But he's also used his craft to share his faith and deliver a Christian message at mega-churches like pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback congregation in California as well as small churches "in the middle of nowhere."
Now he's organized an Oct. 22-23, 2021 conference to educate and equip Christian magicians/illusionists to use their slight-of-hand and other skills to advance the gospel (see details at the end of this article).
"I want to bring the things I've learned to people who want to do ministry," said Laflin from his modest "Grand Magic Theatre" storefront in downtown Colon Mich. "Teaching is a big part of what I do these days."
This updated and expanded version of the original production features four actors portraying 22 vivid characters. They take a strange bus trip from hell to the outskirts of paradise, where they are given an opportunity to stay or return to hell . . . forever divorced from heaven. The choice proves to be much harder than imagined. And it all takes place in 90 minutes!
"We are gathering to support our (Kent) County health officer, Dr. Adam London, and the Kent County Health Department's order requiring pre-K through 6th grade students to wear masks while indoors at school," said Khary Bridgewater, coordinator for the Kent County Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Team. "As leaders in the faith community, we continue to work alongside our health care providers on the frontline of this deadly pandemic by serving the sick, comforting the suffering and burying the dead. We applaud the extraordinary work of the Kent County Health Department in serving all members of our community, including our children."
The Christian Reformed Church in America campus ministry intends to first train GVSU students, with the goal of eventually getting underway microchurches, says Rev. Scott Stark, director of campus ministry at GVSU.
"Microchurches, as we define them, take complex things and make them as simple as possible but they're not simplistic," says Stark. "I'm talking about small communities of people — 5 to 30 people — that are centered around the person of Jesus Christ. They're started by believers but are often designed missionarly in order to welcome de-churched or unchurched people either with shared interests, characteristics, location, and vocation."
"These two organizations (Manna Media and Turning Point Missions) are close to home," said Bulthuis during a recent interview.
Both of the non-profit ministries are headed by members of his Oakhill Presbyterian Church on Grand Rapids' northeast side.
On a mild late-summer Sunday, the congregation of Monroe Community Church (MCC) of Grand Rapids, MI began worship at one location, took a walk and then finished worship down the street.
It was goodbye to its old home and hello to a new one.... just a few blocks down Monroe Ave. NW.
Pastor Jim Boer led his congregation in saying good-bye.
"We probably tour more than a lot of bands and we're used to being in a different city every day," said the keyboardist during an interview from Nashville, TN.
"From there to going nowhere for 16 months....I had always wondered what that would be like," he said.
Spending time at home with family was a good thing. In fact, Jeff and his wife Jennifer had a "pandemic" baby during the interlude – their fourth child. "I didn't have to worry about missing the delivery day," he smiled.
"I guess there are some people in the world who are turned off by the phrase 'Christian artist,'" she said from her southeast Michigan home. "But really, I couldn't do any of my art without Him (God).
Her inspiration is exemplified in her Art Prize exhibit "Safari Series" – four related pieces on display at the lobby of the 234 Market Apartments venue in downtown Grand Rapids (Art Prize runs through Oct. 3 – more info at www.artprize.org).
Jan Maureen (the name she often uses professionally) is a mixed media collage artist and uses various mediums in her two-dimensional work.
"The square footage of this lobby is bigger than our current auditorium," he told onlookers.
"That's a terrible statistic, but it's also funny," he smiled.
The faith-based theatre company has an inside track for a move to the relatively spacious Central Christian Church in the 2500 block of Leonard St. NE near the I-96 expressway.
Four "test-run" August performances in the prospective space were successful with full houses and also drawing a wave of financial donations.
But a sale is not a done deal. A purchase deadline from the soon-to-be-closing church looms and there are zoning matters which Master Arts currently has under consideration.
And also with some words recalling its co-founder and avid supporter Roger Eikenberry, who passed away July 26 at the age of 74.
Included on this year's concert bill were two artists who performed on that very same stage 20 years ago.
It was 2001 when the newly-formed Alive on the Lakeshore organization took a giant step of faith and led in the planning and production of that first, three-day, August festival at Heritage Landing along Muskegon Lake.
