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Featured Articles

A Graveyard for Churches? Hardly. Redemption Church in Grand Rapids is Where People Meet Jesus

Cutline No. 21Redemption Church Grand Rapids is at 1535 Cambridge Dr. SE.Why launch another church?

That's a question the pastors and elders from Redemption Church in Grandville heard over again when they were mulling the prospect of opening a house of worship in Southeast Grand Rapids.

Actually, some of the comments were downright bleak when area ministers learned the location of its Grand Rapids church plant.

Stars Heading to Town to Film Mel Trotter Story

Dennis-Van-Kampen-Mel-Trotter-CEO-PresidentDennis Van KampenGrand Rapids will soon host well-known film and television star Dean Cain to bring to life the mission and vision of Mel Trotter Ministries, celebrating its 120th year.

Scheduled to film in late June, "One Life at a Time" chronicles the journey of a modern, privileged young man who gets into trouble and as part of his sentence must work at Mel Trotter Ministries (MTM). Flashbacks reveal the story of the real Mel Trotter, an alcoholic petty criminal who decided to, in the winter of 1898, take a train to Chicago, get drunk, and throw himself off a pier.

WMCN Briefs 6/11

nbGrand Rapids ministers decry racism

The Grand Rapids Association of Pastors (G-RAP), a coalition of pastors committed to work towards unity, reconciliation and justice, held a press conference June 4 on the front steps of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, 510 Franklin St. SE, to decry the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.

"The pain of our community is on display — a pain rooted in the sin of racism," said Dr. Timothy Harris of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church. "As ministers, we believe it is the work of the church to pursue justice in the midst of this pain, and we plan to do this work together, across the lines that have divided us."

Pastors from across the denominational, racial, and economic spectrum spoke at the news conference.

A number of Grand Rapids pastors also took part in a peaceful protest on May 30, praying, providing security and adding their voices to the cries for justice. Others took part in the clean up of downtown on May 31.

Grant enables MTM to offer telehealth services

Mel Trotter Ministries has been awarded a grant for an undisclosed amount by the Saint Mary's Foundation that will enable the nonprofit to offer telehealth services to the homeless. The funds make it possible for guests that stay at Mel Trotter to receive accessible medical care onsite by removing barriers that hinder them from receiving care. Services will be billed through insurance and those without insurance will be guided to resources in the community to receive health insurance.

The COVID-19 pandemic made the lack of proper medical care among the homeless population more clear. Implementing telehealth seemed like the right move, but with so many resources going towards COVID-19 response efforts, MTM turned to the Saint Mary's Foundation for assistance.

"We know now more than ever that medical services are being provided in a different way and many providers have moved to seeing patients through telehealth," says Adrienne Goodstal, vice president of community engagement and advocacy. "Those experiencing homelessness might not have the ability to engage with their doctors in this manner due to a lack of technology, understanding how telehealth works and the lack of privacy to conduct a telehealth appointment. Bringing this service onsite is going to allow our guests an opportunity to either become reengaged with their healthcare provider or get connected to a new provider."

Guests at Mel Trotter Ministries can start seeing doctors through telehealth starting June 16. Staff and volunteers at Mel Trotter will assist guests in scheduling their appointments. Appointments can be scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will be held in the medical exam rooms.

Guiding Light maintains Platinum Seal of Transparency

Guiding Light has again been awarded a Platinum Seal of Transparency by GuideStar, the world's largest source of information on U.S. nonprofits.

Nonprofits ranked by GuideStar can qualify for any one of four designations. Of the nearly two million nonprofits the organization tracks nationally, approximately 10,000 are rated Platinum, which is the highest level bestowed by GuideStar. It is shared by less than two dozen of the more than 2,300 nonprofits GuideStar tracks in the greater Grand Rapids area.

"GuideStar is a highly respected organization for measuring and interpreting nonprofits' progress," said Stuart P. Ray, executive director at Guiding Light. "The organization's decision to continue to recognize our commitment to accountability and transparency with Platinum status is an honor."

In the greater Grand Rapids area, Guiding Light joins 19 other organizations in earning Platinum status, including Acton Institute, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Junior Achievement of the Great Lakes, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Civic Theater and a few others.

Founded more than 90 years ago, Guiding Light works to engage God's spirit in partnering with individuals to fulfill their God-given potential through rescue, recovery and re-engagement in the community.

