Connections – May 22

Hi friends,
Enjoy these excerpts from our weekly Connections newsletter for May 22, online in our blog during this pandemic. Subscribe now to receive them in your inbox every week. 
Jen

WORSHIP WITH US

You are invited to worship with us in your home, using the liturgy and YouTube playlist on our homepage: www.aacrc.org.

GROW WITH US

Weekly Bible Study:
Thursdays @ 10:00AM, led by the pastoral staff
Join Bible Study Zoom

Video Series: The Sabbath: A Biblical Perspective
Have you had a chance to check our our sabbath series videos yet? Visit the Ann Arbor CRC Sabbath Series playlist to access the three videos that have been released in this excellent and engaging series.

SERVE WITH US

Council Leadership Team Update: On Wednesday evening, Council Leadership Team had their monthly meeting. Enjoy updates on finances, our annual meeting, Olive Tree, and more in the Leadership Team update on our blog.

New Request from Cohort Detroit: Do you have unused garden tools for donation? Hesed Community Church and Cohort Detroit are looking for gardening hand tools, shovels, leaf and mulch rakes, etc. for our Brightmoor and Morningside ministry communities. Nathan Groenewold, Cohort Detroit director, would be happy to take them in to Detroit as they arrive at AACRC. Please bring donations to church and place them just inside the entrance near the church office door. Thank you!

Sheltering in AACRC: We continue to offer housing to about 20 men in partnership with the Delonis Center. The greatest need right now is for people to sign up to bring a main dish for an evening meal–spots currently available for the beginning of June. You can sign up HERE. For a more complete update, check the AACRC blog post on our website. Questions? Contact: Rachel Bush (rachelbush360@gmail.com)

Habitat for Humanity Update  Habitat for Humanity has finalized their COVID-19 safety protocols and is starting to re-open operations,  They will resume building operations on June 1, and will have volunteer build days on the House of Faith (792 N. Ford in Ypsilanti) on Fridays and Saturdays from July 17 through September 12. Saturday build dates have been requested for AACRC, and will be announced in Connections as soon as they are finalized.  Read about the Habitat COVID-19 precautions they will be taking.  The Faith Build financial situation has improved since the last update. They now have $16,552 out of a goal of $20,000 for the House of Faith. They received several donations from people at AACRC via their web site. Thank you! If you wish to make a donation, you can do so by clicking on this link. Again, thank you!

Continuing your tithes and offerings helps us continue to reach out:  Thank you for continuing to support the good work of God through the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church! Ways to donate:

CLT Update May 22, 2020

Council Leadership Team Update

May 22, 2020

Last week there was a post on the AACRC blog pointing us to a number of prayer resources that you might find helpful as we live amidst these unusual circumstances. One of the prayers, an evening prayer from the Northumbria Community, echoes familiar sentiments:

Lord, You have always given
strength for the coming day;
and though I am weak,
today I believe.

Lord, You have always given
peace for the coming day;
and though of anxious heart,
today I believe.

 

While we may not know what the coming days will bring, we continue to trust that our Lord will give us strength and peace for each day.

We are accustomed to gathering in May to hear about what God has been doing among us, to affirm new office bearers, to approve a budget for the next fiscal year, and to thank God for another year of ministry together. This year’s congregational gathering will look different, as so many things do right now. On Sunday, June 7 at 9:30 AM, immediately following the sermon, we will conduct our annual gathering from home via Zoom (more details to follow). We thank you in advance for participating, even in this unorthodox way, because the life and work of the church continues even in these times of pandemic and social distancing.

