We reported yesterday about retired minister Gerald Hallman, who was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. Surgery was performed this morning, Dec 24, around 10 am.

Gerald’s son, Tim Hallman, who is pastor of Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.), sent this note:

“My dad made it through surgery and is recovering in his room. The tumor is worse than initially thought, though it was already assumed to be very bad. Treatment may delay the effects. However the decline in dad has already started and is irreversible. We do not know what the days ahead hold. Your love and prayers have been a beautiful gift to my father and family and myself. We will seek out the most joy and peace in the days ahead as we struggle to adjust to this reality.”

Please keep Gerald and Rozanne, and their children and grandchildren (all of whom live in the Fort Wayne area), in your prayers.

Hillsdale children's musical (click to enlarge)

Lester Smith (right), pastor, Hillsdale UB Church (Hillsdale, Mich.)

Approximately one-third of the entire congregation of the Hillsdale UB Church presented a Children’s Christmas Celebration, “For the Glory of the King,” at both services on December 18. The total attendance that day was 643. There were many visitors, including a number of financially-strapped families.

A group of 4 men in the church had previously given Pastor Les Smith over $2000 in cash and gift cards with the instructions to “go play Santa Claus” with those in need. Letters were sent out to about 75 families outside the church that had been given assistance during the past two years.

The letter invited these families to the children’s musical along with an enclosed coupon to turn in to the Welcome Center at the close of either service for a $25 Walmart Gift Card. A half dozen families indicated a desire for additional follow-up from the church.

Click on the photos below for a larger view.

Tell us something special your church did during the Christmas season–events, programs, ministries, anything. You can use this form or send an email.

Chad Sexton, Executive Director, Camp Living Waters (Luther, Mich.)

This has been an amazing year at Camp Living Waters. We have served over 2,450 people year-to-date. This summer, 48 campers made commitments to Jesus Christ, and many other lives were changed through our retreat season. Ministry is happening at camp almost every weekend. Thanksgiving was the first weekend in 31 weeks that we did not have a group here at some point during the weekend. Praise God that He is bringing people to Camp Living Waters.

We continue to serve with minimal staff and many volunteers. We currently have 2 fulltime staff and 2 interns in our Camp Ministry Apprentice Program. We have been blessed with thousands of hours of volunteer help. Many groups are coming to camp to complete projects that need to be done, and are helping provide the needed funds to complete the project.

  • We moved and improved the Camp Store.
  • Renovation to cabin row has been started.
  • The Health office has been given a face lift with new paint and flooring.
  • The prayer garden has been moved along the shoreline of Stewart Lake with great views and serene settings for spending time with God.
  • The barn has a petting farm, a new riding arena, and a tack room that is insulated and protected from the elements.
  • Volunteers have been working on the framing, the fire suppression system, and the heating for Colston Lodge, with many more people wanting to get involved as their skills are needed.

Volunteers are very encouraging and uplifting to us. We know we can’t do it without you.

As we grow and serve more people, our expenses have grown as well. Giving has been down this year, and we are looking at about a $30,000 shortfall. The last few years we have been blessed with a surplus at the end of the year that helped us bridge the gap over the next few months when heating costs are higher and we have less people to serve. We are working hard to bring more people to camp in January and February.

We know that God has a plan and will meet the needs of Camp Living Waters. People’s lives are being changed for eternity and others are finding spiritual renewal here.

Gerald and Rozanne Hallman on duty in the nursery at Anchor Community Church on Sunday, December 18 (click to enlarge).

Gerald Hallman, an ordained and retired United Brethren minister, was diagnosed on Friday, December 23, with an inoperable and aggressively growing brain tumor. He and his wife, Rozanne, began their ministry serving two churches in Ontario–Silverthorn (1975-1977) and North Bruce (1977-1986). They concluded their ministry at Montgomery UB in Montgomery, Mich., and retired to a lakeside property in Fremont, Ind. Since 1998, they have been active members of Anchor Community Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., which is pastored by their son, Tim Hallman.

Tim wrote on Friday afternoon, December 23: “Dad has surgery on Christmas Eve at 9am with Dr. Kachmann to remove a portion of the brain tumor they found in the back of his head. They will then treat what they cannot remove with chemo or radiation. Hopefully Dad will come through the surgery and be able to go home by New Years Day. We are praying that we will have another six months or more with him. Dad is at peace with these unwanted developments, trusting God with what is next. Thanks for your prayers.”

The surgery will be performed at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind., where Gerald is currently in the ICU surrounded by family.

The Searching for a King musical at Parkwood Gardens Church (click to enlarge)

Scenes from "Searching for a King" (click to enlarge)

The “Searching for a King” musical at Parkwood Gardens Church (click to enlarge).

Brian Magnus (right), pastor, Parkwood Gardens Church (Guelph, Ontario)

Parkwood Gardens Church loves the Christmas season!

Many years ago we helped form the Parkwood Gardens Neighbourhood Association here on the west side of Guelph, Ontario. Today we partner with it to offer weekly community programs at the church. This year, with the PGNG, we also collected new and gently used coats, then later scarves and mittens for the children of the neighbourhood.

We were also the Guelph collection centre for Operation Christmas Child, and saw 2500 shoeboxes pass through our doors.

