Help has quietly been going to Haiti since 1943 from Baptist Haiti Mission (BHM), located at 118 Courtland, Rockford. Since a devastating earthquake that has killed thousands of people since Tuesday, January 12, the world has been watching, and the mission’s hospital and staff are on the front lines in rescue efforts. Ron Sparks is one of the board members of the Rockford-based mission, which in its 63 years has built 350 schools and churches in Haiti. BHM also has a hospital in Haiti’s Port-au-Prince, near the epicenter of the quake. BHM has 14 missionaries in Haiti, and thankfully, none were injured in the earthquake. One of them is Ron Baker, former Cedar Springs resident who is there with many members of his family. Baker has been in Haiti since 2003. He said he heard the earthquake and at first thought it was a large truck. “It continued to rumble and then the floors and the walls began to sway,” he said. Unlike much of the city, the BHM hospital is still standing. According to BHM missionaries, the 70-bed facility has 250 to 300 people in the rooms, hallways, and many more waiting outside for help. On Friday, January 15, Sparks was on the telephone to the federal state department trying to obtain landing clearance for a Haiti-bound plane with doctors on board. The phone was ringing steadily in the small Rockford office. “We’ve had it non-stop since Tuesday,” Sparks said. People with medical backgrounds are calling the office, offering help, even offering to go to Haiti. Sparks said, unfortunately, donations of items or sending people to the country, is not a good idea. Donations of financial aid are the most effective way to get help to Haiti. On Saturday, January 16, the team of doctors was able to land, but most flights have been initially limited to military peacekeepers and search and rescue. An email from one of the BHM missionaries sent at 1:12 a.m. Friday, January 15, described handing out tarps for shelters. Chris Lieb, who is in Haiti through BHM, along with his in-laws, Rob and Patti Baker; his wife and five children, handed out about 100 tarps for people to use as shelters. “It got very ugly as the last ones […]
January 21 2010
When Rockford’s court opens for business, it will be just one day a month and only handle small claims cases, according to Rockford City Manager Michael Young. Young said the court administrator, Donna Gilson, informed Rockford’s police chief of this latest news in the five-year saga of court consolidation. Rockford and Kent County are in a lawsuit over the issue of whether the former Rockford court can be consolidated to one location. Rockford believes a ruling that said a court must be located here, Kent County believes the presence of a court can be less than a full-service court with a judge. The case has gone through appeals and Rockford has asked the state supreme court to hear the matter. “It’s time to move on,” said Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio. “Two out of three decisions said what the county is doing is legal and appropriate.” The remodeling of the former court building here in Rockford is nearly, if not already, complete, and Young said he has not heard when it will be open for business. He said he has not been informed by the county what hours it plans to operate since a letter last July. At that time the county proposed a magistrate in the court building all day Monday, and half days Wednesday and Friday. It could handle small claims, informal traffic hearings, payments on criminal cases, traffic tickets and/or payment of small claims filing fees. “We already weren’t happy about that,” Young said. He said the county spent at least $55,000 remodeling the building, which it sold to the City for $20. In the transfer agreement the county retained use of a portion of the building for a court presence. “Why even do it?” Young said of offering a one-day-a-month court. “It defies logic.” He said this action proves the need for the supreme court to spell out exactly the terms of a court requirement according to the state constitution. “The court does say you have to have a court presence here,” said Young. “Apparently the county is going to have the absolute minimal presence possible.” Delabbio said Judge Smolenski is within her rights as chief judge to decide how much court presence Rockford will have. “It’s really up to the […]
Sign up by Saturday, January 23, and you will also have a t-shirt as a souvineer from a night of fun, food and hanging out with the police. The sixth annual Rockford Youth Night is Saturday, February 6 from 8 to 11 p.m. at MVP Sports in Rockford. Middle school-aged kids are invited to spend an evening playing basketball, dodgeball, volleyball and enjoy a pizza party and music with law enforcement officers from the area. Rockford officer Dave Robinson is in charge of this year’s event, which draws hundreds of kids from all over. “The dodgeball is pretty popular,” he said. Smacking local law enforcement with sports equipment is not the purpose of the community event, but it happens. Rockford began hosting the drug free, alcohol free, tobacco free event as a positive way to interact police with youth. The event is limited to 500 students, those who pre-register by January 23 will receive a t-shirt. To find out more, pick up a form at the Rockford Police Department or call them at (616) 866-9557. The cost is just $6.
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On Saturday evening, Jan. 23, there will be a very special worship and holy communion service for the Rockford community. Here’s how it came about: In the spring of 2008, at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, and this past August 2009, at the Church-Wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, dialogue was finalized which allowed the two different denominations to participate in full communion with one another. Delegates to the 4.7 million member 2009 Evangelical Lutheran Church and delegates to the eight million member 2008 United Methodist Church supported this historic agreement, which ended centuries of seeing and focusing upon their differences instead of seeing and focusing upon their commonalities. “Full communion” means that each denomination now acknowledges the other “as partners” in the Christian faith, where they recognize the authenticity of each other’s baptisms and sacrament of holy communion. By doing so, the two denominations agree to support each other’s respective ministries and will work together toward greater unity under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To celebrate this historic agreement and the implications of sharing in full communion with each other, four Rockford area churches—Hope Community Lutheran Church, Courtland-Oakfield United Methodist Church, White Pines United Methodist Church, and the Rockford United Methodist Church—are holding a combined worship service. In order to accommodate what is hoped to be a large gathering, this special worship and communion service will be held at the Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA in Belmont, on Saturday, Jan. 23, at 6:30 p.m. This significant gathering is open to anyone in the Rockford community, regardless of religious affiliation. If you’ve been searching for a church home or are new to the area, what better way to begin your journey?
RCS teacher promotes fundraising through Operation Squirrel Rockford Christian junior high teacher, David Buth, has once again challenged the middle school students with an exciting fundraiser goal. For every $100 the students raise, Mr. Buth has committed an hour of consecutive tree-dwelling. Fundraising has already begun and will last through early spring 2010. Last year during his Operation Squirrel adventure he endured a horrific storm suspended 40-feet above the ground. This year, he intends to live 60-feet off the ground. Not only were Rockford Christian students enraptured last year with his tree-activities, they were also inspired by his commitment to his goals even though at times it was difficult. Mr. Buth is a science teacher with an environmental focus including seven years of teaching, seven years as a camp counselor, and ten years of leading students on wilderness trips. Mr. Buth will lead the summer expedition of middle school students from Rockford Christian School and Grand Rapids Middle School on an exciting trip to attend the Teton Science School for a five-day environmental school. Along the way the students will stop at the Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone, Devils Tower, the Black Hills, and even celebrate Independence Day at Mt. Rushmore. The trip will enable the teens to reconnect with creation, community, self, and God in some of the most spectacular and rich settings in the country. Last year Mr. Buth’s tree-dwelling adventure brought news camera crews to the Rockford Christian campus, along with some generous contributions from local businesses and individuals. In addition to the stream of video and still camera crews, countless families stopped to chat or bring food. Old and the young stood at the base of the tree amazed at how Mr. Buth functioned while using a pulley system to retrieve supplies and Post Office for Operation Squirrel mail (or POOPS for short). The POOPS mail enabled students to ask Mr. Buth questions while he was hanging out in the trees about life that high up or anything in general. In addition, Mr. Buth was the center of attention during the school’s recesses and even taught classes during the day. If you have any questions about Operation Squirrel, please contact Principal Jan VanderWerp at (616) 574-6402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.