Of course there is no better example of God’s ongoing work than the Rotating Shelter program. We continue to provide a safe place to stay for 18 men. We are thankful for everyone that has contributed in some way, large or small, to this expression of Christian hospitality. We are also, in coordination with the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, working on a plan to help our guests transition to living outside of our building in the most loving and supportive way possible. Thursday morning Zoom Bible studies with the pastors have given us the chance to connect with one another and grow in our faith. The church’s YouTube channel has been bursting with activity. Our live Ascension Day service yesterday was viewed by nearly 40 households in real time. Video content such as our weekly sermons, worship liturgy videos, and the new Sabbath Project series has received nearly 5000 views over the last month; that’s over 300 hours of viewing time! We are grateful for the technology that has allowed us to worship and grow together during this time of separation.

Many of you have asked about the status of the proposed partnership with Olive Tree Campus Church. This past winter we were discerning what it might look like to invite a Chinese speaking congregation not only to worship in our building but also to become a part of our community. The voting period was cut short due to the shelter in place mandate and as a result the matter was put on hold. Given the uncertainty we are all facing, both in the short and long term, our Council Leadership Team is proposing that the church revisit this proposal in spring of 2021 when we have some clarity on what it means to be together. Council will consider this proposal and discern together at the June council meeting.

Last, but not least, we want to reiterate our gratitude to each one of you for your continued, faithful giving during these last three months. Council Leadership Team received the April financials which showed amazing financial progress.

Revenue
(through April 30, 2020)

$666,852

Expenses
(through April 30, 2020)

$653,124

Difference

$13,728

April contributions totaled $113,372. We are immensely grateful for God’s provision. Previously, we believed it was prudent to delay payment of third quarter classical and denominational ministry shares. However, robust giving and a more secure cash position led Council Leadership Team to approve the payment of all third quarter ministry shares this past Wednesday. We are grateful that we can fulfill these commitments to our denominational partners at this time. Decisions about fourth quarter obligations will be made in the coming weeks as we continue to monitor giving throughout May and June. We want to thank the Finance Team (Charlie Aagenas, Arnie Geldermans, and Ross Weener) for their work which has helped us to navigate these uncertain financial times. We ask that you continue to remember the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church with your tithes and offerings as we come to the end of our current fiscal year.

The peace of Christ be with you,
Jaime Ventura, on behalf of Council Leadership Team

Connections – May 15

Hi friends,
Enjoy these excerpts from our weekly Connections newsletter for May 15, online in our blog during this pandemic. Subscribe now to receive them in your inbox every week. 
Jen

The Coronavirus has come as a huge shock to us. Within a very short time it has radically challenged our attitudes and behaviors. Everyday tasks have suddenly become challenging. Social distancing brings new routines and sometimes spaces of loneliness. In the midst of this, our connection to God and our life of prayer, one that might have seemed centered and on track, can begin to feel troubled. What words might we offer as we seek to faithfully respond to where we find ourselves?

Find an invitation and resources from Pastor Kristen and Jen Boes to help us in finding words on our blog this week.  

WORSHIP WITH US: Ascension Day Service

Ascension Day Service: On Thursday, May 21 at 10:00am we will be live streaming an Ascension Day service on the “Ann Arbor CRC” YouTube channel. We’d love for you to join us!  (This is in place of the weekly Bible study)

GROW WITH US

Video Series: The Sabbath: A Biblical Perspective
Have you had a chance to check our our sabbath series videos yet? Click HERE to access the first two videos in this excellent and engaging series.

SERVE WITH US

Hope Clinic: Hope Clinic continues to collect donations for a number of items. The greatest read right now is for groceries, toilet paper and personal care items, and masks. Click HERE for their complete list of needs.

Sheltering at AACRC: We continue to offer housing to about 20 men. The greatest need right now is for people to sign up to bring a main dish for an evening meal. You can sign up HERE. For a more complete update, check the AACRC blog post on our website. Questions? Contact: Rachel Bush (rachelbush360@gmail.com)

Kid Connection Partnership

This past programming year our High School Reach students partnered with the adult volunteers in an intergenerational ministry for Kid Connection.  Twice a month the High School students joined in classrooms helping to lead the younger students in learning Bible stories, play games, and perform skits.  The younger students in Kid Connection began to form and strengthen valuable relationships with our older students.  Our older students benefitted from connecting with the adult volunteers and leading in a unique way during the Faith Formation Hour.  This multi-generational opportunity was an intentional component of programming based on one of the building blocks of faith, the knowledge that we all belong to God’s church.

