Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Postmodern Process-Relational Cosmotheology

A Postmodern Process Relational 

Our vision is of a world in which an evolving interconnected universe, with its unique community of life on our home planet Earth, is a context for understanding, belonging, inspiration, decision-making and creating the future. - Deeptime Network (DTN) 
The Deeptime Network's development of de Chardin's contributions along the lines of an “Ultra-Physics” and Berry's “New [Cosmic]Story” - is dedicated to evolving in like manner-and-spirit to these theologian's work, in an effort to be at once consonant with science, world religions, and all fields of knowledge, bar none.

Why I wrote this article
I spent a bit of time yesterday expanding and deepening the original article here presented to help better explain the differences from other competing, non-processual Christian and non-Christian cosmotheological systems being presented alongside Whitehead. Hopefully this effort might help guide a few applicants so that their energies might be more happily applied to staying on the larger paths of truth-seeking as versus the many time-wasting bunny trails deviating from Process Studies and leading "everywhere, all-at-once" (as a recent, 2-thumbs down, movie had used in its title) pretending knowledge but more simply catching up the strays not staying their path. - re slater

Process Philosophy & Theology's Differences to Other Proposed Integral CosmoTheological Theories

Apparently Process Philosophers and Theologians are not the only ones seeking an Integral Theory of Everything (ITOE). While roaming across the internet I discovered what I believe to be a Catholic-based CosmoTheological system championed by the earlier figures of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry. These were visionaries whose life and work were inspired by integral thinking and unitive consciousness.

The Deeptime Network on whose website I discovered these details goes on to state similar ideas and discussions as my own Process Community. A community which has been researching these same topical areas for the past hundred years founded upon it's own figurehead of Alfred North Whitehead (sic, as John Cobb would say, "But importantly proceeded by many others before Whitehead").

Having belatedly discovered Whitehead on my search for a more holistic hermeneutic, this fraught journey quickly ended once discovering Whitehead as I shifted my focus to the more foundational subject-matter troubling all biblical studies - that of a sufficient philosophic-theological foundation. A foundation which was open (and not closed) in its structures and healthily seeded with doubt and uncertainty - unlike my own closed Calvinist Reformed Theology which became  immediately transformative when removing Calvinism for Arminianism; and soon afterwards, led to Open and Relational Theology on my own; then, a year or so afterwards, stumbling across Process Theology which I had never heard of and needed several to examine and digest.

Hence, I came up through the ranks the hard way, both biblically and then philosophically, mucking about on my own much like the Apostle Paul when reorientating his Jewish theology with a Christ-filled Christology with very little or no help from his peers.

Hence my caution to fellow travellers along the difficult roads I had once climbed and descended solo yet was mercifully commissioned and led by the Spirit out of the dark pits I once was inhabiting. For without the Spirit, it would've been impossible. "Thank you, Lord."

It took nearly ten years to produce this formative website here, Relevancy22, showing my struggles while surrendering my deep fundamental past and later, spending the best of my years in conservative-evangelicalism, that I might find the God of love I had always believed in, and the Atoning / Resurrected Christ Jesus. Both of whom I now center the entirety of my theology around as Authors and Finishers of my faith, rather than some scripted dialogic system purporting truth and love yet betrayed by its own judgmental dogmas and socio-political actions.

Where I had supposed "the bible" was my center-point it can be no longer. Especially when considering this "bible" - that I had inherited, was taught in, trained in, and actively ministered from it for years - was but my faith's own interpretation of a faithful God and God's faithless creation. Over the past forty years (sic, the late 70s, early 80s, and onwards) the evangelical faith has definitely showed itself deficient in construct, outlook, and practicum when witnessing the church's own dissolution into a world of unloving dogmas and excluding fellowships.

At which point, being led here by the Spirit, I have joined other process theologians in aligning my own evangelical thoughts and teachings with the broader perspectives of process theology. In so doing I have joined many other process-centric institutions, organisations, religious and secular fellowships, schools and programs, which are likewise exploring the spirit-life of processual faith, science, community, and nature.

And like Elijah the Prophet (whose name I bear in my own middle name), I no longer find myself alone but am surrounded by a whole host of God's children likewise struggling with the integration of Christian biblical teachings and how they might more properly fit within the metaphilosophies of the Western-American and TransContinental-European traditions.