Episcopal churches raise over $200,000 for Michigan food banks

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan will award $220,000 to Michigan food banks to help them respond to the growing need for access to food caused by the COVID-19 virus. Inspired by their desire to help feed the millions of Michiganders who now must rely on food pantries, hundreds of Episcopalians throughout Michigan helped the diocese exceed its initial goal to raise $200,000. Just over a month after the Rt. Rev. Dr. Bonnie A. Perry was consecrated as the 11th bishop, the coronavirus began spreading and Michigan became a national hot spot.

Moved by reports of historically high demand at local food pantries and soup kitchens, Perry called on the people of the diocese of Michigan to respond by putting their faith into action. The diocese combined money from a fund established in 1940 to assist people with tuberculosis, with gifts from All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pontiac and Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills to create a $100,000 fund, and challenged people in the 76 congregations throughout the diocese to match it.

Wedgwood Christian Services Traces 60-year Heritage

Cutline No. 1 Jean  Jim BoelkinsJim Boelkins with his mother, Jean, who co-founded Wedgwood Christian Services when it was known as The Christian Home for Boys.Wedgwood Christian Services (WCS) is celebrating its 60th anniversary thanks to two women who firmly believed there was a better way to reform boys who were placed in the juvenile detention system.

LaGrave Christian Reformed Church members Jean Boelkins and Dorothy Huizenga decided in 1960 to launch The Christian Home for Boys, and make it a place that would provide grace-filled care and hope.

"They asked their pastor, Jacob Eppinga, to tour this facility and find out what it looks like it in," says Vivian TerMaat, WCS's chief advancement officer "He went there and he couldn't sleep for two nights. 'It was miserable,' was his words. Jean and Dorothy said, 'Let's come up with something better and staff it ourselves and have a healthy home life and teach them basic skills to succeed in life and talk about their faith.

Terry’s Picks for June 2020

EVENTSThis is the monthly column in which I offer three "picks" from inspirational concerts, arts, or other enrichment opportunities happening through the month.

As you know, the last few months have been challenging in tracking a revolving landscape of cancelled, postponed, rescheduled, or re-rescheduled events: The calendar has been a rolling wave of various COVID-19 related announcements.

Here's the latest at press time for a sense of what June is bringing...... and a touch of beyond:

WMCN Briefs 5/19/2020

nbWest Michigan Christian News Briefs

Editor's note: Manna Media/West Michigan Christian News continues its new feature of reporting topical information related to the regional Christian community.

Our Daily Bread Debuts Podcast for Christian Women

God HearsHerPodcastGod Hears Her, a new podcast from Our Daily Bread Ministries, offers Christian women a place to connect and explore the truth that God hears, loves, and sees them. Hosted by Elisa Morgan, former president of MOPS International and cohost of the radio program Discover the Word, and Eryn Eddy, founder of the lifestyle clothing brand So Worth Loving, God Hears Her debuted May 11.

The first season includes 12 episodes released each Monday on all podcast platforms including Google Play, Spotify, and iTunes, as well as via the website www.godhearsher.org. Each episode runs about 30 minutes and features personal stories from the cohosts and occasional guests. Season one will include guest appearances by Christian thought leaders Margaret Feinberg and Philip Yancey.

Unity Festival Rescheduled for Next Year

UnityLogoSeveral factors combined to lead officials to call off the 2020 Unity Christian Music Festival.

"It became clear that we were not going to be out of the woods with all the social restrictions anywhere close to festival time," said Unity director Kevin Newton of the four-day Muskegon event originally planned for August.

"The reality is there's no way we could do an event like Unity this summer."

Newton had hoped to wait until June to make a final decision. But to delay making that call would tie up vendors, suppliers, technicians and others who would quickly need to find other options.

WMCN Briefs

nbEditor's note: Manna Media/West Michigan Christian News introduces a new feature to its website that will report topical information related to the regional Christian community.

Terry’s Pics for May, 2020

EVENTSOnce again, the scrambling of the calendar by COVID-19 has caused havoc in attempting to list coming events.

For May let's mention some events which were originally scheduled for this month and have been either cancelled or postponed. Some have been re-scheduled.
There are some events – especially near the month's end – which were still up in the air at press time and are not listed here.

