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Tag Archive | "Cedar Springs United Methodist Church"

Hearing the Prophets (Read Amos 5: 21-24)

cs-united-methodistPastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St.

Cedar Springs, MI  49319


Each year when we remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), I’m amazed at the work he did as a servant of Jesus Christ. In just 39 years, his prophetic voice and tireless work for justice for all left a profound impact on our country and around the world.

He was a Christian pastor like my colleagues and me, but I cannot imagine what it was like to lead and work for racial equality for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rev. Dr. King is commended for his “I have a dream” speech, but he was much more than a dreamer. He was a doer. He lived his faith in Jesus Christ who came for all. He suffered for his faith. He was a prophet.

One way that I’ve heard prophets defined is that they seek to tell us where we are, tell us where God wants us to be, and they drive God’s Word in between. Rev. Dr. King’s legacy continues to draw us back to examine ourselves and our world and see where we’re still struggling to love one another as Jesus Christ loves us.

Rev. Billy Graham was a friend to Rev. Dr. King and participated in the civil rights movement. In a sermon, Rev. Graham said, “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.” Rev. Graham’s words are powerful as we celebrate the message of Christmas: that God comes in Jesus Christ for ALL the world.  In late December my family and I visited Washington, D.C. and were able to visit the memorial dedicated to Rev. Dr. King. It is a beautiful space surrounded by many of Dr. King’s quotes. One of the poignant for me is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Throughout the Old Testament, we find “justice” and “righteousness” paired together, in the Psalms and throughout the Prophets.  And Amos is no exception. We are called to be people who seek to be righteous (to have right aim before God) and who seek justice (which is concern for the poor and oppressed). The two are tied together.
Early in Amos, chapter 5, God speaks to the people:
“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
It’s no surprise that Jesus’ words to the people call us to be righteous and just. In the same spirit of the prophets, he calls us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness…”
There are times when we stray from God’s way, and we are constantly called back to faithfulness. The struggle for righteous living is real along with the work of seeking justice. Each day, we’re called to love and serve God, to live as children of God, as we work to bring even a glimpse of the Kingdom of God right now.

How are you working for God’s Kingdom? Where do you see it clearly?

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us at 9:00 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!


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Help stock the Cedar Springs food pantry

Edward Jones is collecting food Oct. 24-Nov. 21

Would you like to have a chance to really make a difference in the community?

Buy a few extra items when you buy groceries this week to donate to the local food pantry and drop them off at our local Edward Jones branch.

The Cedar Springs Community Food pantry, located at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church on Main Street, works in conjunction with North Kent Community Services. They feed hundreds of local families each year. In the past, the food pantry depended on the fall food drive with the local U.S. Post office to help stock their needs. Now that the carriers are based in Rockford, they no longer have the big drive to benefit this pantry, so a local business is stepping in to help restock the shelves.

Edward Jones, 4027 17 Mile Road, Cedar Springs, hopes to collect 1,750 pounds of food for the pantry before November 21—that’s 250 pounds more than last year. Last year the goal was 1,500 pounds, and they collected 1,514. Let’s help them do it again! Non-perishable foods can be dropped off at their office Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Some of the supplies needed include boxed or canned meals such as soups, hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, rice, pasta, spaghetti sauce; baking and pancake mix; and canned meats. Personal care items such as bar soap, laundry soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and toilet paper will also be accepted, but not weighed.

Call 696-9370 for more information.


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“Finding” Jesus

cs-united-methodistPastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, MI  49319


Read John 1: 29-50


“Mom, can you help me find Jesus?” My young son asked from the other room.  I was a bit shocked and confused until I investigated and saw that he was doing a word search and needed some help. “Sure,” I said, and proceeded to help him find a “J” and go from there.

My son was content once he had figured out where “Jesus” was. But his simple, yet very profound question struck me and stayed with me. The witness of John the Baptist and the first disciples came to mind and then many who came after them to tell the Good News of Jesus. I wouldn’t know Jesus as my Lord and Savior if others hadn’t helped me “find” Jesus along the way. My parents understood their responsibility to nurture me in the faith by their own witness, but they also knew that they needed the support and help of the Body of Christ. They couldn’t do it by themselves. I was baptized, and the congregation promised to support me and nurture me along with my parents.

