goodness, Evil and Pity, three key stumbling blocks to skeptics in their search for God. He also took questions from the audience.

In an interview before the event, Dickson, who is from Australia, talked about a wide range of topics.

SON-BEAM Shines a Constructive Light in Developing Areas of the World

Van Drie 225Ray Van Drie is executive director and construction team leader of SON-BEAM International.Ray Van Drie has traveled to Haiti, Ecuador and a handful of other developing countries, but not as a tourist.

The Blendon Township resident said he travels to far-flung areas of the world for reasons that transcend tourists’ customary need to go sightseeing and amass kitschy souvenirs.

Van Drie is the executive director and construction team leader of SON-BEAM International. The acronym means Serving Our Neighbor – Building for Evangelism And Ministry.

L. James Harvey’s Courtroom Drama Presents Facts of Christ Rising From the Dead

res225The inspiration for L. James Harvey’s courtroom drama, The Resurrection on Trial, is due in part to his fascination with the O.J. Simpson murder trial, an abiding interest in the long-running TV series, Law & Order and a fact he learned about the average pew-sitting Christian.

“I saw a study that revealed 30 percent of Christians who go to church on Sunday do not believe Christ physically rose from the dead,” said Harvey. “And the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:17 if we don’t believe Christ arose, our faith is in vein.

Worldly Saints Separates Perverted Version of Pleasure from God’s Earthly Good Plan

Wittmer225Michael Wittmer is a theology professor at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary whose devotional style book is for ordinary readers.Mention the word “pleasure” and some Christians are apt to cast a wary look.

Their cautious gaze often is based on an assumption that a person could be giving into sordid, sinful temptations, otherwise known as pleasures of the flesh.

But, cast in a biblical light, pleasure takes on a fuller, richer meaning when it’s founded on what Jesus meant His people to experience, Michael Wittmer writes in his theologically rich, biblically accurate book, Overcoming Worldly Saints: Can You Serve Jesus and Still Enjoy Your Life? (Zondervan, 208 pages, $15.99).

On a Mission

missionimp225Growing up, my favorite TV show was “Mission Impossible”. Before the movie series, in the late 60’s and early 70’s it was a weekly series. Jim Phelps and the IMF – the Impossible Mission Force – captured a Columbian drug lord, recovered stolen Russian nuclear weapons, or rescued a captured Israeli general. In sixty minutes (minus the commercials) they saved the world. I wanted to be part of that mission!

Old Fashioned is a New Kind of Movie

old fashioned225Old Fashioned is a new kind of faith-based movie, one that explores dating in a way that many would consider old fashioned today—courtship with the focus on getting acquainted and developing a relationship, as opposed to focusing on the physical attractions and intimacy. There is a chivalrous aspect of the film that is rare these days and is refreshing. The main male character in the movie, Clay, has tried it the other way and wants to truly get to know the young woman he is attracted to. Her name is Amber.

Aussie Apologist in Town on U.S. Tour to Launch New Book

John Dickson 2014Pastor and author Dr. John Dickson will visit Grand Rapids this week while on a U.S. tour to promote his new book “A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics,” published by Zondervan and available in stores this month.

Dickson grew up as a religious skeptic, first meeting Christianity in high school in an elective course. His curiosity turned to faith and eventually led him to Macquarie University in Sydney, where he earned at Ph.D. in history and is currently a senior research fellow in the Department of Ancient History. He is also co-director of the Centre for Public Christianity and senior minister at an Anglican church in Sydney.

He is author of more than a dozen books and a busy speaker around the world. Dr. Dickson, who will headline several events around Grand Rapids (see below), answers questions about his books, speaking, current events, and the historical Jesus.

Stockbridge Boiler Room Concentrates on Prayer, Shared Meals akin to Marriage Supper of the Lamb

stockbridge225 Tim Collier experiences a “beautiful mixture of folks” at the Stockbridge Boiler Room.When is a meal more than an opportunity to scarf down some grub? Tim Collier has some answers.

