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Archive | Church Connection


Arvajean I. Stoner age 87 of Sand Lake, died Thursday, May 21, 2020 at her home. Arvajean was born April 30, 1933 the daughter of Archie and Berneice (Hudson) Porter. She was a member of the Church of the Full Gospel, Sand Lake. Surviving are her children, Karen Stoner, Gerrilee (Doug) Morell, Gale Magoon (Julian Balderrama), Jeffrey Stoner, Kevin (Nichole) Stoner; 20 grandchildren; many great and great great grandchildren; brother, Carmon (Wally) Porter; sisters, Shirley (Tom) Sharp, Babe Gust, Linda (Jim) Babylon, Sally Brooms, Susan Trader; many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Jerry; son, Michael; and granddaughter, Miranda. A public visitation was held Tuesday, May 26 from 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The family will not be present. A family graveside will be held on Saturday, May 30 at Solon Township Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice, 750 Fuller Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

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

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Barbara Jean Helsel age 91 of Cedar Springs went to be with her Lord surrounded by her family on Tuesday, May 19, 2020. She was born January 15, 1929 in Cedar Springs, MI the daughter of Roger and Helen (Hanna) Fisk. She grew up on the family farm on Fisk Knob where she and her brothers and sisters spent many happy days working and playing on the knob. She enjoyed crocheting, knitting and growing a large garden. Every year you would find her canning as many jars of fruit and vegetables as she could to prepare her family for the year ahead. She was preceded in death by her husband, Ora; grandson, Jason Rideout; brother, Jack Fisk. Surviving are her children, Dianne (John) Rideout, Linda Shotko, Rodney (Jeannie) Helsel; 3 brothers; 3 sisters; 7 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; 1 great-great-grandchildren. Family services were held at Pilgrim Bible Church with Pastor David Ward officiating. Interment Solon Township Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Pilgrim Bible Church. The family would like to thank the caring staff of Emmanuel Hospice and her personal care givers for their loving care to Barbara. 

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

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Avis Covell age 81 of Cedar Springs died Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at Spectrum Health Blodgett Campus. She was born November 28, 1938 in Wayland, MI the daughter of Raymond (Ruth Wycoff) Schestag. Avis was a social butterfly. She knew people no matter where she went, even out of state. She loved her family, especially the grandchildren and was dearly loved by them. Avis enjoyed Sunday dinners, camping and bonfires and was the bridge that kept everyone together. She is survived by her beloved husband of 65 years Leon; children, Teresa (Rock) Spicer, Tracy (Ted) Spicer, Todd (Sara) Covell; grandchildren, Daniel (Diane) Spicer, Amy Spicer, Randy (Lianna) Spicer; great-grandchildren, Chelsey, Rayann, Megyn, Landon, Cole; great-great-granddaughter, Cecelia; siblings, June Mabie, Harvey Schestag, Margie Ruis, Gary Schestag, Cheryl Schoenborn. She was preceded in death by her parents and granddaughter, Mandy Spicer. It was Avis’ wish to not have a funeral. In lieu of flowers please consider memorial contributions to Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation P.O. Box 4368 East Lansing, MI 48826 or the American Heart Association, 3940 Peninsular Dr. SE Ste 180 Grand Rapids, MI 49546.

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

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Tribute to: Paula “Jeanne” Rau

Oct. 27, 1945 – May 28, 2019

In Loving Memory of our Dear Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother & Friend

As written by her grandson, Ben Rau

It’s amazing to see how many people my Grandma has touched throughout her life and how much of a bond we all have through her. You may have known her as Paula, Jean, Jeanne, Grandma, Aunt, Cousin, Sister, Mother, or Wife. You may have known her for a few weeks, a few months, a few years, a decade, or a lifetime. But no matter what name you knew her by, or how long you have known her, I can guarantee we all knew the same woman. My Grandma was as genuine as they come. She was the same person around anyone and everyone. What you saw is what you got, so if she was happy, you knew it. If she was sad, you knew it. If she was angry, you knew it. If she was not too fond of the corny joke or borderline inappropriate comment you made at the dinner table, you certainly knew it…Grandpa I’m looking at you with this one.

A few days before she passed, my Dad and I were at the Hospice care facility speaking with a physician in the family room. We got on the topic of how great and wonderful of a woman my Grandma was and my Dad stated that she was the least judgemental or manipulative person he’s ever known. He then proceeded to ask me if I had ever experienced Grandma pressuring me into anything in my life…I thought about it…and the only thing I could come up with was her telling me to eat more brownies simply because she didn’t want to deal with wrapping them up and putting them away. She was one of the most kind, loving and caring people in this world, all she wanted was for others to feel the best they could and be as happy as they could.