And they fulfilled their promise. They prayed for me. They served as Sunday School teachers, Youth Group leaders, and music ministry leaders. They were encouragers.  They affirmed God’s gifts in me and helped me to accept God’s grace for myself. When I confirmed God’s claim on my life as a teenager, the congregation witnessed that holy moment and celebrated with me. As I continued to discern God’s call, they encouraged me and kept on praying for me.

Yes, a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ is absolutely vital for salvation. But it doesn’t end there. We need to be in community with each other to nurture our faith as we live it out every day. We need to be with real people who struggle with real issues just like we do. We have to be willing to share with each other, be vulnerable, and be aware of others’ needs. We pray for each other and encourage each other.

I don’t believe that Jesus is ever hiding from us, but sometimes it feels like we have to “find” him. And so there’s my son’s question again: “Can you help me find Jesus?”  Who’s asking you that question? Who is God calling you to reach out to today? Where do you have an opportunity to share your faith and tell your story of God’s grace?

We help one another to see Jesus and recognize that he’s real. We help each other understand that he offers life that is really life—new life, abundant life, eternal life that goes beyond the cares of this world. Thank God for your church family and the power of God at work in those around you and in your own life!

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us at 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!


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This is love


Pastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs, MI  49319

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” I John 4: 7-12 (NIV).

It’s Valentine’s Day, and in our house, that means signing names on cards for classmates, giving treats to friends, and decorating boxes to receive cards at school. This year, it also means sending some cards to family members far away—even my grandmother who is now 91 years old! It was fun to go through these traditions again. We are a part of the billions of dollars spent on candy, flowers, and other Valentine’s Day gifts each year. (The National Retail Federation estimated that Americans spent over $17 billion in 2012!)

But what about going beyond the traditions of gifts and last-minute card-buying? The words from First John challenge us to realize that God’s love is agape love that makes sacrifices for the sake of others because of the sacrifice God makes for you and me in Jesus Christ. It is God’s love in our lives that motivates us to love each other.

So, in the hype of Valentine’s Day itself, how will we show God’s love (agape love) to others? To our spouses? Our children? Our loved ones? Our neighbors? Our friends? The stranger whom we encounter at the store? The person with whom we have trouble getting along? The neighbor who is lonely?

The promise of God’s Word is that when we love as God loves us, then we grow in faith and trust in God and others know the power of God’s love in their lives. Our relationship with Christ is stronger, and we know the blessing of God’s love even more powerfully. We share the witness of God’s grace when we love.

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!


Pastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St. Cedar Springs, MI 49319

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A tough invitation

Pastor Mary Ivanov

Cedar Springs United Methodist Church

140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs


Read Mark 8: 27-38


Mark 8:34-38: Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

Have you ever received an invitation that you really wanted to accept, but to do so meant that you had to change your plans, sacrifice your time, or rearrange your schedule?

Jesus’ invitation is for anyone who wants to follow him and be a disciple. Three parts: deny yourselves, take up your cross, and follow me. The hardest words of Jesus. He calls for full commitment, a way of life that goes against worldly success, and taking risks in faith.

Mark Trotter tells the story of a woman who started running to keep in shape. She did well, going farther every day. She entered a 10K race and was nervous about her first race, so she got up early and arrived at the start of the race.

To her surprise there were a lot of people milling around, stretching, getting ready. All of a sudden a voice on the microphone said, “Move to the starting line.” A gun sounded and they were off, like a huge wave, hundreds of runners, sweeping her up. She was in the race.

After about four miles it occurred to her that they ought to be turning around and heading back to the finish line. She wondered why they didn’t turn around. She stopped and asked an official, “How come the course isn’t turning around?” He said, “Ma’am, you are running the Cleveland Marathon.” Twenty-six miles. Her event, the 10K, was supposed to start half an hour after the start of the marathon.

Some of us would have stopped right there and said, “That’s it, I’m going home.” But to her credit, she kept right on going, finished the race. She said, “This is not the race I trained for. This is not the race I entered. But for better or worse, this is the race that I am in.”