Everything-Is-Politics Is No Way To Live

rexsat7Dr. Rex M. RogersIt is now virtually impossible in the U.S.A to make a statement—about almost anything—without someone assigning it political or ideological or partisan bias or intention. In other words, everything-is-politics.

This reminds me. A few years ago, on a Middle East trip I engaged in a What if? discussion considering how a Christian ministry should respond to several hypothetical regional incidents. How could a Christian ministry maintain its testimony and advance its mission in its response to current events?

For example, what if—God forbid—the child of a Middle East/North Africa (MENA) country leader suddenly died? What should or could a Christian ministry say publicly about this kind of heart-wrenching development?

At first glance it seems obvious. Shouldn’t we attempt to demonstrate Christian love by grieving with those who grieve? Wouldn’t we share the family’s sadness and communicate public condolences? —Even if the ruler involved was an autocrat or ruthless dictator, clearly not a friend of human dignity, freedom, or the Church?

Penchant for Drawing Illustrates President of AMDG Architects’ Resolve to Help Others

Cutline No. 1-81Peter Hugo Baldwin: “The premise that all lives, all people, matter to God, resonates with how Michelle, my wife, and I understand God’s view of the world.”There are people whose lives have been changed for the better because Christians in Peter Hugo Baldwin's life encouraged him to engage his imagination and create visuals in some out of the ordinary places.

His continual need to sketch could have been frowned on during elementary school and at the church his father was pastor of, Christ Church Presbyterian Church in America, but he was fortunate in more than one way.

On Sundays, Baldwin took with him a "huge" roll of paper that his grandmother sent to him as a present, so he could take it to church and draw on it when his father started to preach his sermon.

And draw he did, to his heart's content, despite askance looks by some parishioners. Today, Baldwin realizes growing up as a preacher's kid has shaped his Christian faith as an adult, and provided him with insights the average person sitting in a pew doesn't ever see.

Game Show Network Ventures Into Faith-Based Territory

master Minds long shotBrooke Burns (center) hosting the game show “Master Minds”The Game Show Network (GSN) has taken another step connecting with faith-based TV viewers by shouldering a major sponsorship of the new podcast by Christian music maven Bill Gaither.

"More Than The Music," hosted by the Grammy-winning artist, debuted online April 20. It features interviews by the Grammy-winning artist of figures whom he has collaborated with or been inspired by in his long career.

And in previous moves - over the last several months the TV network has welcomed church-affiliated contestants and inserted Bible and similarly-themed questions throughout its original programming line-up.

Music Artists Pitch In for Bethany

Schultz Mark at BethanySinger Mark Schultz performs in his garage as part of the multi-artist “Not Alone Live” benefit for Bethany Christian ServicesJuan Fernandez of Bethany Christian Services knew it would be lot of work to plan and produce a "virtual" fundraising concert for his non-profit organization.

"We started making music artist contacts," said Fernandez, vice-president for marketing and communications for the Grand Rapids-based family service agency.

"My first call was to Mark Schultz," he said of his inquiry of the popular Christian singer-songwriter. "I got three words into it and his agent said, 'We're in,'" Fernandez recalled.

The grand result of all the work was ten different music artists and guest presenters joining in for the April 14 unveiling of "Not Alone Live," an online concert benefitting Bethany's COVID-19 Emergency Fund.

Access of West Michigan’s Shared Mission Provides Essential Aid to Churches’ Neighbors. Walk For Good Food is May 3-13

Cutline No. 1-8aWalk For Good Food will be accomplished with social distancing in mind.The coronavirus pandemic has produced seismic changes in the way people live. But what remains a constant are low-income people's continued need for the basics in life, a reality heightened these days through a loss of income and access to food. The Christian nonprofit, Access of West Michigan (AWM), is working to meet the challenge in helping the vulnerable living in Kent County.

Even so, AWM also has had to make changes of its with its annual Walk For Good Food, scheduled May 3-13.

The former Grand Rapids Area Center For Ecumenism founded the Walk For Good Food when it was known as the Hunger Walk. AWM took over the fundraiser 2011, which sees an average of 700 people to lace up their shoes to hoof it for this worthy cause.

Big Ticket Shifts Festival Dates

4Kac center stage at BTFFor King & Country performed at a previous Big Ticket Festival In what could be termed a "proactive" move, the organizers of the Christian music Big Ticket Festival (BTF) in northern Michigan have moved the calendar for their event from June to Labor Day weekend.

