Hymns Anchor New Book By Local Author

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

George BrainardGeorge Brainard with his new book on hymns George Brainard's investigation into great hymns of the Christian faith led him to some surprising finds. And they've ended up in the Grand Rapids native's new book, "Public Domain" - a fresh look at some of the "golden oldies" in our church hymnals.

For example, there's the story of beloved hymn-writer Fanny Crosby.

"I think most people knew that she was blind," he said of Crosby, who wrote the lyrics for "To God Be The Glory" and hundreds of other stately hymns.

"But she memorized huge chunks of scripture by the time she was 15, wasn't saved 'til she was 30, and didn't start writing hymns until age 40."

Brainard included three of Crosby's hymns in his new book, which features more than 60 songs grouped by theme into 10 categories.

All of the hymns are in the public domain (thus the title of the book), which means they are old enough to no longer have copyrights. The most recent hymn in the collection is Thomas Dorsey's, "Precious Lord, Take My Hand," written in the early 1930s.

"That song was Dr. Martin Luther King's favorite," Brainard noted. "It was performed at his memorial service in 1968."

The oldest song in the book? "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" which dates to the 16th Century.

As Seasons Turn, Music and Inspiration Follow

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Screwtape Letters perf shotActor Brent Harris (left) as Screwtape with his slavish demon in the play “Screwtape Letters” coming June 15. Here we are well into spring and most of the way to summer and the concert calendar is filling up quickly.

Let's look at the summer's arena-sized tour: Hillsong UNITED, with special guests Amanda Cook (from Bethel Music) and Mack Brock (formerly with Elevation Worship) lead a worship-based evening at 7pm Tues. June 25 in Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids. Hillsong has just released a new album ("People"). Tickets begin at around $25. Available via Ticketmaster,  Here's a video preview

MAJOR FESTIVALS

The Big Ticket Festival (June 26-29 in Gaylord, MI) features top name headliners, including Chris Tomlin, For King & Country and Danny Gokey: 60 artists over four days. And there are extras such as "experience tents," comedy, films and a strength team. For tickets online. Visit www.bigticketfestival.com  

Showcase Spans a Variety of Talent

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Hark Up Horns Big BandHark Up Horns Big BandAdd a bit of this and that and you come up with quite a variety.

And with the combined talents of the artists from Hark Up and Master Arts Theater (MAT), you might as well call it a "Variety Show."

And as the official title implies – the variety includes everything from "shabby to chic" and will be on display in a program Sat. May 18 (details below).

"Actually, the phrase 'variety show' kind of dates it – we're more contemporary than that," offered Hark Up executive director Chris Hansen. "It's more like the Jimmy Fallon 'Tonight Show.'"

Indeed: included are vocal and instrumental music, sketch comedy, and interview segments led by comedic emcee Chris Knobloch.

Camps Roger, Scottie Offer Kids Overnight, Day Camps that Declare God’s Glory

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

RogerScottie Cutline No. 1“We believe there’s power in getting kids out into God’s creation,” said executive director Doug Vanderwell. With summer peeking around the corner, parents are on the lookout for fun and meaningful activities their children their can engage in while on hiatus from school. Doug Vanderwell has some ideas.

Vanderwell is executive director of Camp Roger in Rockford and Camp Scottie in Howard City. Both are nonprofit independent Christian camps not affiliated with a church or denomination.

"They're open to whoever would like to enjoy the camps," said Vanderwell.

New Music Review: “Let The Song Arise”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Hark Up cover art 2019The variety of talented musicians that make up the faith-based arts organization Hark Up have combined to produce a new album of praise and worship music titled, "Let The Song Arise."

The Hark Up Horns and the Hark Up Choir (featuring outstanding soloists Angie Royce, Colin Tobin, Breighanna Minnema and others) place their spin on both modern day and classic musical expressions of faith.

"A New Hallelujah," a Michael W. Smith anthem, includes vocals from both Tobin and Hark Up executive director Chris Hansen. The assembled artists also cover the David Crowder tune, "All My Hope."

Baby Boomers: Remember the haunting beat of "Spirit of the Sky," that late 60s-early '70s, psychedelic-sounding mantra? It also gets the Hark Up treatment.

