Join us on Wednesday, the 13th, from 7-8pm for a unique evening of music, reflection, Scripture and prayer as we begin the season of Lent together. Childcare birth-PreK provided.
We hope you’ll join us on Friday, February 8th at 6:30 for a chance to enjoy good food, meet new people and catch up with old friends. Specifically, this meal is a chance to welcome the refugee family from Thapa that our Refugee Mission Circle is working with. Bring a dish that represents your own ethnic origins — and enjoy a great night together. No need to sign up – just come!
Creating a profile on our website is simple and quick, and we’ll never give away your information.
That said, you may still be wondering why you should consider creating a profile? Well….doing gives you access to all kinds of information about the life of the Branch. You can join discussion groups, share ideas, receive updates, comment on posts and participate in conversations. And here’s the best part: we’ll send you an email every day or every week (you decide on how often) that will summarize all of the activity on a particular topic or group.
For example, if you serve in our preschool room in BranchKids, you can join the Preschool group. Once you’ve done this, anything that is posted in that group (be it a ‘lesson-learned’ or a funny story someone wants to share) will be sent directly to your email. Of course, you can always log into the website to share your ideas and funny stories too. But if you’re simply looking to stay updated, all the info is brought right to your inbox.
If you’re looking for a good place to start, join the “Branch-wide Info” group. This is where we’ll be sharing all general information about the Branch.
Oh…and it may be helpful to note that some groups on the site are not public. That’s because the information shared in that group might be personal and not ready to be broadcast across the entire internet (anyone on planet earth can create a profile). But that doesn’t mean you can’t request an invite. Private groups are not exclusive — just a little more careful about who is able to see their information.
This September/October, groups of 8-10 adults (and kiddos) will be gathering in homes around GR for four consecutive weeks. The reason? Simple: food and relationship. If you’d be interested in being a host for one of these meals, email email@example.com
It’s a family.
At the Branch, Missional Communities (MCs) are ‘extended family’ like groups (20-50 people) that meet regularly in order to encourage and equip each other to live the kind of life Jesus lived. When thinking about this, we often use the language of UP, IN and OUT.
UP is about our relationship to God — our identity as children of the King. Jesus modeled an intimacy with the Father that we want to experience. And so just as Jesus spent time with the spiritual disciplines (prayer and fasting to name two), so too will MCs spend time doing those things that bring them closer to the heart of the Father.
IN is about our relationship with each other. Jesus was always investing himself in his disciples. They got away on retreats – ate meals together – prayed – went to synagogue – all of it building community and trust. MCs will encourage and empower each other in ways that are ‘organized’ (every Monday night meals) and in ways that are more ‘organic’ (let’s head to the beach this Saturday and hang out).
OUT is about our relationship to the world that God so desperately loves. We see Jesus having compassion for those others ignored and announcing the Good News to them. Everywhere he went, heaven came to earth. MCs follow Jesus’ lead by uniting around a common, specific mission and working to discern and proclaim the Good News in that context.
In a phrase….practice missional life together.
The following rhythms fit our vision and context as people here in West Michigan. We are asking each MC to embrace these rhythms in their own expression of life together. How these 3 rhythms get lived out will be unique to each MC.
The Rhythms of Life Together
sharing stories: We are part of the great story of God and the people. We are part of our own stories and others’ too. We are part of the story of the world. As we listen and share in all these stories, we join our hearts with each other. And, in listening to the Spirit in the midst of this bigger story, which we all participate in, from creation to redemption, we become creatures of prayer, contemplation and rich formation.
playing: As a family, we participate in God’s continual creation and renewal, and in God’s rest and joy in what’s been created. We do this by playing together, creating together, celebrating birthdays, holidays and other moments of goodness, together.
joining: We bless because God blesses us. We take part in God’s renewing actions in the world. This is our missional activity to the world, both individually and together. The story of the redemption of the people and the earth is unfolding all around us. As those who know God, and follow Christ’s ways, we will find and play-out our part in this story.
Two words: anyone and everyone.
One of the strengths of Missional Communities is that they allow for people to get involved in a variety of ways. Which is to say, there is no right or wrong way to participate – each layer of engagement is valued and important. Plus, the layers are permeable, meaning that people are free to move in and out and between each layer as they choose. Take a look below for a visual of where you or your family might fit…
There are many ways to belong to a Missional Community. Some may approach the community not knowing God, uncertain if they want to participate at all. Others will immediately begin on a leadership path. All are welcome. There is a place of belonging and a role for each individual and family in the community life of a Missional Community. Each person, new and old, renews and re-evaluates commitments as time goes on. All members can move between levels accordingly.
Those approaching MC from the outside may have noticed activities of the group that interest them for some reason but are unsure exactly what a Missional Community is and how they want to participate. We expect that some of these individuals do not know God at all, or are estranged from life with God. They do not belong to a congregation or worshipping body. Perhaps they are not currently interested in God but are a Person of Peace* who wants to see the world or neighborhood renewed and healthy. Or, the person entering from the edges may know God and affirm the efforts of the Missional Church*, but may not know anyone else in the MC and/or may not know what a MC is or what the mission focus is exactly. They are just beginning to discover what this community is about and whether or not God is calling them into it. Either of these individuals can easily move to regular engagement.
