Our Story

Sundays in July and August will feature the stories of different Branch folks – stories of challenge, hope, discovery and growth.

As these stories are shared, we believe we’ll not only find the delight of learning new things about each other, but we’ll also see that each person’s story is a part of a larger whole. Each story is a thread weaving in and out of the stories of others – even intersecting our own. And so in a way, an individual’s story is our story too.

  • July 14 – Nate DeWard; Executive Director of Reach the Forgotten; stories of restoration
  • July 21 – Audri Freng; college student and traveler to Uganda; stories of complexity and joy
  • July 28 – CJ Proos and Elizabeth Orians; married couple in the LGBTQ+ community; stories of love and acceptance
  • August 4 – Dale Hulst; owner of Michigan Net Zero Homes; stories of vocation
  • August 11 – Terra Workman, Alayna Verkaik, Audri Freng; college students; stories of faith and development
  • August 18 – Deb Hitziger; retiree; stories of challenge and discovery

July at The Branch

July is a great month for vacations and outdoor fun! We also have some great opportunities to connect, learn new things and have fun with others at The Branch. Here’s what is happening in the life of The Branch in the month of July.

July 7 – Palmer Park Sunday – Discovering Our Connection

We’re going on a field trip! Instead of gathering at the building, we will gather at Palmer Park at 10am on Sunday, July 7.

Together we’ll explore Buck Creek to probe and discover what the natural world might have to teach us. For those feeling adventurous, you’ll step into a pair of waders and use nets to collect creek dwelling organisms. We’ll also need folks on land, collecting and identifying these cool creatures (there will be lots of ways to participate). Together, we’ll learn about the health and interconnectedness of the ecosystem.

For details on where we’re meeting and where to park click here: Palmer Park.

Fireside Chats

Every Tuesday evening in July, beginning on July 9 from 7-8:30pm, all are invited to the Herrboldt’s backyard for a time of connection and conversation…and s’mores of course! For more details and to let us know you are coming, click here.

Family Day

Each Sunday in July is Family Day at The Branch. For those Sundays that we will be at the building, there will be no BranchKids. We do this for a number of reasons. It gives our volunteers a chance to take a break from their responsibilities. And, it lets our kids know that they are a valued part of our community and we want to include them in all areas of our life together. We  know that having young kids in the sanctuary brings a different energy to our space – and we love that! We also recognize that kids might need some different ways to engage. To that end, we will be setting up a play space in the sanctuary with books, quiet toys and craft supplies. And, as always, our Art Cart will be stocked and available for anyone to use.

Summer GROUP Sundays

Sign up for a Group here.

In the fall of 2022, we felt that it was time to try something different. Not for the sake of being different, but because we wondered if the way in which we gathered needed to shift given all that has happened in the world and in our lives the last few years.

The result was an every other week rotation between ‘normal’ Sundays and ‘group’ Sundays. Normal Sundays were, well, normal in the sense that our gathering on those weeks looked a lot like it had previously.

Our ‘group’ Sundays began with all of us together for a quick time of connection and then we would head to the group of our choice. Each group centered around a wide range of topics and activities (we tried a bunch of things: Ultimate Frisbee, a reflective walking group, a group that made an art installation for Advent, a group that practiced silence as a spiritual discipline, and many more). What we found is that Group Sundays gave people more opportunity to connect relationally, try out a new skill or idea and look for God’s presence in what might seem like everyday, ‘non-spiritual’ activities.

Since then, we have offered a few different iterations of Group Sundays, learning more each time about what works, what is meaningful, and what we need to include. Below is a list of Groups that will be offered this June. Groups will run each Sunday from June 9-30.

Discussion: Nate DeWard will be hosting a discussion group where faith and current events will be discussed during Group Sundays. Nate has a history of independent thought and encouraging people to explore the perspectives of others. Through respectful listening, we hope to encourage thoughtful and wholehearted conversations that lead us into a deeper understanding of each other, of God, and of our world. *Note that this is the option for those joining online.*

Cooking: This is a group for both avid home-chefs as well as the novice cook! Some of us will learn new skills and some of us will get to pass on our kitchen knowledge to others! Each week, we will create a freezer meal together to donate to AYA Youth Collective. All ages are welcome in this group. If younger kids are joining us, we ask that an adult attends this group with them.

