Category Archives: Grace Community Bible Church

Christmas meal at Grace Community Bible Church

A Christmas meal prepared by the Winkelman family will be served for the community on Christmas Day from noon to 2 p.m. at the Grace Community Bible Church. The church is located at 20218 Tamarack Avenue in Burney. Anyone in the public is welcome to come. There is no charge for the meal.

Pastor Winkelman said that they are willing to provide transportation or home delivery for people living within a five mile radius. People who need transportation or delivery should call 335-2502 or 335-2367.

See also:
The Winkelman family serves a Christmas feast for the community (Dec 2017)


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O Holy Day! Praise for a giving and forgiving God!

Today is Christmas and it is also my wife Linda’s birthday.

I woke up relatively early, about 7 a.m. Linda was already up. I went into the kitchen to wish her a happy birthday. She screamed in surprise. She had forgotten that it was here birthday. She forgets that it’s her birthday every year because she is just thinking about Christmas.

I went into my office to study for awhile before church. Linda went to take a shower. A few minutes later I heard a crash and another scream. The sliding shower door had jumped its track and fallen into the shower.

I got the shower door back on but in the process my mind went into a time warp. I went back into my office to resume my study of the Roman–Parthian Wars that overlapped the period of Jesus’ life and the growth of early Christianity. I thought I had over an hour and a half before church when I really only had fifteen minutes. I was surprised and still not dressed when Linda came in to tell me that it was time to go.

Circle of snow, trees, and light

Circle of snow, trees, and light

So we were late, but we did get there for the last song of the worship service at New Hope Evangelical Presbyterian Church. One of the main reasons that I wanted to go was because Rick Dougherty had told me he was giving the sermon. He is one of the elders but normally doesn’t preach so I was eager to hear what his message would be.

I wasn’t disappointed. Rick spoke about giving. Giving is a part of Christmas. Rick brought out that the idea of giving permeates the scriptures. In the beginning, God filled the heaven and the earth, he filled the earth with life and gave it all to Adam and Eve. Rick cited from sources that there are 14 different Hebrew terms for giving. The first used in Genesis is נתן, which in English is Nathan and means “given.” Nathan is the name of Rick’s son.

That got me to thinking about my own first name, John. I realized that John is a form of Johnathan which comes from the Hebrew יְהוֹנָתָן (Yonatan) meaning “God has given.”

That fit right into Rick’s sermon. God gave us creation, God gave us life, God gave us the power to choose, because by choosing we become co-creators of our reality and share in God’s creative nature. We have abused our power to choose and separated from God, but then God gave his son to redeem us. And the Holy Spirit bestows upon us the gifts (χαρίσματα του Αγίου Πνεύματος) necessary to do Our Father’s work.

Rick concluded by referring to Jesus prayer for his disciples in John 17 saying that Jesus spoke of  those who believed in Him as God’s gifts.

He ended by saying, “Think about that the next time you go Christmas shopping.”

Obviously a synopsis in three paragraphs can’t do justice to a sermon laced with powerful ideas, but I truly felt that the Holy Spirit has inspired Rick to help lead us into the truth.

Afterwards, Rick, Alex Munroe and I shared insights and ideas inspired by the sermon. There’s  never enough time to explore all the salient points. I was so enriched by the spiritual food, I didn’t even get over to eat any of the cookies, which is rare.

We left at noon, just in time to go over to Grace Bible Community Church for their annual Christmas meal.

Christmas meal at Grace Bible Church

Christmas meal at Grace Community Bible Church

We were welcomed by Mrs. Penny Winkelman, the wife of Pastor Henry Winkelman. The dinner is an act of love performed by the entire Winkelman family. One of their adult sons Jeremy, had the idea four years ago to host a dinner for people in the community that had no place to go for Christmas. For the past four years they have been performing this service.

The Winkelmans have nine children. I’m not sure how many grandchildren, but the kitchen and the serving tables were full of Winkelmans cooking, serving, and delivering a delicious Christmas feast of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, yams with marshmellow, green beans, and two kinds of cranberry sauce. For dessert there was a choice of pumpkin or apple pie.

Altogether, the Winkelmans served approximately 50 dinners to people in the church dining hall and delivered several dozen more meals to shut-ins in the community. They also gave a Christmas present to every person who came.

I had just heard a sermon on giving and now I saw giving in action. We met many friends at the two gatherings, joyfully sharing spiritual and physical nourishment. Many friends wished Linda a happy birthday as we participated in remembrance of the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas everybody and a Happy New Year. May the Peace of God that passeth all understanding be with you. May God guide our individual hearts and our leaders and may God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

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Candy Kane discovers the true meaning of Christmas at Grace Community Bible Church

A Candy Kane Christmas

A Candy Kane Christmas

On Saturday evening December 20, the Grace Community Bible Church put on a wonderful heart-warming Christmas play entitled “A Candy Kane Christmas.” The play is a comedy about a teen discovering the true meaning of Christmas.

The snow was falling gently as Linda and I arrived just before showtime at 6 p.m. We could feel the love of Jesus as we received a friendly greeting at the door.

The evening’s entertainment began when Betty Luck, one of the Church’s eldest members, came up to sing “Silent Night” in German.

Betty Luck sings Silent Night in German

Betty Luck sings Silent Night in German

Mrs. Luck will be 90 years old in April. She was born in Romania. She met her husband, an American soldier, in Germany just after the end of World War II and returned with him to Burney where she has lived ever since. She has been attending the church for 68 years.

