Branches a publication of Muskegon County Cooperating Churches


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A Publication of Muskegon County Cooperating Churches

Convening the Community of Faith

To serve the needs of the people of Muskegon County for over 70 years.

Vol. 33, No. 5 September/October Issue 2014

BRANCHES is published 6 times a year by

Muskegon County Cooperating Churches (MCCC) 1095 Third St., Suite 10, Muskegon, MI 49441-1976

Phone: 231-727-6000 Fax: 231-727-0841 E-mail:

Office Hours: Monday-Thursday 12:30-3:00pm Friday 11:30-2:00pm

Hours may vary depending on the work load, please call first.

MCCC is a non-profit ecumenical organization serving all faith congregations in Muskegon County

MCCC Board for 2014
MCCC Board Members

Pastor Chris Anderson

Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies

Janie Brooks-Treasurer

Mt Zion Church of God in Christ

Judy Clark-Ochs

First Congregational UCC

Rev. Phil Friedrick

Community United Methodist Church

Deacon Lily Marx-Secretary

St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church

Marian McDermod

Family Promises

Lynne Riehl

Forest Park Covenant Church

Rev. Diane Stark

Muskegon Unity Church

Rev. Tim VanderHaar

First Congregational UCC

Thomas Wagner - President

Church of the Brethren

Pastor Julie Winklepleck

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Doug Wood – Vice-President

Community United Methodist Church


We have a Facebook page for Muskegon County Cooperating Churches. If you are interested in learning more about what is happening, please “like” us on your Facebook page. Our website is also being updated with mobile pantry dates as they become available. Our website is

Muskegon County Cooperating Churches will be hosting a “New Pastor’s Breakfast” on Wednesday, September 10th at the Coastline Deli located on the top floor of the Terrace Plaza Building at 8:30am.

We encourage all pastor’s who are new to the area to come and learn a little about our mission and about the Muskegon County area.

It has been over two years since we held our last breakfast, so if your pastor has never attended, or for that matter would like to meet some of the newer pastors, he/she is certainly welcome to attend. We don’t want to take a lot of time out of your already busy schedules, so we will limit our time to just about 90 minutes at the most.

We do ask that you RSVP so that we can have an approximate count for the caterer. You can call us at 231-727-6000 or e-mail us at Our office hours are 12:30-3:00pm Monday-Thursday and 11:30-2:00pm on Friday. If necessary, please leave a message if you are unable to contact us during those hours.

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"Gleanings" by Tom Wagner

Witnesses for Peace”

As many of our readers know, Kryssis Diane Bjork is a volunteer Community Calendar Coordinator for upcoming events in Muskegon County during September, called 30 Days of Peace – Muskegon. Please visit Facebook or the online library calendar under the same title for more details. In honor of the project I am sharing three short stories about peacemaking below.

Though conflict is simply a part of the human condition, it is also true that we are capable of choosing how to respond to conflict. Indeed we commonly resolve personal conflicts on our own. Yet, sometimes, as in this first story, we need a little help from a third party. In a Russian Mennonite village about a century ago, the local minister and his wife set out on a long journey. They left their 20 year old son Peter in charge of the family farm. A few days after their departure, a couple of local women dropped by on separate occasions to see the minister. When the women returned the following week and the minister was still out of town, they decided to share their difficulty with Peter. During the past spring one woman’s hen wandered into her neighbor’s hedge, laid eggs and brooded a dozen chicks. Local custom dictated that eggs belong to the family in whose yard they are found. It was silent about possible chicks. Both women claimed the chicks and demanded the minister’s son decide who was right. Peter made an alternative suggestion. The neighbor family should slaughter the hen, make it into chicken noodle soup and invite the other family to join them for supper. Each household would get half of the little flock, or six chicks each. Both women agreed to this arrangement.

My second story is an example of steadfast allegiance to the Prince of Peace. A story has long circulated among the Dunkers about an early 18th Century leader back in Germany named Johann Naas (c.1670-1741). In addition to his spirituality, he was well known for his tall and powerful physique. These latter attributes made him a prime candidate for the Prussian Army, and especially the king’s body guard unit. One day Brother Naas and a colleague encountered recruitment officers on the road. When neither flattery nor intimidation won the preacher’s consent, the officers took him into custody. There he was subjected to increasingly harsh treatment until they finally hung Naas by a thumb and big toe. These tactics also failed. So the recruiters brought their prisoner before Fredrick Wilhelm I (1688-1740) himself and explained their problem. The situation puzzled the king, since an invitation to join his body guard was usually considered a great honor. Naas replied to the king’s inquiry that he had already enlisted in the service of another king. This prompted the King of Prussia to ask who his “captain” was. Brother Naas answered, “My Captain is the great Prince Immanuel, our Lord Christ Jesus. I have espoused his cause, and cannot and will not forsake him.” Fredrick Wilhelm responded, “Neither will I ask you to do so.” Naas was released and given a gold coin for his faithfulness.

