Construction begins on Redeemer URC building

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Building Committee members

Thirteen years after Redeemer United Reformed Church began meeting in Dyer, IN, the congregation broke ground for the construction of its own building.

The ground-breaking ceremony was held on April 21, 2018, on the church’s property located in the “Gates of St. John,” a subdivision of that city in northwest Indiana. The property is accessed from US 231, between US 41 and I-65, and is near Crown Point Christian School.

Redeemer’s minister, Rev. Jacques Roets, and its three associate pastors (all professors at Mid-America Reformed Seminary) participated in the ceremony.

Since the groundbreaking, the foundation has been laid, and framing has started for classrooms and the fellowship section. The building will also include a nursery, kitchen, council room, secretary’s office, pastor’s office, and a sanctuary that will seat more than the current membership of 75 families.

Rev. Roets explains that when the church realized it would have to scale back on its original plans, due to financial considerations, it decided to make concessions in the educational area rather than give up sanctuary space. “We have struggled with how to do this,” he says, “but from the beginning we were committed to building a sanctuary since worship is so important to God’s people.”

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Dr. Cornel Venema

Current needs will be met by allowing classes to meet in the council room and church office. The hope is for worship services to begin in the new building by Easter of 2019.

Many reasons lay behind the long wait for a building. The church had purchased land on what was know locally as the “shoe corner” more than a decade ago. But shortly after Rev. Roets arrived in 2007, a recession hit that put everything on hold. As the congregation kept growing (it has doubled in size since 2007), it became apparent that the lot was too small for a building that would adequately meet the church’s needs. The larger property in St. John was purchased in 2010, and the smaller parcel was sold in 2016.

“Also, the cost of construction made us very wary of over-committing ourselves, and so we waited until we had saved more money and were able to afford a better building,” Rev. Roets says. “A factor that reduced the urgency to build was that we were comfortable worshipping in the Dyer Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).”

About three years ago, church leaders realized the building was getting too cramped for the growing congregation. They had hoped to start building last year, but first needed to revise the design in order to reduce expenses.

The congregation has received significant donations of an organ and a grand piano.

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Rev. Jacques Roets

Redeemer’s vision statement identifies the church as a community “striving to be Christ-centered, grace-filled and people-loving.” Rev. Roets believes the church’s own building will be a visible tool in loving people, which is defined as: Love towards one another. (Carrying each other’s burdens. Encouraging each other. Seeking each other’s good.) Love towards the stranger in our midst. (Welcoming them in the name of Christ. Showing genuine interest in them.) Love towards those who are lost. (Working deliberately to display God’s love to them. Seizing every opportunity to testify to God’s love in Christ.)

“We are looking forward to being able to have a more visible presence in the community,” Rev. Roets says, “to have a place around which to center our life together and be a place where people can come to hear the gospel, grow in faith and be excited to bring others to hear the gospel.”

The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared with the headline “Long awaited building for Dyer congregation under construction” on pages 11 & 12 of the September 14, 2018, issue of Christian Renewal.

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Living Echoes – it is finished

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This photo I took some years ago reminds me of a scene in my novel, Living Echoes.

Almost six years since the initial idea glimmered in my mind, Living Echoes is finally a completed novel.

For about half that time, I didn’t know how it would end. Every word of the last phrase was clear, except the proper noun subject. It was only as I wrote that the ending crystallized.

Then it took me about another couple of years to write to that point. During recent months, I’ve been fine-tuning the manuscript and running it through my online critique group. Certain spots that needed work and ways to fix them have been occurring to me. But this morning, I feel as if the novel is finished. Although it may need a little tweaking or polishing here and there, I have confidence that the work as a whole is complete. Other authors may understand this feeling.

Living Echoes features a complex plot and construction. The first section, Echoes, contains chapters consisting of short “Now” scenes followed by longer “Then” scenes. The second section, Living, goes forward in current time from the previous chapter.

The book begins with the protagonist, Jillian Norris Gardner, sustaining severe injuries in an accident. As scenes unfold, readers discover her multi-faceted crisis on physical, marital, and spiritual levels. And everything is complicated by her brain injury.

One reason this novel took so long to write is due to the extensive research required for its realistic portrayal of brain injury. I didn’t want readers who have experienced it themselves or in a loved one to feel cheated. Those experiences vary widely. And while Jillian’s story may differ from a reader’s, it rings true. At the same time, experiences of infidelity occur on a wide-ranging spectrum. I didn’t want readers to feel as if I sugar-coated the problem or applied a band-aid. Although Jillian’s resolution may not or should not reflect that of readers, it too is true. This novel is a unique and fictional story, but I believe many readers will feel it reflects aspects of their own.

Just as the novel itself consists of two parts, its fruition includes two major aspects: writing and publishing. With the hard work of writing the manuscript behind me, I’m ready to tackle the tough job of shopping it to publishers.