E-Link Online

News of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan

Issue 2017.05 - February 27, 2017

In this issue....

Lent image
  • Ellie Grapentine memorial service March 4
  • Remembering Gerald Thenen
  • Bethany Baptist celebrates associate pastor's 89th birthday
  • Summer Haiti mission trip for young adults
  • Annual church reports due March 31
  • Region Professional Directory now online
  • Metro Association Annual Meeting March 9
  • Annual Clergy Retreat April 23-25
  • Benefit concert for Good family March 25
  • Face to Face set for March 24-25
  • "Why facts don't change our minds" and much more on Editor's Trips

Eleanor Grapentine memorial service March 4

Ellie Grapentine

† Eleanor Frieda Feichtinger Grapentine passed away at age 93 on Sunday, February 19th, 2017, at Arbor Hospice in Saline, Michigan. She was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 16, 1923, to Joseph Feichtinger, an immigrant from Austria, and Frieda Dorl, born in Chicago to a family recently arrived from Germany.

She was the wife of the Rev. Carl Grapentine, who passed away in 1999. Together they served ABC-Michigan churches in Wyandotte, Walled Lake, Mason, Aurelius, and Lansing (Valley Farms) plus interim pastorates in Saline and Morenci. Carl also served four years as Director of Christian Education and Camping for ABC-MI.

Ellie also held numerous roles in American Baptist Women, including president of the Business and Professional Women of Michigan, and was Registrar at Lake Louise Baptist Camp when Carl was Resident Director there. Ellie was a frequent vocal soloist at ABC-MI events, and during the Grapentines' years in Walled Lake she led a youth choir of 40 that often performed at other churches and events. She also taught elementary music and 5th grade classes for 32 years in Chicago and in Lincoln Park, Walled Lake, and Mason in Michigan.

Eleanor attended Chicago State Teachers College (now Chicago St. Univ.). She met Carl when he was a student at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago at a concert where she was the soprano soloist. They were married June 1, 1946. Ellie and Carl were the parents of Carl Grapentine of Melrose Park (IL), Chris (Carolyn) Grapentine of Ypsilanti, and Curt (Karol) Grapentine of Midland, all of whom worked at Lake Louise. Chris retired as pastor of Northside Community Church in Ann Arbor in 2013 and presently serves the Federated Church of Grass Lake as transitional minister.

Four grandchildren survive her, William, Jonathan, Elizabeth, and Annie, as well as two sisters, Ruth Remle of Sun City, Arizona, and Joan Bockmann of Palos Park, Illinois.

A memorial service will be held at the First Baptist Church of Ann Arbor Saturday, March 4, at 2pm. Family visitation will also be on Saturday at the church from 12 - 2pm. Memorial contributions may be given in Eleanor's name to the Ann Arbor First Baptist Church, 517 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104, or to Northern Seminary, 660 E. Butterfield Rd, Lombard, IL 60148.

Gerald Thenen of Burlington remembered

Gerald Thenen

† Gerald James Thenen, age 62, of Burlington passed away unexpectedly on Monday, February 20, 2017, in Battle Creek.

He was born on February 12, 1955, a son of Frederick L. and Lorraine G. (O'Day) Thenen in Coldwater. Gerald graduated from Tekonsha High School with the Class of 1973. On June 3, 1978, he married Katherine L. Stegman in Bangor. Together they shared 38 wonderful years.

Gerald was a Journeyman Millwright by trade and the President and CEO of Hackett Construction and Millwright Services in Battle Creek, where he worked for the past 43 years. He was a Member of and Trustee Chairperson for the First Baptist Church of Tekonsha, bass singer for the ministry quartet "The St. Joe River Boys," served as a Region board member for the ABC-MI, served on the Burlington Township Planning Commission and also as a past Trustee, a board member of the Fennville Millwrights JATC, and a member of Kalamazoo Valley and Calhoun County Yesteryear Tractor Clubs. Gerald enjoyed his family and the farm he had been blessed with, his church and church family, antique tractors, camping, golfing, and singing.

