Unity Music Festival Set for Banner Year

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Unity Festival crowd 2017The crowd at last year’s Unity Festival in Muskegon The 18th annual Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon has assembled one of its top headlining artist groups ever.

With the Aug. 8-11 line-up of David Crowder, MercyMe, Casting Crowns and For King & County, the Unity gathering has arguably the strongest top-of-the-bill offering of any Christian festival in the Midwest.

"We work on it quite far in advance, and this year fell together especially well and the response has been tremendous," said festival director Kevin Newton.

Tradition Meets Unconventional: Beer & Hymns Combines Quaffing a Pint with Robust Hymn Singing

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Beer  Hymns logoThere is no church steeple, altar or pulpit. Instead, it's a crowd of people who recently packed into the Last Chance Tavern & Grill in Southeast Grand Rapids to sing some of Christianity's oldest hymns while quaffing a beer or two.

Welcome to Beer & Hymns, a family-friendly gathering of people that's connected to a larger movement that started in 2006 at the Greenbelt Festival in England where people were invited to raise their pints and sing some hymns. Beer & Hymns has since mushroomed worldwide.

It's clear the local Beer & Hymns enjoys a reputation that precedes itself since the first time people started belting out hymns at the Last Chance in December 2015. Back then, around 30 people gathered to sing Christmas hymns, said co-owner Tom Eastman. Today, an average of 80 people of all ages show up.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Written by Edwin L. Carpenter on . Posted in Local

mrrogersHe was unique. Tall and thin, with a gentle and distinctive voice, Fred Rogers was the television host for children for many years, as a pioneer of television in the fifties and stretching into the 2-K century. His long-running and award-winning TV show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, ran for 31 seasons--during the years 1968 to 2001. Now, his story is told in this new documentary.

The film opens with black and white scenes of Mr. Rogers from 1967. He begins by talking about modifications and how that the children will have to go through modifications in life. He sits at the piano, tickling the keys, and mentions that it is difficult to go from the key of C to the key of F on the piano, and that his young viewers will face times in their lives that will require modifications that will be difficult. He was, from the outset, a teacher.

Stress less

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornDan SeabornSomeone once shared with me that the word stressed is desserts spelled backwards. But I don't think anyone finds anything sweet about stress. In fact, more often, stress leaves a sour taste in our mouth.

The more people I talk to the more I understand that we live in a world of stress. We stress over our children, we stress over our marriage, we stress over our job, we stress over our pets, we stress over our grass, we stress over our shoes, we stress over our hair and we stress over how much stress we are under!

I've discovered that pretty much everybody faces stress, so I wanted to provide you with a couple of tips and ideas on how you might deal with the anxiousness you feel.

Brittany Jacobson’s Created Free Ministry Earns Trust of At-risk Women

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Created Free No. 1Brittany Jacobson: “We love them where they’re at.” Brittany Jacobson was 19 years old when a Women At Risk (WAR) International conference she attended in Chicago gripped her conscience.

WAR peels away the underbelly of human trafficking so at-risk women and children can experience freedom from what the U.S. Department of Homeland Security defines as a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people that forces them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation.

"I felt really compelled to do something after we left," said Jacobson, now 24 years old.

Gaither Vocal Band & Friends Headline Concert

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Gaither Vocal Band 2017Bill Gaither (center) and the Gaither Vocal BandGospel music maven Bill Gaither keeps hearing the same comments each time there's a line-up shuffle in his famed Gaither Vocal Band.

"They say, 'Every time you make a change, we think...oh, you lost something special,'" said Gaither, 82, from his Alexandria, Ind. office.

"But they also say, 'You always surprise us...' And they are loving this current group."

After last year's departure of long time tenor David Phelps, singer Reggie Smith signed on with the Grammy Award-winning quintet. Smith is no stranger to Gaither's "Homecoming" array of artists – he and his wife Ladye Love Smith have sung with Gaither's wider group of artists for the last 18 years.

Master Arts Theatre Looking to New Home

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

MAT new - outdoor viewThe current Good News Baptist Church will be the new home of Master Arts Theatre. They're working carefully on the real-life script. And if all goes well, Master Arts Theatre (MAT) will complete the journey of taking the stage at a new location.

"There are so many advantages at this new site," said Tim Van Bruggen, executive director of the faith-based, community theater group.

Since 2001 Master Arts has labored in a small headquarters/performance space tucked away on 77th St. just east of S. Division Ave. The theater group rented the facility, did some renovations, and eventually purchased it outright. But over the years its limited audience seating, lack of storage, non-accessible areas and parking challenges combined to crimp the growing theater ministry.

Christian Is Not The Same As (Fill In The Blank)

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

rexsat7Dr. Rex M. RogersIt should be obvious, but apparently it is not. "Christian," by which I mean naming Christ as Savior and living with a Christian worldview based upon Scripture, is not ipso facto the same thing as Conservative or Liberal, Republican or Democrat, even gender, race, ethnicity, or nationality.

The degree to which one equates Christian with any of these is the degree to which he or she dilutes the power of Christian faith and the ability to critique and to speak truth to power.

First Century Christians knew this. On the one hand, the Apostle Paul enjoined Roman Christians to "be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established," and to not rebel, to pay taxes, and to give those in authority honor and respect (Romans 13:1-7). On the other hand, the Apostle Peter said, "We must obey God rather than human beings" (Acts 5:29), preserving for the faith its special higher station. Jesus referenced a similar thought saying, "So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Matthew 22:21).

Teen Author Urges Young Readers to ‘Stand Beautiful’

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

IMG 2903Chloe Howard has faced hard things in her 18 years. She was born with a club foot and has gone through several intense surgeries, yet she was always told by her parents "that I was beautiful and special and that God made me for a purpose," she said.

It wasn't until she was assaulted at her small Christian school that she saw her foot as something negative. When two girls forcibly removed her shoe and showed her foot to friends, they turned what Chloe always thought of as uniquely hers into an object of shame.

The police got involved and, eventually, the two girls stood trial. No asking for forgiveness, to apologizing, no moving forward. She was "Chloe the Victim," she says in her new book "Stand Beautiful: A Story of Brokenness, Beauty & Embracing It All," recently released by Zondervan. Until Chloe met Bono after her dad entered and won an online contest. Yes, that Bono.

That Bono said, "You stay available for work, and the work will wash over you."

Terry’s Picks: July 2018

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-related entertainment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for July. Each is part of a greater community celebration.

Liz Haan’s Marie La Mode Boutique Follows Family Legacy of Faith in God

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Marie La Mode Cutline No. 1-1Liz Haan is an passionate fashionista. Liz Haan is a goal setter. Following the grand opening of her boutique, Marie La Mode at 910 Cherry St. SE in Grand Rapids, Haan set a weekly sales target for her 1,500-square foot store.

But at the close of a recent week, it appeared she would fall $400 short of that goal.

And then at the 11th hour, a couple walked into her women's clothing store and — wait for it — purchased $400 worth of merchandise.

But what the 29-year-old Haan gained wasn't just making ends meet, but another lesson in faith.

"I was worried and wasn't trusting You," said Haan. "You sent in a couple and it was perfect a little reminder You're still here still paying attention."

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