If you’d like to hear more about Reach or how you can partner with our youth ministries, please contact Andrea Bennink, teen ministry coordinator at AACRC, via email at andrea@aacrc.org.

Cohort Detroit Update from Resonate:

“When Cohort Detroit met together for the first time in February 2020, they had no idea how COVID-19 would affect their city and the neighborhoods they serve. Within a few short weeks, Detroit reported more cases of the coronavirus than any other Michigan city (or entire county).

“We did not anticipate that what lay ahead would involve keeping social distance from our neighbors and each other,” said Nathan Groenewold, director of Cohort Detroit.”

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Finding words: prayer resources for a pandemic

From Pastor Kristen Livingston and Jen Boes

The Coronavirus has come as a huge shock to us, and within a very short time it has radically challenged our attitudes and behaviors. Our lives have narrowed and everyday tasks have suddenly become challenging. Social distancing brings new routines and sometimes spaces of loneliness. In the midst of this, our connection to God and our life of prayer, one that might have seemed centered and on track, can begin to feel troubled. But God hasn’t moved away from us! As we pray, we know that even though we are apart in body, God connects us through the power of the Spirit. What words might we offer as we seek to faithfully respond to where we find ourselves? 

Here you will find resources that we have found to be life-giving aids to prayer, that are helping connect us to God. Some are online. Some are podcasts. Some are books. They range from ancient to modern, and from specific-for-right-now to timeless.

Pray as you go

Daily recordings to guide you through prayer using scripture, stories, and meditative music as prompts, with content and prompts specific to our time and the pandemic. The style of prayer is based on Ignatian Spirituality. Extra prayer tools include a guided Examen prayer for children (review of the day), as well as additional topical prayer sessions, including one on loneliness. Provided by Jesuits in the UK and around the world. 

Invitation Podcast

The mission of the Invitation is to create time and space for God. Josh Banner is the host and creator of this podcast and is a spiritual director. He has served within the Reformed tradition and presents regularly at the Dominican Center at Marywood. He offers short and long-form audio guides within the practice of contemplative prayer. 

Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

Every Moment Holy  is a book of liturgies for the ordinary events of daily life–liturgies such as “A Liturgy for Missing Someone” or “A Liturgy for those Flooded By Too Much Information” or “A Liturgy for Laundering.” These are ways of reminding us that our lives are shot through with sacred purpose even when, especially when, we become too distracted to notice. The book is a wonderful resource, and the publisher has opened up a dozen of these prayers online since the onset of the Coronovirus. You can find more here: https://www.everymomentholy.com/liturgies

Northumbria Community

The Northumbria Community is a diverse, worldwide, Christian Community, committed to a new way for living. Their website has written daily morning prayer, midday prayer, and evening prayer that you can do alone or responsively with a group of people. 

Sacred Space | Your daily prayer online

Sacred Space is a ministry of the Irish Jesuits and provides daily guided prayer and retreats online. Sitting at your computer, you can use the prompts for a short prayer break. Sacred Space is inspired by the spirituality of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a sixteenth-century Basque, whose insights into God’s working with the human heart have been of great assistance to countless people over the centuries and are found more helpful than ever today. 

At the Still Point: A Literary Guide to Prayer in Ordinary Time by Sarah Arthur

This book is a literary guide to prayer following the church’s liturgical calendar. Alongside weekly Scriptural passages, the reader is invited to a prayerful journey of the imagination guided by poets and authors, both classic and contemporary, who have known the things of God but speak in metaphor. These are writers who tell the truth, as Emily Dickinson put it, but they “tell it slant.” Listen to Sarah describe her book here.

