“Anne of Green Gables: The Musical” – a play review

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

AGG 1 Anne and MarillaAnne (Eliana Gonzalez) speaks with a stern Marilla Cuthbert (Pam White) in the Master Arts Theatre production “Anne of Green Gables: The Musical” photo credit: Rae Kruithof Who in the world could ever stand up to the irresistible, irrepressible, red-haired, pigtailed, wide-eyed Anne of Green Gables?

Certainly not her on-stage rivals, challengers and others. Nor anyone in the opening night, full house crowd in Master Arts theatre.

The indefatigable Anne – unrelentingly and lovingly portrayed by young local actress Eliana Gonzalez – won over everyone's hearts with a spirit that took her high above her circumstance. And the audience was happy to go along.

The well-known, early 20th Century story tells of an orphaned girl mistakenly sent to an adopting farm family which had actually requested a boy. The tale has seen several stage and screen adaptations over the years. But this musical version sprinkled with choreography especially highlights the whimsy and emotion of small-town life in the remote Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Band Charts New Waters

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Smallbones with DollyJoel (left) and Luke Smallbone of For King & Country share an informal moment with Dolly Parton on the set of their new music video “God Only Knows” You never know where a song can take you.

The pop-rock duo For King & Country, featuring brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone, topped the Christian music charts this year with "God Only Knows." The hopeful ballad from their latest album tenderly tells of the love of God as a resource for the soul troubled by life circumstances.

But then country music superstar Dolly Parton heard the song and it has found a whole new life: a new recording, music video and millions of new listeners.

Trips to S. Korea Hearten Calvin Seminary President

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 1-3 calvinCalvin Theological Seminary president Jul Medenblik holds a wooden cross he received while visiting South Korea. Rev. Jul Medenblik is a bridge builder.

Since becoming Calvin Theological Seminary's 7th president in 2011, Medenblik has jaunted to Egypt, Nigeria, China and Indonesia. Earlier this year, he traveled for the 7th time to South Korea.

It's at this country in East Asia where Medenblik met with alumni from Calvin Seminary which is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church in North America, as well as connect with prospective students. The seminary offers five masters degrees, six certificate programs and two doctoral degrees. Distance learning is available.

Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World

Written by Dr. Rex M. Rogers on . Posted in Local

drrexDr. Rex M. RogersIt’s not rocket science to observe that Christianity is losing its influence in the American public square.

Unless you’ve lived in a box the past few years, this statement comes as no surprise.

Then again, it’s an axiom of human behavior that we tend to think “our day” is or was the “Best of times” – fond, if often over-stated memories of our youth - or the “Worst of times” – our bad experiences exaggerated with little perspective on what others have endured, at home or abroad. Historically speaking, we’re generally incorrect on both counts.

Fall Concert Artists Bring Award Nominations

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Dove 50th logoNominations for the 50th annual Gospel Music Association (GMA) Dove Awards were announced Aug. 14 in Nashville. And numerous of the honorees are on their way to West Michigan for concerts this fall.

For King & Country, the pop-rock band anchored by the musical brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, takes five Dove nominations to its Oct. 3 concert at L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon. The group has nods for top song of the year ("Joy"), pop/contemporary song ("God Only Knows"), songwriter of the year, pop/contemporary album ("Burn the Ships"), and overall artist of the year.

The band performed last year at the Unity Christian Music Festival, and already is signed to return there in 2020. Tickets for their Oct. 3 concert begin at $20, available online.

Guiding Light Opens Fifth Transitional Iron House

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

glm7The new Iron House provides an ongoing supportive community for men breaking free from alcohol and drug addictions. Guiding Light took another leap forward to help men break free from the bonds of alcohol, drug addictions and homelessness.

This is Guiding Light's fifth transitional housing facility at 557 Andover St. SE in Kentwood that it opened, known as the Iron House.

Guiding Light purchased the home for $250,000.

The ministry now has the capacity to house 35 men at one time.

Summer Concerts Winding Down on an Up Note

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

WaterfrontST Building2View from behind the stage: Building 429 performing July 28 at Worship on the Waterfront in Grand Haven Time is running out to get in on West Michigan's summertime inspirational concert opportunities, many of which come in lovely outdoor settings and are presented on a free-will offering basis.

In terms of weekly events, perhaps the one with the consistently highest attendance is Worship on the Waterfront (WOW) in the newly-remodeled Lynn Sherwood Waterfront Stadium in downtown Grand Haven. Thousands gather each Sunday night for a diverse schedule of Christian music artists.

"We've had a beautiful summer down on the waterfront and attendance has been amazing," said coordinator Kathleen Bobeldyk of their seasonal outreach. The setting has been enhanced: a terraced area in the rear portion of the venue has replaced the former bleacher sections. There are no on-site chairs or benches so fans bring their own seating.

Park Setting Inspires Worship

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

church in park signA sign welcomes Sunday worshipers to Wedgewood Park A Grandville church is keeping a summer tradition it helped begin nearly 30 years ago.

Grandville United Methodist Church offers "Church in the Park" each Sunday, an informal worship service in the outdoor beauty of nearby Wedgwood Park on Wilson Ave. SW.

"I've been to church in the park since it started," said church member Nancy Kitchen, who often serves as a liturgist at the 8:30am service. "I like being outdoors in the summer, and I like the early start, too."

The gathering consistently draws between 40 and 70 worshipers, most of whom bring their own lawn chairs or blankets for the 45-minute service. That number has held true this summer, even through a series of guest leaders in place of the church's on-sabbatical pastor Ryan Weiland. He has now returned.

Climb a Mountain to Help People You Don’t Know? Definitely, Affirms Wyoming Resident Courtney Lanting

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Courtney LantingCourtney Lanting: “Helping people is all that matters. There are a number of ways to raise money for worthy causes. Wyoming resident Courtney Lanting decided she would climb a mountain.

Mount Kilimanjaro in northeastern Tanzania to be exact. At 19,340-feet high, it's the world's 7th highest mountain.

Lanting, 29, scaled the inactive volcano in early August to financially support Carol Springs, Ill.-based Growing Hope Globally's ongoing agricultural training for struggling farmers in Kenya, Africa. She was joined by a small cadre of climbers.

Unity Undergirds Blessing of the Students

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

prayer778Veruynca Williams: “(BOTS) is a celebration of their incoming school year.” Unity in Christ will take center stage Aug.18 when Christians from an assortment of denominations gather for the annual Blessing of the Students (BOTS).

Now in its 26th year, BOTS is a confluence of students of all ages, clergy, school administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals, community leaders, elected officials, bus drives and whoever else may come, to join in the unity of prayer, said Veruynca Williams, who founded BOTS.

Live music, dance and encouraging words are also in the mix.

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