Surviving Gerald are his wife, Katherine Thenen of Burlington, daughter Andrea Thenen of Burlington, sons Gerald (Deborah) Thenen of Union City and Nicholas Thenen of Burlington, three grandchildren, Alexander and Luka Thenen, and since his passing, a new grandboy, Garrett Thenen, whom he had been looking forward to meeting. His brothers, Frederick (Michele) Thenen Jr. of Tekonsha, LaVerne Thenen of Marshall, Raymond Thenen of Marshall, and many nieces and nephews also survive him. He was preceded in death by his parents.

A celebration of Gerald's life was held Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the First Baptist Church of Tekonsha, with Pastor Brian Perry officiating. Interment followed at Burlington Township Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church of Tekonsha or Forgotten Man Ministries. Online messages maybe left for the family at  www.kempffuneralhome.com.

The ABC-MI family celebrates a life well-lived and extends deepest condolences to Jerry's family.

Pastor marks

Bethany Baptist in Detroit honors associate pastor's 89th birthday

Bethany Baptist Church, Detroit, the Rev. Dr. Samuel H. Bullock, Jr., pastor, will celebrate associate Pastor Rev. John W. Marks' 89th Birthday on March 12, 2017. He will be preaching at the 10:45 service. The church's announcement of the occasion says, "We are inviting our ABC brothers and sisters to join us here at Bethany Baptist Church located at 15122 W. Chicago Street in Detroit, MI 48228, where he will be preaching and rejoicing in the Lord."

Summer Mission Trip for Young Adults

Click on image below to view/download/save/print pdf copy.

Summer Mission 2017

Click on image above to view/download/save/print pdf copy.

Annual Church Reports due in Region Office by March 31

By now each local church in the ABC-MI should have received the mailing of the Annual Church Report forms needed to provide statistics and information from your congregation for 2016. It is also available to download, save, and, print. Click here to access it. It is very important that each congregation fill out the required information and return it to the Region office by March 31, 2017. Accurate information benefits the entire ABC family as the data you provide is used to:

  • Determine the number of delegates for your church at the ABC-MI Annual Meeting - your number of delegates cannot be calculated without the information from this report;
  • Produce Region and National directories;
  • Report statistical information within both ABC and in inter-denominational publications;
  • Create congregational profile reports for pastoral search committees.


  • List your current professional staff (working 20 or more hours per week and receiving remuneration).
  • List the start dates for each staff member. (Frequently, we do not receive a start and end date, but one is required for entry into the ABCIS database, so your assistance in accuracy is appreciated).
  • Indicate if the staff person's employment is PT (part-time) or FT (full-time).

The second page, Current Professional Staff, helps us know whom to target with mailings and information related to their position. Please record complete accurate information for this present year. Please include all information requested.

For your added convenience, you have the option of submitting your report online. If you prefer to take advantage of this reporting option, go to annualreport.abcis.org. You will need the Region Pin Number (9880), your Church PIN Number, and your pastor's Leadership ID. If you don't have this information, please call the Region office.

Please submit the form by March 31, 2017 via:

  • Email to office@abc-mi.org or
  • Fax 517.332.3186 or
  • Mail to ABC-MI 4578 S. Hagadorn Rd. East Lansing, MI  48823

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact the Region office at 800.632.2953. Thank you!

2017 Region Professional Directory now online

The 2017 Professional Registry has been posted to the Region website, www.abc-mi.org.

To access this year's Registry click on the Document Library in the navigation tab and go to Licensing and Ordination Information. ABC-MI Professional Church Leaders are invited to visit the Registry to determine the accuracy of their listing. Listing in the Region Registry may affect listing in the National ABC/USA directory and access to denominational grants and scholarships. Concerns or questions should be directed to the chair of the Region Commission on Ordination and Standing, Rev. Ron Cary, at rcarysr@gmail.com.

Metro Assn Annual Meeting March 9

Metro Annual Meeting

Annual Clergy Retreat April 23-25, 2017

Clergy Retreat

In an ever-changing world, the church of Jesus Christ must be able to change her methods without compromising her message. We know change is inevitable, but leading change can be difficult. How and where do we start? Our guest speaker Dr. William D Shiell, President of Northern Seminary will lead five sessions guiding us not to start over, but to Start Here: Lead Your Church to Engage God's World.

