Two Grass Lake Churches Celebrate Milestones
This month two Grass Lake churches are celebrating milestones, one bittersweet, one sweet, each event in collaboration between two faith communities.
Pastor William Walbridge is retiring after 30 years of ministry at Grass Lake Assembly of God Church. His final Sunday service is scheduled to be held on Sunday, the 26th at the church on Mount Hope Road. A reception and luncheon will follow.
Meanwhile at Saint John’s United Church of Christ Pastor David Cornwell has produced a collection of Christmas hymns that “have inspired, changed, and blessed my life,” the pastor said. The CD is titled “From My Heart” and is available for purchase.
The album debut will be held at Grass Lake Assembly on Friday the 24th at six p.m. Cornwell explained that the UCC site isn’t big enough to hold those who plan to attend. The Grass Lake Assembly has a larger gathering space, he said.
Proceeds from the sales of the CD will be donated to David’s Promise, a ministry of Compassionate Ministries in Jackson County, which provides services for adults with developmental disabilities and outreach to their families.
“That’s what the album sales and offering will go toward,” said Cornwell, who has involved himself with David’s Promise for the past two years.
The name “David’s Promise” is taken from the Biblical story of King David’s best friend, Jonathan, whose son Mephibosheth suffers a tragic accident that robs him of the ability to care for himself. Following the death of Jonathan, David promises Mephibosheth that he would always have a home with the king’s family.
Cornwell, who was born in Tennessee and raised in Indiana, described services at Saint John’s United Church of Christ as “a worship-friendly service, with praise and worship songs, and readings. We’re not super liturgical, not high church, but a comfort-level type of service, anything but ritualistic. Just prayer, worship, and preaching.”
Although Cornwell is not ordained in the UCC he has served in Michigan for 21 years. “The church is fairly autonomous; as a country church we do our own thing.”
“From my Heart” is a collection of hymns that have inspired Cornwell during his ministerial career. “Over the years people have suggested a record and I finally took the opportunity with the hope that it is not for gain for myself but to raise awareness for special needs,” the preacher said. “Christian-based ministry is meant to raise awareness for special needs.”
“David’s promise—that’s the real impetus for all of this,” Cornwell added.
Though he is not a musician “in the traditional sense,” the CD collection is “cover album,” an expression of his personal walk with the Lord. To compile the collection he worked with Daywind Christian Recording in Nashville, Tenn. The project has been in the works for more than a year and the completed album contains nine songs, including “Amazing Grace,” “Mashup,” written by contemporary Christian recording artist Chris Tomlin, and “Alleluia Christmas” by the late Canadian writer and musician Leonard Cohen.
Cornwell acknowledged that the events held in February’s final weekend will be bittersweet with the retirement of Walbridge. “Churches and pastors are united,” the UCC pastor said. “It’s almost like there’s one church in Grass Lake; we just worship in different places. We can call on each other. Pastor Bill has been a great influence in leading that also. We’re sad to see him leave but it’s a great community of believers and we’re fortunate in Grass Lake.”
If you go: Pastor William Walbridge’s final Sunday service is set for 10:30 a.m. on Sunday the 26th of this month. Cornwell’s CD concert is scheduled for six p.m. on the Friday the 24th. Both events are to take place at Grass Lake Assembly of God Church at 2900 Mount Hope Road. For more information call 517-522-4088 or visit www.grasslakeassembly.org.
Saint John’s United Church of Christ is located at 270 Bohne Road in Grass Lake.(517) 522-5353