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West Michigan Churches Launch Ecumenical Sermon Series

For the fourth year, a growing group of churches in Hamilton, Mich., came together for a multiweek sermon series that culminated in a combined worship service.

Reflecting the ongoing cooperation between area pastors, the number of churches participating has steadily increased since 2011 from five to 10.

“We participate because there is a great sense of unity in this series and combined service. We put aside minor differences and share the major aspects of our faith,” said Gary Luurtsema, pastor of East Saugatuck Christian Reformed Church, in Holland.

Inspired by RightNow Ministries, this year’s theme “Are You a Trader?” challenged church members to trade a self-centered, materialistic lifestyle for one that is self-sacrificing and centered on Christ.

East Saugatuck, Hamilton CRC, and Overisel CRC joined five RCA (Reformed Church of America) churches, a Wesleyan congregation, and a nondenominational church in reflecting on four topics: Choose Daily [to sacrifice your time and money]; Hate Injustice; Our Work as Worship; and Act Swiftly.

Participation in the series is growing, Luurtsema said, because “this has been positive, and people who attend other churches start to ask, ‘This seems great, how can our church join in on this?’”

It’s also easier to extend the invitation to more churches after having a few years’ experience organizing such a big venture, said Sue Flowers, associate director of Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ) of Hamilton, a nonprofit that facilitated the series.

More than 1,100 people attended the combined worship service at Hamilton High School. Jim Herrington of the organization Faithwalking, spoke on everyday missional living. “Throw open the doors of the church building,” he said, “and go live our faith as missionaries—at work, at home, in our neighborhoods, in our schools, wherever we are called.”

About the Author

Susan Vanden Berg is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Holland, Michigan.

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