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  • Writer's pictureJared Cramer

Keeping the faith?

Below is an article by Jared Leatzow in today's edition of the Grand Haven Tribune that references the ministries of our church.

A Grand Haven resident who spoke at Tuesday’s Ottawa County Commissioners board meeting claimed the commissioners are suppressing diverse Christian viewpoints.

Grand Haven’s Walter Davis, a retired college professor, has vowed to speak in protest of the new commission at every meeting for the next to two years. The topics of his speech Tuesday were fascism and the suppression of different opinions.

“I would like to point out that a member of this commission pointed out to you (Chairman) Joe (Moss) that a minister is willing to give the invocation,” Davis said. “You indicated to him that you would decide who is appropriate to give the invocation.

“Where did you get your divinity degree, Joe?” Davis asked. “You are suppressing other Christians. You are deciding who is Christian enough for you. It is interesting that most of these invocations end up being political speeches.”

The minister in question is Grand Haven’s Jared Cramer, the pastor at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Both Davis and Cramer said Commissioner Roger Bergman of Grand Haven endorsed Cramer to give the invocation.

A majority of the county commissioners belong to the Ottawa Impact political action committee. Ottawa Impact has endorsed candidates that are against transgender men and women, against critical race theory and oppose abortion.

Cramer, on the other hand, is Christian with a pro-LGBTQ message and has organized events in Grand Haven in support of that community.

“Listening to the county commission meeting, I heard an invocation given that wasn’t just an invocation, but was really a speech being given that endorses what the Ottawa Impact commissioners are doing,” Cramer said. “I did not find it representative of our own Christian faith in anyway.”

The invocation Cramer is referring to was given by Bart Spencer, the pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Holland, on Jan. 10. Lighthouse Baptist Church advertises on its website as allowing for concealed weapons to be carried at their church and have hosted events supporting Ottawa Impact, the Ottawa Patriots and David Kallman of the Kallman Legal Group.

Cramer said he contacted Bergman offering his services to give a broader and diverse voice at the meetings.

“Roger told me that he is not able to invite parishioners. Only Joe Moss can and the people Joe Moss wants can be invited,” Cramer said. “So, he couldn’t even put me on the calendar or put a request in for me. That doesn’t even exist anymore.

“It certainly made me feel as though that my own understanding of the Christian faith is somehow inadequate and they wouldn’t even permit me to pray during their meeting,” Cramer said.

“… The invocation should be about prayer; it should be about God’s blessing. What a prayer shouldn’t be about is pushing one’s will over and against another,” Cramer continued. “I will say as well that there are other pastors that share my beliefs that would be willing to give the invocation.”

Cramer is also a member of the Unifying Coalition of Ottawa County – one of several groups created in protest of the new county commission.

“I am the one coordinating faith leaders to come and work with the coalition against what Ottawa Impact is trying to do to our county right now,” Cramer said.

Cramer said he is also was troubled by county commissioners dismantling the county’s Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

“It is not about faith, it is only about their particular form of faith, you can see that very clearly in who they allow to pray at the beginning for their meetings,” Cramer said.

“And, it is not about family either,” he continued. “Their attacks on mental health (Ottawa Impact endorsed school board candidates who were against Social Emotional Learning in classrooms) is deeply troubling to family life in our area, their attack on DEI is deeply troubling in our area, and their attack on our health department is very troubling.”

However, as the co-chairman of the commission, Sylvia Rhodea, as well the county’s administrator, John Gibbs, has said the DEI actually creates discrimination by separating people into different classes and doesn’t acknowledge individual accomplishments.

When asked what he thought Jesus would think, Cramer said, “I think if Jesus showed up, he is a person who hung out with sinners and welcomed all people to his table. I don’t think they’d let Jesus give the invocation.”

Neither Bergman or Moss could be reached for comment for this story.

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