For the eleventh straight year we performed a Christmas musical under the direction of Elizabeth Kramer. This year’s performance is being held on three nights and will attract over 800 people. The 50-voice choir is doing a musical entitled, “Searching for a King,” which contrasts the journey of the Magi with the journey of a Canadian soldier coming home from Afghanistan, each searching for King Jesus.

On Christmas Day we’ll drop to offering just one Sunday service, including a giant “Happy Birthday, Jesus” party for the children.

Tell us something special your church did during the Christmas season–events, programs, ministries, anything. You can use this form or send an email.

Darwin Dunten (right), pastor, Findlay First UB (Findlay, Ohio)

Findlay First UB just completed its 5th annual Happy Birthday Jesus party with over 60 in attendance. (Most of whom do not attend church anywhere.) The program started with games, the Christmas story, food, crafts, and a gift bag.

The youth ministry at Findlay First UB has seen tremendous growth this year mainly because of two reasons.

  1. A strong prayer emphasis by the adults on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening.
  2. More adults are helping transport, feed, and minister to the children.

Above is a video of the Happy Birthday Jesus Party we posted on Youtube.

Tell us something special your church did during the Christmas season–events, programs, ministries, anything. You can use this form or send an email.

Scenes from Kunkle UB's Christmas event at the community firehouse.

Ron Evans (right), pastor, Kunkle UB Church (Kunkle, Ohio)

A community Christmas was held at the local firehouse with more then 80 people in attendance. This event involved lighting a large evergreen tree that stands on the main intersection in the village. Ed Sutton, a contractor based in the village, provided the lift used to place strings of lights donated by the community on the tree. Kunkle Carryout was the collection point for community-donated toys and money for the event.

The event started out with the lighting of the tree. As the people gathered around the tree, a prayer of dedication was given and the lights turned on. Then we moved into the firehouse for finger foods. After that, Emma Evans played her accordion and we sang several Chrismas carols together. On the last carol, two boys from our youth group, along with their band director at North Central school in Pioneer, joined us with their trumpets.

After the singing, the Kunkle Youth group portrayed the Christmas story as it was read. Then, time for what the kids had all been wating for: Santa. When Santa walked in, one little girl pointed in his direction and another cried out, “It is Santa!” The kids were given the opportunity to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. After that, they were able to pick a toy from the pile at Santa’s side. When all the little kids were done, some of the big kids got into the act as well.

One little boy told Santa that one of the toys he had bought early had broken already. He asked Santa if it was okay to exchange it for a new one. Santa told him that it was okay and he would have a talk with his elves about quality control. This put a smile on the little boy’s face.

This event was a success, as many in the community joined in. The Chrismas message of Christ was delivered, and we had several tell us that they wanted to more involved next year.

Tell us something special your church did during the Christmas season–events, programs, ministries, anything. You can use this form or send an email.

Joe Leighton (right), pastor, Salem Chapel (Junction City, Ohio)

We have an outreach ministry to teens and children in our area. About 30-40 attend on a weekly basis. At Christmas we have a Sunday night program with fellowship for these kids’ parents, and this year we had a typical crowd of about 130 (our sanctuary holds about 93). We also join the other churches in our township to provide food baskets to about 100 families in our vicinity.

Tell us something special your church did during the Christmas season–events, programs, ministries, anything. You can use this form or send an email.

L-r: Fred Scroggs, Santa Jerry Ramsey, and Eagle Quest's pastor, Tim Scroggs.

Christine Scroggs, Eagle Quest Church, Columbia City, Ind.

Eagle Quest Church (Columbia City, Ind.) helped 396 people during the December 17-18 weekend. On Saturday, Dec. 17, members joined the Salvation Army of Whitley County in inviting over 250 families to join them in a meal to celebrate the Christmas season. This celebration was the climax of a very successful food drive called “Feed the Need,” which worked in conjunction with the Salvation Army’s well-known “Toys for Tots” program.

Feed the Need was started to help insure that families who needed help with their groceries would receive enough food to make a Christmas dinner, and hopefully dinners for a few extra days. This year’s program raised enough funds to receive a matching grant, generously donated by the Whitley County Community Foundation. The grant and monies given by the community enabled Eagle Quest to provide 250 food vouchers redeemable at Kroger’s for $25 each!

Here’s how the program worked. As each family received their toys at the giveaway, they also received their voucher and an invitation to the meal at the church. Once they arrived at Eagle Quest, they were greeted by Santa and fed a meal consisting of hot dogs, sloppy joes, baked beans, chips, cookies, and drink.

There was a table with free hats, mittens, scarves, and coats for anyone who wished. The guests were also eligible for a drawing that included gift certificates donated by many local businesses and individuals. As they left the dinner, each family also received a bag with groceries with a variety of foods which included meat, potatoes, and eggs. Community Action of Northeast Indiana was also available at the party to give information about the help they provide.

It was a complete blessing to be able to help so many, and the look of joy and appreciation on the faces of those involved was not lost on any of the workers. Eagle Quest Church was honored to be able to work with the Salvation Army and provide meals to so many people in Whitley County. We are already looking ahead and planning “Feed the Need” 2012!

What has your church done during the Christmas season–events, programs, ministries, anything? Tell us about it. You can use this form or send an email.