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.
Where meetings are held
COG gatherings are held at area churches as well as the Pregnancy Resource Center's Wyoming location. Times and locations are:
5:30-7:30 p.m., Knapp (Reformed) Church, 4025 Knapp St. NE, Grand Rapids;
9:45 a.m.-noon, Pregnancy Resource Center Family Support Services, 2438 28th St. SW, Wyoming;
9:45 a.m.-noon, CrossWay Community, 3950 Burton St. SE, Grand Rapids;
5:30-7:30 p.m., Ada Bible Church – Kentwood campus, 2045 68thth St. SE;
5:30-7:30 p.m., Faith Baptist Church, 1412 44th St. SE, Kentwood.
Jesus' arms and feet
"We are the arms and feet of Jesus to the moms and we're hoping that the churches we're partnering with come alongside them as well because God ordained the church," said Beverly Zahl, Pregnancy Resource Center's client services director. "Our hope is that moms will become part of a local church because that can help support their needs for the rest of their lives, whereas we're able to be with them for a season, so to speak."
COG's big tent goals include fostering community among the mothers involved with COG with other Chrisitans, as well as potentially the church that hosts its meetings.
"Cradles of Grace is a support program for women who are in pregnancy or single parents to offer a supportive environment for them in choosing life for their baby, choosing Christ for their lives and choosing community in the life of the church," said Zahl.
Not all moms involved with COG have a home church, which is fine, said Zahl.
"Some of the moms have become familiar with the people through Cradle from the church, and they get invited to things at that church," said Zahl. "So our goal is that maybe they would become part of the church.
"A mom who is involved with the program would have a connection point with another Christian woman from the community or that church so she can meet with and ask questions and talk about things and have another Christian influence in her life."
It is critical that mothers who participate in COG experience the openhearted love of Christ, according to Marissa Gonzales, Pregnancy Resource Center's support manager.
"We are trying to be that bridge for them to choose community but then we have had moms who decided to start attending the church where Cradles of Grace is being held at so we are seeing that bridge being gapped a little," said Gonzales. "We're hoping that as Cradles of Grace grows, those bridges will become shorter as well."
Not all Christians understand what a gift it is to a mom to get a meal and to know their children are being taken care of just a couple of rooms down the hall, added Zahl.
"It's such a ministry. I don't want to downplay that, the significance of it, even providing childcare to a single mom," Zahl said.
"We know that probably there are more programs in the local church for married couples than for single moms and so we see a deficit there and we want to help fill that spot."