Lake Fellowship Ministries dedicates River Community Center

BALDWIN — A sense of real synergy permeated through the River Community Center as 150 people from several different churches in Lake County joined together Sunday to dedicate this outreach.

During COVID in 2020, Lake Fellowship Ministries, a collaboration of churches in Lake County, were given an offer of the C.A.R.E. building south of Baldwin for $50,000. With $10,000 paid off, the group keeps moving forward with new vision and hopes to raise the rest of the money within the coming months. 

A lot of work and labor has been put into the building to make it a great place for people of all ages, with a recreation area, a large room with a stage, office rooms and more. 

The vision of the River Community Center is "to unite the community together and to help promote healthy living through a Christ-centered atmosphere, providing volunteer opportunities, support of other community projects, and to host men, women, family and children/youth events throughout the year. This also offers a place to gather with friends or a quiet place to read, work or study or enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. 

During the dedication ceremony, Pastor Tim Alley, of Baldwin Assembly of God, gave a greeting and opening prayer. 

"It is such an honor, privilege and amazing moment seeing the "church" that names Jesus as Lord come together today. We are believing this is just the beginning of the revival coming to Lake County. God uses people. He uses prayer," Alley said. 

Rev. Cherlyn McKanders of Covenant Community and Chase United Methodist Church, gave the scripture reading about Jesus calling the disciples to be "fishers of men." 

Rev. Debbie Alley, the director of the new River Community Center, shared some words. 

"I am so excited for this day. It has been six very busy weeks. If you were here before then, this now looks like a different building. I have been able to move this on, but I have not done this work by myself. The people in this community who came together made this happen," she said.

Alley shared how the biblical account of Jesus calling the disciples to be "fishers of men" inspired the name for the River Community Center.

"God's asking us to go fishing. When you go to the river you find a quiet place, but also it is a chance to be with people and a place of enjoyment. This is a place for people to come together and be refreshed and renewed," she said. 

Pastor Bruce Whitney, of Baldwin Congregational Church, then formally installed Alley as the director by apostolic succession, the laying on of hands by other ministers. He presented her a stohl — a sign of service. It was hand-woven in Central America and blue — a special color for social justice and ministry in the streets, Whitney said. He also presented a net and told her to "go fishing."

Those present were invited to share in worship songs and communion. 

Pastor Ron Zerfas gave the final benediction and guests were invited for a special lunch to celebrate. 

People can help by donating to the Legacy Foundation. LFM is looking for 40 people or groups to raise $1,000 by May 1, 2023. The building will need more finances for future projects but the first goal is paying off the building. 

Upcoming family events are already scheduled. This Saturday, The River CC and Seeds of Promise Family Resource Center will offer a Christmas cookie decorating party from 1-3 p.m. with games, snacks and fun included.

 A Famjam is planned from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, for games, free snacks as well as activities in the gym. A Christmas party Famjam also will take place from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17.

The center also will be home to Hope Chest Pantries of Lake County (a free clothing pantry open on Mondays (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and personal care pantry on Wednesdays (11 a.m. to 1:03 p.m.) 

For upcoming events, join the River Community Center Facebook page. 

For more information on volunteering, or to help reach the legacy foundation goal, reach out to the center at 9731 S, M-37 P.O. Box 573 Baldwin, MI, 49304, or call 231-629-4337.