"The way it's going right now, most all of the major events in June are being cancelled or postponed," noted festival director Drew Spanding of actions to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

"We were blessed to have the last weekend of the summer still open here (Otsego County Fairgrounds in Gaylord), giving us the flexibility to move the dates," said Spanding.

Holland Couple Emerges as a Musical Duo

Lady  GentlemanNecia and Jon Ornée are Lady & Gentleman His band AG Silver went on hiatus eight years ago. But singer-songwriter Jon Ornée finally has another musical enterprise. And he didn't have to go far to find a new collaborator.

Jon and his wife Necia have formed Lady & Gentleman, a pop-folk-rock duo which has already debuted its first new song and music video. And they've just released a follow-up tune.

"I just can't not write music," said Ornée, 38, of his artistic orientation. "I've written a lot of songs that are relatable to everybody, but now they impact my own family," noted the father of two.

Master Arts Theatre Goes “Off Script”

Van Bruggen TimothyMAT executive director Timothy Van BruggenLike many other non-profit organizations, Master Arts Theatre (MAT) has been scrambling in the wake of non-essential business closings and shelter-in-place guidelines, thanks to the coronavirus.

One of the casualties: the faith-inspired company's spring production of "Enchanted April" will not take the stage.

"We had a beautiful cast and had just started rehearsals," noted MAT executive director Timothy Van Bruggen. "It's one of the most touching plays I've ever read."

The theatre group, with offices/performance space in Byron Township, had already been forced to cancel its March 20-21 Lenten presentation of the play "The Seven Last Words of Christ."

Movement West Michigan Serves to Unite Christians to Combat ‘stubborn’ Spiritual, Social Problems, including Coronavirus Pandemic

Cutline No. 1-8Lynn Kotecki: “This is about relationships, this is about trust, it’s about authentic conversation.”Lynn Kotecki, executive director of Ottawa County-based Movement West Michigan (MWM), believes in the power of unity.

"What the Movement is attempting to do is unify the Christian body," Kotecki says. "He (God) told us 2,020 years ago to come together. It can take us a long time to learn. And everything our Lord tells us is to come together and we're doing that. The key is: Can we continue and sustain that relationship to move forward to transform the community."

MWM's vision is to have every community in West Michigan flourish spiritually and socially. Leaders serve as the catalyst to spiritually and socially impact their communities through rigorous research, uniting prayer, unified local leadership and powerful collaboration between diverse sectors.

Local Duo Offering Kids Weekly Learning Videos

kevinkWimee, a popular robot-like character who visits schools with creators Kevin Kammeraad and Michael Hyacinthe, is making his video debut just in time for kids to tune in from home. Wimee's mission is "helping kids build vocabulary skills through creative storytelling."

"We were scheduled to do 100 workshops featuring Wimee and the book 'Wimee's Words,' but Covid-19 hit and we had to suspend our engagement directly with kids," said Hyacinthe, CEO of Wimage, LLC and a veteran working with veterans at Habitat for Humanity. "So, we developed a web series that continues to engage with kids while schools are closed."

Worship the Focus of Collaborative CD Project

Marialke Nate-1Nate MarialkeNate Marialke is standing on the edge of a new creative venture.

"Resound" is the title of a five-song CD collection crafted by Marialke and worship leader colleagues.

"Water's Edge Worship is really a family of worship leaders and (song)writers, explained Marialke, worship arts leader at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland. "And our church is kind of the hub for that right now."

Leaders from at least ten churches around the world are connected to Water's Edge, although just area artists are part of the new live recording.
The all-original release is the second for the working group, which issued a studio project "Forever Overcome," three years ago.

The songs were to be formally introduced in a CD release concert this month at Central Wesleyan, although that has been put on pause by COVID-19 virus concerns.

Terry’s Picks for April 2020

EVENTS2Here's the column in which your faithful West Michigan Christian News writer usually surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month.

But one of many persistent effects of the coronavirus COVID-19 is: for the entire month of April there are simply no events appropriate to the list that I can be sure will go on as scheduled.

So the "April Picks" headline is a misnomer.

The People of West Michigan Need Not To Fear!

fear8In this time when the world is plagued by fear and is searching for something they do not have, we believe we have an unusual opportunity to lead eyes upwards, and we want to take advantage of the opportunity.

