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Featured Articles

PastorCare West Michigan provides listening ear, confidential coaching to wounded ministers

smith225John W. Smith is the executive director of PastorCare West Michigan.It’s rare to meet the leader of a ministry who wishes his services weren’t needed. John W. Smith is one of them.

“I wish my ministry wasn’t needed,” said Smith, executive director of PastorCare West Michigan (PCWM). “But I know it is.”

PCWM is intended for pastors, their spouses, and full-time ministry leaders such as youth and Christian education directors who need someone like Smith to come alongside them to help them through their ministerial rough patches. Smith accomplishes this through what he calls “confidential coaching.”

Area Christmas Concerts Celebrate The Season

   CollingsworthFamily225The Collingsworth Family sings at Calvin College on Dec. 11  It seems like we’re barely into the month of December and already some of the area’s Christmas concerts are in the rearview mirror.

     But there are still plenty of opportunities to join a musical celebration of the season at a number of different West Michigan events.

     For an arena-sized experience, gospel music maven Bill Gaither and his Homecoming artists mark the Christmas spirit in a big way at 6 p.m. Sat. Dec. 13 at Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids.

     Not only will Gaither sing with his Grammy-winning Vocal Band (featuring tenor David Phelps), but he’s brought along fan favorites such as The Isaacs, The Martins, soloist Charlotte Ritchie, funny-man (and former Vocal Band member) Mark Lowry, among others.

     A local choir, coordinated by Chris Hansen of Hark Up Ministries, will sing background on many of the songs.

Finding a New Perspective on God’s World; Ruined for the Ordinary

perspectivesnew225Are you ready to be “ruined for the ordinary”? That’s what one man said will happen when you take Perspectives!

“Perspectives on the World Christian Movement” is a powerful, in-depth course on God’s heart for all nations and His Kingdom purpose for all Christians. In fourteen sessions with fourteen passionate, experienced instructors you will gain a fresh perspective on the biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic aspects of God’s global cause.

Master Arts Theatre Remembers World War II

sanders225Master Arts Theatre, located at 75 77th St SW in Grand Rapids, is initiating a six season tribute to World War II and to thank all veterans who have fought for our nation. The tribute began on November 21 with the musical, “Sanders Family Christmas”.

The story takes place on Christmas Eve, 1941, just eighteen days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.   The Sanders family is performing at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in North Carolina, just as they had done for the past several years. This year, however, is a little different. The country is in the midst of World War II and the family’s son, Dennis, will be leaving home to join the Marines in just a few days. The play is filled with laughter and song, but yet effectively expresses the deep emotions involved when a loved one goes off to war. The story also shows the concern the average citizen had knowing that the rationing of many items was imminent. But, as the playbill states, this musical is designed to “get your toes tapping, your voice singing, and your heart soaring in reminiscence and old-fashioned joy in the Lord.” The cast certainly accomplishes this goal with their talents and enthusiasm.

New Music Review: Deeper by Tommee Profitt

  ProffitTommy 225You had to wonder: after local singer-songwriter and worship leader Tommee Profitt signed deal as a major record label producer/songwriter, would he have any time to complete a collection of his own music for a new release?

     But his (and fans’) patience have been rewarded with “Deeper,” a two-years-in-the-making combination of worship themes and heartfelt lyrics set very much in pop arrangements – some on a grand scale.

Terry’s Picks: December 2014

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area’s faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month. Here are a few December highlights:

*“Women's Christmas Tea” – Susan Sorensen is the special guest at 3 p.m. Sun. Dec. 7 at Maranatha Bible Conference, 4759 Lake Harbor Road, Muskegon. Sorensen is women’s ministry coordinator at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids and co-author of the 90-day devotional “Praying Through Cancer: Set Your Heart Free From Fear” (Harper Collins). Her holiday message parallels a familiar Christmas carol. Worship leader is Sarah Whaley, chapel coordinator at Cornerstone University. There will also be a special presentation by the Muskegon Rescue Mission. Tickets are $20 general ($15 for Maranatha members) and available at www.vacationwithpurpose.org. (231)-798-2161.

Family Promise of Grand Rapids Inspires Homeless Families with Hope, New Path in Life

Cheryl Schuch225Cheryl Schuch is the executive director of Family Promise of Grand Rapids.For many people living in the Grand Rapids area, the Great Recession has become a distant, unpleasant memory. Others, however, remain gripped in the economic downturn's tentacles.

