The CCC Witness

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Pentecost: Celebrating the Spirit’s gifts and fruits by the Rev. Bill Danaher
May 21, 2017

Pentecost celebrates the day that the Holy Spirit was given to the Church. This moment is recorded in the second chapter of the Book of Acts (2:1-42). The Spirit descended as a wind and fire appeared on the apostles’ foreheads. They are given the gift of tongues — the ability to speak the word of God in many languages. The episode concludes with Peter giving the first Spirit-filled sermon, proclaiming Jesus as the Crucified and now Raised Messiah.

Much has been made of the gifts of the Spirit that were made manifest that day. For generations, Christians have debated what it means for us today to speak the Gospel in many languages.

However, on Pentecost it is just as important for us to celebrate the fruits of the Spirit — the love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control that come to us as God’s grace in our lives (Gal. 5:22-23). These are just as remarkable as any gifts of the Spirit, and they speak the language of the Spirit just as powerfully. For the fruits of the Spirit advance not only the work of the church, but the Kingdom of God — God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation in our world.

These two aspects of the Spirit — the Spirit’s gifts and the Spirit’s fruits – will be equally celebrated this Pentecost. Concerning the gifts of the Spirit, I am writing to invite you all to bring a food that represents your ethnicity at the reception after the 10:00am service. Please bring enough to share and in a form that can be easily held and eaten. In this way, we will celebrate the many nations who have come within the reach of the church’s loving embrace. To sign up, and for more information, please contact Jill Bednes at

The fruits of the Spirit will be celebrated by the formal announcement of our partnership with Samaritas to cosponsor a refugee family. Truly, there is no way we can better celebrate the Spirit’s power working in us to inspire works of justice and peace than by this new adventure in ministry.

Bing Goei HeadshotOur preacher this Pentecost is someone who has lived a life marked by both the Spirit’s gifts and fruits. Mr. Bing Goei is a committed Christian, and, in 2014, he was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder as the first director of the Michigan Office for New Americans (MONA). To know Mr.Goei’s life story is to understand the mission of MONA, which is to empower new Americans in Michigan, to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirt of our immigrant communities, and to make Michigan a more welcoming state.

As an immigrant himself, Mr. Goei is forever grateful for the wonderful opportunity his family was given when they immigrated to the United States as refugees. As an entrepreneur he started a successful business, and became a top job creator in West Michigan. In 2001, Mr. Goei purchased Eastern Floral out of bankruptcy and rebuilt the Eastern Floral Company, which has become a Top 50 Teleflora florist with five West Michigan locations in Holland, Grand Rapids, and Grand Haven. His passion for entrepreneurship and diversity led him to create the International Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, a business incubator offering low-cost space to young, minority, and female entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids. 

As a director of MONA, Mr. Goei is a uniquely qualified ambassador who is committed to “pay forward” his good fortune by working tirelessly on behalf of New Americans today who also want to call Michigan home – by cultivating partnerships and making known the many resources that will help afford new immigrants opportunities to pursue the American Dream just as he did. 

We are delighted to have Mr. Goei with us to celebrate all that God is doing at Christ Church Cranbrook




Church Fair offers a “slice of heaven” for our church family by the Rev. Manisha Dostert
May 14, 2017

Our annual Church Fair is Sunday, May 21. In preparation for it, Jill Bednas and Kate Bell and the Children and Youth and Hospitality Committees have ordered hot dogs, chips, ice cream and popsicles. The bouncy house, lawn games, giant Jenga and Tic-Tac-Toe boards will arrive on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, they will set up the popcorn machine and a table for the clown who does beautiful face painting. And James West, our facilities manager, has talked to the Bloomfield Fair WEBHills Fire Department to get a fire truck for all of us to climb.
Jill is calling this a “Good Old Fashioned Church Family Picnic.” I call it a slice of heaven. It’s not just because it is an idyllic scene to see children running on the church lawn while us “old folk” sit under the tent eating our ice cream sundaes and watching the clown put a big unicorn on little Mary’s face. It’s because Christ came into the world so that we may have relationships with one another. God loves the church fair. God loves it when we gather together, ask how it’s going in our lives, laugh as we play bean bag toss, share our sorrows and enjoy one another’s company. Christ took on flesh and lived among us so we may know without a doubt that relationships we have with one another matter to God.
I hope you will linger at the church fair. I hope you will speak to those you know and to those you don’t. I hope you will share your struggles and show the pictures on your smartphone to your neighbor. It’s good old fashioned relationships that God seeks for us.