During Christmas time I always struggled to find a perfect gift for her. But deep down I knew the thing that would always make her smile was simply for me to be happy. This wound in our hearts may never fully heal, and whenever you feel the pain rising to the surface, remember that time she said something dumb or hilarious, remember the time she was there for you when you needed somebody to lean on, remember the time she gave you her all and expected nothing back. I feel I have not really said much in this short speech because it’s difficult for me to find the proper words to describe my Grandma. She was such an amazing woman to all of us, I simply cannot do her justice. So today, in honor of Paula Jeanne Rau, I’d like us all to give her one final gift and just be happy. Not to dwell on the loss of a wonderful human being, but to remember the memories we gained throughout a lifetime.

Sadly missed but always remembered with a smile. Much love from your entire family and friends as you rest in peace.

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In times like these

Pastor Dick Nichols

Cedar Creek Community Church

2969 14 Mile Rd NE, Sparta, MI 49345

(616) 866-4138

So begins the Christian hymn, “In times like these we need a Savior, in times like these we need an anchor.” A thought I have spent much time with over these past few months is the timeliness of God’s word. Specifically, those three great words we find in Paul’s writing, 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1st Corinthians 13:12-13 NIV).

It is this word hope sitting between the bookends of faith and love.  I don’t think we would dispute what Paul has written under divine inspiration, “the greatest of these is love,” yet this doesn’t default that faith and hope become orphans or poorer attributes of the Christian in life’s journey. We need all three great words in the times we’re in today and always.  

The writer of Hebrews has given us these scriptures to establish how big this little word hope is.  And no, that’s not an oxymoron, let’s see how God lays this out for us, 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:19-20). Confirmed by God himself with an oath, his purpose is our encouragement in the hope of being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, now and forever.  

This is a well-known truth of scripture, that God cannot lie, his promises are “yes and amen” for us, unchanging and forever unchangeable, which simply means that our hope today is not based on our circumstances or any life event that presents itself as life altering, the Ancient of Days who created heaven and earth has said so. Hope is not lost, it is right where it belongs, held in place for us by God’s gifts of faith and love. How big is this little word?  Well, it’s only four little letters h-o-p-e, while at the same time, this hope is eternal, given to us for encouragement by God himself. That’s quite a big little word isn’t it?

Now, like faith and love, hope is as big in our lives, as we choose to allow; if our faith is in God, and we believe what is written in scripture that “God is love,” (1st John 4:16), that faith is truly “a gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8), do we exercise our faith and love by accepting God’s hope even when we may not see the end of our circumstances.  God does!  

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:13 NIV).  Quite frankly, that’s good enough for me.

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Nature and Love and Nature

Pastor Dallas Burgeson 

The Springs Church 

135 N. Grant St., Cedar Springs

Before the world ground to a halt in March with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, my wife and I had the chance to fly to California to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. It was during the flight there that the love started to ignite. Joy and I lived for a brief time in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and while we loved it there, it was over Utah that I saw the American West sprawl out before me at 30,000 feet, and I was hooked in a way that felt fresh, overwhelming, and new. 

Once we landed in Sacramento, Joy and I spent the next week on the best road trip I’ve ever been on:

San Francisco–its unique culture and its magnificent bridges, then Highway 1.

Santa Cruz–its unique culture and its gnarled redwoods, then more Highway 1.

A little seaside place called Mt. Carmel, a bed-and-breakfast, and morning coffee by the bay.

Then… along a stretch of Highway 1 that the previous stretches simply couldn’t have prepared us for: sheer, greened cliffs and waters without end. The navigation of curve after curve as rocks jutted one after another out into the Pacific; 360-degree vistas like I’ve never experienced. I felt torn for hours on end, loving getting to drive these amazing roads, and yet aching to spend longer soaking in the landscape at the same time.

We eventually hit our southern-most destination: the mansion of early 20th century newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst. And while the buildings were truly impressive, the hilltop view Hearst chose for his world-famous social gatherings eclipsed his incessant, spare-no-expense construction project in every possible way. We were standing on top of the world.

Nature somehow drags a love out of us we cannot explain. Our awestruck-ness at it all becomes so repetitive it begins to feel almost routine, while Nature itself appears inexhaustible. 