Financial hardship is an especially thorny problem for homeless parents who fear loosing custody of their children because they have no fixed address, according to Cheryl Schuch, executive director of the nonprofit interfaith ministry, Family Promise of Grand Rapids (FPGR).


TobyMac gray stocking cap225     This tour is different for multiple Grammy-winner TobyMac.

     “The idea is like a more intimate setting rather than in an arena,” said the inspirational artist by phone while on a tour bus traveling to Louisville, Ky.

     It’s really about having things a little more broken down and allowing yourself the time to tell the stories behind these songs,” he said.

     Toby will still have his full band complement with him when he visits DeVos Performance Hall on Nov. 23. Even his turn table DJ. But with a smaller drum kit, scaled down lighting and stage sets and a simpler approach, the artist will have a little more space and time to spill out the origins of many of his chart-topping songs.

It’s Not Where You Lived, But How You Lived

houseDuring the holidays, many of you may visit the home where you grew up. Sometimes it’s fun to reflect back on what you’ve done or where you’ve lived. Recently, I was thinking about all the different houses where my family has resided in the Holland area.

I remember the first time my boys threw a ball and our daughter played with her baby doll at our home on West 20th Street. It was wide-bodied and flat as though a giant, from on top of a beanstalk, had stepped on it. Yet, despite how widespread it was, it is the warmth and coziness that are my fondest memories.

Pregnancy Resource Center Wraps Arms of Love Around Women Facing Crisis Pregnancies

prc225 Brittany Christopher keeps a number of photos of her daughter, Sola, in her smart phone. Sola is a spunky, wide-eyed, blond-hair cutie who quickly steals the hearts of the people she encounters. It’s understandable why the two-and-a-half year old is the pride and joy of her mother, Brittany Christopher.

“She’s rocking it out,” a beaming Christopher said of her daughter. “She’s so smart.”

Smart and very much alive.

There was a time during Christopher’s pregnancy when she was a hair’s breadth away from having an abortion. All her reasons seemed valid, she told herself. She was only 20 and single, with no clue what the demands of motherhood entailed.

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas is a Winner!

christmas225Kirk boldly states, "I love Christmas!" from the start. He begins by saying that some people want Christmas toned down, while others think that looking at a Christmas tree, and enjoying Santa, and buying presents are not worthwhile experiences. He disagrees and argues, convincingly so, that they all add to the celebration of the birth of the Christ child. His brother-in-law in the film, Christian, is a killjoy Christian. Christian doesn't share the love for Christmas like his wife, Kirk's sister.

Join The Choir For “Homecoming”

TheIssacs225The Isaacs are one of the groups featured at the Gaither Homecoming concertYes, you can sing with a local choir at the Gaither Homecoming Christmas concert at Van Andel Arena. .
“Any number of singers can join,” said Chris Hansen, the Grand Rapids music director who is heading up the local choir effort.

“We’re hoping for about 70 or 80, but we can have as many as possible.”

The Dec. 13 concert features stellar artists such as the Grammy-winning Bill Gaither and his Gaither Vocal Band, sibling trio The Martins, the bluegrass-inspired Isaacs and funnyman Mark Lowry among others.

Christians in Business: Tim Roersma, Carlisle Auto Body

Tim Roersma225Tim Roersma, owner of Carlisle Auto Body, never planned to work in the auto body industry or start his own business, but God had other plans. While in high school, Roersma attempted to sign up for an auto mechanics class, but the class was full. The school counselor suggested he try an auto body class since it still involved working on cars. Roersma loved the class and never looked back. After studying at a tech center the last two years of high school, Roersma attended community college, and then graduated with a degree in automotive body from Ferris State University.

Roersma worked for a few local shops before his wife’s uncle approached him about starting his own company. “I had planned to work for someone else the rest of my life,” he recalled. The uncle had finances and passion to fund the startup, but no practical auto body work experience. Another partner provided a building. Roersma supplied the experience, and the three drew up papers and started Carlisle Auto Body thirty years ago.

Guiding Light’s Stuart Ray Infuses Homeless Men with the Gospel

Stuart Ray Guilding Light sign225Stuart Ray has been Guiding Light Mission’s executive director since 2009.Etched in Stuart Ray’s memory is the first time he gave a panhandler money. The man asked for 75 cents and Ray consented to his request. A few days later, he found the same man stumbling in the street, drunk.