Psalms for Young Children by Marie Helen-Deval

This is an excellent resource for kids ages 2-8 years old. It’s a picture book of Psalms that echoes the Church’s long-held conviction that Psalms are the prayerbook of God’s people. This sweet book opens up the emotional breadth found in the Psalms for the youngest of readers. 

Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer by Eugene Peterson

As we go to the Psalms as the primary place to be guided in prayer, Peterson also helps us to remember that it is God who speaks to us first; prayer is fundamentally our answering speech.

We Wonder Podcast

We Wonder podcast inhabits the practice of contemplative Bible storytelling for children and adults alike. You might remember that we shared this resource during Advent and Lent; the creator of this podcast has continued to follow a Lectio Divina pattern of regular meditations on Scripture into the Easter season.

Writing A Lament

Here is a two-minute video from Old Testament scholar Carol Bechtel about how to write your own lament. Carol has been blogging from Rome where she is on Sabbatical. This would be a great activity to do as a whole family. 

The Christian Reformed Church is also keeping an ongoing list of faith nurture suggestions for during this Covid-19 time. 

 

We share these resources with you with the hope that you will find the rhythms and space to nurture your connection with God through prayer in this unpredictable time. Please feel free to share with us below in the comments which of these that you have found helpful! What other prayer resources have been nourishing you in this time?

Sheltering in AACRC: May 15 Update

Guest post from
Rachel Bush, Deacon at Ann Arbor CRC and coordinator of Covid-19 Shelter

Sheltering in AACRC: May 15 Update

Hi all! I feel like it’s been a while since I updated you on the vulnerable men sheltering at the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church. Today is day #54 of having the men at the church!

During this time many things have shifted based on the direction of the health department, etc. Other off-site locations for the men have closed due to being too communal (ie everyone sleeping in one room, albeit spread out), men have been moved to a hotel, greatly reducing the number of homeless at the downtown center to safe levels. Two other churches even started hosting men a couple weeks ago, but just this week these men were also moved to the hotel when more rooms there were secured through the county. But one thing has remained constant: the AACRC site remained open and operating for the men to remain in place.

The stability of remaining in one location all day for so many weeks means that the Delonis staff and case workers have been able to work more closely with these men on progressing through goals set up for each person. Goals to dig more deeply into health issues (securing necessary prescriptions for diabetes, etc); goals to get better treated and, when necessary, medicated for mental health issues; goals to work on paperwork for social security benefits; goals to get out job applications or even finish high school; goals to secure permanent housing.

The church currently has a very “group home” feel. The men have had to learn to live together with others. They all participate in a schedule of maintaining the facilities. They take turns helping to get breakfast, lunch and dinner together. They all clean dishes. They maintain our pop-up clothing donation area. A horseshoe pit has been set up in the lawn. The church grill gets a lot of use. The zero gravity camp chairs are a favorite.

We are also the only site which provides groceries and home cooked meals three times a day. All other sites are being supported by the food service of Eastern Michigan University. These home cooked meals do wonders for the men’s mental health. Not only do they get hearty portion sizes, but they know that in order for them to receive these meals others are actually thinking about and caring for them. That is the main comment I hear when I’m on-site: “we feel loved and seen”.

We will have the men for a couple more weeks.  A final move out date is still unknown. Many people have asked how they can still help. The main need is for people to prepare a main course in their own home to bring in. Please see this link for more information.

Thank you, all! It has taken a village to support these men. I feel so blessed have been a part of this great community.

Thanksgiving, song, and wondering – notes from our pastors

…from Pastor Ryan

Hey Friends,

I’m writing to you all today as I prepare for Sunday’s sermon. If this year were like any other year, I’d be prepping for a service that is one of my favorites of the year—our Friendship service. In that service we remember the year that was for our Friendship Ministry and show hospitality to all of our friends as they join us. This year, unfortunately, we won’t be having that service. And it got me thinking about all the special things we miss in our shared worshiping life together.