Every Wednesday, an average of 60 to 100 people gather at the Stockbridge Boiler Room for a weekly “Love Feast” inside a spacious house at 713 5th St. NW that’s on the West Side of Grand Rapids. The dwelling once served as a brothel and crack house.

Stockbridge Boiler Room’s geographical sphere of influence primarily borders
Pine Avenue NW to the west, Turner Ave. NW to the east, 2nd Street NW to the south and 10th Street NW to the north.

Terry's Picks for February

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian web writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area’s faith-based arts, entertainment and conference events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for February:

*Calvin College Gospel Choir – The dynamic ensemble performs at 3 p.m. Sun. Feb. 15 in First United Methodist Church, 227 E. Fulton St. Grand Rapids. Since 1996 the choir has been directed by Calvin professor Dr. Charsie Sawyer and currently assisted by Nate Glasper Jr. Their repertoire includes spirituals, African music, anthems, contemporary, jazz and African-American gospel music and the group has been called the most diverse musical ensemble on the campus. Choir membership is open to Calvin students, faculty, staff and alumni. The performance is part of First United Methodist’s Celebration of the Arts. There is no admission charge. Visit www.grandrapidsfumc.org.

100 Million Christians Encounter Religious-related Violence, says Author of Book Detailing Worldwide Persecution

paul225Paul Marshall said persecution of Christians is an evil that must be thwarted.Aasiya Noreen’s life hangs in the balance. In November 2010, the Pakistani Christian woman, better known as Asia Bibi, was convicted of blasphemy and received a sentence of death by hanging.

Her offense was allegedly insulting the Islamic prophet Muhammad. If executed, Noreen would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy. Noreen has denied the charges but there’s a problem: The country's sharia system considers a non-Muslim's testimony to carry half the weight of a Muslim's, which made it difficult to defend herself in court.

Chemistry Professor Declares: ‘The Grandeur of God is in the Miniscule’

janser225Larry Louters holds up a model of a molecule. Wearing safety goggles and a white lab coat and flanked by an assortment of chemicals and glass beakers, Larry Louters looks every bit the part of a chemistry professor.

But soon into his talk on Jan. 23 at Calvin College’s January Series, it’s evident why Louters, a faculty member of Calvin College since 1984, is more than “the crazy science guy who blows things up and makes test tubes glow in the dark.”

The Case for Grace: Q&A with Lee Strobel

Strobel225Lee Strobel is the author of bestsellers The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and the upcoming book The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives (Zondervan, Feb.). He answers questions about the book and his life.

Q) Why did you decide to write The Case for Grace now?

A) I think this book is a natural progression from the other books. They set forth the evidence for Christianity and God, but this book adds the experiential component. If Christianity is true, you would expect that God would transform lives.

First United Methodist’s Annual Celebration of the Arts Draws Spiritual Illumination

calvin225The Calvin College Gospel Choir will appear in concert on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 3 p.m.Depicting the sacred and spiritual on a canvas or with a sculpture proves never to be stale to the eyes for spectators who experience First United Methodist Church’s 13-day juried spiritual arts festival, Celebration of the Arts.

“Every year is different, and based on what is entered, the artists never disappoint,” said Eric Strand, First United Methodist’s director of music and the arts. “What the public sees is beautiful and provoking. It’s the kind of art that can illuminate and inspire and make us aware.”

Fighting Fair

boxing225It's inevitable that a married couple is going to fight at some point in their relationship. When I use the word fight, I'm talking about verbal arguments, not physical encounters. When I hear couples say they never argue, that's a red flag right there for me. I think realistically every couple gets a little irritated with each other on occasion. It's normal! The most important thing to remember when you do have disagreements is to fight fair.
One of the rules in fighting fair is to agree to resolve your issue instead of seeking victory. When your end goal in a disagreement is to declare triumph that means you want someone to lose. That's okay if you're watching your favorite football or baseball team, but it's not productive when your opponent is your husband or wife. In fact, you're not fighting an opponent but a member of your own team. Therefore your approach should be different.