Lesson learned: Ray’s intentions were good but the results were anything but.

Looking back on that day in the summer of 2009 — the same year he became Guiding Light Mission’s executive director — Ray says he received a sobering lesson in what’s really required needed to help homeless men discover a better way of life.

Lee Majors in Grand Rapids to Promote New Christian Film

leemajors225Actor Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man) along with Cybil Shepherd and Ted McGinley recently stopped by Grand Rapids on their way to Manistee to talk about a movie they were making: Do You Believe? The movieis due to be released in March 2015 and comes from Pure Flix, the same filmmakers that made the successful God’s Not Dead.

Majors stated he was the old man of the group. “I’m 57 now,” he joked, then added, “Actually, you need to invert those numbers.” The 75-year-old Majors thrilled audiences in the seventies with his portrayal of astronaut Steve Austin, who was critically injured in a test flight and became a cyborg, given replacement parts by the government including two bionic legs, a right arm, and a bionic eye which could zoom in on far away objects. “I’m not doing any more shows with the word ‘The’ in front of it,” he joked. “No more ‘The Big Valley’, ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ or ‘The Fall Guy.’ I used to run my butt off. Now, I move in slow motion!”

Michael W. Smith Brings Music to Zeeland

Smith MW225    Inspirational singer-songwriter Michael W. Smith still wasn’t sure exactly what songs he would include at his Nov. 8 sold out concert at Community Reformed Church in Zeeland.

     “It’s a good question,” he told a reporter by phone during a late October interview. “We’re doing a mix of songs as we figure out a way to showcase a bunch of stuff and I think we’ll come up with a pretty cool evening.”

     Smith, who turned 57 last month, said he plans to do several songs from his “Sovereign” album - a “pop” worship project released early this year.

     “I think the song ‘Sky Spills Over’ is one of the highlights,” said the artist. “It gets one of the bigger responses of the night. But probably the best song on the record is one called ‘Sovereign Over Us’ based on the fact that what it says is so powerful.”

WTS and IBE Holland Reach Historical Partnership

wts225More than 60 students, spouses and faculty gathered for WTS and IBE Holland’s first night of its collaborative partnershipThere was a time when Pentecostal and Reformed Christians didn’t associate with one another very often. It’s a new day, say students and faculty of the Western Theological Seminary (WTS) in Holland and the Instituto Biblico Ebenezer Holland who say their collaborative partnership is historical.

About 30 Latino pastors and lay students associated with Instituto Biblico Ebenezer in Holland (Bible Institute Ebenezer) will gather Monday nights at the Reformed Church in America affiliated Western Theological Seminary to study classes in Bible, evangelism, pastoral care, Christian education and the Bible.

Wedgwood honors Van Andels with Nagel Leadership Award

wedgewood225Wedgwood Christian Services honored David and Carol Van Andel with its prestigious Doug and Lois Nagel Leadership Award, which was presented at Wedgwood’s 54th Anniversary Celebration Dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Wedgwood provides a wide range of social services here in West Michigan in areas of abuse and neglect, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, learning difficulties, sexual abuse, school expulsions and other areas involving hurting children, youth and families.

CS Lewis Celebrated in Stage Presentation

Payne David actor as C.S. Lewis225Actor David Payne as CS LewisScholar, author and theologian C.S. Lewis comes to life in a stage production coming to Muskegon’s Beardsley Theater on Sunday December 14.

Tickets are now on sale for “A Christmas With C.S. Lewis” featuring actor and Lewis impersonator David Payne. (Details below).

Payne captures the spirit of Lewis in this one-man show, drawing from the author’s extensive books, journals and memoirs to humorously yet profoundly share his insights.