A third vignette concerns taking risks beyond national and cultural boundaries to share God’s love. One of many stories told about Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) tells of his pilgrimage to the Middle East in 1219. This took place during the 5th Crusade (1213-1221). European forces under Cardinal Pelagius were trying to reconquer the Holy Lands by first subduing Ayyubid Egypt. The Cardinal had already rejected a peace offer from Sultan Malik al-Kamil (c. 1177-1238). Francis arrived in Damietta while Crusader forces laid siege to the city and attempted to talk the Cardinal into ending hostilities. When this plea was unsuccessful, Francis crossed enemy lines in search of the Sultan. He intended to convert the Moslem leader to Christianity, even if the attempt resulted in martyrdom, in order to end the fighting. Though the saint and his companion were initially placed in irons on arrival at the Sultan’s camp, they eventually gained an audience with al-Kamil himself. Perhaps the sheer audacity of the poor man from Assisi piqued the Sultan’s

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curiosity and respect. Francis spoke of Christ who loved humanity enough to suffer and die for us all. He (Francis) was willing to follow the same path on behalf of the Moslems. He boldly shared his faith without disparaging the faith of his host. Though the Sultan remained unconvinced, he offered the saint many gifts and safe conduct to visit holy sites in Palestine. Of the many costly gifts, Francis accepted one, an ivory horn used for the Islamic call to prayer. Back in Italy he would use the horn to call his own community to prayer.

May the peace of Christ be with each of you and work through you in this world.

Tom Wagner is a former pastor in the Church of the Brethren (Dunker) and serves MCCC as president and archivist.

Don't forget – A few copies of Tom Wagner's book, "Work and Hope" are still available at the MCCC Office for a donation of $15 (pick up) or $17 mailed to you. Call us at 231-727-6000 for more information.

Please remember that the “BRANCHES” is published bi-monthly. If you have an event coming up in November or December, the information must be in our office by October 22nd to be published in that issue. As things crop up prior to the next issue, I will try and send them out under “Additional Opportunities” through e-mail. If you would like to receive your newsletter by e-mail, please let me know at

Did you refresh your volunteers about the Civil Rights Notice of the Department of Agriculture that should be posted at every site’s registration table regarding non-discrimination? We have not heard from any organization that this has happened. The Civil Rights information must be reiterated to your volunteers on a yearly basis. Each organization that has held or will hold a foodmobile through the account of Muskegon County Cooperating Churches (MCCC), needs to report back to MCCC that they have trained their volunteers. Please take care of this as soon as possible. If you do not have the poster in your possession, you can find it on the Department of Agriculture’s website. The poster is Form AD-475C (revised 12-99). A Civil Rights Training Session is being planned in Grand Rapids during September at Feeding America West Michigan. More information will be sent to those organization/churches who are currently hosting foodmobiles.

Some of our sites have been having problems with individuals complaining about being turned away because they have come so late to get a number and the registration is full for the size of the truck. We are encouraging sites to remember that a 7500 lb. truck will feed approximately 150 households and 10,000 lb. truck might feed up to 200 households. We don’t like to turn people away, however, there is only so much food on a truck. Numbers are not to be given out any earlier than 2 hours prior to the time of the truck. It is up to the site supervisor if they want to use the lottery system for sign-ups. If there is someone who is causing a disturbance (swearing, name calling, fighting, etc.), it is the site coordinator’s responsibility to ask them to leave or call the police.

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Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1132 W. Southern Ave., Muskegon, MI 49441 is hosting a Mom 2 Mom Sale on October 18, 2014 from 9am-1pm. There is a slight admission fee of $1 which will benefit the Nims Neighborhood Playground Project and the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Education Wing Roof Project. New and gently used baby and children clothing, maternity clothing, toys, books, nursery furniture and baby gear will be featured. There will also be a bake sale and refreshments will be available. If you are interested in renting a space (approximately 10x10) to sell your new and/or gently used items, donating baked goods/refreshments or for more information, please contact Leanne at 231-750-6894 or at Direct sale vendors are welcome.