Jesus says, “If you are my disciple, then you will take up your cross and follow me, even to Jerusalem, even to the cross.”

In one conversation with a youth group about following Jesus, one of them said that to follow means not to lead.  That may sound simple, but that’s exactly what we have to remember. We’re not in the lead when we accept the invitation that Jesus offers. We follow him.

To follow Jesus, we must remove our “me-first” attitude. To follow Jesus means “It’s not about me.” To follow Jesus is to claim the power of the cross—the cross that bears our sins. We try to avoid the cross and downplay our sin. But picture even a small stone tossed into a pool of water. The ripple effect is real. And our sin effects others,whether we think so or not.

But the cross isn’t just about our personal life. The cross gathers us into a community of love and forgiveness. We’re accountable to each another when we follow Christ. To follow Jesus means that we matter to each other.

Even though Jesus’ invitation is demanding, Jesus offers his help to carry it through. That’s the only way any of us can follow Christ, with God’s grace to guide us and brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us.

One prayer says it this way: “Lord, do in me what you need to do so you can do through me what you desire to do.” How can you let Jesus lead you this week? Where is God calling you to follow—fully committed and taking risks in faith?

If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!













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Living better for less with Sarah’s deals

UPDATE: If you want to sign up for her coupon class on Feb. 11, please go to http://www.sarahsdeals.net/search/label/Coupon%20Class. We had incorrect instructions at the bottom of the article.

Sarah Jehntzen

By Judy Reed

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get the most for your money, you won’t want to miss a free workshop on Saturday, February 11 at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, with Cedar Springs resident Sarah Jehnzen, author of the blog “Sarah’s Deals.”
Sarah has appeared on WZZM13’s Super Saver with Derek Francis, and was a shopping expert on WOODTV during Black Friday. She was also a guest columnist in the Rockford Independent, a coupon expert in the Detroit Free Press, and has been featured in other media.
Sarah, a part-time working mother of two, has lived in Cedar Springs for 8 years. She said she grew up in a family that needed to watch their money, and developed habits that stuck with her into adulthood. Instead of her family saving money to pay bills, they now save together to give back more and have fun in the process.
Sarah has been running her blog, Sarah’s Deals, for 3-1/2 years. She said she started saving coupons about 10 years ago, when she worked part-time at Walgreens. She said they would have 7-8 freebies at the end of the month, and she found that by using coupons, she would make a little money. Over the years she progressed to using a coupon database, began posting on and moderating message boards, and finally set up her own blog, where she helps readers get the best deals each week on goods and services. And she does it for free. The affiliate links and ads on her website help support the time she puts into the blog.
“I like helping people and getting the info out there,” explained Sarah. “There is nothing better than to have someone say ‘you saved me $50!’ and it didn’t cost me anything.”
Each week she does ad matchups—for example, she’ll list things on sale at Meijer and match them to coupons you can use, tell you whether you get something back, and your final price. She also lists other coupons she finds, local giveaways and discounts, special promotions, free samples, downloads, tips on frugal living, cooking in bulk and recipes. “I wanted to be a resource, not a ‘one and done’ type of site,” explained Sarah. “I try to find anything people might be interested in.”
She also teaches coupon and shopping tip classes for both the public and private organizations, for free.
Sarah said it’s been a great learning experience. “I’ve learned how to run my own business, build relationships, handle sticky situations, and learned how to do research in a major way. I want to give the most accurate info,” she noted.
For anyone interested in beginning to get their spending under control by using her site, she advised they use baby steps. “Start small and work your way into it. If you try to do too much you will burn yourself out,” she said.
The workshop on Februay 11 will feature Shopping Tips 101 from noon to 2 p.m., and from 2-4 p.m. will cover creating a stockpile and bulk cooking tips. To register for the event, go to http://www.sarahsdeals.net/search/label/Coupon%20Class. Admission is an item for the Cedar Springs Food Pantry.
You can also follow Sarah on social media such as Facebook and twitter. Go to her blog and click on the icons for the links.