America’s Foundation of Freedom

martin lutherAs we come to celebrate and remember Reformation Day this week, we have come a long way from the days when a German monk named Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. Luther complained that salvation was a free gift of a gracious God and not something that could be controlled, bought or sold by corrupt officials. Most Christians have long forgotten Luther and Reformation Day. It has been replaced with Halloween, now the second biggest holiday after Christmas. Some churches are trying to do something spiritual during Halloween, like having a Gospel party or giving out tracts, but the real theology and the reasons for the Reformation are slipping away from America as you read this article. In the end, every society ends up moving toward freedom or slavery as their history unfolds.  This journey to slavery or freedom is at the center of the Bible’s story line, the people of Israel’s history and the destiny of all the nations on earth. When you forget what freedom is and why you have it, it is only a matter of time until you have lost it. That surely could be said for America today. Our nation is surely fighting for its’ future under the power of increasing government control, massive debt, politically correct speech and an anti-Christian understanding of the relationship between Church and State.

Despite Jarring Accident, Kelly Ellis is Better, Not Bitter

Kelly recumbent bike225The recumbent bike Kelly Ellis rides represents a new chapter in her life.Kelly Ellis gingerly gets on her recumbent trike’s seat, slips her feet into the pedal stirrups and, with the grace of a gazelle, effortlessly sets the three-wheel bike in motion down a nearby sidewalk.

In a real sense, Ellis’ self-propelled jaunt represents a victory lap for what the Lord has accomplished in the valley of her life.

“I live by the promise of Jeremiah 29:11,” said Ellis, referring to the Old Testament Scripture which affirms God’s plans to prosper His people with a hope and a future.

Terry's Picks: November 2014

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area’s faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month. Here are a few November highlights:

*“The Discredibles” – That’s the title of the dinner-theatre production at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and 8 and 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9 (drama only) at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church, 6727 Kuttshill Dr NE, Rockford. This original play (the title is a spoof on “The Incredibles”) features an unlikely band of underworld villains who plan “comic capers” of crime while dodging the authorities and creating all sorts of international chaos. The comedy is directed by Blythefield director of worship ministries Vicki Modert. Dinner theater tickets are $15, theater-only on Nov. 9 are $3 and $2. More information at http://www.bhbconline.org/dinnertheatre or call Christy at 866-9597 x134.

New Music Review: “Cynic Heart”

Hopkins Rick song cvr Cynic HeartLocal singer-songwriter Rick Hopkins tells his story of overcoming cynicism with his new song "Cynic Heart."

"I wrote this song on the back end of a period of deep cynicism and anger," said Hopkins from his home in Saranac east of Lowell.

"Thinking that the Church might not be worth being a part of, I was deciding whether I wanted to stick with it or not," admitted the father of four.

But his new church in his local community lifted the veil on the "bride of Christ" and put him back on the mend – on the way to beating back the forces of cynicism.

What It’s All About: "A Matter of Faith"

FaithA new Christian film is now in theaters, in a limited release. It is a powerful story, filmed at Aquinas College and locally in Grand Rapids. Here is the synopsis for "A Matter of Faith":
- A Christian girl goes off to college for her freshman year and begins to be influenced by a popular Biology professor who teaches that evolution is the answer to the origins of life. When her father suspects something happening, he begins to examine the situation and what he discovers completely catches him off guard. Now very concerned about his daughter drifting away from the faith, he tries to do something about it.

This is a bold movie that unashamedly stands for creationism. The film features veteran actors such as Harry Anderson ("Night Court") and Clarence Gilyard ("Walker Texas Ranger"). It introduces a new talent as well, Jordan Trovillion, playing one of the main characters, Rachel Whitaker. This is a topic that most people are interested in and have strong feelings about, creationism vs. evolution. It is also about not being steered away from one's faith in God.

"Playing Saint"

Zachery Bartels 225Zachery Bartels wrote a string of screenplays while a student at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary as a welcome diversion from reading a stack of theological treatise. Years later, one of those scripts was converted into a suspense novel with Grand Rapids as its geographical backdrop.

That rewrite resulted in the recent publication of his debut novel titled, “Playing Saint.” Published by Thomas Nelson, the narrative centers on Peter Saint, pastor of a mega church Bartels describes as a prima donna whose life takes an abrupt turn that lands him on the wrong side of the law.

To avoid a public scandal, Saint agrees to consult with the police on a series of brutal murders linked by strange religious symbols scrawled on each victim. He is clearly out of his element.

Growing Pains Will Stretch You

grandkids225A woman, who is also a developmental psychologist, recently wrote an article for the New York Times entitled, “When They’re Grown the Real Pain Begins.” She’s not talking about her muscles or bones; she’s referring to her children. The article talks about how she thought that once her children left the house, her job as mom would be complete. Then one of her adult sons experienced a very tough year filled with a broken relationship, a job loss, along with a devastating injury, and she realized she was wrong.