I have missed our Roots service where our middle school students and leaders share and lead worship. I have missed our GEMS and Cadet services that are such a blessing. I have also missed how our Sunday rhythm begins with faith formation in house groups, Big House Sunday, or, for our children, our Kid Connection. I have missed how that faith formation disciples us and shapes us. And, I have missed coming into worship with all of you.

So, I wanted to take an opportunity to do a couple of things. First, as we think about all our programs, whether that’s Friendship, Kid Connection, Nursery, House Groups, or any other program that you can think of, take some time and pray for those ministries. We don’t know when we will be able to gather again, but even when we are apart, those ministries need our prayers.

Second, take some time and thank the many volunteers that make all these programs succeed. There are so many people to be thankful for. I am thankful that just today some cards came in the mail for some of my children. They love getting mail and were thrilled to receive a note from a teacher in Kid Connection or ROOTS. Maybe you’re thankful for a house group facilitator or a Friendship leader. Whoever it is, let’s express some of that thankfulness today.

Grace and Peace to you.

Pastor Ryan

AACRC worship music on YouTube

Pastor Noah has been hard at work producing songs from individual recordings sent to him by our very own worship team members as part of Sunday worship, as well as editing video musings from our pastors.

Did you know you can access the entire playlist of worship team songs on our church YouTube page, “Ann Arbor CRC“?

Enjoy the playlist of worship songs:

The Sabbath: A Biblical Perspective (episode 2)

We are excited to share Episode 2 of our Sabbath Project. In this episode, Pastor Ryan builds on the first video from Travis West to show how our concept of time and work have been disrupted by Covid-19. And, how the sabbath can be an invitation think about time and work differently and accept the divine invitation to rest.

 

 

Connections – May 8

Please enjoy these excerpts from our weekly electronic newsletter Connections for May 8, 2020.

A note from your AACRC elders

Hi friends,

It is hard to believe that this Sunday will mark our 10th Sunday of home worship. While we are committed to keeping distance and staying home to protect one another, some have started to ask what’s next. Therefore, the Shepherding elders would like you to know a couple of things. First, that the pastors are planning what worship could look like when we are able to return to 1717 Broadway again. Second, that the elders, staff, and pastors are thinking through the logistics of getting back into the building safely and quickly. Lastly, we are continuing to monitor the stay at home order and other instructions from officials and health professionals in order to communicate a date for our return to worship when it becomes available. Whenever we are allowed to meet again, we will have some transition time to get the building ready and make sure we have everything in place to meet safely. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to your shepherding elder or one of the pastors. Thank you for your continued prayer and support.

God bless and stay safe,

Chris VanEe
Sue DeZeeuw
Godwin Okonkwo
Roy Glover
Bev Kraker
Debbie Tuckey
Malo Engel
Jim Bryson
Pastor Kristen
Pastor Noah
Pastor Ryan

WORSHIP WITH US

In-Home Worship

Sunday, May 10
Liturgy
Songs & Pastor Kristen’s Message (YouTube)
John 21:1-19

Pastor Kristen’s sermon will premiere on YouTube at 9:00am. Allow yourself about 20 minutes prior to this start time to move through the liturgy if you want to catch the sermon when it premieres.

For our youth: new children’s bulletin
For our young children, this week’s Children & Worship story can be found HERE
Please join us on Sunday @ 9:30am for a Fellowship time via a Zoom meeting: Join Zoom Meeting

**Worship resources can be found every week on the homepage of our church website: www.aacrc.org

We need your help with the Doxology!