After Mrs. Luck inspired people with her singing, the children’s choir came up and sang one of the play’s songs about Jesus, “Perfect for You.” The Children’s Choir was made up of Ciera, Titus, Levi, Jedediah, and Abel Niemeir; Micah and Abby Westlund; Trevor Winkelman; and Ava, Brody, and Ryah Goza. The children sang like angels.

Members of the youth shoir

Members of the youth shoir

The play began. A brief recap of the plot:

Sixteen years earlier, Walter and Kitty Kane (played by Arden and Millie Hathaway) had a baby on Christmas Day and named her Candy.

Time has passed. Candy Kane (Cassandra Niemeir) comes on stage and vents. For years, other children at school had made fun of her because of her name. On top of that, the Christmas celebration always overshadowed her birthday. Her discontent had intensified every year during the Christmas season.

Candy Kane expressing discontent with her name

Candy Kane expressing discontent with her name

Candy’s father and mother come on stage and call a family meeting to discuss the family’s Christmas plans. Candy’s two sisters, Mary (Trisha Niemeir) and Jane (Ceira Niemeir) are also there. In a well played scene combining pathos, Christmas cheer, and humor, Candy reluctantly agrees to buy a present for a boy named Jesu’s and to prepare an act for the church’s Jolly Follies talent show.

Family meeting

Family meeting

On her own, Candy decides to reinvent herself. She will bleach her hair and change her name from Candy to Candé. Her two friends, Sara (Savannah Niemeir) and Lori (Emily Winkelman) agree to help her.

Sara and Lori agree to help Candy

Sara and Lori agree to help Candy

Unfortunately, they don’t follow the directions properly when treating Candy’s hair. As a result, her hair is streaked. When her family returns, they are alarmed. She looks like a clown. Candy tells her parents that that is why she did it – so she can play a clown in the Jolly Follies. That unleashes a torrent of corny Christmas jokes.

But while the audience is in stitches, Candy is more miserable than ever until finally, when the Pastor of their church comes over for dinner, she breaks down because her “elf-esteem is so low.”

Pastor Chris Kringle stops by for a chat

Pastor Chris Kringle stops by for a chat

The day comes for Candy to present her gift to Jesu’s Lopez (Luke Niemeir). Candy thinks that Jesu’s hates Christmas because of his name. But this is not so. Jesu’s loves his name and loves Jesus, but he is upset with Christmas because it has become so commercialized and many people forget the true meaning.

Candy, Jesu’s, and Pastor Chris go to the hospital to visit Jesu’s younger brother Paco (Titus Niemeir) who is ill. At the hospital, Paco is being attended at the bedside by his brother Padro (Micah Westlund).

Paco and his brother Padro at the hospital

Paco and his brother at the hospital

While the pastor and Jesu’s step out for a moment, Candy is left to watch Paco. She questions why her life is so sad and confused and why poor little Paco is sick. As she does so Paco wakes up and says, “God didn’t make me sick!”

Even though sick, little Paco testifies to his faith and the love of God

Even though sick, little Paco testifies to his faith and the love of God

Truth cometh out of the mouths of babes. After Candy  hears little Paco’s testimony, Pastor Chris explains how Jesus came into the world and then died to redeem mankind from sin.

Candy realizes how selfish she has been and, back with her family, bursts into a beautiful rendition of “I Will Worship You.”

I Will Worship You

I Will Worship You

Tears came to my eyes and it was difficult to take pictures.

Pastor Chris discloses to Candy that he was ridiculed as a child by his peers because his last name is Kringle. He also teaches Candy a new meaning to her name. The candy cane is shaped like a shepherd’s staff. The white symbolizes Jesus’ purity and the red symbolizes His blood. The candy cane is to be broken and shared with others.

Filled with new life and inspiration Candy joins together with the entire cast and children’s choir to sing the song the play began with, “Perfect for You.” They then concluded the production with “We wish you a Merry Christmas.”

Cast and children's choir sing We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

After the play concluded, Pastor Winkelman invited any who were in need of God’s saving grace to accept Jesus into their heart.

He then presented a bouquet of flowers to the director of the play, Debra Hathaway.

This short rendering of the play does not do it full justice. All of the actors did a wonderful job. The set was wonderfully designed, decorated and divided. The action took place center and right stage. The left stage hosted the Jolly Follies, a Christmas talent show that embellished the play between scenes.

Violin solo accompanied by piano

Violin solo accompanied by piano

The music between scenes included a violin and piano duet by Trisha Niemeir and Brenda Hathaway; “Away in a Manger,” and “Go Tell it on the Mountain” by the children’s choir; and a thoroughly enjoyable barbershop quartet rendering of “Born to Die” sung by Tom Whilite, Arden Hathaway, Pastor Henry, and Tim Winkelman.

Arden Hathaway, Pastor Henry and Tim Winkelman, and Tom Whilite sing Born to Die

Arden Hathaway, Pastor Henry and Tim Winkelman, and Tom Whilite sing Born to Die

After the program, people moved to the dining hall where everyone shared joyful fellowship and delicious treats.

Pastor Henry Winkelman said, “My desire is that everyone can learn the true meaning of Christmas. That is the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Debra Hathaway, the Director, said “I love to do these plays on Christmas and Easter because it is a great way to let people know that Jesus is Lord.”

When I complemented Cassandra Niemier on her performance as Candy Kane, she said, “It is all the Lord.”

Amen. Have a Merry Christmas.

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