A Look Behind the Leader: Marie Elzinga of Pathway Community Church, Byron Center

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in People

Marie-Elzinga-worshipleader-introMarie Elzinga, music coordinator at Pathway Church, doesn’t have to go far to report to the church pastor.

Steve Elzinga, Pathway’s lead pastor, is also her husband.

“We communicate about what he has planned for the following week and I help make sure we gets things done,” said Marie about her worship responsibilities.

Among those are selecting and preparing music – transposing chords and writing lead sheets for worship team members – planning the weekly rehearsal and making sure everyone is “on the same page.”

Pathway has a single Sunday morning worship, in generally a blended style.     

A Look Behind The Leader: Jordan Koller of Ridgepoint Community Church

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in People

Koller JordanJordan Koller spends much of his time planning and executing Ridge Point Community Church's "weekend experience." "That's what we call our worship ministry," explained Koller, worship arts pastor at the large church just east of Holland, Mich. whose facility is easily visible from the I-196 expressway.

The Michigan native is responsible for leading the church's three nearly identical worship services: 6 p.m. Sat. and 9 and 11 a.m. Sun.

Koller has two full-time and two part-time staffers in the worship-music department as well as a couple of interns plus volunteers. Typically there are 8 to 10 musicians up on the platform in their worship ensemble.

"Two electrics and an acoustic (guitars), percussion set, bass and keyboard, one or two extra vocalists, and we also try to incorporate other instruments," said Koller of the occasional violin, cello, mandolin or harmonica.

Christians in Business: Dave Smies

Written by Amelia Rhodes on . Posted in People

Dave-Smies Headshot-introSoon after college, Dave Smies entered the industrial real estate business. After five years working for two gentlemen from his church, Smies started his own company, Grand Real Estate. “I said I’d never have employees, but God had other ideas,” Smies recalled. Learning to listen for God’s plan became a theme for Smies over the years.

After successfully running Grand Real Estate for nineteen years, Smies found himself walking a field in the middle of the night in the dead of January. As Smies walked, he called out to God. The pressure of running a business, loving and taking care of his wife and six children, and being faithful to the Lord had become more than he could bear on his own. Not long after that middle-of-the-night conversation with God, Smies’ oldest employee called to let him know he’d been praying for him. This employee also thought Grand Real Estate should merge with Doug Taatjes and join NAI Global, the largest independently owned, managed real estate network.

A Conversation with Don Piper

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in People

Don PiperDon Piper is author of “90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life,” which tells the story of his death, his journey to heaven, and his return to life. In 1989, his car was hit by a truck on a bridge and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The book, first published in 2004, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Piper was in Grand Rapids recently and talked about his journey and the book, which comes out in July.

WMCN: What made you decide to write “90 Minutes in Heaven” in the first place?

DP: Maybe 18 to 24 months after the accident a friend said, “You look good.” I said, “Compared to what? If you’d seen what I’ve seen, you’d know that this isn’t looking good.” Then I told him about heaven. He responded with “I knew you’d seen something!” I, literally, didn’t have the words to talk about it. I told another friend who wanted to know why I hadn’t told anyone. When I told my wife, she was just happy to have an explanation of why I was acting the way I did. I thought about heaven all the time. I still do. People encouraged me to write about my visit to heaven so I did, 14 years after the event.

WMCN: What question do you hear the most as you speak around the country about your experiences?

DP: People always ask me whether their loved ones miss them. And I always say, “No, they expect you.” There is no time in heaven, so 25 years is nothing. The people already there are expecting their loves ones to arrive.

WMCN: Do people believe your story of being in heaven for 90 minutes before returning to this world?

GR Press Religion columnist puts his best work into new book

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in People

honeyCharles Honey figures he wrote about 900 columns in his years as The Grand Rapids Press Religion editor. Between 1994 and 2009, when he left the Press, he covered religion wherever he found it whether in the high-steepled churches or on the corner stores of Grand Rapids.

Now he’s gathered about 80 of the best of his columns into a new book titled “Faith On First: Thoughts On God, Nature and Sacrifice Bunts” (Freeze Frame Publishing, $14.95).

Ted Conrad Passes Away

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in People

Conrad Bonnie and Ted seatedBonnie and Ted ConradTed Conrad, a long time area businessman, athletic coach and co-founder of the gospel music group The Heralders, died Thursday May 8 following a short hospitalization. He was 83.
     The Grand Rapids native leaves a multi-faceted legacy with family, music fans, area athletes and his role in retirement as an administrator for his Newhall Reformed Church in Wyoming.
     That’s where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday May 12 (further details below).