The heartbeat of this Nature that makes our own hearts burn has a Source, and it’s found in its Creator’s nature. The mystery is in recognizing that this nature we all love… and His personal nature revealed in Scripture… are somehow held within the same Being: “Heaven is declaring God’s glory; the sky is proclaiming his handiwork. One day gushes the news to the next, and one night informs another what needs to be known.” (Psalm 19:1-2, CEB)

This summer as you take off and behold this nature God has created, don’t be drawn away from the aspects of His nature revealed only in His Word: His love, mercy, patience and faithfulness. Even if you’re still social distancing, don’t give up the mundane magic that happens when even two or three gather in His name, let alone the vibrancy of a weekly congregation. God’s nature outshines even what we experience in His Creation. Come drink at the wells of who He is by exploring every possible stream of revelation He has given us.

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Loren W. Frey age 102 of Ensley Township, Sand Lake, went to be with his Lord and Saviour on Sunday, May 17, 2020 at his beloved family farm with his family by his side. Loren was born August 31, 1917 in Ensley Township, MI the son of Harold and Dora (Borton) Frey. He attended Frey Country School and graduated from Sand Lake High School. He was a member of South Ensley United Methodist Church where he had been church superintendent. He was a member of the 4-H, Sons of the American Revolution and the Ensley School Board. He was a farmer all of his life and had been a die maker at General Motors for 30 years retiring in 1980. He had cared for his grandparents and wife and was a loving husband and father. Surviving are his children, Norman Frey and Hilda, Jack and Holly Frey, Janet and Gary Rogers, Joy and John Alex, Kay Deacey, Karna and Joe Montambo, Paul and Val Frey; son-law, Richard Morris; 33 grandchildren; 48 great-grandchildren; 3 great-great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Violet and a daughter, Nancy Morris. A private visitation and family service was held at Crandall Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice or South Ensley United Methodist Church. 

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

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René Marie Bravata age 62 died Saturday, May 16, 2020 at Valley View Care Center, Grand Rapids, MI. René was born November 23, 1957 in Grand Rapids, MI the daughter of Ernest Brancheau and Joycelyn (Allen) Brancheau. René was very independent. She loved being with her family, especially her grandchildren. She enjoyed gardening, cooking and sweets. René also enjoyed doing volunteer work in the Rockford community. She is survived by her children, Heidi (Jeff) Carter, Jason Bravata, and Trisha (Jacob) Schmidt; grandchildren, Gavin and Jakson Bravata, Logan and Brenna Schmidt, Kimberly and Kyle Carter; brothers, Troy (Tammy) Brancheau, Chad (Jessica) Brancheau; sister, Jenna (Troy) Peters; former husband, Joseph J. Bravata, Jr.; several nieces and nephews and her fur companion, Callie. She was preceded in death by her parents. A graveside service will be held at Solon Township Cemetery 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Pastor Rob Schmidt officiating. Memorial contributions may be made to Fallen & Wounded Soldiers Fund, PO Box 33099, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303. 

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

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James P. See age 80 of Rockford, died Saturday, May 16, 2020 at his home. Jim was born in Grand Rapids, MI the son of Isaac and Ione (Clifford) See. He served his country in the U.S. Air Force from 1960-65. He was a member of the Cedar Springs American Legion where he ran the bingo for 22 years. He enjoyed fishing and hunting and retired from Steelcase. Surviving are his children, Debi (Garrett) Hanson, Patrick (Kathy) See, Gerald See, Dawn and Edward Smith, David Smith, Eric See; grandchildren, Nicole Miller, Jessica Krueger, Breanna Smith, Brayden Smith, Christa See, Kristen See, James See; 10 great-grandchildren; siblings, Bob, George, Ron, Jack, Tom and Betty. He was preceded in death by his parents; wife Nancy in 2018; grandchildren, Brendan Smith and Katie Grace Smith; siblings, Don, Roger and Shirley. A visitation will be held Thursday, May 21 from 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The family will not be present. A private family graveside will be held Friday at Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Rev. Fr. Lam Le officiating. Memorials may be made to the Cedar Springs American Legion. 

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

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In loving memory of Joan C. Reed

Joan C. Reed

August 7, 1931—May 13, 2004

If roses grow in heaven

If roses grow in heaven, Lord

Please pick a bunch for me.

Place them in my Mother’s arms

and tell her they’re from me.

Tell her I love her and miss her,

and when she turns to smile,

place a kiss upon her cheek

and hold her for a while.

Because remembering her is easy,

I do it everyday,

But there is an ache within my heart

That will never go away.

With love from your family

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