Movement: In this group, we will embrace the beauty that is Michigan in the summer and head outdoors. Two of the weeks will be a Reflective Walking group. The other two weeks will be Biking and Ultimate Frisbee. Come and experience connection outdoors with this group!

Silence: In a very noisy world, it’s hard to find time and space to be quiet. But that quiet space is so important as we try to live more fully as the truest version of ourselves. This group isn’t really a group. This will simply be a time and space to be still. There will be some gentle music playing in the background, but there will be no discussion or agenda…simply time to be.

In addition to these intergenerational groups, we will also have dedicated space for the youngest among us. The Nursery will be staffed for infants and toddlers. There will also be a specific BranchKids group just for kids ages 4-7 with active and creative projects so they can connect in meaningful, age-appropriate ways.

Sign up for a Group here.

A Conversation on Israel and Palestine

Sunday, March 24, 5:00-6:30pm

Please invite anyone who might be interested.

Please register by clicking here.

After spending over a week in Palestine and Israel as part of a twenty three member, multi-denominational delegation, Chris and Josh Vis will share stories and reflections from their time in Palestine and Israel.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine — which has now been going on over 70 years — has reached an unprecedented moment. We have are living through a pivotal, historic event and while it may feel like there is little we can do, the truth is that as Americans we have more potential influence than anyone else in the world.

Learning about the facts on the ground will not only inform but inspire us to do what we can to move toward justice and peace.

You can either join us in person or on Zoom.
Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85066828752
Meeting ID: 850 6682 8752

If your are coming in person, parking is available on Madison, south of Burton.

The Seventh Story – Lent

Stories help us make sense of the world and our place in it. Some stories are adopted by entire cultures (i.e. the story of the rugged American individual), while some even transcend time and place. This Lent, we look at seven stories common throughout humanity and ask: where do they show up in our lives, how do these stories shape us and what story do we choose to live by?


  • Listen to the Learning How to See podcasts (season 5) from Brian McClaren and Gareth Higgins.
  • Catch up on The Branch’s sermons from the series. Click here
  • Buy the ebook written by Brian and Gareth. Click here
  • Buy the children’s book. Click here



February 18 – The story of Domination
February 25 – The story of Revolution
March 3 – The story of Purification
March 10 – The story of Isolation
March 17 – The story of Victimization
March 24 – The story of Accumulation
March 31 – The Seventh Story (Easter)

Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday we are marked on our foreheads with a reminder of our mortality. The same palms we raise up and wave on Palm Sunday each year are made to know the sting of death – we burn them. And the following year, in an ever-curious act, we pick up the ashes and we mark ourselves with them.
What does it mean that we don’t just talk about the ashes, or even reverently observe them, but that we physically smear them across our faces? Perhaps, in the marking, we approach solidarity. We remember that the same fate that haunts you, haunts me. The same beauty that birthed you, lives in me. And that this comes as a mark on the body, I think, reminds us that the Lenten journey of self-examination is deeply entwined with the physical world.

from Black Liturgies; Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Staying Human

Join us Wednesday, 2/14, at 7pm as we begin the journey of Lent together. Our hour long gathering will be a time of reflection on both the challenges of our world and our lives as well as our hopes for the future.


Change of plans! The forecast is calling for rain so we will be gathering at the building on Sunday, 7/2.


As we begin a new year, our conversation on Sundays will center around an ancient practice and rhythm of rest called Sabbath — a practice we’re pretty sure most of us are unfamiliar with, but need nonetheless.

That said, this conversation is not first and foremost about developing a 24-hour period free of any work. That may be a very good goal, but given the pace of most of our lives it is likely not a realistic target to immediately aim for.