Ted McGinley is Happy to be in Upcoming Christian Movie Filmed in West Michigan

tedActor Ted McGinley was formerly a regular cast member some years ago on Happy Days, and he now has made several Christian films. One of the films which he was reluctant to make was Redeemed, and it's a film in which he portrayed a man tempted to have an affair. Ted feared that the subject matter would not play well with viewers, especially the ladies. "It's a great movie," he thought, but "who's going to watch it?" Yet he loved the story and working with David A.R. White. White is a producer and actor that has made several Christian films. Ted's first Pure Flix movie, the same Christian film company that made God's Not Dead, was Christmas with a Capital C which he enthusiastically says he loved making. He recently worked in Manistee on Do You Believe? He was happy to talk about the experience of making the film, which currently is due to be released this coming March.

Ted embraced the script once he had read it. He was impressed with the cast too. "I said, 'Okay, you know, Brian Bosworth is in the movie, playing opposite Mira Sorvino, who's got an Oscar.' He added that he had grown up watching Lee Majors, also in the cast, as is Cybil Shepherd who, according to Ted, is a larger than life person that "carries a big stick" and had them all laughing. And Sean Astin is a part of it too, and he has "great energy" said Ted, and is a "veteran" of acting experience and "just a great guy."

Award-winning Music Artist Scheduled for Calvin College Visit

  Lecrae225   Grammy-nominated, faith-based hip-hop artist Lecrae is coming to West Michigan in March as part of the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Music.

     The reflective musician will give a keynote address at the conference, as well as perform in an open-to-the-public concert March 28 at VanNoord Arena.

     Securing the high-profile Lecrae, who only recently performed on “The Tonight Show” on NBC-TV, is a coup for the biennial festival. The visit was announced last week by coordinating committee member Ken Heffner.

Youngest Known Survivor says Best Birthday Present to Her is Never Forget the Holocaust

tova225Survivor Tova Friedman said it’s vital to keep the Holocaust on the forefront of public thought.Tova Friedman considers Jan. 27 her birthday, even though it’s not the actual date she was born.

Jan. 27 is when 70 years ago Friedman was among 7,000 prisoners liberated by the Soviet Army from the Auschwitz death camp.

But, Friedman said, being liberated from the Third Reich’s atrocities has not emancipated her from the unsettling memories of the Nazi regime’s systematic mass murder of six million European Jews, known as the Holocaust.

One Night Movie Event Coming: Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus

PatternsEvidence-ExodusA big event is soon to arrive for Christians and for those simply interested in archaeological examinations and historical events of the past. A one night screening of Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus, a documentary, is being shown nationwide in select theaters Monday, January 19. It will be screened at Celebration Cinema North and River Town Crossings in Grand Rapids at 7 pm. And it will screen as well in Benton Harbor at the Celebration Cinema. It is directed by Timothy P. Mahoney.

“Did the Exodus really happen?” asks Mahoney in a short video on the website, FathomEvents.com. “That’s a question that led me on an incredible 12-year investigation.” We are not certain of Mahoney’s conclusions, but we do know that he wanted to examine the “physical evidence from a scientific perspective.” Referring to the audience of this film, he said, “We let them make up their own mind.” The documentary features a panel of experts sharing their point of view.

New Year Brings Concert Variety

Third Day 225Third Day   The new year features a smorgasbord of faith-based musical expressions in churches and other venues around West Michigan.

     January started with a bang thanks to Winter Jam, the jam-packed Christian music tour featuring Skillet, Jeremy Camp and numerous other artists that filled Van Andel Arena back on Jan. 4. Read a review online.  You can see a repeat of Winter Jam at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Feb. 21).

     Other nationwide tours by well known artists such as Third Day, David Crowder and Matt Maher are coming through the area over the next several months.
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