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Pastor Mary Ivanov
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs

“Thanks!”  I say this word more times than I can count in one day.  I write it on notes and type it many times as I finish an E-mail message.  It’s become a standard “sign-off” for us, but I was struck by some verses from First Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (New International Version)
16 Always be joyful. 17Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (New Living Translation)
16-18Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (The Message)
These verses come from the end of a letter to the early church, probably one of the earliest writings in the New Testament (50’s AD).  The apostle Paul is writing to a congregation that he formed on his missionary journey to Thessalonica, and these words come at the close of his letter—advice from a church leader to other followers of Jesus Christ.
The call to be joyful, pray, and give thanks is not so surprising.  These are a part of Christian character and practice, but the instructions on how and how often are powerful!  We can’t just be joyful in the Lord when we feel like it—when life is going great for us. Our joy is deeper than our circumstances. We don’t pray just when we “need to,”when there’s a specific situation that drives us to ask God for help. Prayer is a gift of God that keeps us connected to God and to people around us.  And we don’t just give thanks on one particular Thursday in November.  Giving thanks is a way to live “in all circumstances.”
Perhaps you’ve heard verse 18 misquoted before. I’ve heard it read: “give thanks for all circumstances…” but that’s not the right word or the spirit of the Scripture!  That small word makes a big difference! God’s Word doesn’t call us to give thanks for the difficulties we face or the struggles we have, but to give thanks and recognize God’s presence in the midst of all of life.
So whatever you might be doing this Thanksgiving Day—whether sitting around a large table with family or friends, cooking for one or two, recovering from surgery or illness, grieving losses and missing loved ones, feeling overwhelmed with blessings, or not quite in the holiday spirit—know that the call to “give thanks” isn’t limited to one day. It’s a call on our life to show our faith in God who walks with us on every step of the journey. Giving thanks in all circumstances is a powerful witness to God’s presence and power in our lives and in the world!
If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, every day is the perfect time to get reconnected! Consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time during this season of Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas. I invite you to worship with us this Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.  We also have a special Bible study beginning this Sunday, November 27 at 10:15 a.m. called “The Journey” where we’ll learn more about the people and places surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ.  We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!

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Church to celebrate 145 years

Looking at photos of Cedar Springs from the mid to late 1800s, you can’t help but notice the church with the towering spire at the corner of Church and Main Street. While the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church no longer looks like it did then, it is still integral part of the community today.
The church, located at 140 S. Main Street invites everyone to come celebrate their 145th Anniversary on Sunday, October 23, at a special program and ice cream social at 3:00 p.m.
“What a blessing to celebrate God’s faithfulness and the witness of so many faithful people over so many years,” said Pastor Mary Ivanov.
According to the Cedar Springs Story, by Sue Harrison and Donna DeJonge, the first sermon preached in Cedar Springs was in the summer of 1855, by a Methodist Episcopal preacher, Rev. W.W. Johnson. On October 6, 1866, the Methodist Episcopal Society of Cedar Springs was organized, and the Cedar Springs Circuit served the following outpoints: Pierson, Black Creek, North Nelson, Pine Lake, Horton School House, White Swan, and Courtland Center.  In September 1869 all the outpoints except Pine Lake were dropped off, and the Cedar Springs charge was formed with Rev. John Graham as pastor.
Initially classrooms were held in the village school house. Melvin J. Clark, a prominent lumberman of Cedar Springs, offered to furnish the lumber to build the church, provided that it would be a certain size, height, etc., and that they would buy the lot for the building before noon that same day. C.B. Moon, a lumberman at Pine Lake, happened in town that morning. The preacher told him of the offer that had been made by Mel Clark. Mr. Moon went that morning and purchased the lot where the present church now stands on the northeast corner of Church and Main.  The cornerstone was laid August 17, 1870 and the church was dedicated June 7, 1871. It cost $6,000 and was the tallest building north of Grand Rapids.
Over the years it underwent several remodeling and repair jobs. But it was all lost on January 27, 1946, when the church was completely destroyed by fire.  The Cedar Springs Story relates that the blaze was discovered by the Jack McCoy family who lived next door. The Clipper newspaper gave the following account: “Hundreds of citizens stood in the cold of early morning as the church, second oldest house of worship in Cedar Springs, lost form and shape in the consuming blaze. The beautiful stained-glass windows gave out a hollow cry as they cracked and shattered, and a raucous clang rent the air as the belfry toppled and the bell, which had called people to worship for more than three-quarters of a century, fell to the snow-covered ground with knell-like thud.”
The book said the origin of the fire was apparently in the chimney and was attributed to an over-heated furnace. Many citizens joined the firemen in fighting the fire, and Rev. Paul Lowry, pastor of the church, grief-stricken at the rapid devastation of the church, worked with the fire fighters.
The congregation made plans to build a basement, and in the meantime, services were held in the Cedar Springs State Bank and the Dr. J.H. Teusink’s office building.  The cornerstone of the new church was laid Sunday afternoon November 17, 1946. On June 29, 1947, a unit opening service was held in the basement of the present church. After a few years the present church was built and held its first service on Easter Sunday, 1955.
The church is still active in the community today, and provides a variety of community outreach ministries to families in the area, including housing the Cedar Springs Community Food Pantry. They support the annual CROP Walk, offer small groups like Men’s Group and United Methodist Women, offer book and Bible studies, a weekly Love ‘n Stitches crafts group, and Christian service and mission projects to ministries in the Upper Peninsula.
“Our mission here is to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ.  We live out this mission through many ministries that build our faith community and reach out into the broader Cedar Springs community and around the world,” said Pastor Ivanov.
Two worship services are offered on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., and Christian Education for all ages (infant through adult) is offered at 10:15 a.m.  There are also weekly Wednesday evening dinners throughout the year.
The general public is invited to the October 23 celebration.  The 3:00 p.m. will include a short program of thanksgiving followed by a time of fellowship and an ice cream social.  Special historical information also will be featured.
For further information about Cedar Springs UMC, please contact the church office at 616-696-1140.

