Memorial Service

On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, there will be a memorial service to honor the life of Brice Jackson. Brice was a young man who lived here in the light-up-the-darkness3Black Hills neighborhood whose life was tragically cut short on September 14th around 10:30pm in an alleyway near his home. Brice was 27.

Rather than focus on the senseless act of violence that ended his young and promising life, United In Christ Ministries (UICM), the Black Hills Neighborhood Association, Hillcrest Community Church, The Edge Urban Fellowship, and the family & friends of Brice Jackson would like to honor a man whose ambition, smile, laughter, and sense of style & flash will long be missed by his family, friends, and community.

The “Light Up the Darkness” Memorial Service will take place on the grounds of Hillcrest Community Church, located at 850 Norwich Avenue, S.W. Grand Rapids, MI 49503. The memorial service is scheduled to begin at 7:00pm. Members of the news media and the general public are welcome and encouraged to attend. There will be music, candlelight, and an opportunity for those who were touched by Brice’s life to share their experiences and love for him and our neighborhood.

For those wishing to honor Brice by helping his family with funeral expenses, donations can be made online at www.gofundme.com/BriceJackson.  Any financial contributions that can assist the family during this difficult time will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

We know words alone will not stop weapons; statements will not contain hatred; and prayerful reflections—though powerful—are not enough to completely end violence. Yet, we remain confident that this is the best way to start. Person by person, family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, we must take our communities back from the evil, fear, and hurt that comes with a culture of violence that leaves loved ones dead on our streets, families afraid in their homes, and others numb to human loss and suffering. We believe our faith in Jesus Christ gives us the values, vision, and HOPE that can bring an important measure of peace to our hearts, our homes, and our streets. We also believe in our ability to bring people together—even under the worst of circumstances—to work for lasting change.

Thank YOU & God Bless!!!

Gone Too Soon

brice-jacksonBrice Carrington Jackson left this Earth way too soon for any of us to ever understand, but God always has a purpose and we believe that Brice is still fulfilling his. Brice was a young man who lived here in the Black Hills neighborhood whose life was tragically cut short on September 14th in an alleyway near his home. Brice was 27. He was one of ours—a young man who grew up in our streets and in our Ministry. Rather than focus on the senseless act of violence that ended his young and promising life, we’d like to tell you of a man whose ambition, smile, laughter, and sense of style & flash will long be missed by his family, friends, and community.

For those of us who know him best, Brice was someone who was just so genuinely real. Behind his warm smile was a man so passionate, so charismatic, so brave, and so sensitive. He was a man who allowed us to see and experience the freedom and beauty that comes from living a life with your heart exposed to the world. In an often unreal and fake world, Brice was the real deal. He was the type of guy who would stand up for what he believed in and for those he loved. He will forever be remembered as a man who valued God, family, and friendships above all things.

For many of us, Brice was the quintessential “sharp-dressed man” who always had an idea, a thought, or a developed plan. Though not always a saint, Brice always made an effort to do right by people. He was a tour de force who possessed such amazing energy, potential, and light right up till his passing. In a world that could so easily give up on him—and often did—Brice never lost his resolve to live his life to the fullest. The abundantly rich stories of his life are both entertaining and uplifting lore but—more importantly—serve as a reminder for all those he leaves behind to never stop imagining, learning, and pursuing the passions in your heart.

In honoring Brice, let us carry his smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey. Let us also remember that Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I’ll miss you until we meet again.

Born in Illinois, it is the wish of Brice’s mother, Cookie, that her son be returned home to be buried alongside his sister. Immediate funds are needed to help make that happen. Respectfully, the family is requesting the following funds so that a grieving mother can lay to rest her only son:

  • Funeral Service, Transfer & Casket: $4500
  • Burial & Vault: $5500
  • Grave Marker: $1000
  • GoFundMe Cost: $1000
  • Grand Total Requested: $12,000

www.gofundme.com/BriceJackson

Thank you so much for your compassion and understanding. Any financial contributions that can assist the family with funeral expenses will not go unnoticed, or unappreciated. Again, we cannot thank you enough for your outpouring of love, support, and kindness. God Bless!!!

 

“I am only one…I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

New Beginnings

Dear Friends,
First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of United in Christ Ministries (UICM).  Your committed hearts to serve our youth over the years has enabled us the privilege to minister to the lost, and to share the redemptive love of Jesus Christ with those less fortunate.