Remember how the worship team has been recording collaborative videos during this season of social distancing? Pastor Noah is starting a project for the whole church! Watch this video, record yourself singing along, and send it to Pastor Noah (noah@aacrc.org):

Worship Time Feedback

As Council approaches the end of its leadership year, we will be making the decision of whether or not to continue in our current schedule of 9:15 faith formation and 10:30 worship. See your Connections newsletter for the link to a two question survey to gain your input and wisdom as we gather in June to listen and discern ourselves. This link will be active through May 22nd. Subscribe to Connections

 

GROW WITH US

Weekly Bible Study

You are invited to join the weekly Bible study on Thursdays at 10am. The pastoral staff will be leading this Bible study over Zoom. We’d love to have you join us when you can!  Join Zoom Bible study

NEW!! The Sabbath: A Biblical Perspective

We’re excited to share the first in a series of videos about Sabbath! This series will look at what Sabbath is, what it means, and why it’s exactly the invitation from God we need to hear right now.

The first episode is a biblical perspective from our friend and Old Testament scholar, Travis West from Western Theological Seminary.

SERVE WITH US

Ways you can help out right now!

Continue our tithes and offerings

The AACRC supports many organizations and missionaries that are being directly affected by this pandemic and it is through our offerings and tithes that we can continue to support ourselves and the ministries we are in partnership with. Thank you for continuing to support the good work of God through the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church. Ways to donate:

Hope Clinic

Hope Clinic continues to collect donations for a number of items. The greatest need right now is for groceries, toilet paper and personal care items, and masks. Click HERE for their complete list of needs.

Rotating Shelter

With the Governor’s order extending to May 28, we are committed to continuing our support of the vulnerable men staying at our church through the provision of shelter and food.  Rachel Bush has compiled a list of ways we can support these men while they are staying at our church. Contact Rachel (rachelbush360@gmail.com) if you would like to help with any of these needs:

  • Overnight volunteers (11:30pm-8:30am) one Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
  • Monetary donations for groceries
  • Sign up to provide snack bags for the men at the hotel: HERE
  • Make a main dish and/or dessert at home for Rachel to pick up from your porch or for you to drop off at church
  • Ruben, our guest who has been heading up all the food at church, is on the hunt for an inexpensive laptop. If you know of anyone who is willing to part with one for ~$100, please contact Rachel Bush

I Believe in the Life Everlasting

Nathan Groenewold, Associate Pastor and Director of Cohort Detroit

I woke up with these ancient words running through my head, and I felt some comfort. Perhaps these words had grown stale for me, but they came alive this morning, sticking in my mind and refusing to leave. “I believe in the resurrection of the body. I believe in the life everlasting.”

Eugene’s smile is a gift I will never forget. It seemed almost childlike, a smile that was part mischievous and part radiant. He would sway back and chuckle…

Click HERE to read the rest of this impactful story on the AACRC blog.

House of Faith Build Update

by Mike Waldyke

The House of Faith build project at 792 N. Ford Blvd in Ypsilanti has had more than its share of challenges this year. First, tearing off the old roof revealed water damage in the walls of the upper floor, so the upper floor was demolished and…

Click HERE to read the entire update.

AACRC Council Briefs

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

On Monday, the Council of the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church met and reflected on the words of comfort from Psalm 46. We were reminded that “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble”. We encourage you to join us in dwelling in those promises this week.

We continue to give thanks to God for the faithful giving of this community. Council received the March financials showing the following:  Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were facing a deficit to spending. During the months of March and April that deficit has shrunk because of your faithful giving and the church securing a forgivable loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program. But we still have more work to do as the church’s fiscal year winds down. We ask that you continue to remember the church and its ministries in your giving. Don’t forget about the church’s newest option for giving: you can create an account on the web at mywell.org/give/aacrc or download the app for your smartphone.

In these uncertain times, Council decided to set aside its current budget process and propose to the congregation a carry-over budget of the 19-20FY. The goal would be to approve a modified budget at the end of the first quarter of 20-21FY. Look for more details about how we can, as a congregation, vote on budget and affirm new office bearers in the near future.