This is one who attends gatherings and activities with some regularity. This person may have come to the MC from the exploration layer, or they may have come from the outside and immediately committed to regular participation. Some of these individuals may know God. Some may not know God but are People of Peace that want to see the world or neighborhood renewed and healthy. They may be involved in searching for or following through with mission opportunities or activities. They may be involved in watching the edges of the MC for those approaching and helping to show them what the MC is and what the mission vision is.
The participants in this layer of belonging are regular participants, who may or may not be involved in special participation of the group in some way. Community Members are a part of regular spiritual direction and discernment activities. They are involved in searching for mission opportunities and/or activities. They are involved in watching the edges for those approaching and helping to show them what the MC is and what the mission vision is. They are a part of communicating the Gospel of justice, peace, hope, and reconciliation through Jesus Christ.
Community Members are encouraged to participate in the larger congregational life through worship gatherings. They are also strongly encouraged to consider joining The Branch as a Partner. We are committed to the belonging of the whole Missional Community within the life of The Branch. This means that Missional Communities are at home and supported by the congregational missional church. Regular participation in congregational worship and gatherings leads to strong familial ties between the Missional Community and the congregation.
Community Members commit to the following patterns in joy, freedom and faith:
- Regular engagement in MC life and support of the Mission Vision & Focus
- 15 min daily prayer/meditation/scripture/contemplation time
- Affirmation of Faith and Missional Calling*
- Special support and participation in one of the following areas: Mission or Making Disciples
MC members in this layer are regular attenders of events, gatherings and meetings. They are also engaged in leadership roles within the MC life. These members will be an MC Host or a leader for Making Disciples or Mission within the MC. The Host will take responsibility for the environment and hospitality of the group’s gatherings. This may include meal planning, greeting, etc. The two leaders take responsibility for making sure the group observes life-giving patterns of the 3 MC Rhythms. They will also be part of smaller gatherings called Huddles that will further disciple-making, personal growth and accountability.
Covenant Members commit to the following patterns in joy, freedom, and faith:
- Regular engagement in MC life and support of the Mission Vision & Focus
- 20 min daily prayer/meditation/scripture contemplation time
- Affirmation of Faith and Missional Calling*
- Accept responsibility for maintaining the 3 Rhythms
- Accept responsibility for Hosting, or leadership of either Mission or Making Disciples
- Leaders will attend huddle meetings
- Leaders will enter and completing Partnership process at The Branch*
- Leaders will participate in creating a system of giving and finances for this MC
As fall settles in and the temperature dips, is there anything better than a warm bowl of soup with friends? On Friday, November 18, we’ll be enjoying a variety of soups at meal night (meal night is an excuse to get together, share life and good food). We’ll be at the Navis’ home. Everyone, including kids, are welcome. For directions, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Come as early as 6PM, or whenever your schedule allows.
Last year, Beneath the Tree raised $4500 for CREATE — a gift that not only made CREATE 2011possible, but the best year yet. This November, we hope you will join us in making Beneath the Tree (and therefore CREATE) a huge success. Here’s how:
- Make a meal and help feed our volunteers.
- Volunteer for four hours. You can greet people as they enter a home, help take payments, or roam the house answering questions.
- Invite your friends to join you for the tour on November 11 or 12.
- Shop! Grab a Christmas gift or a piece to decorate your home. Either way, your purchase helps support local artists and CREATE.
Learn more at www.beneaththetree.info
Sign up to volunteer at: www.beneaththetree.info/volunteer
We’re planning a camping outing Sept. 9-11 at Wabasis Lake Campground. Here is their website: http://www.accesskent.com/CultureLeisureAndTransit/Parks/campground.htm
Electric/water sites cost $29/night (plus a $5 reservation fee). Some full hook-up sites are currently available for $35/night. Payments to hold sites are due by August 1st. Please email email@example.com.
CREATE is our arts camps to Grand Rapids budding artists, August 8-12. Registration is up and running. Spots are limited. We also have a convenient paypal button allowing you to pay with a major credit card. If you notice any bugs with our form or process please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
To register, click here.
If you’re looking for info on how to pay for registration, click here.
To see a fun trailer for CREATE 2011, click here.
