Volunteers in Mission from around the Midwest follow Jesus to the Upper Peninsula.
Michigan Area Communications
God’s Country Cooperative Parish (GCCP) is a collaboration of seven congregations spread out across four counties in the middle of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (MAP) The three pastors serving the parish are in ministry in an area of roughly 2500 square miles. Tim Callow pastors the churches at Engadine and Newberry; Ian McDonald shepherds the congregations at McMillan, Grand Marais, and Germfask; and Mary Brooks is the spiritual leader of the churches at Hulbert and Paradise.
McDonald is the designated parish Clergy Director. Missionary Randy Hildebrant works in the parish. He is a Church and Community Worker deployed by the General Board of Global Ministries.
Each church supports the work of the parish. GCCP also has a Board of Trustees and other committees. Council Director Virginia Bell explains that the GCCP Council meets monthly and is comprised of two members coming from each of the seven churches. The parish office is at the Newberry UMC. Parish trustees take care of the parish physical equipment and buildings.
Bell related how the newly acquired school building in Newberry had been purchased by a community member from the school system for a good price. That individual then donated the building to GCCP. Once the facility is clear of asbestos, churches in the parish will be asked to adopt a room for renovation.
And there are other ministries. Bell added that the parish has a mobile clothes pantry set up on a cargo trailer that visits as many locations as possible throughout the parish.
The Newberry Church has a peanut butter and jelly program once a month for the kids in town.
Then, at Thanksgiving and Christmas time the parish churches deliver food boxes with turkey rolls. The parish often works with Feeding America an organization that provides food at a lower price for charitable institutions.
The Veterans Administration has donated two portable ramps to GCCP that they were able to put to use immediately.
Volunteer in Mission teams (VIM) play a critical role in GCCP’s work in the community.
GCCP is situated in an area with higher than average unemployment. Many residents are elderly and home bound. Much of the available work in the north and central part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is seasonal, depending on the summer tourist industry.
A lot of the work done by VIM workers at GCCP consists of building ramps and enlarging doorways, doing roof and floor repairs, painting, and other home maintenance work.
Randy Hildebrant coordinates the efforts of the VIM groups. Teams are assigned projects to work on based on the skills they bring with them.
For instance, this summer a group from Hayes Memorial UMC,Sandusky-Fremont area of Ohio, spent a week doing such things as building a ramp for the Tahquamenon UMC at Hulbert. Others worked at the newly acquired Pentland School building painting walls, sorting used clothing for the GCCP Clothes Closet, organizing items for an upcoming cash and carry sale, and clearing brush around the building’s perimeter.
A comprehensive description of the parish can be found on their website. Click here.