News & Notes, Second Quarter 2013

You can also download a PDF of the Volume 59 Number 2 Second Quarter 2013 (PC: Right click / MAC: Control click on the link and choose “Save As”)

From The Baptist Testimony – Volume 59 Number 2 Second Quarter 2013


Meryl Welch.  Mrs. Meryl E. Welch, age 92, went home to be with her Lord and Savior on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. As a young teenage musician, Meryl served her Lord in playing for many youth rallies. She was a marimba musician and was invited to serve in many weekly revival meetings in cities and churches of West Michigan. In 1942 she married Wilbert Welch, pastor of the North Casnovia Baptist Church, Bailey, MI. Both sensed the need for additional education, enrolling at Bob Jones University in 1943. While attending the university, they were called to serve at Calvary Baptist Church of Rome, GA where not only her husband served as the pastor, but Meryl became very involved in daily radio music broadcast ministry for seven days a week. During these years, five children were added to the Welch family. Following a five-year ministry in Rome, GA, there were ten fruitful years at Calvary Baptist of Muskegon. In 1959 Wilbert accepted a call to be president of the Grand Rapids Bible Institute. Meryl became deeply involved in the growth of the Institute to the current Cornerstone University. In reviewing these years of ministry with her husband, Meryl often stated that they both praise the Lord for the fruitful years He so graciously granted them. She is survived by her husband of 71 years, Dr. W. Wilbert Welch, Ph.D.; children, Robert A. and Nancy Kay Welch, W. Curtis and Sandra Welch, and Dale T. and Marcia Welch, and Arlene and Joel Betts; 10 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider the Music Department at Cornerstone University, 1001 East Beltline Avenue NE, Grand Rapids, MI.

“Standing Together for the Gospel”
October 21-23, 2013
MARBC-OARBC Joint Conference
Emmanuel Baptist Church, Toledo, Ohio

The first of its kind, a joint conference between the Michigan and Ohio Associations of Regular Baptist Churches will be held October 21-23 at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio. “Standing Together for the Gospel” is the theme.  The speakers will be Pastors Greg Gilbert and Steve Viars.  A Tuesday afternoon session for women will feature Dannah Gresh, of “Pure Freedom” Ministries.

A “save the date” mailer containing basic details is being mailed soon.  Conference brochures will be mailed mid-summer with registration available beginning July 30.  Conference registration for both state associations will be provided on Emmanuel Baptist Church’s website,  The church will have a web page designated for conference registration and other conference related information. Complete details regarding the conference, including the complete schedule, will be in the next issue of the Baptist Testimony.


BELMONT, West Cannon Baptist Church (Doug Crawford, Pastor) – A “Celebration of 50 Years of Faithful Service” in recognition of the Lord’s work through the marriage and ministry of Maynard and Ann Belt on February 24.  The year 2013 marks both 50 years of marriage and pastoral ministry.  The West Cannon family also honored the Belts as Maynard retires as Associate Pastor of Visitation and Seniors Ministry.  The service included a video tribute, comments regarding the Belt’s ministry with the MARBC by Ken Floyd, comments from the West Cannon “Caleb’s Kin” Class by Joe Hart, comments regarding Ann’s ministry by Mary Parmerlee, and comments from personal friend Jerry Hopkins.  Pastor Dave Parmerlee also read tribute letters from Maynard’s mentor, Claire Saliers, as well as letters from each of the churches where he served as pastor.  Senior Pastor Doug Crawford shared a devotional tribute and led in a prayer of thanksgiving.  Pastor Crawford also announced that the church is collecting a love offering in order to send the Belts on a trip to the Holy Land.  The service was followed by a time of fellowship and desserts.

The Belts were recognized at the recent GARBC Annual Conference in Dearborn with a special “Service Award,” the text of which is included in this issue of the Baptist Testimony.

BYRON, Byron Baptist Church (Gary Barber, Pastor) – Byron Baptist Church is rejoicing in the call of Rev. Gary Barber who assumed the responsibilities of senior pastor in June.  Pastor Barber was born in Brazil to missionary parents.  He and his wife Kathi served as missionaries in Brazil with Baptist Mid-Missions since 1984. He served on the faculty of Cariri Bible College and was the Vice President, Chairman of the Christian Education Department, and Dean of Students.  Before going to the mission field he served as Associate Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Grand Rapids from 1982-84.  The Barbers have two adult sons and one granddaughter.

CHEBOYGAN, Faith Baptist Church (Jim Currie, Pastor) – A group of 14 Christians from Northern Michigan recently ministered in Guatemala.  Pastor Jim Currie candidly shares about the impact of this special opportunity:

Guatemala is a beautiful country with towering mountains and smoking volcanoes.  The people were warm and so was the temperature. Fourteen of us from Northern Michigan just returned from a 10-day ministry trip to Guatemala.  Our mission was to share Christ’s love to the Guatemalans through medical, construction, and ministry in local churches.