Don’t miss the fun of Trunk or Treat where children safely trick or treat from the trunks of decorated vehicles in the church parking lot at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 1132 W. Southern Ave., Muskegon, MI 49441 on October 26, 2014 from 4pm-6pm. Everything is free!!!

All are invited to this Ecumenical Service in the style of Taize Prayer touched by the light of stained glass and candles, weaving scripture, song and silence. The music of Taize (pronounced “the-ZAY”) prayer consists of short, repetitive songs that foster mediation and a listening to God. Please join in this beautiful service that can draw one into an experience of God’s presence in one’s innermost being. It takes place in the Marian Chapel of St. Francis deSales Church, 2929 McCracken St., Norton Shore on Wednesday, September 17th beginning at 7:15pm. The celebration will be led by Larry and Roberta Barton, dedicated musicians from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Grand Rapids who believe PEACE is an integral part of our call as Christians. Local musicians and choir members who would like to be a more integral part of the service, please email Larry at or 616-459-7390. For more information please visit their website: For information about the September 17th prayer service, contact Nancy Peters at 231-798-2915 or

This Taize Prayer Service is a part of the “Thirty Days of Peace” that is being celebrated throughout Muskegon County during September 2014. A rich variety of events from planting pinwheels for peace to singing and dancing in the park to concerts and kite-flying are all being planned. For more information, contact Kryssis Diane Bjork at 231-747-8138 or email

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Volunteers are needed to assist with either food or the entertainment for the Progressive Dinner for Peace, part of the 30 Days of Peace community-wide observance in September. The dinner will be held on Saturday, September 27 from 4pm-8pm starting with appetizers at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 4pm with entertainment by The Troubadours. The main course is hosted by Central United Methodist Church featuring a Variety Show for Peace and dessert will be at Samuel Lutheran Church with a candlelight ceremony and closing circle. If you would like to join the team to put on the event, please contact Rev. Diane Stark at . Reservations for the dinner must be made by Monday, September 22nd to Diane.

Sunday, September 21st from Noon-4pm
The event will be held at Margaret Drake Elliot Park at Beach Street and the Muskegon Channel, North end of Pere Marquette Park (rainy day location at Unity of Muskegon, 2052 Bourdon St.). There will be an open mic & music, poetry & potluck, fun & games. There are 100 free gifts for the first 100 to show up. Be prepared: Dress for the weather conditions, bring lawn chairs, blankets, beverages and a dish to pass. For more information contact Kryssis Diane Bjork, Community Calendar Coordinator at 231-747-8138. The event is sponsored by Pax Christi Muskegon.


This day-long conference on Tuesday, October 14th will feature William Schweiker, Ph. D. as the keynote speaker. Dr. Schweiker is the Director of the Martin Marty Center for Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School and an expert in the field of theological ethics. The morning keynote address, “Religion, Violence and Practical Atheism,” will be from 10:30am-12:30pm; breakout sessions with local scholars will take place from 2-4:30pm and the evening keynote address, “Which Religion and What Future?,” will be held from 7-8:30pm. This conference is free and open to the public. An optional lunch and dinner will be available for a small fee. The event will take place at Cornerstone University, 1001 E. Beltline Ave., NE, Grand Rapids, MI. For more information, please email Katie Gordon at or call 616-331-5702.

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Fall workshops are being planned by Stewards In Action this fall. The first one is SOCIAL SECURITY – BENEFITS AND CHANGES on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 from 10am-Noon. Workshop presenters include: Marvin Harwell, Claims Representative T2 and Tiara Duncan, Claims Representative T16 of the Social Security Administration Office. The second one is MEDICARE AND MEDICAID – ELIGIBILITY AND BENEFITS about understanding Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, Advantage Plans and Understanding Medicaid on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 10am-12:30pm. The presenter is Vickie DeCheney, MAAP Regional Coordinator. Both workshops will take place at the Louis A. McMurray Conference and Transportation Center, 2624 Sherman and 6th St., Muskegon Hts., MI 49444.

Please place on your calendar another workshop for November 22, 2014 on Estate Planning.

