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Love is the final word

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

Rabbi Irwin Kula collected an assembly of audio recordings in the days after the September 11th terrorist attacks; final conversations of those in the towers as they called home, spouses, parents, partners, friends, and left voice mails.

What he discovered was this: All the final conversations he had in his collection were about love. Not a single person used his or her last breathe to say, “Kill [them] for what they have done…Be sure to get revenge…I hate them for what they did to me…Avenge my memory.” Every last word was an “I love you” of some variety.

Rabbi Kula said, “Then I recognized what the real experience behind religion is…it is about love…and it’s no more complicated than that. As a rabbi, and I think priests, ministers, and monks, we’ve made it a lot more complicated than it is. When you make it more complicated than it is, you lose the experience.”

As I understand the Bible, particularly as I read it through the lens of Jesus of Nazareth, God isn’t much into religion. He’s not interested in carving up the world along tribal or cultic lines. He’s not officiating a spiritual contest, declaring winners and losers in who can most strongly declare how right they are. That’s all much too complicated.

Rather, Jesus came to reveal God’s love to us, to draw it out of us, to show us that love is the beginning, the means, the path, and the end; it’s the only road to travel. I suppose this makes me an “exclusivist;” one who denies that all religious paths are equal and simply have their own unique twists and turns along the way.

No, I do not believe such a thing, for the morbid irony is that religion brought down those iconic towers more than a decade ago. Hard. Inflexible. Dogmatic. Immovable religion (and such religion can be perpetuated as easily by we who are “Christian” as any other group).

God surely can’t be associated with anything of the sort, no matter what name it is called or however right and correct it purports to be. God must be—absolutely must be—in what is loving, absolving, and just, not destructive. For love is what saves us. It is what gives us life. It is the only thing that overcomes hate and injustice. It is the final word.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


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Thank you

Thank you to our families, neighbors, and friends for the prayers, flowers and cards. The American Legion Post #287 for the luncheon and the Bliss-Witters & Pike funeral Home for their services.

The family of Bill Morris


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Mr. Milford “Mick” Wesche, age 69, passed away on Sunday, September 7, 2014, surrounded by his loving family at his home. He grew up on a small farm on 19 Mile Road in Cedar Springs, where his parents, Raymond and Mildred (McIntyre) Wesche had a few cattle. While in high school, he helped his Uncle Jim and Aunt Kletis on their farm, and continued until they sold their cows. Mick graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1962 and from Central Michigan University in 1966. While in college, Mick worked at Wolverine World Wide, earning a beginning pay of $1.25 per hour. In 1966, Mick started teaching the sixth grade for Rockford Public Schools and retired after 40 years. During his teaching career, Mick was very proud to be of assistance in developing the Sixth Grade Camp program. He was a well-respected teacher by his co-workers and students. As his grandson Alex said, “He was an old man stuck in a 6th graders body, but he made every minute of every day spent at the house or the trailer or with the kids the most enjoyable time imaginable.” Mick was an avid reader and crossword enthusiast. He enjoyed being the first person to read the newspaper at Ward’s Hair Place every third Monday morning, especially so he could solve the crossword puzzle. He was also one of the first persons at Rockford Ambulance Service to be a Certified EMT and used his experience for many years as a paid, on-call volunteer. Mick also served on the Rockford Planning Commission for seventeen years. Mick met and married Alice Marie Skelonc and felt his greatest achievement in life was in raising his children and in helping with his grandchildren. The memories and experiences of vacationing and camping with his family and Alice’s family were a highlight. Mick is survived by his loving wife Alice; his children, Andy and Tonya Wesche, Aaron and Agnes Wesche, Amy and Brian Lovall, and Alissa Wesche; grandchildren Jacob, Shane, Harleigh and Karissa Wesche, Alexander Wesche, and Logan and Ava Lovall; mother, Mrs. Mildred Wesche Robertson; brothers and sisters, Ronald and Marcella Wesche, Joyce and John Hansen, Kenneth Wesche, and Nancy and Tim Gerlich; Alice’s family, Mrs. Barbara Skelonc, Richard and Mary Skelonc, Steve and Marie Skelonc, Gerald and Jenny Skelonc, Donald and Cindy Skelonc, Karen and Dennis Clelland, and Carl and Mary Skelonc; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Raymond, his step-father, Earl Robertson, his father-in-law, Martin Skelonc, and his very special aunt and uncle, Jim and Kletis McIntyre. Relatives and friends met with the family at the Pederson Funeral Home on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 from 2 to 4 pm and 6 to 8 pm and one hour prior to the funeral. The Mass of Christian Burial will be offered on Thursday, September 11, 2014, at 11:00 am at Assumption BVM Catholic Church with The Rev. Peter Vu presiding. Interment will be at Rockford Cemetery. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider Krause Memorial Library, 140 E. Bridge St., Rockford, MI 49341 or the Rockford Education Foundation, PO Box 777, Rockford, MI 49341.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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Celebrating family