Once she heard about his challenges, she started formulating a plan that would help solve her son’s problems. She was respectfully told by him that he just wanted her sympathy, not her solutions. Through her article she simply wanted to share the pain she felt at seeing her son going through something so difficult and not be able to help him directly.

Kari Jobe Coming to Grand Rapids

Jobe Kari w Cody Carnes2Kari Jobe with fiancé Cody Carnes on the Red Carpet at the Oct. 7 Dove AwardsKari Jobe is extra busy this fall.
Not only is the singer-songwriter currently on a nation-wide concert tour, but she’s also preparing for her wedding day in late November.
“Yea, I think when we’re in Grand Rapids, we’ll be about three weeks out,” said Jobe noting her Nov. 1 stop at Sunshine Community Church.
“Fortunately I think I’ve got pretty much everything done – just some last minute things with my mom, but those will be easy,” Jobe said during a phone interview from San Antonio, Tex.
It was just on Oct. 7 that the artist was at the annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards in Nashville, where she won an award for top Praise and Worship Album of the Year (“Majestic”), and performed her song “Forever.”

Tribes Church: The Fruition of a Dream

Damon and Newman 1Dawn Scott Damon is co-founder and co-pastor of Tribes Church and Julian Newman is its co-founder and lead pastor. The newly shampooed carpets and freshly painted hallways are conspicuous indicators Tribes Church in Rockford is crackling with a new mission that came about when the former St. Stephen Lutheran Church congregation opted to birth a legacy church.

Tribes Church’s first worship service was Oct. 12, which drew 253 adults and children.

“It is the fruition of a dream,” said Dawn Scott Damon, co-founder and co-pastor of Tribes Church. Tribes Church’s pastoral team includes co-founder and lead pastor, Julian Newman.

“God’s grace was on everything,” added Damon. “Nothing went wrong, which was just a miracle.”

The 13,627-square foot Tribes Church, at 6070 Kuttshill Ave. NE, is formerly St. Stephen Lutheran Church, which was later renamed three years ago Rockpointe Lutheran Church before it was repurposed as the Wesleyan affiliated Tribes Church.

Tribes Church is a multi-cultural church based in part on a dream Newman received from God 16 years ago to break the barriers of race, generation and class to redeem Greater Grand Rapids with Christ’s love.

Upbeat Results for ‘Praise in the Park’

praise in the park2     Richard Moll is bringing a good report Oct. 13 to the Rockford City Council about last summer’s “Praise in the Park” series in downtown Rockford.
   “There were 18 Sunday evening events put on by 12 churches, two Christian bands, and two individuals,” said Moll in a recent newsletter.
    This was the third summer for the Sunday evening series, which features inspirational/praise music at no charge provided by a variety of area artists – most of them worship teams from northern Kent County churches.

Step Up

kids2An estimated one-third of children will live in a stepparent home before the age of 18 and 50% will have a stepparent at some point in their lifetime. Approximately one-third of all weddings in America today form stepfamilies. An estimated 40% of women will live in a married or cohabiting stepfamily home at some point. There’s plenty of research and statistics that add up to a lot of families trying to assimilate but probably not blending.

Although some families do a great job mixing together, other families really struggle trying to relate. Part of the problem may stem from people trying to grow their new family too fast. They want instantaneous results having grown up in a click-here kind of world.

A Look Behind the Leader: Zack Ferrell of Christ Community Church

ferrell Zack2    Zack Ferrell took the road through Nashville en route to his new position as worship leader at Christ Community Church on Forest Hills Ave. SE.

     “I was born in southern Michigan but we moved to Nashville where I spent the majority of my growing up years,” said Ferrell, 24, during a recent interview.

     But the worship leader returned to Michigan just last summer and began work at Christ Community in August.

     “It’s been an interesting journey with relocating and getting plugged in here,” he said.

Local Pastor, Historian Adds Depth to New Study Bible

kentdobson225For Pastor Kent Dobson, finding ways to engage readers with Scripture is part of his job. As a writer and former schoolteacher, he found an outlet for his love of the Bible, teaching and history thanks to his work on the new “NIV First-Century Study Bible.”