Casting Crowns Messages Combine Video, Music

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Casting Crowns 2Mark Hall (center) and Casting Crowns Casting Crowns has added a "picture story" to its latest record album.

Using the message of each of the new songs, the inspirational-pop band is releasing 11 video segments to tell a through-the-generations story covering five decades in a family's life.

"We thought, let's create a movie that builds around the songs," said lead singer-songwriter Mark Hall. "Not a music video, but about people just living their lives with the songs simply in the background."

The tunes on their "Only Jesus" release offer backdrops for the video segments.

One recently issued video features the song "In the Hands of the Potter." In the storyline, a granddaughter follows in her ill grandmother's footsteps by taking up pottery and art (watch online). It continues the family story established in the previous six episodes.

An “Unrelenting” Easter Message

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Last SupperJesus (actor Kyle Warmington, center) and the Last Supper scene from last year’s drama One of the more obscure stories in scripture turns out to have an Easter theme in the latest drama staged by Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford, set for April 18-20.

"Unrelenting" - the title of the production - describes the love of God, pursuing his people through the lives of Old Testament figures right into the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection.

"It's a modern version of (the Old Testament prophet) Hosea," said director Vicki Modert, Blythefield's head of worship ministries. Modert and her writing team fashioned the original script.

A contemporary couple's marriage is strained with rumors of the wife's infidelity. Even when the truth comes to light, the college professor forgives her and "buys her back," exactly as God told Hosea to do for his unfaithful wife.

Two Authors Launch Children’s Books at Baker Book House

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

GoodnewsEasterBaker Book House will play host to two separate book launch parties for new children's books. Best-selling children's author Glenys Nellist will present her new book "Good News! It's Easter" during storytime at 10:30 am Thursday, April 11. And debut author Josh Mosey presents "3-Minute Prayers for Boys" at 6:30 pm Tuesday, April 16.

Family Network of Wyoming Serves Community with Respect

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Family Network Cutline No. 1Sandy Jenkinson stands in Family Network of Wyoming’s warehouse area where a variety of where canned goods, paper products and bottled water are stored. When people line up to receive groceries at the Family Network of Wyoming, they receive more than a week's worth of food.

They also experience respect from the cadre of volunteers and two-person staff who keep this Christian nonprofit humming with purpose.

"Most importantly, we try to treat everybody with a little dignity and respect so they leave feeling good," said Sandy Jenkinson, an assistant to executive director Dale Echavarria.

Resurrection in Focus for Andrew Peterson

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Peterson AndrewCredit-GilesClement 1521-RetouchedAndrew Peterson (photo by Giles Clement)Rare is the song that ends on a "suspended chord."

But the Andrew Peterson composition "God Rested" does exactly that. And the song provides a hinge-point in the artist's resurrection series showcase, which he brings to Byron Center on Sat. April 13.
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"God Rested" refers to the literal internment of a dead Christ, and is the last song in a musical prologue. It's the jumping off point to his collection "Resurrection Letters Vol. 1," full of joyful songs of Christ's victory over the tomb.

But a listener is left hanging with anticipation on that final note.

"We are living in a time of that suspended chord," said Peterson, 44. "We know we have a promise of Christ's return but we're in a tension of expectation and longing."

The very next song is "His Heart Beats." Its poignant resurrection depiction opens with the line "His heart beats, his blood begins to flow; waking up what was dead a moment ago."

Local Pair Helps Influencers Find Balance Between Serving God and Building Platform

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

Influence Front CoverTwo local authors, both working on their first books, faced the struggle many authors face: how to build a platform and serve God at the same time. Publishers are quick to say “Your platform isn’t big enough,” but authors, speakers, and ministry leaders can feel squeamish about promoting themselves and their work in order to collect followers on social media, blogs, and websites.

Shannon Popkin, author of “Control Girls: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible” (Kregel), and Kate Motaung, author of “A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging” (Discovery House), faced those struggles like many authors do. They join forces to take a deep look at platform and following Jesus in their new book “Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (Not Me),” which released in January.

“The tension is that if you want to pursue an agent or book contract or get accepted as a speaker at a conference, you have to already have a following,” said Motaung, host of Five Minute Friday, an online community for Christian writers. “But as Christians called to elevate Christ and humble ourselves, how can we be true to our convictions yet put ourselves out there?”

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