LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Eliminating divisiveness

Sep 27, 2011


Here’s what I found: A community that welcomes everyone — without judgment. A community that does not claim to have the answers or the final interpretation on matters of spirit and faith, but one that asks questions. One that encourages dialogue, and that encourages that its followers sift through the wisdom and words and wonder from a multitude of traditions and faiths in order to draw their own conclusions. A community that asks its congregation to be involved beyond Sunday attendance "to be the change they wish to see in the world.” Leaders and parishioners who met me once and remember my name the next week. Music from local folk, rock, gospel and other musicians that align their song selection to the themes of the week and who add to the spirituality in a unique way. Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, John Lennon — yes, they can teach us in addition to centuries-old hymns.

Ian Lawton and Bob Kleinheksel provide moving and thought-provoking meditations and teachings. Do I agree with everything I hear? Not always. But I am not made to feel that I have to. I am uplifted and challenged to think, to question, to solidify, and to act upon my beliefs in a service-led life that enriches others and nourishes my soul.

In a world that struggles as much as it does with issues of acceptance of differences — in race, in gender, in socio-economic levels, in political parties, and yes, religion — I am proud to be worshiping with a spiritual community of people working to eliminate divisiveness, no matter what walls surround us.

— Cindy Dobrez, Grand Haven


GH Citizen

I have checked them out as well, and found like you, I enjoy the conversation! The welcome of all sorts and types, and unlike many other groups walking the talk. I'm saddened by the many that throw such hateful comments towards a group they don't know or won't allow themeselves to learn about.

I do not regularly attend, but enjoy ever weeks podcast from Ian. As I enjoy the mental excersize that it provides, and a new lesson for me to embark upon in my own life every week. I've met new and old friends at C3, and I'm happy to find you have too!


I am a quite tired of all the publicity for this group in the Tribune. Most churches are struggling financially, all churches have volunteers assisting with everything from janitorial work to grounds keeping. I don't see them on the front page. I have nothing against it, however what was once a church is now a "community". They have gatherings, not worship. The community center is an appropriate place for it. If you are going to give space in the paper to this organization, lets see equal time to publicize the other worthy social groups in town.

GH Citizen

Jack now you can't be stating that the Tribune is turning a blind eye on other stories, and showing favoritism. My guess those other orgnizations are not notifing the Tribune of such events. I know this spring a local church put on a computer recycling program and the Tribune did a full story on it. Of which I took part and learned about from the paper.

The paper gives space to all those that seek to tell stories. Encourage your own local groups to be more vocal about events they are providing for the community. Have them call the paper! It's only as good as the stories in it, so help them out!

I think all of our parents told us, " If you don't have something nice to say, then say nothing at all".


