Reflections on a Noteworthy Year

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

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

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

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

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

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

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

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.

Mel Trotter Opens 24/7 Overflow Building

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

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

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

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

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

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:

A Look Behind the Leader: Carter Lezman

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

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

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

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.

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