Sometimes it feels like returning to worship is a distant prospect. After all, we have been away for so long. But the pastors have already begun thinking about what it might look like to resume worship and other programming both in the short and long term. While there is an ongoing freeze on general expenditures, council unanimously approved a proposal to purchase video equipment that will facilitate and improve the quality of live streaming of our services. Under normal circumstances this funding would fit within the worship budget, but with the spending freeze Council approved this expense. We do this out of pastoral sensitivity for the vulnerable among us and out of the reality that we might not be able to gather as a large group for some time.

While most ministries have come to a halt, our involvement with the rotating shelter program has increased. There are many in need at this time and we are grateful to have been able to house 18 guests for the past six weeks. This is oikos. This is extending Christian hospitality to a group of marginalized people in our community. In case you missed it, there is a wonderful post and video on the church blog where you can hear from some of our guests. Thank you to Rachel Bush, and the deacons, for heading up this endeavor and to all of the volunteers that have donated time, money and food to make this possible.

We thank God for each one of you and hope you are all well and look forward to being together again soon.

Grace and peace,
Jaime Ventura, on behalf of Council

How can I stay connected?

You can keep connected with happening at the AACRC by signing up for Connections, our weekly electronic newsletter: Subscribe now

I Believe in the Life Everlasting

Guest post by
Nathan Groenewold, Associate Pastor and Director of Cohort Detroit

I Believe in the Life Everlasting

I woke up with these ancient words running through my head, and I felt some comfort. Perhaps these words had grown stale for me, but they came alive this morning, sticking in my mind and refusing to leave. “I believe in the resurrection of the body. I believe in the life everlasting.”

Eugene’s smile is a gift I will never forget. It seemed almost childlike, a smile that was part mischievous and part radiant. He would sway back and chuckle, suppressing laughter at a joke about Mark’s cooking, leaning on the countertop microwave in the grease-splattered kitchen. I recall that the tension I carried in my neck always relaxed a bit when he was around.

On Thursdays like those, Eugene brightened the whole house. He was a regular attendee at Hesed Community Church’s weekday Bible study, even more regular around Christmastime, when gifts would be handed out. I loved that. Many of the Hesed Community members did not receive gifts from a parent growing up. I once asked a friend at Hesed if they had a ‘fun’ Christmas, only to realize that the holiday is more often a reminder of loss and brokenness than a day of laughter and joy. Eugene’s eagerness for Christmas, for presents, was a testament of resilience, of hope and of life.

***

Sometime between April 30 and May 4, Eugene passed away when the house he was staying in was burned down. These house fires are a regular occurrence Detroit, in Brightmoor especially. This particular fire, and this particular life, did not even make the news. Had the fire occurred 10 miles north, across city lines, it would have been on the front page.

So I woke up this morning, thinking about Eugene’s smile. I wish all of metro Detroit, our whole country, could wake up and remember Eugene’s smile.

I do not know his entire story. I do not know where his family lives, how they have responded to the news, or what water-stained scripture passage he was reading the night before he died. I do know he was made in the image of God. That he was a kind friend and a caring brother.

I look ahead to the hope we share in Christ—the hope that Eugene carried in his pocket—to the day when his life, his story, and his death, will matter to all of us. When his life, and all lives filling news cycles and convening vigils, will matter equally.

Until then, please, remember Eugene.

Connections – May 1

Hi friends,
As we continue to shelter in place, we miss being able to meet in person, but are so grateful to our pastors for thoughtful worship, musicians for fun videos, staff for keeping us up-to-date, elders for reaching out, and so much more. Please enjoy these excerpts from our weekly Connections email newsletter from May 1.
Blessings,
Jen

WORSHIP WITH US

In-Home Worship

Sunday, May 3
Pastor Noah Livingston
Matthew 28:16-20
Liturgy
Songs & Pastor Noah’s Message (YouTube)

Pastor Noah’s sermon will premiere on YouTube at 9:00am. Allow yourself about 20 minutes prior to this start time to move through the liturgy if you want to catch the sermon when it premieres.

