“Welcome to People’s Church!” These words are often heard on Sunday mornings, as visitors arrive for the first time, or perhaps, for a return visit. For many years, we have offered a welcoming place to those in South West Michigan who are looking for a liberal, active church. Our members and friends come for all sorts of reasons … meaningful worship, friendship with like-minded people, tolerant, inclusive religious education for our children or the opportunity to engage in social justice work. Above all, we simply come to be ourselves.
Our church building lies within sixteen acres of wooded land just west of Kalamazoo. While not always readily visible to the rapid motorist, our presence is made known by a prominent road sign which announces the weekly sermon titles and any interesting upcoming events. Although most of the woods lie to the south of the church, we occasionally see deer and wild turkey anywhere on the property. To the north, we cultivate a large summertime meadow, with walking paths, blue bird houses and benches. Closer to the church is our Memorial Garden with its many dedicated trees and shrubs in honor of past members and friends. Adjacent to the church is a large stone labyrinth, planted with beautiful perennials which make this an attractive area for relaxation and contemplation during the summer months. Parking space for approximately 150 vehicles is available in front and behind the church with plenty of easily accessible spaces. Also behind the church is a fenced in playground for the children and an equipment shed for the Tuesday morning volunteer work crew.
While three out of four of our monthly services are minister-led, the Sunday Services Committee encourages plenty of congregational participation. Children are expected to light the chalice and offer a reading. Adult members often perform the official welcome, read a meditation, host the “Children’s Story Time” and “Joys and Concerns”, lead the hymn singing and occasionally moderate a discussion at the conclusion of a guest sermon. Music has always been an important part of our church services. In addition to the loyal church choir, we are experiencing a large number of excellent musicians and composers who provide their talents to the Sunday services. These varied Sunday musical presentations are a continual joy. Several years ago, one of our gifted musicians composed the song “People of Hope” for a recent church renovation. It has become our theme song and we sing it often to raise our spirits.Watch People of Hope Video
It has become a tradition at Peoples to donate an offering, once a month to a local charity or service organization. Members of the congregation make requests to the Social Justice Coordinating Committee and nine recipients are selected for the year. An invited representative from each agency speaks at the appropriate service and often remains afterwards to converse with interested church members. In this way, Peoples Church donates approximately $7500 annually to local worthy causes chosen by its members.
Each Sunday the congregation sings the same blessing to the children as they leave the Commons for their classes. The words are…
May the joy of life surround you,
Everywhere, everywhere you may go.
We could just as easily, sing this blessing to ourselves at the end of each service, for it expresses so well the care we have for each other as we scatter out into our individual lives.