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Cornerstone Taps Wyant as WCSG Executive Director

wcsgCornerstone University announced Alicia Wyant as executive director of the university-owned radio station WCSG. Following a national search, Wyant accepted the position to build on the foundation of the radio station and to expand the impact it has for Christ in a growing community.

Wyant previously was a business owner and previously worked at Cornerstone as a switchboard manager, admissions manager, enrollment counselor and director of development. Her leadership experience, business background, and love for the Lord will help launch WCSG to become a digital multimedia leader that empowers and connects with people around the world, university officials said.

Holland Home Leadership Transitions

breukerHolland Home president and chief executive officer Mina Breuker has retired after 23 years serving the region's largest and most diverse senior services nonprofit. Current chief operating officer Troy Vugteveen assumes the president/CEO role. Breuker will transition to president emeritus for three months, allowing for a smooth transition within the chief executive office.

Breuker took over as Holland Home's president in November 2014, after longtime leader David Claus announced his retirement. As part of that planned succession, Claus remained CEO until July 2015, at which time Breuker assumed both president and CEO roles. She has been with Holland Home since 1998.

Hope College Scholar Receives Two National Early Career Awards

van tongHope College in Holland associate professor of psychology Daryl Van Tongeren is the recipient of 10 Under 10 alumni Award and the Margaret Gorman Early Career Award for 2022 from the Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, a division of the American Psychological Association.

Margaret Gorman Early Career Award is presented to one recipient each year whose innovative research in the psychology of religion is marked by scholarly excellence and has implications for theory, practice or further research, and who completed the doctoral degree within 10 years of the submission deadline.

Grand Rapids Urban Ministry’s Offer to Buy Paragon Bowling Center Accepted

paraBase Camp, an urban ministry for kids living in Grand Rapids, has had its offer accepted to purchase the Paragon Bowling Center at 2425 S. Division Ave. for $850,000.

Base Camp is a year-round program that addresses students' educational needs (which includes, but is not limited to, STEM education, literacy education and entry-level vocational training), as well as physical and spiritual needs through Bible studies and worship. Biblical instruction often is fastened with object lessons that keep children engaged, and make the messages relatable.

The ministry reaches out to kids living mainly in the Burton Heights and Roosevelt Park neighborhoods of Grand Rapids. The 30-year ministry has met in several buildings in the Southwest area of Grand Rapids; most recently Solomon's Porch Church in Jenison. It currently temporarily meets at Community Church on near the intersection of 28th St. & Buchanan in Wyoming.

Reflections on a Noteworthy Year

Carman portraitCarman was one of several Christian artists we lost in 2021.Stepping into 2022 allows us some perspective in looking back at 2021. And in the sphere of area faith-based arts and entertainment, it was a year of losses, accomplishments and milestones.

The past year has been dotted with postponements and cancellations, still a factor in this pandemic-era which can't quite seem to let go.

Let's get right into a 2021 review:

The Tapestry of Nicole Hackett’s Life Unraveled in 1988. Faith and Determination Stitched it Back Together

Nicole HackettNicole Hackett: “The fact I am able to walk and talk unnoticed is a miracle in itself.” Nicole Hackett is a determined woman of faith who's experienced her share of twists and turns.

The Flushing resident was 18 years old when her aspiration to come a dancer leaped into her life in 1987. She had won a Joe Tremaine Dance Scholarship, an opportunity that allowed her to travel to Hollywood and, in an unrelated occasion, audition and perform in a Disney-produced commercial.

A total God thing

"I filmed the commercial before my scholarship term was up" recalls Hackett. "It was totally a God thing. I saw a poster for an audition in the same studio that was in a different room that day. I just went there."

That was the planned part of her life.

Unforeseen was a cousin of Hackett's who not only drove her to rehearsals so she could perform in the Disney commercial but also witnessed the good news of Christ's salvation to her, an invitation Hackett accepted.

"I came home on fire for the Lord," recalls Hackett, who will be 52 years old Jan. 15.

Compass College Changes Name

compassChrist-centered Compass College of Cinematic Arts in downtown Grand Rapids announced it has changed its name to Compass College of Film and Media on its 25th anniversary.

The college develops storytellers into filmmakers. It offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in Film and Media and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Cinematic and Media Arts.

Samaritas Launches In-house Rehab Campus

samSamaritas, formerly Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, has partnered with Link Home Therapy (LHT) to launch an in-house rehabilitation senior living campus at 2000 32nd St. in Grand Rapids. LMT will manage the onsite clinic. Now, assisted living and memory care residents can get their rehabilitation services without leaving the Samaritas senior living Grand Rapids campus. The intent is to help residents retain their health and promote a more active lifestyle.