A Look Behind The Leader: Eddie Mercado of Open Hearts Community Church

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in People

Mercado EddieEddie Mercado has been leading worship for less than nine months at Open Hearts Community Church, an emerging congregation in a diverse, urban area of Wyoming. But he says he already feels like one of the family.

“I love the people here and their willingness to serve," said Mercado during a recent interview.

“I’m having a great time.”

The Gurnee, Ill. native has a part-time position as Open Hearts worship/music leader, which means the bulk of his responsibilities have to do with their 11:15 a.m. Sunday worship.

“Scheduling the worship band and audio/tech guys for rehearsal, choosing and getting the songs ready, looking at the Scriptures, doing arrangements, meeting with the pastor…,” listed Mercado of several of his weekly duties.

A Look Behind the Leader: Greg Scheer

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in People

Scheer Greg Between directing, composing, arranging, teaching and administrating, Greg Scheer has numerous connections with faith-based music.

But his primary role is as minster of worship at Church of the Servant, a Christian Reformed Church congregation on Grand Rapids’ southeast side.

“My position really was crafted to be a combination of my work here and at the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship,” said Scheer of his additional duties as a music associate at the Calvin College-based institute.

Scheer has been at Church of the Servant for eight years. His position there is ¾ time, and he spends a good part of it doing all things worship. He plans music and liturgy and directs various church ensembles, including orchestra, adult choir and a “Guitarchestra” - an orchestra made up of guitar players.

Christians in Business: Letterpress Press Owner Learns to let God Lead

Written by Amelia Rhodes on . Posted in People

0055When Jodi Bos opened her letterpress company, Gwyneth Paige, she didn’t realize how God would use the business to teach her to let Him guide her life.

In 2010, Bos owned a successful event planning business. After struggling to find invitations with the aesthetic and quality she desired for clients, she did what entrepreneurs do: she opened her own letterpress printing and design company, Gwyneth Paige. Bos purchased five presses, all dating between 1915-1925 and debuted custom, couture invitations. The process involves hand feeding thick cotton through the presses, creating what Bos called “little pieces of art.” Fifty locations across the U.S. and Canada began to carry their album of products.

Bos continued Gwyneth Paige as a secondary business, keeping primary focus on her event planning company. On the surface, Bos appeared to have it all – a successful business, high-end clients, and a happy marriage and family. But by late 2012, Bos knew something in her life needed to change. “I was working 20 hours a day, not sleeping well, and had horrific migraines.” She described that time period like living in a pressure cooker. She had allowed work to overwhelm her life, something she said came easily with her type-A personality. “Outwardly, I was so successful and people wanted to be me, but I didn’t want to be me,” Bos recalled.

Christians in Business: Business Coach Seeks to Build People

Written by Amelia Rhodes on . Posted in People

Jay HidalgoIn January of 2013, Jay Hidalgo found himself lacking energy for the new year. In 2005, he started a company that had experienced great success. As his team looked to the new year and new growth, Hidalgo felt a tug in a different direction. Over the next few months, he sought God’s direction. Through a variety of conversations and experiences, Hidalgo heard God answer: I want you to stop building companies and start building people.

In the spring of 2013, he stepped away from day-to-day operations of his company and began to work out what this new calling meant. Examining his experience in starting two companies, coupled with his background in marketing, he believed the idea of coaching aligned with building people. He worked on the concepts over the summer and in the fall of 2013 launched The Barzel Group.

A Look Behind The Leader: Alex Barringer

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in People

Barringer Alex Alex Barringer has been director of worship and music at Georgetown United Methodist Church for less than a year.

“It’s kept me busy, for sure, but I’m liking the people and blending in well with what they’re doing here,” said Barringer, 25, from his church office.

Most of the director’s 35-hour work week is wrapped up in worship – whether planning, selecting music, rehearsing, readying multimedia material or tackling other details.

In fact, recruiting, tracking and scheduling volunteers  for worship and related ministries are his greatest challenges.

“I have to make sure everyone is where they need to be, when they need to be,” he said.

Christians in Business: Technology studio focuses on doing good.

Written by Amelia Rhodes on . Posted in People

agathonFrom the beginning, Agathon Group has focused on “doing good.” In 1999, Alan Ritari and Peter Green, who at the time were co-workers at Gospel Communications, saw a gap between many non-profits’ strategic goals and technical abilities. The men formed Agathon Group as a side business to provide hardware, software and hosting solutions. The pair never intended for the work to be more than part-time. However, by 2003 they realized they had enough demand for Agathon Group to become their full-time jobs.

“Agathon” is a Greek term found in the New Testament meaning “that which is good.” The company seeks to not just be good at what they do, but also to do good things, and enable their clients to do good in their areas of business.

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