Ultimately, Process is its own thing, though sometimes claimed to be a combination of both the Western and Continental approaches. However, being its own thing is liken to any good scientific theory - such as Einstein's Relativity Theory - as it absorbs and subsumes all previous philosophic, theologic, and psychologic efforts under its own integrating (or integral) canopy once known by Whitehead as a "Philosophy of Organism" but now known as "Process Philosophy and Theology". A construct which easily, if not pervasively, reaches out globally to bring into itself all religio-philosophical outlooks. 

This then would be the proper  mark of an integrating/integral "Theory of Everything" (TOE) after thorpugh testing and dialogue. It's what it should do when withstanding the tests of time. And importantly for myself, and my Christian faith, one centered around God's love and God's Son Jesus, in its processual panentheistic forms.

Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 1 Kgs 19:18, KJV

And so I write this to show both the close similarities - as well as the dissimilarities - with other similar, but non-pocess based, Christian and non-Christian approaches are as they seek to address the area of cosmotheology.

Here is some of what I found on the DTN site - some of which I liked and felt was very process-oriented... even as I later learned DTN to be a hodge-podge of eclectic ideas... which, to a process guy, is never ideal, nor wanted, if a integral theory is to be a good theory at all, it must be its own thing and not a collection of things.

If an Integral Theory of Everything (ITOE) is to be as it name claims then such a theory must be "Sufficient in itself. Efficient in its purviews and explanations. And able to evolve without losing its basis of origination." 

Think quantum theories, or Einstein's equations, and you'll begin to understand why a good theory never loses its character while also positively-and-negatively spurring frenetically forward ever greater and expanding discoveries.

The Attitudes of a Process-Relational CosmoTheology

After reading this statement as a process guy it made me glad to see another Christian site working to the same ends as my own Christian Process community and that we are not alone in our efforts to reach across all spaces of life and faith towards discovering a greater holistic awareness, if not individual and communal forms of practices, which might take a fractured corporate Godhead of Father, Son and Spirit, along with its many schismatic churches, towards a uniting and healing multivariant faith body willing to dialog more closely with each other, including diverse global faith bodies, non-faith institutions and organisations, seeking a common goal of finding a centralizing foundation on which to live and commune in fellowship with one another and the nature around us in which we inhabit and have been consuming at a brutally horrific rate.

These are the spiritually essential, moral and ethical capacities which can-and-should-be-done between the peoples of the world, leaving within humanity's structure such vital organic systems as doubt and uncertainty so that in its very infrastructural foundations we as a process community have built into it a permanent DNA which grows and evolves with the understanding of the earth and cosmos at large.

Complexly, if not essentially, in the creation of God nothing ever ceases to be wholly defined or wholly isolated. All is relational. And in the relational all is connected by definitive design, purpose, structure, synergy, and teleology. If we espouse open, evolving, cosmotheological systems then in theory as well as in practice they should correspond with our own conscious experience of the everlasting with that of our everlasting CreatorGod-Redeemer.

All is connected. All is open. All certainty is uncertain. All avowed is to be held in glorified doubt and exploration. - R.E. Slater

The Structures of a Process-Relational CosmoTheology

Part of the attraction I have to process theology is the interconnectedness of our stories to the stories of others, the earth, and the cosmos; and from there back to every thing, and all things, to one another in correspondent ap/prehension, concrescence, formative actuality, and everlasting processual possibilities-occassions.

A process-based integral theory of cosmotheological modelling would include within it all current and previous efforts including the following:

  • It would certainly include such areas of study as Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry whose emphasis was to offer a grand synthesis of everything that integrates scientific with religious cosmologies by identifying common universal elements (singularities) which are the foundation and structure of all created things.
  • Ken Wilbur's East meets West psychodynamic modeling between cultures and religions (as explained further below)
  • The Gaia hypothesis, also known as the Gaia theory, or the Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.
  • And any and all studies related to psycho-spiritual consciousness in religious, synthetic, sociological, aural, and neural studies.
  • Historical Origin stories of the earth and its people weaving each locality's narrative into the larger meta-narrative of the earth's history, and the earth's history with the story of the universe.
  • Finally, as an integral story of mankind, to discover what each separate area of study may mean for the world's consciousness of itself and its communities. These would pertain to morals and ethics relating to all areas of mankind and nature such as ethno-religions, cultures, economic, and socio-political structures

The Principles of a Process-Relational CosmoTheology

Here are some corollary principles a process philosopher-and-theologian can well agree with from the Catholic perspective of a cosmotheology (I've taken the DTNr statement and have modified it a bit into process terms):
A proposed hypothetical cosmotheological model is to be in harmonic orchestration depicting a progressive integral cosmology such that:

(a) it may bridge the age-old gap between science and religion;

(b) strike a balance reconciling difference, diversity and individualism with a universal metanarrative in which our smaller stories fit and make sense;

(c) may reveal how all things interconnect as one, naming the singularity with its unifying energy in the Omega Point;

(d) may anticipate, forecast, and names the next stage (phylum) of psycho-spiritual evolution;

(e) may provide a numinous icon/symbol that is at once novel, inclusive, archetypal, and conducive to a universal synthesis;

(f) and may identify Spirit/Pneumena along organic lines, correlating the model as incarnational in nature while extracting from it helpful psychophysical terms.

R.E. Slater
May 19, 2022

*NOTE. The non-processed based study reference used here by the Catholic version of cosmotheology as laid out above was excerpted from a chapter sub-heading entitled “A Post-Modern Cosmotheology,” from Joseph C. Masterleo’s book, “The Ambient Christ, The Inside Story of God in Science, Scripture and Spirituality,” which utilizes the Judeo-Christian Scripture as a platform and portal to the proposed cosmic unified field which I am assuming correlated with Teilhard de Chardin and Thomas Berry's earlier philosophic-theological research studies.
- R.E. Slater


The Ambient Christ: The Inside Story of God in Science, Scripture, and Spirituality
Published in Paperback – September 29, 2020
by Joseph C Masterleo (Author)

There is a unified field in the cosmos that holds everything together, and every discipline is a portal to it. Science calls it a field of fundamental forces and elementary particles. Religion calls it God and accepts it by faith as an impenetrable mystery. How can their unbending perspectives be reconciled? In The Ambient Christ, the author proposes a novel paradigm that explains their complementarity as a seamless unity. This innovative model provides a new story for an ailing and divided planet in the twenty-first century, and a viable solution to the holy grail quest.

"There is something too narrow and missing in the gospel as it is presented to us. In spite of appearances, our age is more religious than ever; it only needs stronger meat" - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

"A religion, [either] old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge." - Carl Sagan


My first blush with Ken Wilber proposals is located here in this article: Integral Philosophy & The Integral Left - Integrating Life, Nature & Politics which may help in understanding both the Deeptime Network organisation and Wilber's Eastern Oriental approach to his quasi-scientific Integral Theory which is dramatically different from Whiteheadian Integral Philosophy and Theology working with the academic sciences, psychotherapies, ethical and religious communities.

It is also where I began appreciating Matthew Segall for his work in this area as a skilled Whiteheadian process philosopher and (Jewish?) Theologian. Matthew currently heads the Cobb Institute's Science Advisory Committee for Scientific Cosmological Studies and Outreach.

Wilbur had made a large effort in integral modeling from an AQAL "interior v exterior + individual v group" psycho-spiritual transformative proposals:

  • Integral theory is a meta-theory that attempts to integrate all human wisdom into a new, emergent worldview that is able to accommodate the perspectives of all previous worldviews, including those that may appear to be in contradiction to one another.
  • What does AQAL stand for? An acronym for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types,” this approach organizes for integral thinking, combining as it does the essential elements of the theory to represent the holistic nature of the concept.
  • What is AQAL philosophy? Ken Wilber's AQAL, pronounced "ah-qwul", is the basic framework of Integral Theory. It suggests that all human knowledge and experience can be placed in a four-quadrant grid, along the axes of "interior-exterior" and "individual-collective".
  • What is Ken Wilber's religion? In Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Wilber refers extensively to Plotinus' Neo-Platonic philosophy, which he sees as nondual. While Wilber has practised Buddhist meditation methods, he does not identify himself as a Buddhist.

As a process guy interested in integral philosophic-theological modeling Wilbur's approach further engaged me to (i) stay the course in process thought (ii) while also coming to recognize that approaches such as Wilbur's (or de Chardin or Berry's) could fit within process' integral theory of everything (PP/PT_ITOE) as non-processed based, synthetic approaches to cosmotheology.

Much like the indecipherable elephant whom the blinded, but wisest of their day, could not comprehend. Each suggesting the beast was one thing or another when limiting themselves to one area of the elephant.

So too is the study of a Postmodern Process Relational Cosmotheology when examined through the eyes of religionists, scientists, philosophers, and such like. The psychoanalyst Jung had his archetypal theories; Plato his substances and objects; Hegel could not compete with the Reductionists of his day; and Newton, like today's quantum academia, see only through the lenses of their preference. 