I am proud and truly humbled to announce that I, Troy Williams, am the new Executive Director of UICM.  I am extremely excited by what God is doing—even more so about the future of His ministry.  We are so grateful to my predecessor, Allen Pontarelli, for his dedication and obedience in making this ministry what it is today.  I visualize his “ceiling” as our “floor” and consider it an honor to serve alongside you as we aim for new heights. Whatever challenges, struggles, tensions, and trials we may face in the days ahead, let us step in and face them together. Today is a brand new day…So let us look forward to new beginnings, new miracles, new mercies, new opportunities, and a renewed hope for a better tomorrow.

About Me
Born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, I am a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University (GVSU) with a Bachelor of Science and Arts (BSA) degree from the school of Public and Nonprofit Administration.  Raised most of my life in a Christian household by a single mother, I can speak—with confidence—to the impact that a mentor can have on a young person’s life.  Early on, as a two-sport student athlete, I knew I was blessed with a gift to guide and mentor youth.  This gift granted me opportunities to serve as a parks and rec (volunteer) referee and coach for six of my teenage years.  I gratefully accepted a full football scholarship from GVSU and had the amazing opportunity to experience teamwork at its highest level, winning back-to-back national championships.  A career ending knee injury was to follow and served as a true test of character and faith that left me questioning God…now what?!  Although youth ministry was never a part of MY plan, I was led to serve as a youth leader with Grand Rapids First Assembly’s “Vertical” youth ministry in 2012.  Along with my personal submission, the Lord eventually revealed his plan for my life through my GVSU-approved internship with The Motion Initiative (TMI).  The rest is, for the sake of time, history.

My First Ministry        
God has shown his favor on me by blessing me with a beautiful wife (Suellen) and three vibrant children ages 10 (Troy Jr.), 8 (Xavier), and 6 (Mia).  Understanding the commitment and dedication required of an Executive Director, my family remains in full support of all things revealed and unforeseen.  After a period away from the “Church”, Suellen and I rededicated our lives to Christ (November of 2012) and were both baptized in water, and thereafter, the Holy Spirit.  Our mission was made clear—to raise our children up as His, and to seek out God’s purpose for their lives.  What an amazing opportunity to allow God to reveal his burden for the ones He has created in this city.  Initially overwhelmed, it was made clear that our mission was to be aligned with God’s.

I am truly humbled to have been seemingly “catapulted” into a position of such opportunity, to intentionally pour my heart out, and to reach those who so desperately yearn for Jesus.  As we call for generational chains and strongholds to be broken, my prayer for UICM is to have greater impact on our community through our programming, outreach, and mentoring relationships.  God is on the move and I am truly looking forward to new beginnings!

Many Blessings to You ALL,

 

Troy Williams
Executive Director, United In Christ Ministries (UICM)

Breakfast…It’s What’s for Dinner

Please join us for a most “egg-cellent” evening at the UICM Community Center (1035 Godfrey Avenue, S.W.) this Wednesday (September 7th) at 6:00 p.m. to dedicate our newly renovated kitchen and to recognize  ALL those who so generously contributed to the project.  WE look forward to seeing YOU soon. God Bless!!!

Invite

Golf Outing Registration Form

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2016 Annual “FORE” the Kids Golf Outing

We are pleased to announce our Annual “Fore” the Kids Golf Outing fundraiser with all proceeds going to help kids in our community. Living in poverty and crisis, too many of our kids today are at risk of becoming disconnected, lost, and forgotten…United In Christ Ministries (UICM) is a Christian-based, nonprofit organization serving kids and their families in the Black Hills neighborhood & surrounding communities of Grand Rapids, Michigan. With hearts on fire for the Lord, WE ARE all about Connecting Kids with Christ, our Community, and Local Churches!!! Through our core programs, community outreach events, and mentoring relationships, we encourage, inspire, and help our kids to form strong values, make good choices, develop life skills, and discover God’s purpose for their lives. By providing consistent and loving support, UICM is empowering young people to find FAITH and HOPE, while changing our community with LOVE…One kid at a time!!!

Date 
September 30, 2016 (Friday)

Time
10:00 a.m. Shotgun Start with registration & warm-up (Driving Range & Practice Green) beginning at 9:00 a.m.