We have multiple billboards in high traffic locations with the message of hope. Please pray that people that see these billboards will discover new peace in Christ.

Virus Affects Christian Concert Scene

Newsboys UnitedNewsboys United’s concert in April was one of many postponed or cancelledUsually the announcement looked something like this: "To ensure the safety of our fans, we're announcing the postponement of the remaining dates on the_____ tour effective immediately. We are working diligently to reschedule dates as soon as possible, and we will notify ticket holders immediately of the rescheduled dates."

That was the exact wording used by the promoter in the cancellation of the Newsboys United "Greatness of Our God" tour, which had been scheduled April 18 at Fair Haven Ministries in Hudsonville.

That was just one of a host of concerts – both Christian and mainstream – postponed or outright cancelled in the effort to fight the spread of the Corona virus (COVID-19).

Revisiting Martin Luther’s “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague” Re COVID-19

rex99Dr. Rex M. RogersMartin Luther was one of the greatest Christian reformers, the man who in 1517 called the Roman Catholic Church to account by posting "95 Theses" on Wittenberg All Saints Church door.

But enormously important as this is, though, Luther should also be remembered for his actions and thoughtful response to the dreadful Black Plague – and what his wisdom suggests for us today in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 1300s, the Black Death, also called the Bubonic Plague, swept across two continents, eventually killing half the population of Europe in a short span of four years. Between 75 and 200 million people died and it took nearly two hundred years for the population to return to former levels.

During the 15th and 16th Centuries, various epidemics took more lives in the known populated world. And worse, the Black Death proved episodic, meaning it would die off only to resurge later.

In 1527, the plague came again, visiting Martin Luther's hometown, Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was instructed to leave by his university elector, but he stayed to minister to the sick. Days later, several around Luther had died, while his pregnant wife and others in his household became ill. Thankfully, they survived, as did Luther, but he was asked, even challenged, about the decision he made not to leave ahead of the epidemic.

Upcoming RandyDon Academy to Shepherd Youth Pastors in Servant Leadership

raydonRandy DonGiovanni: “If there’s ever a time we’ve needed youth pastors, it’s today.”Randy DonGiovanni knows youth pastors of all denominations face similar, uphill struggles. That's what makes the upcoming RandyDon Academy essential.

"I feel leadership today is not being taught in the correct way because everyone wants to be a leader, everyone wants to be a pastor, but no one wants to ... do the biblical principle of serving," says DonGiovanni, who's worked in youth ministry for over 30 years in a variety of capacities and is ordained with Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.

Chonda Pierce: Humorously Speaking Her Mind

chonda headshot 11DcT4Q- 2Please Note: The Chonda Pierce event scheduled for Saturday 3/14 has officially been postponed. Promoters are working diligently to provide a new date ASAP, please hold on to your tickets as they will be honored at the new date. If you cannot attend the new date, refunds can be obtained by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Chonda Pierce has revealed the secret to her decades-long run as one of the nation's top faith-based comedians.

"Every time I leave my house I kind of always know how I want the evening to end," she said of the approach to her stage show which treads into hilarity yet retains a relevant message. "I've always worked from the ending first. So I start writing the material and work backwards to the beginning. We've done that for 25 years."

Throughout her career Pierce has shared with audiences bits of her own life journey, which includes bouts with depression, family estrangement and the death of her husband in 2014 following his long struggle with alcoholism. Yet woven through is humorous and hope-filled encouragement.

"My story is my story, there are aspects of it that will always show up," she said.

Upcoming Gilda’s LaughFest

Sapp HenryHenry Sapp Comedy veterans and newcomers alike are joining in on the fun at this year's LaughFest.

The annual West Michigan comedy festival was created by and is a benefit for Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, a non-profit that offers free support programs for cancer victims and their families. (This year's festival is March 5-15; www.laughfestgr.org

And area residents - the stage-savvy Henry Sapp and upstart comic Abbie Lemke - are both performing at various LaughFest events.

Terry’s Picks for March 2020

EVENTS2West Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for March:

Lakeshore Couple Invents New Game to Create Connection

rankDana and Chip Brown noticed that technology—in their own family and across society—is preventing people from connecting. Rather than conversation, there are constant phone checks, games, and responding to emails and texts.