However, what if Process Philosophy is the mythical elephant (which must be allowed to become some other evolved critter later). What if the many aspects of world knowledge was but looking at one aspect of God's creation at a specific socio-cultural era and geographic space but not enough of the elephant to gain a thorough glimpse?

Hence, I continue my own Whiteheadian studies in the direction of a Postmodern Process Relational CosmoTheology incorporating such elements as panrelational, panexistential, and panpsychic modeling states and systems into the areas of a Process Christianity utilizing Open and Relational Process Theology when expanding a God-centric cosmos which can easily incorporate within it the Standard (or Physical) Cosmology of the quantum sciences, along with any-and-all of the world's cosmological theories. 

Below I have left several years worth of indexed references illustrating the vast differences of process studies to other non-process based religious and quasi-religious studies.

- R.E. Slater

Ken Wilbur's Studies in

Eastern Oriental Thought Meets
Western Psychodynamic Psychology

Integral Spirituality is being widely called the most important book on spirituality in our time.

Applying his highly acclaimed integral approach, Ken Wilber formulates a theory of spirituality that honors the truths of modernity and postmodernity—including the revolutions in science and culture—while incorporating the essential insights of the great religions. He shows how spirituality today combines the enlightenment of the East, which excels at cultivating higher states of consciousness, with the enlightenment of the West, which offers developmental and psychodynamic psychology. Each contributes key components to a more integral spirituality.

On the basis of this integral framework, a radically new role for the world’s religions is proposed. Because these religions have such a tremendous influence on the worldview of the majority of the earth’s population, they are in a privileged position to address some of the biggest conflicts we face. By adopting a more integral view, the great religions can act as facilitators of human development: from magic to mythic to rational to pluralistic to integral—and to a global society that honors and includes all the stations of life along the way.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Father Stu - Videos, Soundtrack, Clips, Interviews


Original Motion Picture Soundtrack from the drama film Father Stu (2022). The score music by Dickon Hinchliffe (The Lost Daughter, At Any Price, Misbehaviour).
Source: Father Stu Movie
Genre: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Music by Dickon Hinchliffe & Various Artists
Label: Sony Music
Format: Digital
Release Date: April 13, 2022
Father Stu (also known as simply Stu) is a 2022 American drama film written and directed by Rosalind Ross, produced by Columbia Pictures, distributed by Sony Pictures. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Jacki Weaver, Mel Gibson, Teresa Ruiz, Niko Nicotera, Cody Fern, Chiquita Fuller, and Carlos Leal.
Father Stu is set to premiere in the US on 13th April 2022.

The soundtrack album will be available for listening/purchasing on Amazon and Apple Music stores.

Father Stu: Montana Priest and Knight of Columbus


1. Father Stu (2:24)
2. Wildest Dreams (0:53)
3. Remember Me (1:20)
4. Carmen (0:57)
5. Bill’s Truck (1:33)
6. Come and Get It (2:26)
7. Father and Son (1:11)
8. Mary (1:45)
9. Resisting Arrest (1:07)
10. You Ain’t That Lucky (1:39)
11. You’re Wrapped (1:22)
12. I’m Doing This (0:48)
13. The Return (1:47)
14. Roommates (1:27)
15. Bill’s Trailer (0:58)
16. Ordained (1:19)
17. Big Sky (1:31)
18. Ain’t the Hill to Die On (1:45)
19. Leaving (1:21)
20. My Support (1:05)
21. Late Bloomers (3:18)

I never read film reviews or watch trailers before watching a flick. With Father Stu it would have totally destroyed the story and its many surprises. Below is a compilation of Wahlberg's newest role including select interviews. Hence, bookmark this page but go first to see the film before looking at the site.
Secondly, two scenes to pay especial attention to: the bar scene and the dining scene at the apartment. They are central foci to all the before-and-after of Father Stu's life. Enjoy.
- re slater

Father Stu - Official Trailer

Brett Young - Long Way Home (From The Motion Picture “Father Stu” / Lyric Video)

FATHER STU – You Don’t Know Stu | Path to Priesthood

Mark Wahlberg and Bishop Barron Discuss "Father Stu"

Friends remember Father Stu ahead of film release

Mark Wahlberg on Conversation with Cardinal Dolan

* * * * * * * *

Soundtrack Site

Dear Readers. I did not have the time to review every video here but if there are any video duplicates please mention them to me so I may strike them out. 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Reflections Of a Community Church

"For where two or three are gathered
in my name, I am there among them."
Matthew 18.20

Reflections of Cascade Church

There are two symbols that will always be meaningful elements in my life... the continuous-forever-flow of our Thornapple River and the shape of our historic white steeple framed against the layers of trees. They represent answers for me. It is appropriate on the 125th Anniversary of Cascade Christian Church that we look to them as simply symbols of continuity and innovation.

