Behind the Closing Doors: (part 2)

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Rev Andrew DeBraber at frinal serviceRev. Andrew De Braber addresses an empty sanctuary at the final service at Comstock Park Cong-UCCRev. Andrew DeBraber had a calm and rather solemn look as he rose to begin this special church worship service.

"Hear and believe this good news," he said. "Our help is in the name of our God who is continually making and re-making heaven and earth."

It was the opening of the closing service of Comstock Park Congregational-United Church of Christ.

Sunday November 22, 2020 was the official end date for this historic church on Lamoreaux Dr. NE whose roots go back more than a century.

Two Area Pastors Offer Readers New Books

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

Mike Head ShotRev. Michael WittmerOne retired pastor and one newly-minted pastor have each written new books that offer readers both information and inspiration.

Rev. Michael Wittmer, newly named as pastor of Cedar Springs Baptist Church, has recently released "The Bible Explainer: Questions and Answers on Origins, The Old Testament, Jesus, the End Time, and More," published by Barbour.

The full-color volume is packed with 250 questions that answer just about every question possible about the Bible, from "When did God create the world?" to "What is the Abrahamic Covenant?" from "What do we know about Jesus' early years?" to "What is faith?"

Where Does Your Spiritual TripTik Take You?

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in Local

vernbCouples spend decades doing everything together until declining health prompts a move into an assisted living facility. They take turns caring for one another as their health ebbs and they prepare for their final journeys.

As a spiritual caregiver for Emmanuel Hospice, Pastor Vern Bareman regularly visits couples in this situation. His conversations with spouses of patients who have recently died can swing from profound grief to gratitude that the struggles have ended.

"Some of our patients are ready to go, while others are fighting to hang on to life," Bareman says. "Coming to terms with letting go can be hard for both patients and their families."

Multiply222 Takes its Cue From 2 Timothy 2:2: Entrusting Qualified Teachers to Disciple Others

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Bob-New Bob Crow: “If you’re not passing it on, you’re missing the point.”The statistics reveal what's at stake. Up to 85 percent of churches in North America have plateaued or are in decline while about 23 percent of the nation's population say they are not affiliated with any religion, otherwise known as the "nones." This is sobering news, but instead of waving the white flag, the Multiply222 Network has a plan.

Correction: the Word of God has a plan that the ministry seeks to birth in others, says Bob Crow, Multiply222's chief development officer.

Behind the Closing Doors

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Comstock Park Cong uccThe Comstock Park church before its closing last November.There are many factors involved in a church closing. Similar threads wind their way around the tales of those which find themselves coming to an end.

But each church has its own story.

So it is with Comstock Park Congregational-United Church of Christ on Lamoreaux Dr. NE, just up the hill a bit from West River Dr. The church closed its doors last November, the final chapter in a 110-year lifetime.

Paul Sommer, the church's historian, can fill you in on details. But the meandering story takes a while to tell.

Benckhuysen appointed director of CRC Safe Church Ministry

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

safechurchThe executive committee of the Council of Delegates voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Amanda Benckhuysen to the position of director of Safe Church Ministry for the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Benckhuysen previously served as professor of Old Testament at Calvin Theological Seminary. She also taught at the University of Dubuque (Iowa) Theological Seminary and was a campus minister at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Coalition transforms former Purple East into warming center, overnight shelter

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

warmA coalition of community, nonprofit and business leaders has joined forces to provide safe emergency shelter for residents of the Heartside neighborhood who are experiencing homelessness.

An alliance led by Mel Trotter Ministries and Guiding Light, the city of Grand Rapids and Kris Elliott of Evergreen Companies, has leased space at 250 Ionia Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids to accommodate what experts are saying could be as many as 100 adults nightly seeking housing in the coming months.

Work has begun to transform the space, which is the former Purple East tobacco shop, into a warming center and overnight shelter for those experiencing homelessness, many of whom are currently staying in tents in Heartside Park and other locations around the city.

Back to Work program receives $20,000 grant

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

glmbackGuiding Light recently received for the third consecutive year a $20,000 grant from the SpartanNash Foundation that will help support the nonprofit's Back to Work program.

The SpartanNash Foundation has provided a total of $70,000 to the nonprofit since 2016. Back to Work provides a short-term stay for men who are experiencing homeless and seeking full-time employment, along with support for their job searches.

Acton Institute: new walls being erected

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

actonConservative think tank the Acton Institute recently marked its 30th anniversary by reflecting on the significance of the Berlin Wall falling in 1989. These days, new walls are being erected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wrote Acton president Rev. Robert A. Sirico in a letter to supporters.

"Thirty years hence, the most momentous thing seared into our memoires may well be the pandemic, not only in terms of the scores who have succumbed to the virus and the attendant misery and suffering of loved ones, but also the unintended consequences of political leaders in their actions and policies to combat it," wrote Sirico.

Terry's Picks January 2021

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

EVENTSThis is the column in which West Michigan Christian web writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month. It looks like we're still going virtual......

Diversity In Culture and the Church

Written by Dr. Rex M. Rogers on . Posted in Local

rex99Dr. Rex M. RogersDiversity and inclusiveness are mantras of the new religion of political correctness. Not that these values are necessarily bad or wrong in themselves. Diversity can be a good thing. So can inclusiveness, if you aren't tossing aside morality when you use the term.

Certainly, diversity is a watchword of our culture today. One's demography is now destiny. News stories of appointments to government offices lead with the gender, race or ethnicity, maybe sexual orientation of the appointee before they report the professional credentials and accomplishments that hopefully justify the appointment. Identity politics, as it's called, has become a part of the "acceptable narrative" of currently ascendant ideology.

Long before the present-day, actually some two thousand years ago, God ordained something called the church, understood in lower case as a local body of believers (and usually non-believers as well), and capitalized as, the Church, the trans-cultural, trans-country, trans-time Body of Christ, the universal Church, the Family of God.

Merry Christmas

Written by WMCN Editor on . Posted in Local

christmassign2editedI don't know how many times over the last year I have heard someone say, "This has been a year like none other". We agree, and we are excited because there are opportunities to lead eyes upwards like never before.

The faces of many people show the discouragement, frustration, anger and the deep sense of questioning that is in their lives. This makes for good soil to sow seed into during these uncertain times.

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