A Look Back at the Year That Was

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

calendar page turn-1Well, 2019 is but a calendar-page away from completion. So maybe it's time to share a take on the West Michigan Christian music scene over the last 11 months. Let's see where we've been, and maybe a bit of where we're going.

A Concert Year:

Van Andel Arena hosted several faith-based shows during 2019, included the annual Winter Jam (headlined by Newsboys), MercyMe, TobyMac, Casting Crowns and Hillsong United, plus the recent Christmas show with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. And Switchfoot made a memorable stop at 20 Monroe Live.

New Music Reviews Two New Christmas Season Projects

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Born a King  coverThe local ResLife Worship crew (part of Reslife Church in Grandville) has a new three-song collection for this Christmas season.

Church worship leader Ken Reynolds wrote and produced each of the songs. The worship-ful title song -"Born A King"- features vocals by Tiffany Mauer with choral background from the ResLife Choir. The "Come let us adore Him" lyric reinforces the Christmas message.

"Starry Night" is a slower-tempo, keyboard-based ballad, with lush strings courtesy of the City of Prague Orchestra, and added saxophone by ResLife associate pastor of worship Bruce Vanderveen.

Makarios Décor Blessed to Craft Home Furnishings No One Has Seen Before

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 1-5Airika and Max Kolenda are inspired to own Makarios Décor. Prominently displayed inside Makarios Décor is a table made of elm wood with the entire Gospel of Matthew inscribed on it. It's an understatement to call the slab of wood a conversation piece.

"I had a epiphany or vision that we need to dive into extremely complex art and bring things into the world no one has ever seen before," says Max Kolenda who owns and operates Makarios Décor with his wife of 8 ½ years, Airika. The couple has four boys, ages eight, six, four and one. "That led us to utilizing lasers to create things."

Makarios Décor's 3,000-square foot retail space is a test store. It's located inside Woodland Mall near the JC Penny anchor. The Kolendas signed a temporary lease that runs through Jan. 21, 2020, according to Max, age 31. Thereafter, the Byron Center couple will decide if they want to have a brick and mortar store year round or seasonally.

Amy Grant-Michael W Smith Concert

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

agAmy Grant and Michael W. SmithOn his current concert tour, singer-songwriter Marc Martel feels like he’s back home.

“I’ve kept my connections with my brothers and sisters in Christian music and have amazing memories from that time,” said the artist from his Nashville area home.

But it’s especially during the holiday season that he has re-connected with his musical roots - he was selected to join Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith on their Christmas tour this year, coming to Grand Rapids Dec. 5.

After a decade-plus run by his faith-based band Downhere, Martel was shot into the mainstream music world. His calling card was his piercing vocal which is a sound-alike for the late rock singer Freddie Mercury of Queen.

God’s Unconditional Love Flows Through Grand Rapids Volunteers at the El Paso Annunciation House

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 1-4Rev. Lally embraced an attitude of gratitude when he ministered to some of the most gentle and loving people while in El Paso, Texas. The Rev. Joachim Lally's love for the least of these had him recently casting a wide net of kindness.

It's the reason why he and four Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters — Chela Gonzalez, Janet Brown, Joyce Ann Hertzig and Mary Kay Oosdyke — were compelled to journey earlier this year to the Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas. Operated entirely by volunteers, the five Grand Rapidians helped welcome for two weeks an influx of refugees from Brazil, Portuguese, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Christmas Is “Coming Home” for Gaither & Crew

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Gaither Vocal Band fall2019Gaither Vocal Band (from l.) Wes Hampton, Reggie Smith, Bill Gaither, Todd Suttles, Adam Crabb Singer Reggie Smith is having the time of his life as part of the Gaither Vocal Band.

"Talk about a band of brothers...it's like we're in ninth grade again," beamed Smith, 53, from his Nashville area home.

Smith has been part of the legendary Southern Gospel quintet for nearly three years and worked with them for many years previously. But he still takes inspiration from the group's founder and senior member, Bill Gaither.

"His motor is second to none, and he's been a mentor to all of us with his attitude, creativity and brilliance," he noted of Gaither, 83.

Gaither leads his vocal band and a stable of other music artists in a "Christmas Homecoming" tour which stops at Grand Rapids First on Dec. 5.

New Music Review: Kali Joy

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Kali Joy ep cvr 2019Local singer-songwriter/worship leader Kali Joy has released a new collection of songs dealing with life's uncertainty, fear, and faith.
And one of them is a "break-up" song.

Perhaps the most striking selection in this five-song package is the ballad "Anything Like Me?" The meaning is suggested in the song's music video:

Using "flashbacks" from a child's experience, the themes of rejection and self-esteem come right to the present day prompting lyrics such as..."I've been in hiding...If you're anything like me, you need a hand to hold today."

Holiday Music, Drama on the Way…

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Hark Up shot from stage to audienceIn composing these Christmas arts/concert previews, I always feel that I'm rushing the holiday spirit. How much earlier than the actual holiday should we launch into the message so quickly overshadowed by all of the season's commercial pressures?

But with several area radio stations and a couple of cable TV networks already churning out full-time Christmas fare in early November, why not leap into the fray and highlight some events which point toward the Savior's birth. (And at the end of the article, check out a new Christmas song!)

Classic Tale Gets New Life on Stage

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

pilgrims progress illustrationThe seen and unseen combine in “Pilgrim The Musical” It's a side-by-side view of the physical and the spiritual that highlights "Pilgrim the Musical."

"It all plays out on the stage," said Rich Garnaat, director of the local production. "The audience gets to see the spiritual world right alongside the action among the physical characters, and it reveals some beautiful spiritual truths."

The 17th Century John Bunyan novel "Pilgrim's Progress" is one of the more enduring of allegorical depictions of the believer's life. The main character, Christian, is on a journey to the Celestial City (Heaven). Along the way he meets characters (Pliable, Faithful, Obstinate) and must travel through places (such as Wicket Gate and Valley of the Shadow) whose names have obvious metaphorical meanings.

GEMS: A Sisterhood Planting Biblical Seeds in Girls

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

gems1The theme of the United Nations’ recent International Day of the Girl was Unscripted and Unstoppable. Local GEMS girls finished this statement, “The Truth is I am …” Some of the biggest challenges girls face today include bullying, cutting, depression, thoughts of suicide and the stress of body image issues.

It's a far cry from the problems girls faced in 1958 when Barbara Vredevoogd founded GEMS in Grand Rapids as a Christian Reformed Church ministry to young girls.

Sixty-one years later, GEMS is now a nondenominational Christian outreach comprised of 5,200 women serving over 23,000 girls in more than 800 clubs around the world.

GEMS is a sisterhood that relishes getting together. In July, the nonprofit held its annual conference at Calvin University, which drew GEMS leaders from North America and beyond, and included worship, speakers and seminars.

In West Michigan and beyond, GEMS leaders help way finding girls discover God's unchangeable Word. They learn along the way they are loved and valued just the way they are.

A centerpiece of GEMS is its acronym: Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior.

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