Manna Media is partnering with Turning Point Missions (TPM), a nonprofit Christian outreach, for a concert event. TPM is a ministry we love, "TPM exists to provide clean safe drinking water to the people of Haiti and beyond, while introducing them to Christ."
If you have not seen their work I would encourage you to visit their website: www.turningpointmissions.org. Together we are planning a fun evening for you on October 22, 2021. It will be great to get together with friends and enjoy an evening of entertainment. Glenn Bulthuis and the Tonedeafs will be playing the music of the Beatles and more for your enjoyment.
With his flowing white beard and Ben Franklin-style glasses, 60-year-old Randy radiates a peaceful countenance. The reason is as simple as it's profound: the outer man now matches the inner.
Randy gives Alcoholics Anonymous credit for his calmer demeanor and clear headedness. And for this, the Grand Rapids resident readily acknowledges his indebtedness to God.
"Without God's help, I couldn't have done any of it," he says.
Butterball Farms Inc., and Lumbermen's Inc. are participating in Kuyper College's urban WorkPlace Partnership program, which will launch this fall. "A portion of the student's tax-free compensation will be used to pay down tuition, which when added to additional state and federal grants, can help students graduate with little to no debt," said Dr. Patricia Harris, president of Kuyper College. Under the WorkPlace Partner initiative, class schedules are configured to allow students to work 20 hours each week. Presently the college is finalizing partnership agreements with other Grand Rapids businesses.
The committee is composed of individuals with a broad array of experience and gifts who share a commitment to seeing how God's faithfulness revealed through Calvin's new leader.
The gender revolution fight is over, and the new gender ideology has won.
I don't mean we should give up, so to speak. I certainly do not mean we should jettison a biblical understanding of sexuality, and I don't mean we shouldn't speak this truth in love.
I mean: the idea gender is fluid and socially constructed (i.e., immutable, binary biological sex does not exist) is now America's culturally accepted norm. It's a done deal.
Most intellectuals/academics, elite opinion influencers, corporate, and government leaders embrace the new view without question.
Anyone who raises doubts, let alone rejects the new gender ideology, will or can be socially ostracized, cyber bullied, or "cancelled" in the form of a lost job, professional standing, or ruined career.
This is a growing existential threat, for Judeo-Christian values no longer provide a "sacred canopy" over American culture. These historic, foundational values are no longer ascendant or respected or even referenced by a vast cross-section of society.
So false prophets now practice their craft with seemingly little resistance.
This new church plant is getting the word out that it will be a congregation for people of all abilities — meaning those with and without disabilities.
Its inaugural service is Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. It will share space with Monroe Community Church at its new location at 1020 Monroe Ave. NW in Grand Rapids.
"The plan is to keep it at 5 p.m.," says Vander Woude. "We looked at different days and times and that's the best time. We'll look at it again in four to six months and if we need to adjust the day and time, we will."
Born to American-citizen parents in Brazil, Brown developed her love for music from her church choir-director mother and through her own musical studies. She especially loved the grand tones of a pipe organ – something her own church didn't have.
"When I first heard a pipe organ with that wonderful sound I said, 'I've got to learn that instrument,'" she recalled.
He was home-grown in so many ways. Coming of age here in West Michigan, Ken graduated from Wyoming Park High School and Western Michigan University. He spent seven years leading worship/music at Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, followed by many more years serving at Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.
Dull joins the Hackett Catholic Prep family with three decades of experience leading schools and serving communities. He holds degrees in Biology, Philosophy and Educational Administration.
The project is expected to keep 5.4 million pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere - the equivalent of 7.4 American homes being taken off the grid or the carbon sequestered by 3,000 acres of forest in a year, explained Nate Dierlam, a church member who spearheaded the project.
This is the column in which West Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/enrichment events in the coming month. Here are a few possibilities for August...
For the first time in 13 years, the Allegan County Fair will host a Christian concert on its main stage during its September fair schedule.
In a June letter to area churches, fair executive director Saree Miller officially announced a concert line-up of Casting Crowns, David Crowder and Phil Wickham for Thurs. Sept. 16.
Perhaps it's simply part of the post-pandemic surge in live music events. But nevertheless it is significant addition for the area's largest county fair, which dates back to the 1800s.