On the occasion that I attend the Sunday 8:15 A.M. worship service here in Cascade, I listen to the various voices singing and reading. I find myself wondering about all the different people who came before me to worship in the chapel... about who might have sat in the pews 50 or 100 years ago... about their life journeys... about how we change and grow through our struggles... about how we keep coming back.... Just as it is now, 125 years ago, Cascade was a growing village of newcomers settling in the Thornapple River valley. They were raising families, making a livelihood, experiencing the birth of technology and exploring the new ways of living. Although our daily activities have changed, we have many of the same challenges as those pioneers.


The Victorian Age... A Rural Period

Imagine for a moment a worship gathering on October 8th, 1864. It's likely that it was one of the homes of the Stows, the Browns, or the Richardsons. These 16 people gathered simply to pray together, to share their concerns, worship God, and remember Christ. For fifteen years the faithful people of Cascade Christian Church brought their new neighbors to their weekly gatherings. They baptized people in the river and took turns preaching. The villagers met in homes or the school house or in the Red Ribbon Hall which later became the home of Mr. & Mrs. Fred Carr. As it remains today, it was a community effort.

In 1876, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, George Steward Richardson planted 100 oak, maple and elm trees at the heart of Cascade Village. In the late1870's, Mr. Richardson, often called "a public-spirited individual," gave a building site on Orange Street for a new church to the congregation. Being that the new "church house" would be used for community gatherings as well as for worship, everyone in the village and community helped with the project. I'm sure many prayers went up for the structure. In October of 1880, the new chapel's bell called the villagers to worship. I wonder if the builders and founders had an idea that their little chapel would still be in service 125 years later.

For about 60 years the village maintained 58 people, and the township totaled 1200.  Newcomers could travel to Grand Rapids or to Ada by train. In Cascade, just down [the] river, magnetic springs were discovered, thought to have the "power of healing all known diseases." It was truly a rural community. Horses parked in the shed across the way. Everyone knew everyone.

Cascade Christian Church was, and still is, what we might call a networking group. A farmer could call upon the congregation for help bringing in a crop or raising a barn, or whatever need there might be. In all the personal testimonies written about Cascade and about Cascade Church, there always seems to be mention of community outreach and an interest beyond the church membership.

The community outreach programs can be traced as far back as our first full-time minister - Elias Sias. In the 1890's, the Christian Endearment Group formed with "the young people" for the purpose of community projects and charities. As it was the only one of its kind, the group drew youth from many denominations. Although the gathering and activities were religious in nature, many young men and women met their spouses this way.

The Age of Automation

Cascade felt the nudge of technology with the introduction of the Model T Ford. By 1920, the horse shed where the horses parked during church was pulled down. It was the beginning of the Roaring Twenties. The chapel was freshly painted inside and the monthly bulletin said that, "the church building will gladly be opened to the community for any righteous purpose."  The church had competition then. People could get in their cars and really "go somewhere." The carbide lights were replaced with electric ones. People concentrated on what was new. Rev. Lester Doerr gave much of his time to the youth in the church.

The depression of the Thirties was truly a challenging time for Cascade Christian Church. Mr. Doerr, like other minsters at Cascade, who always returned much of their salaries back to the church, served several years without stipend. Yet, there were almost twice as many new members as in the Twenties. Many of Mr. Doerr's youth became, and possibly still are, leaders here in the community.

Mr. Doerr resigned to enter the army in 1939, turning the church over to Frank Green who served until 1945. In spite of the war, during the Forties people gradually moved into the area. A social room was added on over the church kitchen. Attendance fluctuated. Harold Chambers, a superintendent of the Forest Hills Schools District served for a year, remembered for stressing Christianity in our everyday living and daily responsibilities. He sponsored various programs for returning servicemen.

Both Mr. Green and Mr. Doerr returned for a few years; Doerr paving the way for the postwar exodus from the city and the mushrooming suburbs. This period in the late 40's and 50's was the time when the church was concentrating on opening minds and doors. Youth groups rallied for various community projects. The Tri-Cees (Cascade Christian Crusaders) formed to promote "Christian fellowship and recreation for the community, and to undertake projects which would help the growth of the church and community." The scout troops formed in the church as did youth groups and ladies guilds. It was a time of zest and vigorous growth. With Sunday School classes overflowing into the town hall our Christian Education Building took priority. The building was dedicated in 1957, again to the church and community.