We wanted to be used of God to bring encouragement to them through providing medical care as well as spiritual encouragement.  But to me the most amazing thing happened on our trip, we, the ones who went to encourage them, were the ones who were encouraged by the Christian believers. My heart was touched by their generosity to us. They wanted to give to us even out of their own poverty.  We hiked up a mountain trail to visit with a family who lived in a bamboo hut.  As we visited with them, they wanted to serve us some squash soup they were eating. We were touched by their generosity.  On one of our medical trips the lady who opened her humble home to us for the clinic provided a wonderful chicken dinner even out of her meager means.  She reminded me of the woman in Mark 14 where Jesus says, “She has done a beautiful thing…She did what she could.”

My heart was also touched by how the church prayed.  They not only prayed for the food they were about to eat but also prayed for their corn crop so they could feed themselves and their family.  But they also prayed for us.  I was reminded that God listens and answers the humble prayers of righteous people.

My heart was touched by three men who have only been followers of Christ for only a few years as they go from village to village sharing the wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ with their own people.

My heart was touched by missionaries who continue to do the work of sharing their lives and the gospel in spite of their own personal needs and struggles with loneliness being separated from family and conveniences.  I couldn’t help but think of how easy we have it here in America.  For in Guatemala, it seems like everything is difficult.

Are we as generous as we ought to be in giving to the church?

Do we care about the needs of others more than our own needs?

Do we pray with the passion and the belief that God is going to take care of us?

Do we spend more time complaining than praying?

Do we share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those we come in contact with?

Do we take our faith seriously enough to take it to the neighbor, or someone who lives thousands of miles away?

Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one bay boast before him.”

God taught me through Guatemalan believers that I’m not so smart.  But God called me like he called them to show our need for His grace in my life. I love the believing brothers and sisters in Guatemala and the missionaries who serve there.  I look forward to the day when all God’s children will be gathered around the throne in heaven, people from every tribe, and tongue and every nation will declare that Jesus is Lord!

And I also find myself praying for my brother pastors who are sharing the gospel in Guatemala and for the missionaries that are serving as God’s messengers in many difficult places around the world.  I went to encourage them – but wouldn’t you know it – they encouraged me!

ESSEXVILLE, First Baptist Church (Dan Staples, Pastor) – Pastor Dan Staples was called to be senior pastor at First Baptist church of Bay City, Michigan, in Essexville on February 27. Dan and his wife Lynette both graduated from Grand Rapids Baptist Bible College, and Dan then continued on to seminary there. He was ordained in 1978.  The Staples have been married for 46 years and have 4 daughters, 4 sons in law, and 13 grandchildren.  Dan has served in Baptist church pastorates in Jamestown, Kalamazoo, Freeland, and Bay City, Michigan.  Lynette has ministered to pastors and churches through her tax assistance service for over 40 years.

The church held an installation service and reception to celebrate the Staples’ arrival on May 5.  Speakers for the day included Pastors Dan Dickerson, Mark Dickerson, and Michael Reece from Calvary Baptist Church in Midland, and MARBC Executive Ministry Director Ken Floyd.

First Baptist Church will celebrate its 150th anniversary on the weekend of August 9-11.  Evangelist Ben Everson will be in concert on Friday, August 9, at 7:00 p.m.  A special anniversary service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on August 11 with Pastor Tom Teall as the speaker.  An anniversary dinner will follow the morning service at noon.

GRAND RAPIDS, Good News Baptist Church – Karl Pike preached his last sermon as the senior pastor of Good News Baptist Church on May 5th.  On June 9th the church family held an open house celebrating the life and ministry of Pastor Karl and his wife Irene. The open house was held in recognition of eight and half years served as senior pastor at Good News and over 52 total years in ministry. In addition to Good News Baptist Church, Pastor Pike’s ministry included Michigan pastorates in Saranac, Hadley, Flint, Sandusky, Howard City, and Jackson.  He also served as a representative with Bibles International in Grand Rapids for 10 years. Good News counts it a privilege to have had such a Godly couple lead them.