Combine that noticing with both of their creative experiences working with Disney, and they came up with The Rank Game, a brand-new game that "is about you and your people," said the Browns.

The Rank Game features cards listing four items to be ranked in order of preference by a Ranker. Guessers record their guesses as to the Ranker's order, getting a point for each correct answer. For example, one card says Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter so the Ranker ranks which he or she likes best to least, with Guessers trying to guess correctly. A new Ranker ranks for the next round, and so on.

Show Up in Your Own Story, Debut Author Says

remorBeth Fisher learned the hard way how to show up in her story, to be who she was created to be. Now she shares her journey and offers encouragement in her debut book, "Remorseless: Learning to Lose Labels, Expectations, and Assumptions Without Losing Yourself."

"I had to fight my whole life to be who I knew God created me to be, to not succumb to assumptions," said Fisher, who lives in Ada. "I spent so much time defending who I was. Turns out God knew all along who I was."

One of her dreams was to write. The desire was always there, but the timing was not. It took her daughter Olivia encouraging her to do what she always wanted for Fisher to take a sabbatical from her high-powered sales job. Fisher thought the request to spend time with her during Olivia's post-college gap year was facetious.

"When I asked her why, Olivia said that this was probably the last time we'd live together as a family so maybe I could stay home and write my book," said Fisher, which she did. It released last month.

Local Colson Center Mission Director: Need to ‘re-evangelize’ Church Still Essential

chuckcolsonChuck Colson went from being Nixon’s hatchet man to Christ’s ambassador. The late Chuck Colson was a hard-charging man before and after he became a Christian.

It's the "after" that convinced Colson how vital it is for Christians to make an impact in the public sphere. And although he died nearly eight years ago, his life's focus is all the more important, says Jeff Rogers, director of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Rogers is based in the Grand Rapids area.

Colson is perhaps best known for serving as Special Council to President Richard Nixon, and was once known as the 37th President's "hatchet man." Colson, who served seven months in a federal prison for obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal, was not the same man when he became a Christian in 1973, according to Rogers.

Pat Barrett and His “Good, Good Father”

Barrett Pat studio2020"I'm at the mercy of the moment in my songwriting," said Pat Barrett, 35, during a recent phone interview.

His first consideration: "What do I need to sing right now about what I'm walking through in life?" posed the worship leader/recording artist.

"And if (the songs) end up helping people in some way like they've helped me, it's wonderful."

That's how his signature praise anthem "Good, Good Father" emerged from his creative process.

The song, with its can't-miss chorus hook, was a result of a session with co-writer Tony Wood. "It came along at a time we needed to see God and ourselves in a healthy way," Barrett said.

Bestselling Authors Launch New Books at Story Hour

LittleMole8Children's story hour at Baker Book House plays host to two top children's authors, both with new books to share. Crystal Bowman and Glenys Nellist will be at the bookstore on Thursday, March 19, at 10:30 am to read from their new books with Easter themes.

Nellist, who lives in Dearborn, is author of "Little Mole Finds Hope," newly released by Beaming Books. It is the gentle tale of Little Mole, who is feeling bad inside and doesn't know why. His wise mother realizes he needs hope and takes him on a journey to find hope in a flower bulb, bare branches, and a chrysalis.

"I wanted to explore the idea that there is hope but sometimes it's hard to find," said Nellist. "Hope is found in the dark places like a bulb under the soil. It can be found in the darkest places."

Trauma Survivor’s New Book Offers Help, Hope, Healing

addictedPaula Jauch's past threatened to undo her. Her childhood filled with neglect, abuse, addicted parents, learning struggles; her teen years in a gang and as a young mother of two; her years in an abusive relationship. By age 21, she had three children and was struggling to survive.

Then one day she shut herself in the closet of her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, and contemplated suicide. Her son, age 6 at the time, opened the door and cried, "I hate you, Mommy. All you do is cry." It took a child's honesty and nudge from outside herself to cry out, "If you are real, I need to know you now!"

God came to Paula Jauch that day and changed her life. Not immediately and not without lots of work on her part, but today Jauch is a different woman intent on helping others overcome their pasts.

Mel Trotter Ministries Partners with JC Films for Movie to be Filmed in Grand Rapids

Cutline No. 1Mel Trotter Ministries in downtown Grand Rapids is partnering with a faith-based production company to create a film tentatively titled "One Life at a Time." The movie's focus is to give God glory and tamp down the misconceptions of homelessness in West Michigan.

