Christian Rap/Hip-Hop Tour Lands in West Michigan

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

KB  purpleIt's one of the biggest road shows in Christian rap/hip-hop – the Unashamed Forever Tour – back after a six-year hiatus with an all-star lineup of faith-based artists. Headlined by the award-winning Lecrae the tour features a variety of talents all under the Reach Records label.

One of those artists is KB (Kevin Burgess, pictured), who says the roster comes together under a cohesive theme.

"It's about the eternal aspects of our existence and what we do that impacts that," said KB, 30, from Nashville. "There's a universal message about being unashamed, and I think every artist in their unique way is beating that drum."

There will be plenty of on-stage collaborations as well as some solo time. "We've put together something special that a lot of folks will enjoy," he promised.

They're off to a good start – the first two weeks worth of shows were sold out in major markets such as Houston and Atlanta.

Musically Weaving Their Way

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Big Daddy Weave table shotMike Weaver (center) and Big Daddy Weave Mike Weaver said his band's new music fits hand-in-glove with the artists' renewed outlook.

"A lot of things were hitting us, but this has been like the Lord saying we've turned the corner," said the lead singer of the inspirational-pop group Big Daddy Weave.

It's been nearly four years since the band issued its last album. But after a stretch of life challenges, their new ballad "Alive" has been released and will be followed by an entire new collection later this year.

"This is a season of rest, even as we're touring," said Weaver, 43, on the phone from Nashville.

Big Daddy Weave comes to Hudsonville for a performance on March 29.

Degage Ministries ‘excited’ to Launch $6 Million Project

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Degage New Building Cutline No. 1An exterior rendering of Degage’s construction project.More space to shelter distraught women. A larger dining room. A surgical recuperating area. And a new kitchen to bake more of those hard-to-resist Pauls' Mom's Cookies.

Degage Ministries is moving forward with plans to expand services to the area's homeless and low-income families, made possible by a $6 million construction project.

"We feel strongly that God is calling us to this bigger role and now is the time," said Marge Palmerlee, Degage's executive director. "We need to be able to address those immediate needs and not have people sleeping in their cars, on the street and under bridges. We're excited to be able to address those needs that have been identified in our community that is vital for health and welfare."

Construction will start in the spring and take about a year to complete. The goal is to keep serving people during construction, Palmerlee said.

"The plan is to not have to shut down," she said.

More to “The Breakup Song” Than Meets The Ear

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Battistelli Francesca - Main Press ImageFrancesca Battistelli performs March 24 in Holland Singer-songwriter Francesca Battistelli wondered how listeners would react to "The Breakup Song."

"I loved that it caused them to think...where is she going with this?" she said of the anthem on her latest album.

No, it's not the story of a past relationship or any kind of romantic entanglement. Instead, it's a musical statement rejecting fear and its undue influence in a determined believer's life.

The song's music video  with more than 10 million views, depicts a phone call in which the artist tells fear that "you don't own me" and "the no vacancy sign on my heart is lit up."

The New York native showcases the song on her tour which comes to Holland, Mich. on March 24.

“Church Basement Ladies” Return For More

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Rise Up O men - threesomePastor Gunderson (center) deals with both Carl and Mavis in “Church Basement Ladies: Rise Up, O Men” Attention church basement ladies everywhere. The men are about to engulf your territory!

That's the humorous premise of "Rise Up, O Men," the sixth installment of the popular stage musical-comedy series "Church Basement Ladies."

"The roosters have invaded the henhouse," smiled executive producer Curt Wollan from a stop in Palm Springs, CA.

The production comes to Byron Center's Van Singel Fine Arts Center on March 26.

The setting is familiar to long time fans: East Cornucopia Lutheran Church in rural Minnesota back in the 1950s and 60s when church basement kitchens were a social hub with their own pecking order.

Starlight Ministries Helps Transition Grieving People on the Road to Healing

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Starlight No. 1From left: Gwen Kapcia, director of program development and a certified thanatologist and executive director Bev Thiel say the goal for Starlight Ministries is to serve as a path through people’s pain so they can see God working in their lives.Greg and Jolynn VanWienen's 10-year-old son Seth was killed in November 2007 when a car struck him while he was crossing a road.

It was the death of their son that birthed in 2009 the Hudsonville-based Starlight Ministries, a Christ-centered peer-to-peer support nonprofit that meets people where they are in their pain without judgement. Starlight also has an outreach in the Muskegon area. Meetings are held at area churches in both locales.

Starlight initially started as a balm solely for grieving kids, but its focus soon expanded to other ages, said Bev Thiel, Starlight's executive director.

"It started for just kids but within a few short weeks the parents were all waiting in the other room supporting each other while the kids were in group so they added the adult group right away," said Thiel.

Artist Dealing With Life Elements

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Toby Mac fedora and Tshirt"Evidently we just can't get enough of Grand Rapids," said singer-songwriter TobyMac, on the phone from near his home in Franklin, TN.

He's returning to West Michigan March 10 with his "Hits Deep" tour at Van Andel Arena (details below). That's barely a year after performing there to a sold-out crowd. Plus his visit last September during the Luis/Andres Palau CityFest. "We love us some Grand Rapids," Toby grinned.

But this time he's coming with a new album, "The Elements," released last fall. His previous project, "This Is Not A Test," came in 2015.

PRC’s Cradles of Grace Nurtures Sense of Community for Single Moms

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cradles of Grace Cutline No. 1In the foreground stands Marissa Gonzales, Pregnancy Resource Center’s support manager and behind her, Beverly Zahl, PRC’s client services director. The women affirm Cradles of Grace is a bridge for single mothers to find the strength of community. They have chosen life instead of abortion, yet for many pregnant women and single moms the question that still looms over them is: what now? The Pregnancy Resource Center's Cradles of Grace (COG) has some answers.

Meeting weekly at different times and locations in the Grand Rapids area, COG affords pregnant woman and single mothers an opportunity to realize the strength that comes with being a member of a community of like-minded people.

Gatherings start with sharing a provided meal while their children are taken care of, followed by Bible studies, goal-setting strategies, and encouragement for healthy life choices.

Forgiveness, Like No Other Power On Earth

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

forgiveYour son steals the family car and eventually calls three weeks later from three states away. Your spouse has been unfaithful. Your pastor absconds with several thousand dollars of your church's funds. You are the focus of a slanderous attack that undermines your reputation. Your business partner finds some way to cheat you, legally, and walks away with your investment. Your father or mother have been gone for two decades, but you're still haunted by the memory of how one or both wronged you.

The "normal" response pattern to any and all of these circumstances might include disbelief, hurt, anger, bitterness, and maybe vengeance. Some people might even argue that such emotions are justifiable and understandable.

People expect a certain amount of "righteous anger." It's a part of our American code of individualistic ethics. Kill or be killed. Hallowed self-defense. John Wayne rides again.

Comedian Returns to His GR Hometown

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Michael Jr. 2019For comedian Michael Jr., it's all about coming home.

"I get to come to my hometown – my brother and sisters are all around the area and it's gonna be great," said the Grand Rapids native from his home near Dallas, TX.

Michael brings his "In The Moment" comedy tour to Grand Rapids First Church on Sunday March 3 (details below).

It's right here in West Michigan where the Ottawa Hills H.S. grad honed his comedy chops – his second ever "club" date was in the old Comedy Den in Cascade Township.

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