Women of Influence: Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom Grier

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

DGrierJob Title: Lead Pastor, Pastor of Embracing at Maple Avenue Ministries in Holland

Calling: To be a prophetic voice and a missionary to the Church

Denise Grier has many titles. She's called lead pastor, prophet, mission liaison, mom, foster mom, board member, Mama D, and Big Mama. She happily embraces each one, stepping into her many roles that allow her to reach into the church, community, and individual lives.

"My prophetic role in the Holland community has been key to bringing in like-minded partners around the church," said Grier. "And I get to pastor the greatest people in the world. I'm so grateful God trusts me and gives me innovation and inspiration in my roles."

Grier spent her first five years in foster care, a time she remembers as abusive and traumatic on many levels, before being adopted at age seven with her brother. She grew up in New York City, but moved to North Carolina while in high school. There she "connected to a church and gravitated to the God who loves me," she said. She asked herself, "How are you going to live your life according to how God has designed you?'"

Co-founder Affirms Benjamin’s Hope is Fulfillment of God’s Plan for Autistic Adults

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 101From left: Dave, oldest son James, Benjamin and Krista Mason. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11

Hope is sown throughout the 40-acre Benjamin's Hope, a Christian nonprofit in Holland where 30 autistic adults call home.

Planted are a thriving church, a farmstead and an inspired model for those who live there: Live. Learn. Play. Worship.

"The farm is the fulfillment of what God put in my heart so many years earlier," said Krista Mason, executive director of the nonprofit who co-founded Benjamin's Hope with her husband, Dave. Mason spoke during a recent Zoom talk hosted by AMDG Architect.

Mason recounted how she went through an emotional and spiritual metamorphosis when she learned her son was autistic in 1997

Upcoming Plant 616 Conference Aims to Raise Temperature on Urban Church Planting in Greater Grand Rapids

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 11111111Pastor Chris Hall: “We’re trying to see a movement of new church plants in the urban footprint of Greater Grand Rapids.” Pastor Chris Hall sees the Greater Grand Rapids area bursting with potential when people see themselves as missionaries immersed in the very neighborhoods they lives in.

Hall is among a handful of other local ministers who have locked arms to help birth a movement of planting new churches among the poor in urban Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Kentwood and beyond. That's a key reason why they're hosting their inaugural ecumenical Plant 616 conference slated for May 26. (See end of story for details.) The seminar is for church leaders who believe God is nudging them to establish new church plants.

West Michigan Singer Leaves Musical Legacy

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Sterk Bill largerBill Sterk Both fans and friends are mourning the loss of William "Bill" Sterk, singer and co-founder of the area gospel group The Heralders. Sterk passed away on April 5. He was 82.

They are recalling his clear bass voice that was as deep as he was tall.

Dete Tilma of Byron Center sang tenor with The Heralders for 14 years. He had a long relationship with Sterk both as a colleague and a friend.

"Bill always made us relaxed on stage," recalled Tilma, 68. "When I would play an intro to a song and he wasn't quite ready to come in, he would say 'O Dete, that's so pretty....why don't you play that again?'"

Women of Influence: Dawn Scott Damon

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

Newman 376Job Title: Lead Pastor of Tribes Church; author, speaker, and life and leadership coach

Calling: Help people find healing and positive transformation to become the best versions of themselves, allowing them to live out their God-given identity, vision, and purpose.

Dawn Scott Damon is a busy woman. She's not only lead pastor of Tribes Church, a multicultural church in north Grand Rapids, she's also part of the Freedom Girls Sisterhood, a group of women dedicated to pursuing their freedom in God. Her book "The Freedom Challenge: 60 Days to Untie the Cords that Bind You" helps women find that freedom through study, journaling, and God's Word.

A Look Behind the Leader: Glenda R. Williams

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

williamsGlenda WilliamsWorship during this COVID-era has affected church worship leaders and the people they serve in surprising ways. Even those online.

"I hope that people find ways to worship even if they're not in a physical church space," said Williams, worship leader at Kingdom Life Ministries on Kalamazoo Ave. SE in Grand Rapids.

"People are meant to worship in community, but praise and worship is cyclical," she offered. "Your private worship will pour into your public time and vice versa. You should be 're-fueling' either way."

Wedgwood Partnerships Leads to Xander Bunnies

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Capture114West Michigan Cookie Cutters Haircuts has partnered with Lavender Life Company to give back to kids in residential care at Wedgwood Christian Services.

Through a 'Buy-One-Give-One' program, West Michigan Cookie Cutters Haircuts and their customers are providing kids in Wedgwood's residential care with Xander Bunnies, lavender-filled, therapeutic plush bunnies from Lavender Life Company.

Grey Appointed Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Capture113The Office of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of
Grand Rapids announced the appointment of Sarah Grey as assistant superintendent of Catholic schools. In her role as assistant
superintendent, Grey will oversee curriculum, instruction, technology integration, and professional development for the 31 Catholic schools across the diocese. She will also coordinate school accreditation. Grey has been
serving as interim assistant superintendent since October 2020, following the departure of Jill Annable, who joined the National Catholic Educational
Association as executive director of academic excellence.

Holland Home Keeps Residents Active With ‘Exergaming’

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Capture112Senior services provider Holland Home, a nonprofit that's committed to follow Christ's teachings and examples in all that it does, is keeping older adults healthy and connected to their communities throughout the pandemic with exergaming.

Exergaming combines physical activity with computer-simulated environments and videogame features. This included riding nearly 1,400 miles in March and ranking 7th out of 265 CyberCycle teams worldwide. One Holland Home resident placed 4th out of more than 1,300 riders worldwide in February.

New Book Offers Students Hope During Lockdown

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Capture111Zeeland Christian School teacher Carla Zastrow said a new book is teaching students lessons about forgiveness, joy, and hope during the COVID-19 lockdown. Titled "At Psalms School/En la escuela de los Salmos" and presented in Spanish and English, the book is especially geared to help young people better understand and pray the Psalms.

Mentorship Program Receives $1.3 Million Grant

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

nbGeneration Spark is an intergenerational ministry strategy that pairs young adults (ages 16–24) with mentors (adults ages 45 and up). Hope College began the mentorship program in 2017. Through a one-on-one relationship, students and mentors work together to identify and solve real-life problems in their church or community. This model allows both partners to learn from each other, to make a difference in their church or community, and to develop skills in leadership, critical thinking, and problem solving. There is also an emphasis on calling, faith, and prayer.

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