The “NIV First-Century Study Bible” released in September and is published by Zondervan. Mars Hill Bible Church will host a book launch party on Sunday, Oct. 5, following the 11 am church service, and Dobson will speak at the Kregel Parable Christian Stores/Cornerstone University 2014 Pastors Breakfast on Oct. 7. He will speak on “Millennials and Bible Engagement” followed by a Q&A.

Terry’s Picks: October 2014

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

*Sara Groves – The inspirational singer-songwriter performs at 7 p.m. Thurs. Oct. 16 in Grace Community Church, 3500 New Holland St. Hudsonville. Through 10 studio albums and several special projects, Groves has woven thoughtful insights and introspection through her eyes of faith and into her music and life. Among her song collections are “Conversations,” “All Right Here,” and “Fireflies and Songs.” She burst onto the Christian music scene more than a dozen years ago, claiming a Dove Award nomination as New Artist of the Year. General admission tickets are $12, and can be ordered by pone at 800-965-9324 or at www.itickets.com. For more information contact the church at 616-669-6507 or www.solagrace.org.

Don’t Be Left Behind in Seeing 'Left Behind'

leftbehind"Left Behind" (2014) is a gripping and dramatic apocalyptic movie that is a must-see film! It is crisply directed by Vic Armstrong, featuring a strong script based on the book by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. A previous film based on the book starring Kirk Cameron appeared in theaters in 2001. The excellent actors in this movie all hit the right note. The new movie stars Nicolas Cage and Chad Michael Murray, in addition to Cassi Thomson, Nicky Whelan and Lea Thompson.

The synopsis states: The most important event in the history of mankind is happening right now. In the blink of an eye, the biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant terror and chaos spread around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn. Planes fall from the sky. Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. There is no one to help or provide answers. In a moment, the entire planet is plunged into darkness.

Christians in Business: Baumann Building

baumannBack row from left to right Jordan Venard, Chelsea Schipper, Nick Wesseldyke, Chris Barense, Mary Wilson, Ammie Bouwman Front row from left to right Brad VanderZwaag, Marci Baumann, Mike Baumann, Eric NykampMike Baumann, of Baumann Building, started out as a farmer. He had a love for being outside, but didn’t want to farm the rest of his life, so Baumann attended a tech center to learn the trade of framing and building. He began his building career working for another builder and ended up running a crew. Soon after marrying his wife, Marci, in 1997, Baumann told his boss that in a few years he’d like to go on his own and start an excavating or building company. The next day, Baumann showed up for work and was informed this would be his last week on the job. After just two weeks of marriage, Baumann found himself unemployed.

“God was good, and the next day I went to work. I’ve worked every day since then that I wanted to work,” Baumann recalled. The day he lost his job, Baumann started making phone calls to friends in the industry. A man he knew had work for him, and Baumann started framing the very next day.

Grand Rapids Church More Than Ready for “Art Prize”

MurmurationThere’s likely no church in West Michigan more involved in Art Prize than Monroe Community Church, on Monroe Ave. NW just north of downtown Grand Rapids. 

“Our church art gallery is also our sanctuary, so the Art Prize exhibits surround us as we worship on Sundays,” note Steve Fridsma, one of several church members on an art selection panel.

Art Prize is an open, international art competition featuring more than 1,500 works of art exhibited at more than 170 locations around the Grand Rapids area. Voters have a say in who wins the hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money.

Monroe Community has been an official Art Prize venue in all six years of the event.
“I believe that Art Prize is consistent with our church mission statement: Connecting our downtown community with our life-changing God,” said Fridsma, who is the church’s official Art Prize liaison.

Prayer in the City

prayAn Area-wide Prayer Meeting will be held Thursday September 18, from 7pm to 9:30pm at Fair Haven Church in Hudsonville. This is a great opportunity to network with others in the body of Christ, seek God's will as a group, be encouraged in listening prayer, and build the Kingdom of God

This meeting is to help us to know each other better and strengthen the unity of our network of prayer people. We will discuss calling and gifting and share our unique passion and desires. This will include a time of prayer to bless and encourage one another. Personal prayer Ministry will be offered at the end of the evening for specific needs.