As written in the Centennial Issue and in Rev. Gaylord's beautiful story of his three decades here at Cascade, the development of this church is truly fascinating. Again it is not just a history of a growing church; it is a story of people and of how we change and grow through and because of our struggles.

Growing up in Cascade Church

When the chapel services were overflowing - 125 people - past the fire safety code, the congregation built the sanctuary. Most likely I came, still in my first year, with my parents and brothers to the dedication service. Probably my brothers participated in some part of the service. Like my brothers, I went to nursery school, Sunday school and choir. I went to Camp Crystal for several summers for youth camp, family camp, and CYRO camp. Truly, my first spiritual awakening happened at camp. Rev. Gaylord baptized me there in chilly Crystal Lake. 

I spent many learning hours in youth groups, church awards and Tags... stuffing envelopes... visiting area community projects and churches... working all day... and falling in the creek... at camp Gaylon... sending Valentines to Kent county jail inmates... anonymously delivering baskets of food to the poor... [and] traveling with the youth choirs. We learned, not necessarily by words, rather by doing, and by following the examples set by our teachers.  Although I didn't realize it at the time, these experiences were formative. I was learning ways in which to take Christ as my personal [role] model.

With a history of conflict and criticism between the various "Christian" denominations, I now find it truly a "Christian" concept to put aside the grievances and invite a Catholic priest into our church every Thanksgiving. This is what setting a "Christian" example is all about.  I will always have fond memories of the Christmas season at Cascade Church... of the Christmas Eve Worship service... of my Dad dressing up as a Santa with black eye-brows poking out from underneath a white wig... "What a sight!" All for Operation Santa Claus! I will always remember him standing in our kitchen talking about the faces of the under-privileged children to whom he was distributing gifts. Operation Santa Claus has expanded into various other non-seasonal pro­grams. The people at Cascade Christian Church give to literally thousands every year. Ultimately, I learned that "Christmas giving" is meant to go on through out the year.

There were other examples... My mom [was] always baking pies or bread for supper at church or sewing choir robes or bringing a meal to someone... or she was off on a "Save the Tree Mission". Perhaps I too that effort for granted when I was growing up. But these last few years, I have developed a great respect for the countless hours of work women like my mom quietly contributed to the Christmas Workshop, and church meals, and all of the behind-the-scenes charities. Whether they know it or not, there are so many women here in the community who have taught me important lessons just by giving their time... in all of those little things! It's the effort that counts!

The interpretive choir will always be dear to my heart. It was one of those things that touched me deeply the very first time I saw the group. like the other choirs, and special music, I found it to be another mode of worship and spiritual expression. It is important to find these creative, spiritual avenues. As things come around [during the annual church calendar], here I am working [again] with the interpretive choir.

The social element was a strong pull. Like many youth before me, I too met my first love one Sunday after church, eating cookies over in the East Parlor. I remember noticing him in the Christmas programs, and in the older TAGS classes. He became a camp counselor, a junior deacon, and an Eagle Scout. Yes, he was, and still is, a beautiful person, and had we lived 100 years ago we might have been one of those pioneering couples in Cascade. But, like our river, we change, grow and continue to move on, following out little niches here and there [even as the Thornapple River rolls itself through our community].

Of course, when I went off to college I thought that I would find a different church, maybe a new way of worship. I thought that somehow if I didn't go to the same church as my parents then I would be truly grown-up. In fact, I visited many different churches - I even stopped going for a while. And although I have met some delightful people, when I came home, I suddenly appreciated Cascade Church for what it [was and] is. It struck me that church was never just church or self contained. It always managed to integrate with the community. That is the essence of the outreach. After I graduated, I went off to Oxford, Ohio (Cincinnati), to work and just grow. [But years later], once again, I live along the river in the Fredrick Wykes' home in Alaska, [Michigan].

It touched me when I returned... in so many ways things haven't changed here at Cascade Church. Like always there are lots of new faces on Sunday... new programs... and struggling issues. That's what makes it the same Cascade Church.

New Faces... New Programs... New Issues...
but it is still Cascade Church

by Dianne VanStrien
date of writing unknown

*1989 would marked the
church's 125 year anniversary