Instead, we’re asking two questions: what is the Sabbath meant to teach us about things like time, work, and relationships, and what are steps we can take right now to move our rhythms and patterns into alignment with what God teaches us through the Sabbath.

We look forward to the conversation together.

Upcoming Gatherings

Here’s our holiday schedule as we celebrate Christmas and welcome in the New Year!

Christmas Eve – 5-6pm

Update 12/24 1:00pm: please note, we are still meeting in person tonight, but because of conditions encourage people to choose what is best for their circumstances. We will be streaming on YouTube as well. We look forward to being together!

Christmas Day – we will not be gathering

New Year’s Day – Brunch @ 10am! Bring something to pass and enjoy a fun (and delicious) start to the new year.

Summer at the Branch – 2022

Summer Sunday Gatherings

We’re headed back to Garfield Park for most Sundays this summer (the last Sunday of each month we’ll meet at the building)!

Bring a chair to sit in. Our BranchKids program will be available each Sunday we’re in the park (except for July 3).

We will continue to stream on YouTube regardless of location.

Here is our summer schedule:

  • May 29, June 5, 12 and 19 @ Garfield Park pavilion. Click here for a map.
  • July 3, 10, 17 @ Garfield Park pavilion
    • July 24 and July 31 @ the building
  • August 7, 14 and 21 @ Garfield Park pavilion
    • August 28 @ the building
  • September 4 @ Garfield Park pavilion


2nd Sunday Brunch

June, July and August
After our gathering at the park, we’ll dive into some good food.
Sign up for something to bring. We’ll cover place settings.


Evenings of July 11-13
Partner with us to serve kids in grades K-8 by creating spaces to
explore, discover, and stretch their God-given creativity. Be sure to like our Facebook page (facebook.com/CreateGR) for the most up-to-date information.

Partner Gathering

July 27, 6-8pm
After a two year hiatus, we’re gathering all Partners — those who are currently one and those who might be interested (a Partner makes an explicit decision to join us in our mission of renewal).

What are you up to? Share it with others! 

Heading to the beach? Taking a bike ride? Grabbing ice cream?
Share it in the GroupMe app. Join our group on the app (email teresa@thebranchonline.org) and you’ll get alerted every time someone is planning something fun and social.

New Series: Mapping Our Future

If you’re joining us online on February 13, 20 or 27,

please use this Zoom link (click here) and read the description below.

Making a map requires at least two points: where you are and where you intend to go. With all that has happened in the last two+ years, we’re taking the month of February to discern together where we find ourselves today, and where we hope to be in the future.

February 6: Over the last three years, we have focused on three areas: Embrace, Grow and Contribute (or Participate). These areas remain relevant and important, but how we live them out might look different given all that has changed in the world and in our own lives. We’ll reflect on John 4 and consider where we currently find ourselves, both as individuals and families, but also as a community of faith.

February 13, 20 and 27: These three gatherings will look different than a typical Sunday morning as we plan to use most of our time for reflection and discussion. Each week we will go in depth on one of the three areas (Embrace, Grow and Contribute), spending time in small groups brainstorming and then coming together as a large group to process.

Whether you have been at The Branch for years, or are new, we deeply hope that you will join the conversation and help us chart a course together. Your input and perspective is important and needed.

Summer at the Branch

We’ve got a great summer planned! There are chances to (re)connect, serve and grow for all ages! Click on the link below for the flyer!

2021 Summer Handout

The Journey of Advent

The stories leading up to and immediately after Jesus’ birth involve a lot of coming and going. Relatives make the trek to share joy about their shocking pregnancies. About-to-be parents travel to ancestral homes and then flee as refugees. Unexpected visitors arrive from a unknown land.
In the midst of all of these journeys we make one of our own. Yes, Advent involves retracing our steps through familiar stories and images, but it also holds the possibility of discovering new things. Things about ourselves, the world, even the about the Christ who we might be tempted to think we know all too well.
Join us as we embark on a journey through the stories that lead to the one story that shifted the course of history.

