Mrs. Lara Heise Installed as Pastor of Preaching and Teaching at First Baptist Church, Midland

First Baptist Church of Midland has formally installed Lara Heise as Pastor of Preaching and Teaching at First Baptist Church of Midland on Sunday, January 13. She was welcomed to the Midland community by the Rev. Wallace Mayton III, Associate Pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church. 

The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Williams, Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan, addressed the congregation with words of encouragement and guidance as the church moves into a new pastoral relationship. 

Ministry Leadership Groups

Clergy who have long term ministries know the importance of having confidential friendships with other clergy. This fact emerged as a major finding in the evaluation of Ministry Leadership Groups by the Leadership Ministry Team of the American Baptist Churches of Michigan late in 2012. The 11 Ministry Leadership Groups that meet monthly in various geographical areas of our state were surveyed.

The results of the evaluation affirmed the importance of clergy friendship as an important aspect of clergy health. Of the 49 clergy who participated in the evaluation the median number of years in ministry was over 30 years.

The Ministry Leadership Groups were rated very high by almost everyone. Some of the important aspects of an MLG are:

- sharing in confidence with each other;
- challenging each other in the areas of self care;
- providing resources for each other; and
- encouraging one another to grow healthy spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, and physically.

What Comes After "Growing Healthy Churches?"

For nearly a decade, ABC-MI has focused on Growing Healthy Churches. Although this theme has been helpful in many ways, it is becoming increasingly apparent that it has not brought the growth and change for which many of us had hoped.

Perhaps the best explanation for this is found in our national “Transformed by the Spirit” initiative at

"Transformed by the Spirit" focuses on “adaptive challenges” our churches are facing; these are situations in which our problems are painfully obvious, but solutions are nowhere evident. Aging congregations that see continual decline in membership and giving are tempted to look for quick fixes, but rarely find anything that brings renewal and transformation. Even churches that make intentional efforts to be more missional struggle with the lack of human and financial resources they need to carry out their mission.

ABC-MI is in a discernment process to understand how the Region can best come alongside churches and leaders who are seeking to hear God’s call and respond in faith during these challenging times.

“What Comes after Growing Healthy Churches?” is the subject of a webinar led by Dr. Michael Williams, ABC-MI Executive Minister, and Dr. David Nichols, ABC-MI Consultant for Stewardship and Discipleship. This 90-minute webinar can be downloaded by click here. Addtional information is available at

MMBB Provides Employer Guide

It's that time of year again! MMBB has released the 2013 edition of The MMBB Guide for Church-Related Employers (Employer Guide). The Employer Guide assists churches with information on clergy compensation, pastoral budgeting, clergy taxes and benefits, and even how to fill out an IRS W-2 form. To download the Employer Guide (pdf) at no cost to employers and members, click here

Book Addresses Grieving

Death Happened: Now What?
A Practical Guide For Healing And Understanding The Grief Process

Linda Pouliot, along with Cathy Clough, has written a helpful book on the grief process which can be offered by pastors following a funeral, as a resource book for persons who have lost a loved one in death. It would also be good resource for a grief support group or even a small group study.

Linda is the wife of Rev. Randy Pouliot, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Corunna. She is founder and president of Cobblestone Ministries in Hartland, a ministry organization dedicated to assisting churches in providing grief education, support, outreach and training. She is available as a training coach and speaker. Cathy Clough is the founder and executive director of New Hope Center for Grief Support, a Christian based bereavement outreach center.

The book has short, but enlightening chapters on:

  • The 5 needs of every griever.
  • How to deal with a variety of emotions related to grief work.
  • Practical chapters on how to deal with your loved one’s belongings without regret, and planning for holidays and special days.
  • How to navigate the pathway of grief, with all its twist and turns.

The book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or you can get more information on the website

Church World Service Kits

Church World Service/CROP is in need of school kits and emergency clean-up bucket kits which are sent to various places in the United States and around the world during times of disaster.  Preparing such kits would be a great project for a vacation bible school, or for any church group that is looking for a hands-on mission project they can accomplish at home or church. 

For more information, including instructions for kit contents and preparation, go to the CWS website, and click on “kits.”  Or contact Pam Folkers in the Lansing CWS office at 888-297-2767 or

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