Location
The Mines Golf Course
330 Covell Avenue, S.W.
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49534
www.minesgolfcourse.com

Conveniently located minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, The Mines Golf Course houses 18 holes of rolling bluegrass fairways and undulating bent grass greens. The golf course is built approximately 150 feet above gypsum mines that were utilized as early as the 1860’s and throughout the 1900’s. Various features of the mines and the mining process were used in the construction of the course. The water used to irrigate the course is pumped directly from the mines. The course offers playability from four sets of tees, making your round truly exceptional.

Cost
$95 per player and includes green fees, cart, range balls, and barbecue lunch.

Dress Code
The Mines Golf respectfully asks that collared shirts and soft spikes be worn. No denim please.

Prizes & Sponsorship Opportunities Available!!!

SIGN UP TODAY…

United In Christ Ministries (UICM) is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Thank YOU so much for YOUR loving kindness and generous support of the work we do…God Bless!!!

Passing the Torch

Dear Friends,

2tim4-7It is with a heavy—but HOPEFUL—heart that I announce that Allen Pontarelli will be stepping away from United in Christ Ministries (UICM) at the end of this month to pursue his calling as the Pastor of his own Church.  Allen has been with our Ministry since we started our journey over twelve years ago.  As our Executive Director, Allen has been a champion for so many kids and families in the Black Hills neighborhood.  With unwavering faith and absolute resolve, Allen’s direction of our programs and development of our community relationships has helped us to achieve a longevity and success that few could have anticipated.

Over the years, UICM has experienced transformational growth.  We have moved from small gatherings in people’s living rooms and Church basements to larger assemblies in the Black Hills Community Center.  We have consistently innovated our core programs (God’s Club, Kids Zone, Pathfinders, and The Motion Initiative (TMI)) while improving our mentoring relationships to impact even more kids.  We have increased partnerships with area churches, businesses, families, and individuals to help strengthen, support, and serve more and more families in our neighborhood.  We have shared in a great many triumphs, achievements, and laughs, while overcoming a number of tragedies, struggles, and tears.  In these current and often cynical times, I cannot emphasize enough just how challenging it can be for an Executive Director to develop and lead an inner-city ministry that is both relevant and impactful.  But with absolute confidence, I can tell you that there were few things Allen was not able to accomplish.  Against impossible odds and with limited resources, Allen utilized every asset and gift that God gave him to be the best Executive Director that he could be.  I could spend pages telling you of the countless good Allen has done for our Ministry and this community.  Sadly, most of his greatest accomplishments went unacknowledged.  That’s the way he wanted it though— ALL done with very little fanfare and very little attention drawn to himself.  Allen would be the first to tell you it was never about that.  It was always about glorifying God by being the best person he could be and serving sacrificially for the benefit of others.  With that spirit of humility, perseverance, and dedication Allen made our team better.  He made our Ministry better.  He made our community better.  He made me better.

To me, Allen’s greatest leadership quality is his ability to see the best in ALL people regardless of their circumstances.  It is this unbiased and unconditional love for people that has taught me a great deal about myself and the type of servant leader I wish to be.  Thank you, my Brother, for challenging me to be better, for teaching me so much, for being a good friend, and for “fighting the good fight, for finishing the race, and for keeping the faith.”

I know these few remaining days have not been easy for Allen.  Twelve years is a long time.  I commend my Brother for having the courage to leave the comfort of the Ministry to embrace his calling as a Pastor.  Guided by his faith and grounded in the loving support of his wife and two children, Allen now embarks on a new journey…A journey that I am confident will allow him to continue to faithfully serve and impact our community for the better.  I delight in the knowledge that Allen’s numerous talents and gifts will morph into a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities…Possibilities and opportunities that will guide and encourage so many others to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

So, how do you adequately recognize someone for twelve years of humble service to something greater than oneself?  The truth is you don’t.  HOWEVER, as a day of reflection and community celebration, I am asking YOU to join us at 6:00 p.m. on August 31st for our last Wednesday Night Summer Dinner up at Hillcrest Community Church (850 Norwich Avenue, S.W.) to recognize everything Allen has meant to us and to our Ministry.  Please join us to thank our Brother and to ask for God’s Blessing and Grace over his new path.  And—in his last official act as Executive Director—witness Allen officially “pass the torch” to his new successor and Brother in Christ, Troy Williams.

UICM is a very special Ministry, made so by the kindness, generosity, and service of so many.  I am so honored to serve as its Board President.  We are truly thankful for the many blessings & accomplishments of our past and we look forward to new beginnings.

Thank YOU & God Bless,

 

Brad Spooner
Board President, United In Christ Ministries (UICM)