Next Saturday (May 21) the churches of Alger Heights (Alger Park CRC, the Branch, Church of the Resurrection, Seymour CRC and Tabernacle Community Church) are coming together to serve our community. Below are the projects we’ll be tackling and the time choices available. To sign up: email@example.com
My 2-hour block time of choice is:
My project choice is (please indicate your 1st and 2nd choice by writing the # next to the line item:
________ Splash Pad at Alger Middle School (repairs and painting)
________ Alger Middle School Grounds (planting, clean up, painting, mulch, etc.)
________ Playground at Tabernacle Community Church (painting, repairs, clean up, mulch, etc.)
________ Planters in the Business District (8:00 am-10:00am only)
________ Trash Clean Up at Plaster Creek
________ Alger Middle School Park and Recs Restroom (painting)
________ Welcome Table or Refreshment/First Aid Stations
The dinner and silent auction were a huge success (over $5700 raised)! Thank you to all who participated, but it’s not too late to join the effort. Donations can still be made, and we have a number of adult and child sized “We Choose Joy” t-shirts for purchase. Just let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
This week two guys from the Branch starting thinking about Easter — talking about how we could celebrate. One thing led to another until one of them said, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a tailgate party on Easter?” And here we are.
Easter is a celebration, plain and simple — and what says celebration better than a good ol’ tailgate party with friends. All the details are below. Join us for what will undoubtedly be a time of laughter and joy!
Start time: 9:30am (but come anytime before worship)
Location: west end of the Branch parking lot
Food provided: Pancakes, sausages, hotdogs, buns, orange juice, soda. You are welcome to bring something to pass, but it is definitely not required
Good Friday – 7:00-8:00pm
Just what happened in those final moments of Jesus’ life? And what do those events mean for us? Every year, on the Friday before Easter, we gather together to reflect on these questions. It’s the final step of preparation before the celebration of Easter. Childcare for Birth-K will be provided. Kids 1st grade and up will join us for worship.
Easter – 11:00am
Join us at 11:00am as we celebrate the unlikely and illogical story of Easter. Children birth through K will be in BranchKids; children 1st grade and up will join us upstairs for the entire morning.
The next three Fridays at the Branch are HUGE! We hope you’ll be able to join us!
Friday, April 15: Meal Night
Come anytime after 6pm. You’re welcome to bring something to pass — but more importantly, we hope you’ll simply show up! Click here for a map to Lynell’s home.
Friday, April 22: Good Friday Worship
Just what happened in those final moments of Jesus’ life? And what do those events mean for us? Every year, on the Friday before Easter, we gather together to reflect on these questions. It’s the final step of preparation before the celebration of Easter. We’re hoping to be able to provide childcare — stay tuned for more details.
Friday, April 29: Benefit Dinner for the DeYoungs
Come show your love for the DeYoung family at a benefit soup dinner on Friday, April 29th from 5-8 here at the building. There will also be a T-shirt sale, silent auction, and kids craft room. To help us raise the most money, we are asking people to bring food and volunteer. Sign up by emailing email@example.com To learn more about the DeYoung’s story, visit followingthecall.org
To sign up or learn more, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you’ll join us on March 30th at 7pm as we begin nailing down details for CREATE (our annual arts camp). This year we’ll need everyone, not just artists, to join in the effort in order to impact the 100+ kids we’re expecting. If you have the gifts of administration, hospitality, or teaching (or you just enjoy hanging out with kids) come dream and pray with us. We’ll be meeting at Branch HQ.
We’ve begun to partner with Hope Reformed Church and a local non-profit (School-to-Career-Progressions) in their Success Center. Urban youth meet after school for life skills, mentoring, tutoring, artistic expressions, and a weekly meal. Some of the Branch’s artists have been introducing students to various art forms the last few weeks, and on Wednesday, May 4, we hope you’ll join us in providing diner for these students and the volunteers. Help us prepare food (4:30-5:30pm) or clean up (6:00-7:00pm).
benefit dinner for the DeYoung family
Last fall the DeYoungs moved to Tanzania to live among and serve the Tanzanian people. Then, last month, they learned that their oldest daughter, Lola, has leukemia. They have moved back to MI and will be here for the next two years in order for Lola to receive treatment. Friday, April 29th, we’ll be hosting a benefit dinner and silent auction to raise funds for the DeYoungs. Join us from 5-8pm, or sign up to volunteer. Follow their story at followingthecall.org.
the Church of Alger Heights
Put Saturday, May 21 on the calendar. We’ll be joining other Alger Heights area churches as we serve the neighborhood. A team is forming to plan the details and ensure that we have the most impact possible. If you want to be part of this team, let us know.
Join us for an evening of reflection and worship, March 9, as we enter the season of Lent. This will be a unique opportunity to pause, consider what may be keeping us from following Jesus fully, and letting it go.
Please note: we will not have BranchKids; however, we will have a live feed in our cry room. And, of course, kids are welcome to join us!
6:30-7:00PM – quite reflection in sanctuary – no agenda, no talking, just an opportunity to sit quietly, pray and reflect
7:00-8:00PM – worship
Come from 6:30-7:00 OR 7:00-8:00 or the entire evening.
There are few things more important to us than building relationships and sharing life. And that’s why meal nights have been a part of our routine from the beginning. Join us March 11th at the Bergman’s home for a relaxed evening of food and conversation. No agenda or set plan — just an opportunity to meet new people and strengthen existing relationships.
Come anytime after 6PM (whenever your schedule allows). You’re welcome to bring something to pass, although it’s not required. Click here for a map.