Community Wide Hymn Sing

singingThe church I attended as a child used to host a hymn-sing once a month on Sunday nights, a common practice at many churches of that time. The hymn-sing was an important function of the church, and well attended because it allowed everyone to participate in the worship process. Quite frankly, the hymn-sings were upbeat and fun at a time when the church services tended to be pretty solemn. My dad and I frequently attended theses hymn-sings, not only at our church, but often we would go to other churches for their hymn-sings as well. Dad wasn't great at articulating his faith, but he sure could sing about it! "He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today..." "In that old rugged cross stained with blood so divine, a wond'rous beauty I see..."

Rend Collective On Tour

rendcollective2Chris Llewellyn (2nd from left) and Rend CollectiveThe inspirational-worship band Rend Collective has introduced many of its fans to a musical oddity called a “jingling johnny.”

“I guess it’s a percussion instrument,” surmised lead singer Chris
Llewellyn during a recent phone interview.

“But it has a string attached, a bicycle horn and other noisy things,” he added of the strange looking contraption – just one of many traditional instruments used by the Irish born-and-bred music group.

Prayer Walk, Artists Raise Awareness for Sex Trafficking Victims

bluecandel5The inaugural Blue Candle Prayer Walk Against Sex Trafficking is a unique collaboration between four artists, trafficking outreach programs, and volunteers eager to raise awareness about this insidious crime.

“During the walk itself we’ll be praying for victims of trafficking, the people who walk alongside them in healing, first responders, and for the community to become more aware of the issue,” said Mary Monsma, one of the coordinators. “We’re hoping for 100 to 200 people. We’ll carry blue candles during the walk and have a lighting ceremony at the end.”

Perspective: Do We Have an “Incarceration Problem?”

 border5A new misnomer has tunneled into our vocabulary. What we once called the problem of crime has been renamed “The Incarceration Problem” by neo-reformers who seek reduce the prison population using early release, lighter sentences, or no sentence at all. Yet their nearsighted view focuses only on the effect, while failing to address the obvious cause: crime. Furthermore, the entire argument cannot withstand the test of reason, as it is built on three baseless assumptions: 1) convicts are unfairly incarcerated; 2) incarceration fails to make the public safer, and 3) incarceration should prioritize rehabilitation over justice.

New Music Review: WOW Hits 2015

wow3It’s the annual “gold standard” in contemporary Christian music.

“WOW Hits 2015” comes to stores on September 30 – two CDs full of recent/current hit songs by premier contemporary Christian music artists which will carry you into the new year.

Top songs by top artists is a winning combination and the annual “WOW” CDs (and their various spin offs) have sold tens of millions of copies since they debuted in 1995.

Here’s part of the latest WOW “big hit” list – “We Believe” by Newsboys, “Do Something” Matthew West, “Thrive” Casting Crowns, “Shake” MercyMe, “Speak Life” TobyMac; and the hits just keep on coming.

Author, Pastor Addresses Critical Issues of Church and Culture

Ingram ChipPastor Chip Ingram is eager to address the cultural issues that are so much a part of our times, including sexuality, homosexuality, abortion, the environment and politics. His message is most strong when it comes to the church and these topics.

"These are the defining issues, but behind all of the topics is the church's belief in the authority of Scripture, and whether we believe what Scripture says is Truth or not," said Ingram, senior pastor of Venture Christian Church near San Jose, CA, and former president of Walk Through the Bible. "Our base issue is that we're not sticking with what Scripture truly says."

Ingram will be in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, Sept. 16, to speak at Sunshine Community Church as part of a book tour to promote his new title "Culture Shock: A Biblical Response to Today's Most Divisive Issues," released by Grand Rapids-based Baker Books in August. The book is an effort to apply the Bible to the most pressing cultural issues of the day, and is rooted in biblical exposition and personal stories.

Terry's Picks for September 2014

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

*Kathy Troccoli – The singer-songwriter/author co-hosts the “Hope’s Alive” conference Sept. 12-13 at Corinth Reformed Church, 129 100th St. SE, Byron Center. The conference designed for women has sessions from 7-9 p.m. Friday and 9a.m.-12:30p.m. Sat. Included are presentations, worship, and a “Heart to Heart” session as well as concert with Troccoli. Also at the conference are singer-worship leader Michelle Margiotta and several other special guests. General admission group rates for 10 or more tickets begin at $29. Individual tickets begin at $33. Premium seating is also available. To order and for more info, www.itickets.com, 615-478-0247.

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