At the retreat, you won't just hear from someone who has led this change and then try to figure out what that means for your congregation on your own. In addition to time for personal reflection, there will be an opportunity to hammer out what you hear in a small group setting; within a group of trusted peers who are also working through the implications of how to lead change in an established church.

To view/download/save the retreat brochure click here (pdf). To register online click here. Deadline is April 12. 2017.

The annual retreat is held at the St Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt MI. The retreat center is centrally located (directions) and provides a "place away, a place of quiet to listen for God's voice…to encounter Christ and grow." Be sure to take time to check out the beautiful gardens/grounds.

In addition to the learning, there will be good food, worship, and fellowship!

Please note:

  • All first-time attenders will be entered in a drawing for a one year complimentary membership to Church Fuel One, a program that combines "insanely practical coaching and ready-to-use resources." Check out their website!
  • Continuing Education Units will be provided.
  • Ministers Council members who are current with dues will receive a $20 rebate.
  • Financial aid is offered by ABHMS for this event. Ministerial leaders who are listed in the current ABCUSA Professional Registry may apply for the "Cultivating NEW LIFE" ministerial grant. Click here for the application.

Six Goods Go

Face To Face scheduled for March 24-25

Face to Face

American Baptist Churches of Michigan will join with four other American Baptist regions to host the 2017 Face to Face event on March 24-25 at Greenwood IN First Baptist Church. Over this 2 day period, church search committees and pastors seeking to relocate will worship together and engage in a series of interviews to get better acquainted. For both search committees and pastors, this is an opportunity to meet and learn more about several churches and pastors in a short period of time.

Churches interested in participating must meet three requirements:

  • The pastoral position must be full-time
  • Compensation for the full-time position must be a minimum of $35,000
  • The search committee must bring a sufficient number of their church profile for distribution to those present

Pastors interested in participating must meet two requirements:

  • Contact his/her region staff person (such as Executive Minister) to inform him/her of the pastor's intent to participate
  • Provide a sufficient number of copies of his/her current ABPS profile for distribution to those present

The cost for participating and additional information, including registration forms, are on the abc-mi.org website on the home page, in the left column below "Upcoming Events." An ABC-MI staff consultant will be attending Face-to-Face to assist ABC-MI participants and guide them through the event as needed.

Assisting church search committees to find their next called pastor as well as pastors seeking to relocate are ways ABC-MI serves the local church. Face to Face is a ministry to those served by the Region.

If you have questions, please contact MaryBeth Robertson through the ABC-MI Region Office, 517-332-3594.

Next issue deadline

The next issue of E-Link Online will be published on March 13, 2017. Please send news items, notices, and pictures to the Editor no later than Tuesday, March 7 - two days earlier than usual, due to editor's travel plans.

Editor's trips*

The Editor
  1. What happened when Bible Belt pastor opened his church to refugees (LA Times)
  2. Why facts don't change our minds (New Yorker)
  3. More stories about women, please (Jesus Creed)
  4. Reclaiming the power of lament (Faith and Leadership)
  5. When faith-healing kills kids (Daily Beast)
  6. The Good Samaritan - how far should love reach? (Ethics Daily)
  7. Paradoxology - God of Love, God of War (Jesus Creed)
  8. Russian Baptists facing legal challenges from anti-evangelism law (Word and Way)
  9. Seven earth-sized planets spotted around nearby star (The Atlantic)
  10. Essays on "Enemy" (Christian Century)

*Every edition of E-Link Online features links to articles the Editor has tripped over while surfing the Web. Some links have been suggested by others. Don't expect to agree with, approve of, or enjoy them all. Neither the Editor of E-Link Online nor the American Baptist Churches of Michigan necessarily agrees with, endorses, or otherwise puts a stamp of approval on the views expressed in them. They're here to stir the pot, provoke discussion, encourage further inquiry, stimulate an opening of mind and heart, and lead to prayer and action. Readers are invited to send their own suggestions to the Editor.