It's about identity, who we are.
It's not about lust or licentiousness. It's about declaring human beings can create "their truth." It's about idolatry.
If male and female are simply arbitrary categories, then anything goes. Morality, modesty, masculine and feminine don't really exist. We're all just some hybrid social construct.
It's the latest craze that's morphed beyond political correctness to indisputable orthodoxy. Dissent is not permitted. If you ask questions, based upon common sense, biology, a few thousand years of human history, or even religious conviction, you're a bigot, a hater.
Proponents (especially activists) of gender fluidity believe biology is not destiny. In their view, biological sex is mutable, something "assigned" at birth. One's "real sex" is determined by one's feelings about gender, conveniently presented as an ever-lengthening spectrum of choices (some social media are offering 112 gender choices).
For proponents or activists, (most people struggling with gender dysphoria are not activists¹) there is a clear set or steps a person should pursue once they self-identify with a gender that does not align with their biological sex.
"We are moved by the generosity of our sponsors and participants," said Vivian TerMaat, Wedgwood's chief advancement officer. "Coming out of 2020 we were unsure to what level people, businesses, and organizations would be willing and able to be a part of the Charity Golf Classic, but it is clear that our community values this event and cares deeply about individuals and families who are navigating mental, emotional, and behavioral health challenges."
The 2021-22 academic year will be Le Roy's last at Calvin. "I intend to fulfill my duties with integrity and to give my full attention to the advancement of the institution's mission and Vision 2030 in the time that remains," said Le Roy. "I want the community to know that the board has been very supportive of Andrea and me throughout our time at Calvin, and I have full faith and trust that the board will manage this transition well. I have been blessed to work with an excellent team of leaders during my time at Calvin, and I believe that they will be committed to a seamless transition to new leadership.
Moreno-Riaño joins Cornerstone after serving for over seven years as executive vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. There, he was also a tenured professor of government.
The selection of Moreno-Riaño comes after a six-month, nationwide quest coordinated by executive search firm Carter Baldwin. The exploration produced 70 viable candidates, which, after extensive interviews, was narrowed to three names, of which the board unanimously chose Moreno-Riaño.
Safe Haven offers comprehensive domestic violence services throughout Kent County, Michigan. Our 24/7 hotline number is 616-452-6664. We offer emergency safe shelter, nonresidential programming, and education & prevention for the entire community.
Each area Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is made up of local teens who review all grant applications and select recipients based on the organization or project's impact on youth in their community.
The grants from each YAC will support the Children's Hope Annual Fund which makes it possible for Wedgwood to provide 100% donor-funded Transforming Services, including: Recreation & Wellness, Prevention, Manasseh Project Outreach, Employment Training, and Chaplaincy & Young Life.
This recognition comes as Flietstra has announced her retirement this year, leaving behind a legacy of exceptional leadership in the home health care profession.
- Big Tickets Returns
- Terry’s Picks July 2021
- Summer Music Series: Making Room for One More
- Church Concert Series, Outdoor Facilities, a “Gift” to Community
- Christian Organization Statements— Doctrinal, Lifestyle, Position—Then and Now
- Myth Buster: PRC’s Day in Lansing Brings Truth to the Fore
- Terry’s Picks June 2021
- A Look Behind the Leader: Jared Heddens
- Hampton Receives H.O.P.E. Award Posthumously
- Mel Trotter Launches Renovation Campaign
- Hope College Named on of WM’s Best and Brightest
- Degage Ministries’ Female Patrons Receives Free Clothing
- Love N Grace Healing Centers Receives Grant
- MercyMe Returning to Grand Rapids
- Women of Influence: Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom Grier
- Co-founder Affirms Benjamin’s Hope is Fulfillment of God’s Plan for Autistic Adults
- Upcoming Plant 616 Conference Aims to Raise Temperature on Urban Church Planting in Greater Grand Rapids
- West Michigan Singer Leaves Musical Legacy
- Women of Influence: Dawn Scott Damon
- A Look Behind the Leader: Glenda R. Williams
- Terry’s Picks for May 2021
- Wedgwood Partnerships Leads to Xander Bunnies