Children and Worship: New This Week! Our Children and Worship program leader, Kerry DeKraker, has put together a video with a lesson for those younger members of our community who typically continue with worship together in a different space on Sundays. Check it out HERE!

Children’s bulletin: If your children would like to participate and engage by using the new children’s bulletin, it is attached HERE.

GROW WITH US

Weekly Bible Study: You are invited to join the weekly bible study on Thursdays at 10am. The pastoral staff will be leading this bible study over Zoom. We’d love to have you join us when you can!  Join Zoom Meeting

SERVE WITH US

Ministry Highlight–Sheltering in AACRC

Thank you, AACRC!  Our church continues to provide shelter for several gentlemen from the Delonis Center and has committed to continuing this through the duration of the “shelter in place” order. To read more about how God has been working at AACRC through this opportunity to provide hospitality for those in need, check out this blog post and a video of thanks from some of the men sheltering at AACRC.

Continue our tithes and offerings

The AACRC supports many organizations and missionaries that are being directly affected by this pandemic and it is through our offerings and tithes that we can continue to support ourselves and the ministries we are in partnership with. Thank you for continuing to support the good work of God through the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church. Ways to donate:

Hope Clinic

Hope Clinic continues to collect donations for a number of items. The greatest need right now is for groceries, toilet paper and personal care items, and masks. Click HERE for their complete list of needs.

An Update from Mission Partners, Joel & Jeannie Huyser

We want to see Jesus
“In some ways life has changed for Jeannie and I since we returned from a visit to Nicaragua on March 18.  For one thing I (Joel) will no longer be traveling for the foreseeable future.  And, yes, like everyone else we are being cautious and are concerned for family members that have lost employment.  But inother ways life has not changed…”  Read the entire update

Sheltering in AACRC: thank you’s

Sheltering in AACRC: thank you’s

Enjoy this video of our currently sheltering guests and volunteer coordinator Rachel as they say thank you.

AACRC – Unexpected Opportunities for Ministry on Vimeo.

The “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order in Michigan was put in place just as AACRC began to host our second week of the Rotating Shelter for the Shelter Organization of Washtenaw County. This presented us with an unexpected opportunity. We agreed to host the men in our facility, not only overnight but also during the day, since most of their daytime spaces such as libraries and restaurants are currently closed. We are committed to continuing this through the duration of the “shelter in place” order.

In order to reduce crowding at the Delonis Center, the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County currently has men housed at a local hotel. In addition, this past week, two additional local churches have agreed to host men in their buildings.

The gentlemen are truly grateful for this space to shelter, and we are thankful with them for the ways God has been working:

  • Lonnie is moving into an apartment this week after an 18 month wait. We’ve been able to help furnish his entire apartment and even stock it up all the way down to ziplock bags, oven mitts, toilet paper and a full fridge and pantry (AACRC, AACS, and the larger community thru the power of social media and working with housen2home.org). Truly an emotional and joyful time.
  • We have a new 19-year-old who has come from the River Rouge area that Darren is setting up with a laptop so that he can finish out his senior year of high school. He has applied to U of M for next year.
  • Paul has just been hired at the Kroger on Plymouth Road. A church member donated a bike for him to use to commute to and from work. If you see him at Kroger, say hi! He’d love to say thank you.

The men sheltering at the AACRC are giving back to their community by organizing, packaging and delivering the snack bags to the men being housed at the hotel. These snack donations have been made possible by families of AACS and members of our congregation.

#GraceWhereWeAre looks like #GraceWhereWeCantBe in this moment! Hope you are finding moments of grace wherever you are today. Thanks for helping make this one happen.

PS With the extension of the governor’s order, volunteers are needed to donate snack items for the men in the hotel (sign up here). In addition, money for food, donating men’s used clothing and shoes, cooking meals or desserts from home, or lending movies (comedy or action, labeled, DVDs only) are still needed. Please contact Rachel rachelbush360@gmail.com if you can help out.

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