Baker Book House Sees Huge Growth in Popular Summer Reading Program

Written by Sarah Traill on . Posted in Local

bakersummerThe Baker Book House children's summer reading program grew by nearly 30 percent over last year. The 1,168 children participated in the Adventures in Michigan program, which encouraged learning about the state and included a good number of local authors reading at story times throughout the summer.

"We've never had a summer reading program quite this large before," said Becca Niswonger, hospitality coordinator for the store.

One of the most popular events was the Cars party, where kids could build and decorate "cars" from boxes and sit in them while they watched the movie Cars. Susie Finkbeiner, mother of three summer reading program participants, said, "It tapped into their creativity. They got to make the cars into their own personality by adding bumper stickers!"

New Music Review: Kenneth Henderson

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Kenneth Henderson - Everything I Got - CD coverArtist: Kenneth Henderson Album: “Everything I Got”Local worship leader/music artist Kenneth Henderson has some new songs to share in his latest effort, "Everything I Got."

The three-song EP is highlighted by the anthem "Worship 'til Heaven." With its crisp background vocals and instrumental flourishes, it's a masterfully-arranged and performed invitation to praise.

The title song "Everything I Got" begins as a slower ballad, but builds as the lyrics echo the scriptural challenge to give "my life as a living sacrifice."

New Music Review: Ty Gonzalez

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

GonzArtist: Ty Gonzalez (Gonz) Album: “Big League Dreaming”Baseball references abound in the latest project from West Michigan-based hip-hop/rap artist Ty Gonzalez (Gonz).

"Big League Dreaming" takes listeners on a tour through his youthful goal of sports heroism to his newer pursuit of musically communicating gospel truth.

The title track's music video (online) visually tells the story. Raps such as "Triple Crown" and "No Shame" carry the baseball metaphor. But "Bottom of the Ninth" actually reveals his new passion: "...It's time to rap, ain't nobody stop me....walk and not be faint, like an eagle I soar..."

Fall Concert Line-up Sprinkled with Doves

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Jon Foreman of SwitchfootJon Foreman of Switchfoot in his July 31 performance at Frederik Meijer Gardens (photo by Mario Centeno)."We sing these songs because we believe hope deserves an anthem," said Switchfoot lead singer Jon Foreman at the band's recent concert at the Meijer Gardens amphitheatre.

Christian music artists with a similar outlook are preparing their West Michigan concerts for this fall. And many of those artists are coming freshly adorned with 2017 Dove Award nominations.

The 48th annual Dove Awards are sponsored by the Gospel Music Association and are considered one of the top awards for faith-based music artists. Nominees were announced August 9 at a Nashville news conference, with award ceremonies set for Oct. 17.

Evangelicals Must Adopt Christian View of Leisure to Influence Culture, Says Scholar

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Acton Institute Speaker Seth Bartee cutline No. 1 Seth Bartee: “One of the ways we can change the culture is taking this concept of leisure seriously.” Seth Bartee is confident Russell Kirk is not a household name for many Protestant evangelicals, which is one reason he believes the United States' Christian moorings in floundering.

Bartee, who teaches intellectual history at East Tennessee State University and is a visiting scholar at The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in Mecosta, Mich., spoke recently at the Acton Institute's Lecture Series, said despite all the good works evangelicals perform in the U.S. and world (international adoptions, volunteering at churches and political activism, for example), they have failed at changing America's predominate culture.

UNITY Poised for a Festive Experience

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Powell Mac soloMac Powell, lead singer of Third Day, performs at Unity at 7:10pm Saturday Aug. 12Kevin Newton has part of the Unity Christian Music Festival since year one. And it's been quite a ride.

"We certainly didn't know back in 2001 that it would become not only an annual event, but one of the largest Christian festivals in the U.S.," said Newton, Unity director and part of Alive on the Lakeshore, the umbrella organization sponsoring the four-day event.

The festival draws tens of thousands of fans each year and showcases today's top Christian music artists, as well as offers various other faith-related opportunities.

Educator Tills Education’s Soil With Biblical Botanical Roots

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

AMDG Architects Speaker Series cutline No. 1David Smith: “The Garden of Eden is an image where society is working, before everything gets destroyed.”David Smith sees a strong bond between the Garden of Eden and education. Apparently, John Amos Comenius also understood the connection, even though he lived centuries before Smith was born.

Smith works the dual role as director of Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and director of Calvin College's graduate studies in education. He recently spoke at AMDG Architects' July Speaker Series about the relationship between gardens cultivating people's moral, spiritual and virtue through education.

Digging Deeper With Lifehouse

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Lifehouse jw 2nd from rLifehouse (l. to r.) Ricky Woolstenhulme Jr., Bryce Soderberg, Jason Wade, Steve Stout Singer-songwriter Jason Wade of the band Lifehouse never dreamed his song "You and Me" would become a wedding standard.

"That's a song I wrote when I proposed to my girlfriend when I was 19 years old," recalled Wade during a conference call from the band's Los Angeles recording studio.

"It didn't show up until our third album six years later."

The melodic song was one of mainstream radio's top hits of 2005 and re-established the band's impact made with its 2001 debut smash, "Hanging By A Moment."

"You and Me" still echoes at nuptials around the country. "We've played it ourselves for at least three weddings," said Wade. "And we've been asked to help guys propose on stage when we play it at shows.

Hudsonville-based International Needs Serves as Jesus’ Hands, Feet Worldwide

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

International Needs Cutline No. 1 International Needs president/CEO Michael Cooper stands on a rooftop in Nepal last November. Michael T. Cooper gets around.

So far, he's journeyed to 14 or 15 countries since becoming president and CEO last October of Hudsonville-based International Needs.

In the future, the ministry's big tent goals will take him to various nations in the world, including Turkey, Nepal, Burkina Faso in West Africa and Columbia.

That's to be expected when you're head of a multi-prong ministry like International Needs, founded in 1974 by Ray Harrison.

"I love being around folks from around the world," said an enthused Cooper. "We have staff and national workers spread across the globe, where we pray and dream with them in how they're going to reach their countries and fulfill their vision to spread the gospel."

Band Members Testify To New Life

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Adams Road Joseph Warren (left) and Adam’s Road Joseph Warren and Adam's Road are on a new mission.

Warren and his fellow band members are all former Mormons. And now they're presenting their musical testimonies of a newly-found gospel salvation message.

"We're just trying to put the gospel to music and to share our stories," said Warren, 32, by phone from a concert stop in rural Vermont.

The ex-members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known as Mormons) have carved out their own path as they've embraced Christian orthodoxy and proclaimed it publically. And it has come at some personal cost.

A Mile In Your (old) Shoes

Written by Dan Seaborn on . Posted in Local

dan seabornLet me tell you, we're talking about a really big "if."

If I think about it long enough and hard enough, I can remember what it was like—what it was like long, long ago—to be a kid.
If.

For starters, the piano practice was torture. I'd be sitting there, plunking out tunes on black and white keys even though I thought my fingers looked much better on the orange of a basketball.

And my mom, the human metronome, would sit beside me on the bench, tapping the end of a pencil against the piano to help me keep rhythm. It drove me crazy.

If it wasn't piano lessons that had me in misery, it was homework—hours of multiplication, history, and grammar keeping me away from the South Carolina skies that were calling my name.

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