Terry’s Picks for April 2021

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

EVENTSThis is the column in which West Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month.

Already this month, slowly but surely, concerts and other events are opening up around West Michigan. Later spring and summer look even more promising. Here are a few to consider for April.

Coats That Transform into Sleeping Bags Handed Out

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

nbMel Trotter Ministries recently teamed up with Empowerment Plan and Chevrolet to hand out to homeless people 150 coats made from upcycled materials that transform into sleeping bags.

The coats are manufactured by parents experiencing homelessness in an effort to help these individuals achieve financial stability and independence for their whole family.

The initiative is part of a larger eight-city road trip, where Chevy and EP will deliver more than 700 coats to cities across the Midwest and Northeast.

Parent company General Motors is Empowerment Plan's longest standing corporate partner and has provided more than $1 million in funding as well as in-kind materials such as plastics and insulation to recycle into the coats

Jenison Pastor to Serve as Director of Candidacy

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

susanRev. Susan LaClear, discipleship and care pastor at Alive Ministries CRC in Jenison, has been tapped by the Council of Delegates of the Christian Reformed Church in North America to serve as director of Candidacy. LaClear has served on the Christian Reformed Candidacy Committee for the past six years. This synodically appointed standing committee sets ministry standards and oversees the nurture and training of persons preparing for ordained ministry in the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

LaClear says she has appreciated her time serving on this committee and has learned many valuable lessons under the leadership of the current director, Rev. David Koll, who is planning to retire at the end of June 2021.

Seminary President: Veer From ‘Either Or’ Thinking

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

veerCalvin Theological Seminary President Jul Medenblik cautioned pastors and church members in a recent email to veer from "either or" or" thinking during the ongoing days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Every church needs to develop their ministry in ways that fit their context and follow the unique calling that God has given them," wrote Medenblik, who served as a pastor for 16 years. "As I have listened to churches and pastors who are stressed by the challenges of ministry in a pandemic, I am concerned that many are confronting 'either/or' thinking.

"For example, those who are not ready to fully return to in-person church gatherings are sometimes labeled by others as "not trusting God enough" or letting the government tell us how and when we worship.

Hand2Hand Purchases Former Grocery Store

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

handtohandCheri Honderd, founder and executive director of Hand2Hand, a Christian nonprofit that has provided food to children on weekends since 2008, announced it has purchased a former Aldi grocery store in Jenison. The 15,600-square foot building at 306 Chicago Drive will house its headquarters, training and packing space and warehouse. Building renovations are projected to be completed by midsummer.

Area Ministers Receive ‘Shot of Love.’ Vaccine Will be Offered to all Michiganders Age 16 and Up Starting April 5

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

nbLeaders from 50 Kent County congregations volunteered to roll up their sleeves recently and received a "shot of love." Their solidarity was intended to show their communities they are walking the talk by receiving the COVID-19 vaccine at the West Michigan Vaccination Clinic at DeVos Place, which is a collaborative effort of Kent County, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health and Vaccinate West Michigan.

Staff from the Kent County Health Department, Spectrum Health, and Mercy Health Saint Mary's administered 100 vaccines to faith leaders who are leading volunteer efforts to vaccinate the socially vulnerable in Kent County.

Faith leaders likewise are committed to registering their members and community residents for vaccination. Over the next eight weeks, they will expand this work to include canvassing vulnerable neighborhoods across Kent County to register community residents for vaccination at local clinics.

Dramatic Turns on the Easter Message

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Magnify Olympi surrenderThis year’s Magnify Church’s drama highlights an Olympic heroTwo of West Michigan's largest churches are offering some drama in their Easter weekend programs.

Both Central Wesleyan in Holland and Magnify Church in Rockford have added theatrical elements to several presentations, with fresh looks and deeper insights into the meaning of the season.

At Magnify (the former Blythefield Hills Baptist), worship arts director Vicki Modert says the script for the musical/drama "Olympic Surrender" continues the story of sprinter Eric Liddell following his victory at the 1924 Olympics. Liddell's true-to-life triumph was popularized in the 1981 feature film "Chariots of Fire."

Sus Manos Gleaners CEO: ‘We Want People to Know the Food is Not Coming From Americans’

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

san2The barrels of dehydrated produce Sus Manos Gleaners sends to countries where hunger is widespread always arrive with labels affixed to them. It's the Georgetown Township's Christian nonprofit way of communicating its deepest priority.

"We have labels that say 'in Christ name,'" says Jim Paauw, Sus Manos' board president and CEO. "We want people to know the food is not coming from Americans. We want people to know this is what Christians do in Christ's name."

Exploring the “Heart’s Wasteland”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Guerra Joe on stoolJoe GuerraWhen Joe Guerra read Isaiah 43:19, something clicked.

"It struck me that a lot of time we miss the things God is trying to teach us because we focus so much on the problem at hand rather than trusting His solution," said Guerra, a local Christian singer-songwriter and worship leader.

The biblical verse begins, "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?"

Women of Influence: Beth Fisher

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

BFisherBeth FisherJob Title: Chief Growth Officer at Mel Trotter Ministries

Calling: Helping those who are undervalued, underserved, and under-resourced

Beth Fisher worked for 25 years in corporate sales, helping organizations automate their business processes. She loved it, but always felt a little pull elsewhere. Part of that pull pushed her to write her first book, "Remorseless: Learning to Lose Labels, Expectations, and Assumptions Without Losing Yourself," which came out in March 2020.

Creative Gifts Refreshed at “The Well”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Bruins Kathy preferred image“The Well” founder and conference co-director Kathy Bruins "Christian creatives" can look forward to the quenching streams of learning and inspiration at an upcoming spring conference in Byron Center, MI.

"A 'Christian creative' is a person who has been given a talent or gift to use for Kingdom purposes to glorify God," said conference co-director Kathy Bruins.

The April 23-24 conference with its "Quench" theme may be just the catalyst needed to take a creative leap.

Three years ago Victoria Chapin attended her first ever arts conference. "Not only did I learn valuable information for my creative journey, but I was moved spiritually," she said. The Zeeland, MI woman was so enthused she volunteered to be on the planning team for this year's event.

Losing a Language of the Christian Faith

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

rex99Dr. Rex M. RogersChristians are losing the language of our Christian faith.

This is happening in the public square and one could argue it's happening within the Church.

What I mean is, easily recognized and often used words and phrases that express Christian values are rapidly disappearing from everyday life. Vocabulary or analogies drawn from Scripture that were once common currency in American culture are at the edge of extinction.

Why does this matter? Well, if language is lost, our ability to communicate our ideas, values, and theology are lost. Our influence is lost. Our capacity for sharing and our ability to perpetuate the faith are lost.

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