Barbara Lee, a Muskegon native and a presenter at TEDxMuskegon 2013, is the author of Sacred Sex: Replacing the Marriage Ethic with a Sexual Ethic. Barbara, who now lives in Grand Haven and is serving as the Interim Leader at C3 Inclusive Spiritual Community, says, “We have to start talking about sex – and we especially have to have these discussions in our churches and with our young people.” Barbara observes that our society is largely polarized between sex as “sin” and sex as “sport.” She believes that one of the greater risks facing our young people in today’s information age is the trivialization of this sacred aspect of our life. Lee’s book searches for the middle ground where we embrace our sexuality while treating it with moral authority.

Barbara is offering to make presentations, lead workshops, provide pulpit supply, facilitate discussion groups and engage in any other way with faith communities in Muskegon County to bring attention to the important topic of Creating a Sexual Ethic. To schedule Barbara or to learn more about her work, you can contact her at 616-502-2078 or You can also find more information about her book or watch her TEDx Talk at

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MSU Extension offers Easy Steps to Healthy Living. The expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education assist low-income families to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and changed behavior necessary for nutritionally sound diets; improve eating and lifestyle behaviors as a preventative approach to reducing diet-related health problems. The nutrition instructors work with low-income homemakers and individuals in households with young children that are responsible for planning and preparing the family’s food. Topics include: learning about MyPlate; planning meals & grocery lists; storing food safely; importance of physical activity; comparison shopping; stretching your food dollar; and making healthy choices from all food groups. Contact them at their local office in the Muskegon County Johnny O. Harris Building, 97 E. Apple Ave., Muskegon at 231-724-4732 for more information.

Join the 35th Annual Muskegon Area CROP Hunger Walk on Sunday, October 5, 2014. Join with your friends & neighbors to help eliminate hunger, one sep at a time! We’ll start at Central United Methodist Church, 1011 Second St. in downtown Muskegon (by the Red Cross building) and end at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1006 Third St. (behind the Hackley Public Library & across from Hackley Park).

In between, we will walk to raise money to help fight hunger both globally and right here in Muskegon. Our 4 local agencies benefitting are the Meals-On-Wheels program of AgeWell Services, providing meals for home-bound seniors, the garden program at Community encompass in the McLaughlin Neighborhood, the Healthy Choice Pantry at Mission for Area People (MAP), and the Saturday Breakfast at First Congregational UCC.

For every sponsored walker, an Angel Donor will give an extra $3.50 in honor of this 35th Walk. Get your group or congregation involved TODAY! Call Muskegon County Cooperating Churches at 231-727-6000, or Delphine Hogston, 231-215-9110 or email Delphine at for details.

Fruitport and White Lake areas will also be hosting CROP Hunger Walks in their areas on the same day, October 5, 2014.

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Women Build events take place all over the world, bringing women together to make a difference in their own communities by building houses with Habitat for Humanity. The women in Muskegon last participated in a Woman Build in 2009/2010 when they raised funds for and built a home in the Marquette neighborhood. In 2015, they will do it again, raising $50,000 in construction costs and supplying 300 volunteer shifts to construct a home in the Lakeside neighborhood. Fundraisers are starting now for this project. The 46 Posse will be hosting their Annual Fun Run on Saturday, September 13th. Registration is at the M46 Bar, 3015 Apple Ave. at 10am. On Thursday, September 18th from 6-9pm there will be a Thirsty Thursday Fundraiser at Your Plate or Mine in the Lakes Mall. Reservations are required. For more information call 231-799-1918. This is an adult event only for ages 21 and up.

Sacred Suds is a newly rehabbed community center at the southern edge of McLaughlin Neighborhood that offers neighbors beautiful facilities for laundry and showers. Volunteers from area churches begin in hot and cold meals on a daily basis for all neighbors who stop by. Neighbors also have access to computers, printers, and internet at Sacred’s technology center. During tax season, community volunteers offer free tax preparation services as part of a large community effort to bring back tax credit dollars to working families. Through the efforts of our volunteers, over $1,000,000 is returned to families in the Muskegon area every year. Hygiene products are available at Sacred’s Hygiene Market for neighbors at low-cost. The shelves of the Hygiene Market are kept full by donations from YOU! High-efficiency laundry soap is always need. The center is located at 289 E. Larch and is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 9am-5pm and Tuesday 10am-5pm.

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Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to the family of Grace Mathews who passed away on August 1, 2014. She and her husband, Don, were very much involved in the spiritual welfare of this community for years. They have been faithful supporters of MCCC throughout the years. There will be a Service of Remembrance and Celebration of Life of Grace Mathews on Saturday, September 14th at 2pm at the First Presbyterian Church, 2577 Wickham Drive, Muskegon.