Calvin Receives Grant to Reduce Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault

calvin4Calvin University received a $300,00 grant over the next three years from The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women intended to reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on campuses. Joining them in their effort with be the Grand Rapids Police Department, Safe Haven Ministries and the YWCA.

Mel Trotter Opens 24/7 Overflow Building

melMel Trotter Ministries recently opened an overflow building at 200 S. Division that's available 24/7, just up the street of its flagship ministry. It features a day center, 75 beds, laundry services and storage lockers. Heartside Ministry also will relocate to this location. "Strong" community partnerships helped to make the overflow building possible, said Dennis Van Kampen, president/CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries

DenHollander Awarded Kuyper Prize

denhollanderA leading voice against sexual abuse has been awarded the 2021 Abraham Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Life, which comes with a $10,000 award. Calvin University and Calvin Theological Seminary announced. Rachel DenHollander in 2016 was the first woman to pursue criminal charges and speak publicly against USA Team Gymnastics' doctor Larry Nassar. DenHollander is an attorney, author, advocate, and educator who is recognized as a leading voice on the topic of sexual abuse.

Still Time to Join In on Holiday Festivities

EVENTSMany Christmas-related events happen early in the holiday season – many of them closer to Thanksgiving than to Christmas!

Early in December we enjoyed the annual Hark Up musical celebrations, and have seen holiday concerts from national artists such as Point of Grace at Kentwood Community Church and the giant-sized For King & Country extravaganza at Van Andel Arena. (Unfortunately, the Selah concert scheduled for Dec. 9 in Holland had to be postponed until Jan. 14, 2022).

The Master Arts Theatre production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" completed its holiday run before December was half over.

But there are remaining events celebrating the season, including some living nativities. Here's a partial listing, mostly in chronological order:

Terry’s Picks for December 2021

EVENTSThis is the column in which West Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/events in the coming month. Here are a few Christmas themed happenings:

A Look Behind the Leader: Carter Lezman

Lezman carter tightCarter Lezman, worship pastor at All Shores Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake. For the last two years Carter Lezman has been on life's roller coaster.

The worship pastor at All Shores Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake began his new job in January of 2020.

"I came from a church of 150 to one of 800 to a thousand; and from a volunteer team of 20 to around 70," recalled the Kalamazoo-area native. "The pace of work was a lot faster and more demanding," he added.

Then in March of that year came the COVID-19 pandemic. That brought a whole new set of adjustments for the 28 year-old singer-songwriter. From in-person meeting limitations to online streaming of worship, Lezman and his crew had to roll with the punches and keep things moving forward. That's in addition to supervising his three-person staff, organizing and encouraging volunteers, and keeping connections seamless with All Shores' two satellite campuses in Coopersville and Muskegon.

Manasseh Project Based on Conviction the Community has the Power to Fight Human Trafficking in West Michigan

SBDHer boyfriend was sex trafficking her, a term that was not as well-known 10 years ago to staff members of Wedgwood Christian Services (WCS). They are now, which why the Manasseh Project was launched soon after.

"At that point, we had not heard a lot about trafficking in our community," says Nikeidra DeBarge, WCS Manasseh Project coordinator.

Manasseh Project is a WCS outreach dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of young women and men in West Michigan. Through community education and collaboration, and Wedgwood's Manasseh Project Trauma Recovery Center, the Grand Rapids nonprofit provides support and specialized residential treatment services for victims of sex trafficking.

LEAD 24/7 Develops Needed Leadership Skills for Pastors

Rodger PriceRodger Price: “So many pastors become spiritually dry because they were too busy doing God’s work but didn’t have time to hang out with God.”Rodger Price believes being a pastor is the toughest leadership position around. Not just one of the toughest, but at the top of the list.

Compounding the problem is pastors and other ministry leaders are often not taught in seminary what it takes to be a successful, organizational leader.

That's where LEAD 24/7 comes in.

Stories Come to Life at Church Video Studio

Tiny for 316 siteAnimated characters in “Tiny Ocean Tails,” a series from Studio 3:16Kristen Collier was helping two-year old Mila record her lines for a new video cartoon series.

"She wanted to be just like the bigger kids in Sunday School," said Collier of the toddler's role while working in her church video production room. "So (Mila) pressed the button for the microphone and repeated the words after me."

Collier is one of the on-site production managers at Studio 3:16, an in-house ministry of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, a mile south of GVSU's Allendale campus. And she was teaming up with young Mila on a pre-schooler project called "Tiny Ocean Tails."

Terry’s Picks for November 2021

EVENTSThis is the column in which West Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/events in the coming month – it's a good one for choir music! Here are a several possibilities for November that otherwise might be overlooked.