I was born and raised in Grand Haven and after High School, I couldn't wait to get out of town. Not because most High School Graduates feel that way, it took me over 30 years to finally get to the roots of my anxiousness at 18 years old. At first it was baby steps to Grand Rapids Community College where I first confronted my demons. I lived with a couple of High School friends in an apartment building and this was one year of living in the fastest lane, gloves off, bare bones, you're on your own, WHAM! Reality hits me in the face, better put, I was intoxicated (In my own apartment & then the drinking age had been changed to 18), and a couple of friends I had made that played on the football team were over. A happy night for all, I thought. Next morning, my roommates asked me if I remembered anything about last night? In a hungover slur of words I said, "Not really." Then, I'll call my roommate, Hubb (fictitious name) Hubb says, "You don't remember calling "Will" (one of the football players, fictitious name, and he was Afro-American) a _ _ _ _king _ _ _ er! and punching him in the face?" I thought, that wasn't me, I wasn't like that, where did that come from? I quickly tracked down Will and I apologized for what seemed a long time. And, Will told me, It's OK, It's OK man, really It's OK. I said it's not OK with me. Will went on to tell me about his life, growing up in the poor side of town and he was so overwhelmed as a child hearing Racist, Prejudice, and Hate talk, by the time he was a Senior in High School he had come to Peace with himself and God and just let it all roll off his back like water off a ducks back. I didn't think too much about it after that, but I did promise myself never do that again and I wondered, where did that demon come from, how would I like it if people treated me like that, called me Hate Names and were bias towards me? My life seemed like I was on a Bullet Train, I moved to Lansing, then I traveled to the Cayman Islands, lived in Jamaica for 1 month, back to Lansing, drove to NY, NY and took a trip to London, England, back to Lansing, then Chicago to live there for 9 months, next stop Minneapolis for 3 months, Denver for 9 months, NY, NY for a year, by this time I was getting very Cultured, like meeting, talking, eating, and living with people from all different cultures, skin colors, and slowly understanding that much of what I had experienced for myself was a much different story than the one that I grew up with around my Family, School, ALL of my Friends, in what little church I decided to attend. I could breath unpolluted air, I was breathing air that wasn't filled with Bitterness, Hate, Racism, Prejudice, Bigotry, Intolerance, Discrimination, and bias. But my life living in the wide open fields where I continually learned like a dry sponge excitedly waiting to plunge into more clear, clean, unbiased water awaiting me. My traveling was not near over yet, wheels were up and on my way back to Denver for almost a year, off to Houston for 6 months, then to the Big's! Malibu, California some stability for a couple of years. I was in and out of LA to different cities, countries, then a 3 month stay in Italy. That, Is an experience for a book of its own. Then back to Malibu for awhile, Next Stop, Miami Beach, Florida, a huge cultural mixing pot, the city where I would have my first and hopefully last experience of RACISM IN THE RAW IN MY FACE. I can tell everyone this, if you really experienced Racism and Discrimination your life WILL BE CHANGED FOREVER, because you will never forget that feeling, which was the worst feeling I have ever had in my life. It's the worst thing that can happen to a Human Being. We all are, Human Beings. After settling down in South Miami Beach for about 3 years at that point, I went to a friends birthday party, he was a Russian/Israeli and when we get to his friends house, he tells me it's not his birthday, it's his friends little girls birthday. The Russian/Israeli's are a group within themselves and everyone is their friend and let the party begin with endless shots of Vodka at which point I last remember was dancing and doing a turn up in the air landing exactly in the middle of the little girls huge Birthday Cake! Early morning light, I wake up, tucked into bed, had no idea what house or apartment I was in, no one was up, so I had no idea, except one, quietly get out of that house, find my car and figure out what part of Miami I was in. I drove around for about 10 minutes and found a main street and spotted a Cuban Bakery in a nice strip mall, because I needed coffee and something to eat.
I enter the Bakery, which was a pretty large one, a very long glass counter and pastry case below it. It was a family run business with the owner talking to a customer at the counter with his two beautiful daughters on each side of him, his wife towards the back of the shop and another daughter and teenage son at a door-less entry to where the bake goods were made in back. The owner said good bye to the customer and just at that moment a Cuban man walked in and instead of waiting on me the Owner motions for this man to come to the counter. Everything was adding up quite quickly about what was happening here, but I thought, my mind may be playing tricks with me, until this man was finished, and the owner walked back into the kitchen, his two daughters at the long counter in front of me stood with their heads bowed down in front, I looked at the Wife and she to, head down not a word was spoken, I looked at the son in the kitchen doorway, he too, head down. In a calm voice I asked, "Could someone help me please?" They all were frozen, again with a louder voice, "Could Some One Help Me Please?" No response, now my emotions were in a whirlwind of ANGER, DISBELIEF, AND NOW INTOLERANCE, AT THE TOP OF MY VOICE I SCREAMED, " COULD SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME" slamming my fist down on the glass counter. It looked like an Electric Shock went through everyone as they were jilted out of their frozen statue positions. The Father came running out of the back kitchen and fired a line at me, "Sir What are you doing?" I replied, "Good, now I have your attention, How come you would not wait on me after your last Cuban Customer left?" He replied, "Oh were you in here, I didn't see you, KIDs did you seee...." And I shouted, "You have just Discriminated against me, you sir are a Racist!" I want your phone number, I saw one of their Business cards on the corner of the glass case. "When I leave here I'm going to go to the Police Station and report you for discrimination!" If I took all of the anger I felt in my life and wrapped it in to one tight ball, it would be as if that Ball of Anger Exploded all at once! That's how angry I was, how angry I felt. Then, there was a calm that seemed to settle in, and I calmly asked, "May I get two of these?" The owner said, "Si Si," He wrapped my pastries, I got my coffee and I left the shop without further incident. My travels of the World were still long from over, but I never had a Prejudice, intolerant, racist, discrimination incident ever come up again, until, I returned to Grand Haven, Michigan. Many years after I had returned home, almost every person I thought of as a friend, casual acquaintance, family gatherings of friends, all of these people I thought I knew, turn out to be Racists, Bigots, and down right haters of people of color, except white. Every party, meeting, social occasion, I would hear, "Oh you know those people from the Hts! Got to keep them damn N_ _ _ _ rs in place, yea, in the Pig Pen, but then where will the Pigs go!!! ha ha ha and they call these jokes, I call it "Hate Speech" And, I see all of the Sports pictures of the Grand Haven Kids and see a new and even more racist generation than the one before. Say what you will. This was a walk in my shoes for well over 30 years. I was saved, I had to be shown and it by no means was a pretty sight Perhaps this will open some Hearts.


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