December 2 – Mary to Elizabeth

December 9 – Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem

December 16 – Angels to Shepherds

December 23 – Shepherds to Bethlehem
Christmas Eve – The Word to Us
December 30 – The family to Egypt

The Psalms: The Whole Earth is Full of Your Glory (7.8.18)

Psalm 104 and Psalm 8 remind of that God’s glory can be seen in all of creation. We are reflections of God’s glory, a picture of God’s creativity!

Summer at The Branch

Summer. There’s no better time to put your feet up and enjoy time with friends, new and old. Join us as we connect over good food and conversation at some pretty amazing places. Bring a friend. Everyone’s invited.

Every Tuesday, 6:30p: StoryTime in the Park
Join us for FREE BOOKS for all children 15 years old and younger and FREE ICE CREAM for all family members on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Storytime in the Park in located at 334 Burton St SE at Garfield Park. Children can also listen to captivating read alouds from 7:15-7:45 p.m.

Every Tuesday: 8p: Mountain Biking and Brass Ring
Meet in the parking lot of Brass Ring in Alger Heights at 8pm for an hour of mountain biking on local trails. Afterwards, join us for a drink at the Brass Ring.

June 15-17: Camping @ Fort Custer
Join us for a weekend of camping! We had a great time at Fort Custer last year, so we’re going back! They have mountain biking, swimming, fishing, etc. We’ll share the responsibilities of cooking breakfast and dinner. Lunch will be on your own.

June 22, 6:30p: CREATE Gallery Night!
Whether you’ve volunteered at or sent kids to CREATE or had nothing to do with it at all, come celebrate creativity at our Gallery Night! The art will be on display as well as 2 performances this year. There will also be a silent auction that benefits scholarships for next year’s CREATE. Oh, and there will be ice cream.

July 1: an Afternoon at the Beach
Join us at Painted Sky as Kevin & Mindy Freng host a BBQ at their cottage, which is conveniently located 200 yards from Buchanan Beach on Lake Michigan. We’ll have lunch together then enjoy an afternoon at the beach.

July 15: Pool Party
Nate and Liz Winkelman have kindly volunteered to host an afternoon of food and fun in the pool at their home.

August 24: End of Summer BBQ
To top off the summer fun, Jason & Mindy Law have invited us to their house for a Friday night bbq.

Check out our Facebook page to RSVP for camping or any of our summer bbq’s. For the other events, just show up! We’d love to see you.

Inhabit: Stories (6.3.18)

To wrap up our Inhabit series, we invited 2 couples to share stories about life in their neighborhoods, how they’ve built relationships, and how they’ve influenced the flavor of their neighborhood.

Recycling Needed!!!

We need your recycling! Two of the classes at CREATE will take your garbage and turn them into priceless masterpieces. Some call it upcycling, we call it art. Here’s the list of specific things that our two classes need:

  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Plastic bottle caps (all sizes)
  • Metal jar lids of all sizes (like from salsa or jam jars)
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Number junk (any and all things that have numbers 1-12)
  • Cassette tapes
  • Old toothbrushes (we’ll bleach them before letting kids touch them!)
  • Clean milk jugs
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Shallow boxes & lids
  • Paint of any color

You can bring any of these items on Sunday mornings by June 17, or email teresa@thebranchonline.org to make other arrangements. Thank you!!!


Inhabit: Beauty and Awe (5.13.18)

It’s not enough to just see beauty around us. We are also invited to experience that beauty by entering in to the places where God is already at work. Where is their beauty in my neighborhood? What would it look like for me to enter into and experience that beauty? How might God want to re-ignite my imagination?

Inhabit: Regaining our Sight (5.6.18)

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Henry David Thoreau

What do we see? How easy is it for us to see the less important things? How common, in our context, to become hyper-fixed on what is wrong, broken, dysfunctional? (is this easier? easier to keep our distance through complaint and hopelessness). AND, how easy it is to be distracted or anesthetized? What if we regained our sight for those things that are already beautiful? What if we had eyes to see the mundane, even the broken, as aspects of God’s work among us?

When we regain our sight, it leads to remembering that God is good, which leads to trust, hope and truth.