Recognizing the service of our acolytes by Jill Bednas
May 7, 2017

The Acolyte Corps, or AC as we affectionately call it, is home to the largest youth group at CCC and probably the largest in the state; we average around 52 youth ages 12-18. Acolytes have served here since the church was established in 1928.

Youth can begin acolyte training as early as the sixth grade. I think the reason it is so popular with our teens is that they want to be a part of the service. Whenever I ask them why they want to acolyte, the most common response is “to serve God and to serve my church.”

It is not about being the best, although we do love our pomp and circumstance at CCC. Being an acolyte should be something the youth are proud to do, but we also want them to enjoy it and feel respected for the work they do.

AcolytesWEBThere are levels within the Corps. New acolytes start out doing the simplest job, carrying the banner, until they have learned the ropes and made their way up the ranks. The older the acolyte and the longer they serve, the more responsibility they have. Some of our juniors and seniors in school serve as “captains” and assign roles to the others, as well as provide direction and guidance. They typically carry the cross and serve at the high altar.

Leadership within the AC has been pretty consistent for the past two years. Chas Kipp, Elizabeth Witten, Richard Witten and I train the acolytes alongside the clergy.

Elizabeth does the lion’s share of the correspondence, sending out requests and keeping our schedule. Chas Kipp and Richard Witten are both essential to our training, because they are vergers and work closely with the acolytes on Saturday evenings, Sundays and during our training retreats, as does Elizabeth. The vergers lead the procession and queue the acolytes.

During a recent acolyte retreat, the older acolytes paired up and painted canvasses to represent the four tenents of the CCC 2017 strategic plan: Meeting Jesus, Finding Joy, Sharing Beauty and Serving Others. The paintings are hanging in the parlor (where the acolytes robe) to brighten up the space and offer a youthful glow to the serious walls of the parlor.

At the 10:00 AM service today, we are recognizing our high school seniors and celebrating our acolytes to thank them for all their service as we approach the end of the program and school year.



Meeting Jesus again through children’s spring play by the Rev. Imogen Rhodenhiser and Kate Bell
April 30, 2017

One of the ways that we’re invited to meet Jesus over and over again is in the faces of children. Our devoted Sunday School teachers do this every week; they give of themselves to help grow the faith of our young ones and at the same time receive an encounter with our risen Lord.

This is certainly true as we prepare to perform our spring children’s play next Sunday, May 7, during the 10:00 AM service.

The play, “Meeting Jesus: Our Good Shepherd,” contains rich questions like what does it mean to follow Jesus, what does it mean to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, and what does gratitude have to do with it all? The play offers a great opportunity for our little ones to share with us the Good News – that Jesus Christ is WEBthe Good Shepherd who knows the names of all his sheep and gives his life out of love for them all.

Because the play will be performed during the 10:00 AM service, there will be no Sunday School next Sunday. Instead, we invite all families to worship together. The children are encouraged to sit with their friends and to use their hand motions to say the Lord’s Prayer. The joy will be contagious, the love will be plentiful, the energy will be strong, and the Spirit of our Risen Lord will be very present.

The only thing better than the performance of this play are the rehearsals. They have been filled with joy and silliness and bravery and snacks. Our children are so full of curiosity and are endlessly creative. It is our own soul food to witness them growing in their relationship with God and one another.

As with the Eucharistic table, so with the children’s play, there is always room for more participants. If you have a little one (preschool age to 5th grade) who would like to be a part of this special time, head down to the Hospitality Center after the 10:00 AM service today (11:30 AM). We’ll serve some lunch and then dive into our second rehearsal. Our final (and dress) rehearsal is on Saturday, May 6, 2-3:30 PM. We hope to see EWE there.