Pandemic Positives

rexsat7Dr. Rex M. RogersNone of us would pray, "Lord, send us a pandemic." The idea doesn't make sense.

Yet we know God uses adversity to advance his purposes, develop the Church, teach us what we need for the days ahead, and bring glory to himself. God even says we should be joyful in the face of hard times.

     "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know
     that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may
     be  mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).

This occurred to me during Year 2020, our "annus horribilis." What possibly could be good and useful, much less enjoyable about a year – actually a year and one-half and counting – of illness and deaths, slowdowns and lockdowns, masks - vaccines – mandates and controversy, government orders, loss of freedoms, and anxiety?

YWCA is Hire for Hope’s New Community Partner

nbGrand Rapids-based socially conscious recruiting firm Hire for Hope founder Ashley Ward announced its new community partner is YWCA West Central Michigan. Ten % of Hire for Hope's profits will be donated to YWCA to not only empower women who are experiencing domestic violence, but empower and unite all women and eliminate racism. For over 160 years, YWCA has been working to improve the lives of women, girls and communities of color through advocacy, local programming and services.

Calvin Grad Promoted to Rear Admiral

a104Calvin University graduate and Tacoma, Wash. native Dean VanderLey has been promoted by the United States Navy to the rank of rear admiral during a ceremony held at U.S. Pacific Fleet Headquarters on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Rear Adm. Dean VanderLey assumed command as Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Pacific, and Fleet Civil Engineer, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in August. He leads a team of more than 9,000 military and civilian personnel across seven Echelon IV commands and public works and construction offices in over 40 locations along the Pacific coast of the U.S. and across the entire Indo-Pacific theater.

2022 January Series Speakers Announced

a102Calvin University's 2022 January Series lineup includes New York Times best-selling authors, a renowned theologian, a retired four-star admiral, and a popular public television host, are among an eclectic lineup who will use the power of story to humanize some of today's most important and timely issues. The free lecture series, now in its 35th year, is Jan. 10-28.

Speakers include Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers, co-hosts of the popular podcasts, Pantsuit Politics and The Nuanced Life; Max Stossel, an award-winning artist named by Forbes as one of the best storytellers of the year; Colum McCann, an Irish-born international bestseller who is among the world's foremost storytellers; and Brad Montague, a popular storyteller and creator of the hit web series "Kid President," author of the New York Times bestseller "Kid President's Guide to Being Awesome," and an illustrator whose work is regularly featured in Joanna Gaines' The Magnolia Journal.

Chefs Raise Funds Toward Degage’s Capital Campaign

a103Five Grand Rapids' chefs recently came together for a peak-harvest, five course, farm to table dinner to help reduce homelessness in Grand Rapids. "Breaking Bread" benefited Degage Ministries' capital campaign Building Dignity Through Christ, which has already raised nearly $6.8 million of its $7.3 million goal. Chefs who made it possible were Clark Frain, Terra; Armando Suarez, Rose's; Katy Waltz, MudPenny; Devin Cook, Bistro Bella Vita and Amy Ruis, Apperitivo. Each chef prepared one course of the five course meal, featuring peak-harvest produce.

MTM Launches Podcast

a101Mel Trotter Ministries recently launched a podcast titled Everyday Humanity. It is intended to share stories of life transformation through the compassion and unconditional love the MTM staff demonstrates. Episodes will drop each week on Wednesdays and will include interviews with multitudes of people who have been deeply impacted by what it means to experience homelessness.

Visit: https://www.meltrotter.org/everyday-humanity

Inspirational MercyMe Still Imagining

MercyMe 2 vertical-1Nathan Cochran (center) Bart Millard (right) and Mercy MeIt was twenty years ago that the MercyMe song "I Can Only Imagine" was released to an unsuspecting public.

The award-winning ballad, picturing what it might be like to see a departed father in heaven, soared to the top of both the Christian and mainstream music charts. It was a turning point for the upstart band, establishing a solid recording and performing career that has continued with this year's collection "inhale/exhale" and a new tour. (The tour comes to Grand Rapids Nov. 5 – see details below).

But the inspirational-pop band still lives with the echo from its "imagine" ballad of two decades ago.

"That's certainly a song that is larger than us and that people have taken ownership of," said bassist Nathan Cochran during a recent interview. "It's amazing that we will have that kind of legacy song that will outlive us as a band."

"I Can Only Imagine," written by lead singer Bart Millard after his father's death, spawned the 2018 biographical hit movie of the same name, providing another boost for both the song and the band.

Conference to Focus on Ministry of ‘Illusionists’

Magic scarf God is LoveDuane Laflin makes a scarf magically appear from a “secret message scroll” Magician/illusionist Duane Laflin has performed at secular venues on five continents and had extended runs at some of our nation's great "magic" theatres.