Pastor Darryl Miller  

Sand Lake UMC, 65 W. Maple, Sand Lake

South Ensley UMC, 13600 Cypress, Ensley Township


As I am writing this, we are preparing for our upcoming camp. Each year our two churches go camping together at what we call “Family Camp.” This is a wonderful time of fellowship and celebration of God’s wondrous creation. It is called family camp because all our church family comes together. The great thing is that many of those there have long since left the area for jobs or other reasons. Some came as children but as adults no longer attend our churches. Others are friends of former campers who continue to come even though their friends have passed on. In other words, it is a true family; people from all over who come together and love each other.

There is a good lesson in this. I love to work with people from other denominations, remembering that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Who better to share the wonders of God’s handiwork with than your family? All walks of people, all different views, all children of the living God sharing time and fun together. What kind of world would we have if we could do this every day! Recognizing each other not as “those people who go to that other church” but as fellow heirs to God’s kingdom—a true family.

Hey, let’s face it. In my family, we don’t all get along all the time, but we do love each other. Yes, sometimes we have different opinions and ideas but we are still family. And that is how God made us. We love to sit on the dunes and share communion as the sun sets over Lake Michigan. This is something that we, the children of God, have in common. And this brings all of us together. Mike Warnke once said, “we will all be on the same side eventually, so why not start now?” He was talking about the divisions in the churches. But when God’s people come together, amazing things happen! Share a meal with your family (not just at Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving) and remember that your neighbors are family, too!

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Stay in School

By Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

The Buddha said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Well, ready or not kids, your teachers are showing up in classrooms everywhere. It’s time to crack open the books, slip the surly bonds of summer, and head back to school.

My counsel is to stay in school as long as you can; not to avoid the employment line or devour your parents’ purse but to learn all you can, and to learn to become a learner. For when you stop learning, the proverb goes, you’ve stopped living.

This applies even to those who have the parchment hanging on the wall, those in well-established careers, and to those who haven’t set foot onto a schoolyard in decades. We are always in school, or at least we should be, and those who feel they have matriculated to the point, in life or faith, where we think we know it all, or at least we know enough, we haven’t graduated. We have quit.

When we refuse to learn anything more, we become fixated, immature masters of minutia, nothing more, and life grows incredibly small—looking like old men and women stuffed into preschoolers’ chairs. Mystery is murdered, discoveries dry up, and gone is the joy and excitement of new, daily revelation.

How many treasures are forfeited by those who “know that they know what they know,” but they have learned nothing new in decades? Their minds and hearts are as closed as a freshman’s Algebra book. In the words of Russian giant Leo Tolstoy, “Even the strongest current of water cannot add a drop to a cup which is already full.”

Maybe the always returning school year is an act of redemption, really, for we get another chance to learn our lessons; to take the same course, again and again if necessary, so we can get it right; to pick up the material that we have not yet mastered or refused to heed, and to go deeper.

Still, I suppose that every student, from the Kindergartener beginning to read to the old man learning new tricks, feels like he is being crushed by the repetition of the classroom. But God’s classroom isn’t a form of punishment. The lessons must be learned for our own maturation and well-being and the Teacher knows this. He is giving us every opportunity to succeed—if only we will.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

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Thank You

The family of Janet Riggle would like to acknowledge and extend a heartfelt thank you to Metron of Cedar Springs for the quality of care given our mother during her stay there, and for the compassion and many acts of kindness shown us by the staff at her passing. It meant so much to us.