The movie will be produced by JC Films and filmed entirely in Grand Rapids. It will star Dean Cain, best known for playing Clark Kent/Superman in the TV series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman."

Magic in the Church?

Flom Justin circular cardsJustin Flom "You wouldn't think magic and that kind of entertainment would be done in church circles," admitted Justin Flom, a world-class magician who has "Christian magic" shows in his repertoire.

Flom, just 32, has appeared internationally, on network television, concert/entertainment tours and at large corporate events.

"But when I'm in a church I use magic to communicate a lesson, kind of the same way Jesus used parables."

And so he does, even though his "stories" contain elaborate slight-of-hand effects and quicker-than-the-eye manipulations.

"My church shows are family-friendly and a wild, fun time," he said. "But there is a special moment when I get to talk about why I do the things I do and what I believe."

Visual Art in Worship: A Model of Collaboration

Jupp ReginaArtist Regina Jupp was a presenter at the Calvin Symposium on WorshipArtistic expression in the church is often associated with performing: music, dance or drama.

But the visual arts – painting, sculpture, use of fiber, cloth and linen, photography, graphic arts, etc. - also come into play in glorifying God and emulating his creativity.

And Regina Jupp knows – that in the church - a collaborative effort is key to the process.

"The more people involved the better," said Jupp, a Chicago-area artist and church/non-profit consultant..

Calvin Gospel Choir Celebrates South Korea Trip

Calvin U gospel choir partuicipate in Korean church worshipThe Calvin U. gospel choir participates in worship in a South Korean church "Our motto in this group is that it's not just a choir but a worship experience," said Nate Glasper Jr, director of the Calvin University Gospel Choir.

And Glasper and his singers have taken that motto to new heights after completing a 15-day performing trip to South Korea. They returned Jan. 20.

"In all the places we sang it was ministry and it was worship," said Glasper, 36. "We sang at 11 worship services; and to sing and engage in congregational worship was probably the major highlight of the entire trip."

More than 30 singers from the choir participated in the tour, held during the University's academic interim. Although their itinerary was well-planned, there were several impromptu moments.

Year-round Woodland Drive-In Church Welcomes People to ‘come as you are.’ 50th Anniversary Planned in June

wood1Pastor Traci Parker holds a photo depicting where Woodland Drive-In Church was once located. Wind, ice and a fresh powdering of snow greeted worshippers during a recent Sunday morning that made driving to Woodland Drive-In Church a bit of a white-knuckle experience. But that didn't stop hearty souls like Solomon McSwain from getting out of bed and giving God praise.

"I chose the drive-in church because it's outside and it gives me a peace of heart," says McSwain, a Grand Rapids resident who's been attending the drive-in church for about a year. "My sister introduced me to the drive-in church. And the first time I went here, I fell in love with it so I've been coming here ever since."

Marvin Sapp’s Next Project In Sight

Sapp Marvin and kids at Grammys Jan 2018Marvin Sapp (2nd from right) and children Marvin II, Mikaila and Madisson at the 2018 Grammy Awards Grand Rapids native and former local pastor Marvin Sapp is recording his next album at his new church home.

The Chosen Vessel Cathedral in Ft. Worth, Texas will be the site for the project, which is aiming for a Feb. 21, 2020 recording session.

"This recording is special to me because I'm doing it in my new home – literally and figuratively," said Sapp, 52, in an earlier interview.

Crowder Gets Into A (Winter) Jam

Crowder D. Van Andel 2019David Crowder opened for MercyMe last October at Van Andel ArenaDavid Crowder likes to glean musical knowledge from a variety of sources. And the singer-songwriter – who headlines this year's Winter Jam tour – has discovered a way to get more of his original songs into his limited stage time on the multi-artist concert bill.

"I've learned from the Reach Records guys down here in Atlanta...like Lecrae and Andy Mineo...they're able to run through like 20 of their songs in 15 minutes," said the Crowder of the faith-based hip-hop artists.

"It's all about how to truncate songs and hit spots that feel the moment, get the high points and move onto the next one.

It's a technique he said he'll use in this year's tour which opened Jan. 10 and comes to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on Jan. 19.
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