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."

FPA to perform C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Great Divorce’

nbFellowship for Performing Arts, a nonprofit New York City-based production company producing theatre and film from a Christian worldview to engage a diverse audience, returns to live theatrical performances in Grand Rapids at DeVos Performance Hall Saturday, Nov. 6, at 4 p.m., with one performance only of the hit national tour of C.S. Lewis' "The Great Divorce."

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!

Faith leaders urge Kent County BOC to support KCHD mask order

nbThe Kent County Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships team recently attended a special meeting of the Kent County Board of Commissioners work session, urging them to require students in pre-K through 6th grade students to wear masks while indoors at school.

"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."

Hospice provider to construct Grief Support Center

nbFaith Hospice is currently raising funds to construct a community-based Grief Support Center at its Trillium Woods inpatient facility in Wyoming. The new Grief Support Center will be better able to serve staff, patients, and the general community. As well, the new space will allow Faith to expand bereavement services, give staff a home base to find support, and enhance training and education for better care. Learn more here: https://faithhospicecare.org/grief-support-center/.

Demand for senior living prompts senior services expansion

nbDemand for senior living services drove Holland Home to undergo a $5.5 million expansion project at its Breton Woods campus on 44th Street near Breton Avenue in Kentwood. Completed recently, the new facility will provide an innovative 19,000-square foot, 15-bed assisted living unit and a 5,400-square foot activity center with a gym and exercise area. The privately funded single-story assisted living unit will be a much-needed addition to the two existing assisted living buildings on the Breton Campus. Each of the existing structures, built in 2015 and 2017 respectively, contain 15-bed units. Meanwhile, as more seniors incorporate iPads, apps and online shopping into their daily routine, they are increasing their risk of online scamming. To help residents understand all the traps and help with password and technology security, Holland Home is offering free educational classes to better equip residents on how to identify and avoid online scams.

Nonprofit starts construction on $10m campus renewal

D.A. Blodgett-St. John's broke ground in mid-August on a $10 million multipurpose facility near the organization's Knapp campus in Northeast Grand Rapids. When finished in late 2022, the new building will serve as the campus cornerstone, as it integrates all children and family services under one roof, an intentional move to improve outcomes for the 7,000 children and families it serves annually. Locating all services onto one campus will save the organization $2 million over the next two decades

New Shoots of Evangelism, Leadership to Soon Sprout for GVSU Students

gvsuRev. Scott Stark: “The microchurch initiative allows us to have another pathway of leadership ministry.” Green shoots of evangelism and new leadership prospects will soon sprout for Grand Valley State University (GVSU) students.

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."

Bulthuis & Crew Poised for Benefit.

Bulthuis Glenn w Hark UpGlenn Bulthuis, shown here performing with the Hark Up HornsSinger-songwriter Glenn Bulthuis has done plenty of benefit shows in his 44-year concert career. But his upcoming Oct. 22 performance with his band the Tonedeafs and Chris Hansen's Brass has special meaning for the veteran musician.

"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.

Movin’ On Up For Ministry

Monroe completed sanctuaryThe Monroe Church worshiping at its new homeIt wasn't a long walk. But it was one to remember.

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.

Persistent Newsboys Back on the Road

Newsboys balconyNewsboys (from left), Jody Davis, Duncan Phillips, Jeff Frankenstein, Michael TaitJeff Frankenstein of the Christian pop-rock band Newsboys is primed to go from pandemic isolation to the concert trail.

"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.

Terry’s Picks for October 2021

nbThis 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 several possibilities for October....

Art of Faith at Art Prize

Jan Maureen and the fear breakerArtist Jan Maureen and her Art Prize entry “The Fear Breaker”Jan Maureen Nosakowski refers to herself as an artist who happens to be a Christian, rather than a "Christian artist."

"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.

A New Stage For Master Arts?

master arts LobbyTim VanBruggen of Master Arts Theatre (center) shows onlookers the lobby of their prospective new home.Master Arts Theatre (MAT) executive director Tim Van Bruggen paused while giving a tour of what could be his organization's new home.

"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.

A Landmark Unity Festival

Tammy TrentTammy Trent sang and shared her story at the 20th Unity FestivalThe Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon completed its 20th anniversary with a look back and a look ahead.

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.

Please Join Us

glennDear Friends:

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.

Terry’s Picks for September 2021

EVENTSThis 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 September....

A life restored. AA’s Big Book, Twelve Steps shepherds Grand Rapids man to sobriety

Cutline randyRandy: “I’m a much more peaceful person.”Editor's note: In keeping with Alcoholics Anonymous' spiritual foundation and tradition, WMCN will identify the person interviewed as Randy.

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.
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