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Cedar Springs food pantry seeks donations

Need for emergency donations at all-time high

“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25: 40).
This message from Matthew describes the guiding principle for the more than 30 volunteers who provide assistance, compassion, a listening ear, and comfort to those families who come to the Cedar Springs Community Food Pantry, at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, on the corner of Main and Church Streets.
The Cedar Springs Community Food Pantry, a staple in the community for 26 years, was started at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church in 1985 for families who had suffered a house fire.  More volunteers were needed to help as the pantry began to assist more clients in need.  Today, up to 30 families a week, from all parts of Northern Kent County, can be referred to the pantry by North Kent Service Center to receive a week’s work of food and essentials.
Today the pantry “store” is located in the basement of the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, in several converted nursery rooms and the choir robe storage room.  Several freezers and refrigerators hold baked goods, chicken donated by church members, venison donated by area hunters, and hotdogs, hamburger, and other meats. The pantry shelves are stocked with food and staples bought by pantry volunteers, food from a faithful volunteer who has a “coupon mission,” foods from government commodities, and donations from individuals and food drives in the community.
However, with the distressed state of the economy and the job market crisis, the need for emergency food support is at an all time high. Food prices and transportation costs have sky rocketed. Children will soon be out of school for the summer adding to the need for extra food for families.
The pantry needs help! In addition to food items or cash donations, the pantry is always in need of personal care items such as dish soap, laundry soap, tooth brushes, toothpaste, bar soap, toilet paper, facial tissue, deodorants, shampoo, and feminine hygiene items.
Donated items or money can be dropped off at the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church office any time during office hours Monday through Friday. The pantry accepts checks made out to the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church, and in the memo line put “Community Food Pantry.”

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Care group at Cedar Springs UMC

If you have a serious illness or life changing health condition and would like to share your journey with others, please feel welcome to attend Care Group. The goal of this support group will be to find hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is an open group, and all are welcome to attend. We will be exploring Ed Dobson’s devotional book, “Prayers & Promises when facing a life-threatening illness.” Care Group will begin on Monday, January 10, 2011 at Cedar Springs United Methodist Church (140 S. Main St.) at 7:00 p.m. downstairs in room #1 and will be led by hospice nurse Cathy Forrest, R.N. Please call the church office if you have questions (696-1140).

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