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C-obit-RupertNaomi Sue Goodwin-Rupert, age 70, of Cedar Springs, passed away Saturday morning, August 30, 2014 at her home under the loving care of her daughters and Heartland Hospice. The youngest daughter of Wilbur Jay & Thelma Marie (Waldron) Goodwin, she was born on October 29, 1943 in Greenville and was a graduate of Greenville High School. Naomi retired from the former Electrolux Home Products in Greenville, was a skilled quilter and seamstress, and was a member of Cedar Creek Community Church. She was preceded in death by her father, Wilbur J. Goodwin in 1976; a sister-in-law, Rose Goodwin; and a brother-in-law, Art Buckley. Surviving are her mother, Thelma Goodwin of Greenville; two daughters and sons-in-law, Becky & Stephane Lang of Cedar Springs, and Christina & Al Miller of Shipshewana, Indiana; three grandchildren, Stephane Lang, Stephanie Lang, and Tyler Saganski; a great-grandson, Carter Lang; three step-children, Tina & Eugene Burley of Cedar Springs, Steve & Virginia Rupert of Galesburg, and Chris Rupert of Florida; several step-grandchildren; a sister, Alice Buckley of Ovid; three brothers and a sister-in-law, Gilbert & Joan Goodwin of California, David Goodwin of Greenville, and Daniel Goodwin of Rockford; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. Visitation was from 1-2:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014 at Christiansen Cremation & Funeral Care, 511 S. Franklin Street, Greenville, where funeral services were held at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. Pastor Richard Nichols of Cedar Creek Community Church officiated and burial will take place privately in Eureka Township Cemetery. Envelopes for memorial contributions to the American Lung Association are available at the funeral home. To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Naomi’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit: www.ChristiansenCares.com

Arrangements by Christensen Cremation & Funeral Care, Greenville 


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EPSON scanner imageBeverly Jane Parker, 75 of Cedar Springs, died Saturday, August 30, 2014 at her home. Beverly was born July 21, 1939 in Cedar Springs, Michigan the daughter of Waldo and Mary (Day) Cole. She was a wonderful mother, grandmother, homemaker and cook. She enjoyed word searches. Surviving are her husband, Gerald, whom she married on November 5, 1966; daughter, Mary (Todd) Hall; granddaughter, Kylee Hall; mother-in-law, Martha Parker; brothers, Max (Cindy) Cole, Bill (Kathy) Cole, Jim (Gloria) Cole; sister, Patricia (Patrick) Holland; sisters-in-law, Joyce (Roger) Cavner, Rita (Charles) McKee; several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, sister, Ruth Ann Baxter; brother, Arthur Cole. The family received friends Tuesday from 5-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where services were held on Wednesday 11:00 am. Interment Courtland Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs


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EPSON scanner imageBarbara K. Weeks, 73 of Bailey, died Saturday, August 30, 2014 at her home. Barbara was born January 11, 1941 in Kent City, Michigan the daughter of Clarence and Fannie (Jackson) Johnson. She had been the bookkeeper for Jack & Jill Bible Camp and Bethel Bible Camp, and secretary of the Ladies Aid at Woodville Community Church. She had enjoyed trail riding and motorcycle riding with her husband, camping, fishing, and bird watching. When horseback trail camping she was the camp cook. When motorcycling she rode her own bike and other times with Bill. Surviving are her husband, William, whom she married on July 22, 1960; daughters, Julie (Dan) Atwood, Brenda (David) Metzger; grandchildren, Brandon (Christy), Ashley, Melissa, Megan, Rob, Bren, Renee; great grandchildren, Alexis, Kaylin; Anna, Addi, Toby, Drayden; aunt, Ardis Gorby; several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Carolyn DeVries. The family received friends Wednesday, Sept. 3 from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs, where services were held on Thursday at 11:00 am. Pastor Brett Werner officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorials may be made to the Ladies Aid at Woodville Community Church.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs


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C-obit-EldredBruce V. Eldred, 72 of Cedar Springs, was called back to his Saviour, Jesus Christ on Thursday, August 28, 2014 at his home. Bruce was born November 7, 1941 in Grand Rapids, Michigan the son of Vernon and Delores (Zank) Eldred. Bruce graduated from Cedar Springs High School and served his country in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He worked for Meijer for 32 years. He loved fishing, hunting, golfing and cutting wood. His name means woodsman and that was a place he loved to be. Bruce was a gentle giant, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. He was a friend to many and a stranger to none. He was always willing to lend a hand to anyone who needed it. Surviving are his wife, Sheryl, whom he married on December 23, 1963; children, Mark (Elsa) Eldred, Melissa Ward, Matthew (Marie) Eldred; grandchildren, Nicole, Stephen, Nayeli, Cody, Kira, Skylar, Triston, Colton, and Riley; aunts, Marjorie Cole and Dorothy T. Zank; several cousins; brother and sisters-in-laws, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Carol Tiede. The family received friends on Monday from 2-4 and 6-8 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The service was held on Tuesday 11:00 am at The Springs Free Methodist Church, 135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs. Pastors Wayne Cash and Jennings Johnson officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to The Springs or the Wounded Warrior Project.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs


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