Master Arts Theatre Goes “Off Script”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Van Bruggen TimothyMAT executive director Timothy Van BruggenLike many other non-profit organizations, Master Arts Theatre (MAT) has been scrambling in the wake of non-essential business closings and shelter-in-place guidelines, thanks to the coronavirus.

One of the casualties: the faith-inspired company's spring production of "Enchanted April" will not take the stage.

"We had a beautiful cast and had just started rehearsals," noted MAT executive director Timothy Van Bruggen. "It's one of the most touching plays I've ever read."

The theatre group, with offices/performance space in Byron Township, had already been forced to cancel its March 20-21 Lenten presentation of the play "The Seven Last Words of Christ."

Movement West Michigan Serves to Unite Christians to Combat ‘stubborn’ Spiritual, Social Problems, including Coronavirus Pandemic

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 1-8Lynn Kotecki: “This is about relationships, this is about trust, it’s about authentic conversation.”Lynn Kotecki, executive director of Ottawa County-based Movement West Michigan (MWM), believes in the power of unity.

"What the Movement is attempting to do is unify the Christian body," Kotecki says. "He (God) told us 2,020 years ago to come together. It can take us a long time to learn. And everything our Lord tells us is to come together and we're doing that. The key is: Can we continue and sustain that relationship to move forward to transform the community."

MWM's vision is to have every community in West Michigan flourish spiritually and socially. Leaders serve as the catalyst to spiritually and socially impact their communities through rigorous research, uniting prayer, unified local leadership and powerful collaboration between diverse sectors.

Local Duo Offering Kids Weekly Learning Videos

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

kevinkWimee, a popular robot-like character who visits schools with creators Kevin Kammeraad and Michael Hyacinthe, is making his video debut just in time for kids to tune in from home. Wimee's mission is "helping kids build vocabulary skills through creative storytelling."

"We were scheduled to do 100 workshops featuring Wimee and the book 'Wimee's Words,' but Covid-19 hit and we had to suspend our engagement directly with kids," said Hyacinthe, CEO of Wimage, LLC and a veteran working with veterans at Habitat for Humanity. "So, we developed a web series that continues to engage with kids while schools are closed."

Worship the Focus of Collaborative CD Project

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Marialke Nate-1Nate MarialkeNate Marialke is standing on the edge of a new creative venture.

"Resound" is the title of a five-song CD collection crafted by Marialke and worship leader colleagues.

"Water's Edge Worship is really a family of worship leaders and (song)writers, explained Marialke, worship arts leader at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland. "And our church is kind of the hub for that right now."

Leaders from at least ten churches around the world are connected to Water's Edge, although just area artists are part of the new live recording.
The all-original release is the second for the working group, which issued a studio project "Forever Overcome," three years ago.

The songs were to be formally introduced in a CD release concert this month at Central Wesleyan, although that has been put on pause by COVID-19 virus concerns.

Terry’s Picks for April 2020

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

EVENTS2Here's the column in which your faithful West Michigan Christian News writer usually surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month.

But one of many persistent effects of the coronavirus COVID-19 is: for the entire month of April there are simply no events appropriate to the list that I can be sure will go on as scheduled.

So the "April Picks" headline is a misnomer.

The People of West Michigan Need Not To Fear!

Written by Editor in Chief on . Posted in Local

fear8In this time when the world is plagued by fear and is searching for something they do not have, we believe we have an unusual opportunity to lead eyes upwards, and we want to take advantage of the opportunity.

We have multiple billboards in high traffic locations with the message of hope. Please pray that people that see these billboards will discover new peace in Christ.

Virus Affects Christian Concert Scene

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Newsboys UnitedNewsboys United’s concert in April was one of many postponed or cancelledUsually the announcement looked something like this: "To ensure the safety of our fans, we're announcing the postponement of the remaining dates on the_____ tour effective immediately. We are working diligently to reschedule dates as soon as possible, and we will notify ticket holders immediately of the rescheduled dates."

That was the exact wording used by the promoter in the cancellation of the Newsboys United "Greatness of Our God" tour, which had been scheduled April 18 at Fair Haven Ministries in Hudsonville.

That was just one of a host of concerts – both Christian and mainstream – postponed or outright cancelled in the effort to fight the spread of the Corona virus (COVID-19).

Revisiting Martin Luther’s “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague” Re COVID-19

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

rex99Dr. Rex M. RogersMartin Luther was one of the greatest Christian reformers, the man who in 1517 called the Roman Catholic Church to account by posting "95 Theses" on Wittenberg All Saints Church door.

But enormously important as this is, though, Luther should also be remembered for his actions and thoughtful response to the dreadful Black Plague – and what his wisdom suggests for us today in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 1300s, the Black Death, also called the Bubonic Plague, swept across two continents, eventually killing half the population of Europe in a short span of four years. Between 75 and 200 million people died and it took nearly two hundred years for the population to return to former levels.

During the 15th and 16th Centuries, various epidemics took more lives in the known populated world. And worse, the Black Death proved episodic, meaning it would die off only to resurge later.

In 1527, the plague came again, visiting Martin Luther's hometown, Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was instructed to leave by his university elector, but he stayed to minister to the sick. Days later, several around Luther had died, while his pregnant wife and others in his household became ill. Thankfully, they survived, as did Luther, but he was asked, even challenged, about the decision he made not to leave ahead of the epidemic.

Upcoming RandyDon Academy to Shepherd Youth Pastors in Servant Leadership

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

raydonRandy DonGiovanni: “If there’s ever a time we’ve needed youth pastors, it’s today.”Randy DonGiovanni knows youth pastors of all denominations face similar, uphill struggles. That's what makes the upcoming RandyDon Academy essential.

"I feel leadership today is not being taught in the correct way because everyone wants to be a leader, everyone wants to be a pastor, but no one wants to ... do the biblical principle of serving," says DonGiovanni, who's worked in youth ministry for over 30 years in a variety of capacities and is ordained with Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.

Chonda Pierce: Humorously Speaking Her Mind

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

chonda headshot 11DcT4Q- 2Please Note: The Chonda Pierce event scheduled for Saturday 3/14 has officially been postponed. Promoters are working diligently to provide a new date ASAP, please hold on to your tickets as they will be honored at the new date. If you cannot attend the new date, refunds can be obtained by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Chonda Pierce has revealed the secret to her decades-long run as one of the nation's top faith-based comedians.

"Every time I leave my house I kind of always know how I want the evening to end," she said of the approach to her stage show which treads into hilarity yet retains a relevant message. "I've always worked from the ending first. So I start writing the material and work backwards to the beginning. We've done that for 25 years."

Throughout her career Pierce has shared with audiences bits of her own life journey, which includes bouts with depression, family estrangement and the death of her husband in 2014 following his long struggle with alcoholism. Yet woven through is humorous and hope-filled encouragement.

"My story is my story, there are aspects of it that will always show up," she said.

Upcoming Gilda’s LaughFest

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Sapp HenryHenry Sapp Comedy veterans and newcomers alike are joining in on the fun at this year's LaughFest.

The annual West Michigan comedy festival was created by and is a benefit for Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, a non-profit that offers free support programs for cancer victims and their families. (This year's festival is March 5-15; www.laughfestgr.org

And area residents - the stage-savvy Henry Sapp and upstart comic Abbie Lemke - are both performing at various LaughFest events.

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