We would not exist without your generous support. Contributions have been received during the last 2 months from the following individuals: Lawrence & Julie Ayers, Lynn Gordon & Jack Kennedy, Don & Grace Mathews, Bill & Loyce Page, Nancy Whitlock and Donald Wood. Congregations: Sacred Heart, First Congregational UCC, First Presbyterian Church, and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

Muskegon County Cooperating Churches has a few openings on their Board of Directors that could use your expertise. We meet on a monthly basis on the third Thursday of each month beginning at 5pm. As this is a non-profit ecumenical organization serving all faith congregations in Muskegon County, we could use some more representatives of diverse faiths on our Board of Directors. If you are willing to consider becoming one of our board members, please take a little time out of your month to come to one of our meetings and learn what we are doing in the County of Muskegon.

NOTE ON UPCOMING EVENTS – those activities listed with (**) are part of the 30 Days of Peace Community Calendar. Contact Kryssis Diane Bjork, Community Calendar Coordinator at 231-747-8138 or email for additional information.

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September 1 Labor Day

September 2 6-8pm Mayors of Muskegon County Proclamation**

September 5 United Way Day of Caring**

September 6 10-3pm Quiet Day at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church**

September 6 Noon-1pm Picket 4 Peace, corner of Henry & Norton**

September 6 7-9pm Café Rubican, Open Mic – Unity of Muskegon**

September 6 6:30pm Sudanese for Peace at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church**

September 6 3-5pm Oneness of Humankind Observance, Baha’i Peace Park**

September 10 8:30am New Pastor’s Breakfast – Coastline Deli (see pg. 1)

September 10 10am-Noon Social Security- Benefits & Changes Workshop (see pg. 6)

September 13 10am The 46 Posse Annual Fun Run (see pg. 8)

September 13 9-Noon Interfaith Trolley Tour, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church**

September 13 Noon-1pm Picket 4 Peace, corner of Henry & Norton**

September 13 Noon-1pm White Pines for Peace, Farmer’s Market**

September 14 2pm Service of Remembrance for Grace Mathews (see pg. 9)

September 17 7:15pm Taize Prayer Service at St. Francis deSales (see pg. 4)

September 17 9-3pm Power of Peace Project, MAISD**

September 18 6-9pm Thirsty Thursday Fundraiser at Your Plate or Mine (see pg. 8)

September 18 5:00pm Muskegon County Cooperating Churches Board Meeting

at Catholic Charities Building

September 18 9-3pm Power of Peace Project, MAISD**

September 18 5:30-7:30pm Community Forum, United Way**

September 19 9-11am Power of Peace Project, MAISD**

September 19 Pinwheels for Peace, various locations**

September 20 9am Mt. Zion COGIC Unity Breakfast, Holiday Inn**

September 20 Noon-1pm Picket 4 Peace, corner of Henry & Norton

September 20 Pinwheels for Peace, various locations**

September 21 11-Noon Peace Jam at Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation**

September 21 Noon-4pm International Day of Peace Picnic – Margaret Drake Elliot Park**

(see pg. 5)

September 21 Pinwheels for Peace, various locations

September 23 Noon-1pm Feeding the Soul in the City Harp Concert, St. Paul’s Episcopal


September 25 6:30-8:30pm Native American Day Celebration & Potluck, Reeths Puffer MS**

September 27 4-8pm 30 Days of Peace Progressive Dinner** (see pg. 5)

September 27 Noon-1pm Picket 4 Peace, corner of Henry & Norton**

September 28 1:30-3:30pm Latinos Working for the Future Mexican Independence Day

Celebration, Lakeshore Museum Center**

October 5 CROP Hunger Walk beginning at Central United Methodist

(see pg. 7)

October 14 10:30am Does Religion Have a Future? Day-long Conference (see pg. 5)

October 16 5:00pm Muskegon County Cooperating Churches Board Meeting

at Catholic Charities Building

October 18 9am-1pm Mom 2 Mom Sale at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (see pg. 4)

October 22 Last Day for Articles for The Branches for November-December

October 25 10-12:30pm Medicare & Medicaid Eligibility & Benefits Workshop (see pg. 6)

October 26 4-6pm Trunk or Treat at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (see pg. 4)


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