GRAND RAPIDS, Trinity Baptist Church (Brett Boomsma, Pastor) – Trinity Baptist Church celebrated the opening of a new 500-seat auditorium with a special worship service on Sunday, March 17.   The dedication took place in the 65th year of Trinity’s history and included a video of long-time church members sharing testimonies, recognition of those involved in project oversight, dedicatory comments and prayer by Ken Floyd (MARBC), and dedication message by Pastor Brett Boomsma.  The church family gave special recognition to Pastors Brett Boomsma and Jory Trim for their special leadership of the project.  The church family was blessed to have former Trinity pastor and current ABWE missionary Kent Pool and his wife Sandra in attendance.  The new two-story $1.1 million addition also includes a foyer, bathrooms, classrooms, children’s ministry floor, youth ministry wing, elevator and storage.  The Trinity Baptist family rejoices that God enabled them to build this new addition free of any long-term debt. After the worship celebration a fellowship meal was served, followed by a baptismal service.

MOUNT PLEASANT, First Baptist Church After 37 years of vocational ministry, Rev. James Turner and his wife, Barbara, were honored with a retirement farewell service at First Baptist Church on May 5, 2013.  The Turners served at First Baptist for just less than seven years, and previously pastored West Etna (Ind.) Community Church (1976-77), Abbe Road Baptist Church in Elyria, Ohio (1977-1992), and First Baptist Church in Allegan, Mich., (1992-2005). Jim graduated from Cedarville University in 1976, from Grace Theological Seminary in 1977, and had previously served in the U.S. Navy from 1965-68.  Relocating to enjoy one of their favorite things – a warmer climate – the Turners will remain active in ministry in their new hometown of Fort Myers, Fla.

MARBC TALENTS FOR CHRIST – The competition of the MARBC Talents for Christ was held on Saturday, April 20, at West Cannon Baptist Church in Belmont.

Individual Competition

Female Piano Competition, Open Category
First place, Francine Barchett, Midway Baptist, Watervliet

Female Voice Competition, Open Category
First place, Divinna Rosales, Evangel Baptist, Taylor

Female Writing Competition, Scholarship Category
Second place, Haili Lanz, First Baptist, Portland

Male Brass Competition, Open Category
First place, Matt Wagner, First Baptist, North Branch

Male Preaching Competition, Open Category
First place, Nathan Bell, Evangel Baptist, Taylor

Male Voice Competition, Scholarship Category
First place, Michael Kiesznowski, Evangel Baptist, Taylor

Group Competition

Large Vocal Ensemble – First Baptist Church of North Branch
Small Vocal Ensemble – Evangel Baptist Church of Taylor

The national Talents for Christ competition was held on June 26-27 in Dearborn, MI.  We extend our congratulations to Nathan Bell, Michael Kiesznowski and Divinna Rosales from Evangel Baptist Church in Taylor who participated and placed in the event.

We thank God for the special ministry of Pastor Ken and Debbie Pyne in directing the MARBC TFC program for many years.  They will be transitioning from the MARBC-TFC leadership as Ken assumes new responsibilities as a professor and director of the seminary internship program at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA, early next year. Your faithful ministry over the years is greatly appreciated, Ken and Debbie!

Next year’s MARBC Talents for Christ competition is scheduled on April 20, 2013, and will be held at West Cannon Baptist Church in Belmont.

SAND LAKE, Ensley Baptist Church (Tim Decker, pastor) – The Ensley Baptist Church family celebrated 150 years of ministry the weekend of July 13-14.  Festivities included a pig roast on Saturday afternoon followed by testimonies from former pastors Lester DeBoer, James Winn, John Fields, James Ankerberg, Cliff Owens, and a Biblical challenge shared by MARBC Ministry Director Ken Floyd.  The Sunday service time included a message by Pastor Tim Decker followed by a luncheon.


Rev. Maynard and Ann Belt were honored with a “Service Award” at the recent GARBC Conference in recognition of their 50 years of pastoral ministry and leadership of the MARBC.  GARBC Representative read the following tribute as the award was presented.

This summer Maynard and Ann Belt celebrate fifty years of marriage as well as serving together in gospel ministry. Ann came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at the age of twelve through the influence of Berlin Baptist Church in Marne, MI (GARBC). Maynard grew up in an unchurched environment and became a Christian as a teenager through the ministry of the First Baptist Church in Allegan, MI (GARBC). Through the encouragement of his mentors, Maynard received his academic training at the Grand Rapids Baptist Bible College and Seminary.

It was while he was a college student that Maynard met his sweetheart Ann Hall. Two weeks before they were married, Maynard began a part-time youth ministry at First Baptist Church in Cedar Springs. They were married on June 15, 1963. After Seminary, they faithfully served in four pastorates for over twenty-two years: Rogers City, Michigan (1966-69); First Baptist Church, Durand, Michigan (1969–1976); Tabernacle Baptist Church, Hazel Park, Michigan (1979–1982); and Northland Baptist Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1982–1988). During this time of ministry the Belts raised four children (three who are now married). God has blessed them with six grandchildren.

The Belts were called in 1990 to lead the ministry of the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches. They faithfully served in that position for sixteen years (1990-2006), the longest service of any MARBC representative. Maynard developed this position into a truly full-time role, expanding and developing many services for churches and pastoral couples. Serving as office secretary, Ann assisted Maynard in strengthening the ministry operations through efficient record keeping, the addition of office equipment, and caring for frequent mailings. However, Ann’s greatest asset was her experience as a godly pastor’s wife. Her sweet, caring spirit was a soothing balm to the pastors’ wives she encouraged. The Belts wise and caring leadership strengthened and blessed the state association. Following his retirement from the MARBC, Maynard as Associate Pastor of Senior Care at West Cannon Baptist Church for four years.

Mission ministry has long held a special place in the hearts of the Belts. Maynard faithfully serves on the Councils of Baptist Mid-Missions, Continental Baptist Missions, and Bible Tracts, Inc. He also serves as a Special Representative for the Department of Church Relations with Baptist Mid-Missions. God honored Maynard’s love for missions and missionaries by allowing him to currently serve as the President of the Fellowship of Missions, a consortium of mission agencies. The Belts continue to travel to mission fields ministering to missionaries and nationals.

Maynard has also ministered as an author, penning discipleship studies and a book of poetry that reflects upon the Word of God. He continues to author articles for his well-received “Baranabas Files” series. The heading for these articles accurately reflects the godly influence of a special ministry couple who, like Barnabas of the New Testament, have been greatly used of God to encourage others spiritually. Their Christ honoring ministry qualifies them for special recognition by the GARBC fellowship they have so faithfully served.”

MARBC receives Special Offering for CPR ministries

We rejoice in the recent love offering of $1,481.68 received from the Women’s Missionary Fellowship of the Central regional association of the MARBC.  CMARBC-WMF officers Nicole Hadley and Lori Palmer presented the check to Ken and Sharon Floyd at a special picnic lunch.  The offering was collected over the past year and will help assist MARBC churches through out the state as they assist other churches with building and outreach projects through the MARBC’s “Church Partnering Relationships” (CPR) ministry.

One such project currently underway is for the Grace Hispanic Bible Baptist Church near Grant.  Several churches are once again assisting GHBBC with ministry this summer.  First Baptist Church in Vestaburg has sent crews on several weekends to help with the interior work of the new facility.


NEW BOOK COMPANY FORMED.  Jim Weaver, former deacon at North Park Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, has started a new publishing venture.   Weaver Book Company, LLC focuses on assisting and encouraging pastors in publishing their works.  Jim formerly served as an editor for Baker Book House, Thomas Nelson Publishers, and Kregel Publications. Weaver Book Company specializes in publishing evangelical biblical studies and commentaries for pastors, students, and professors.  They are looking for material that will enrich God’s people.

For more information, contact Jim at WBC’s toll free number, 866.797.4161, or by Email. Information regarding book proposals and submissions can be accessed at

FLAGS AVAILABLE.  We have two sanctuary flags, a Christian and American flag that we would like to donate to a church in need of them and can’t afford. If interested, contact Sandra Bates, 313.291.2996, Evangel Baptist Church, Taylor, MI.

HOUSE AVAILABLE.  An MARBC couple is making a house available to a pastoral family, missionary family, or someone in need.  The house is located in Fowler, MI, and is an older farmhouse with up to four bedrooms.  It is nothing fancy, but it does have a new roof, furnace, well, hot water heater and several new windows. It also has a wood-burning stove that we used to heat the entire house when we lived there. It is in the country on a gravel roadway, and near the large Maple River area state lands.  We are not asking for rent and would only expect the utilities to be covered.  The house is not furnished.  Please contact Doug LaVoie, 989-981-6746, for additional information.

HOUSING NEEDED.  A missionary family is in need of housing while home on furlough in the Muskegon/Rockford/Grand Rapids area. They and their 4 children) plan to return for furlough from mid August until the end of December.  They are looking for housing between Muskegon and Rockford area or Grand Rapids.  They hope to find a place in Rockford School district so that 3 of our 4 children can study in the Spanish Immersion program.  Contact Chad Smith, Email, if you are able to assist this ministry family.

USED SUNDAY SCHOOL MATERIALS NEEDED.  Bob Engelsman, member of Standale Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, is looking for used RBP high school and adult Sunday school curriculum (especially teacher materials) that he can take with him to Romania.  These materials will be given to Baptist churches in Romania with which Bob has been working for many years.  Please contact Bob (616.453.0700) if you are interested in assisting in this need.

News and articles to your Email

Receive free email updates with the latest news available on the website.