The formation of God's Country Cooperative Parish came out of necessity. During the 1960s and 1970s, the seven churches that now make up the parish were served by only two pastors. One served Newberry and Paradise, and the other served all five churches of the McMillan Charge (McMillan, Engadine, Hulbert, Germfask, and Grand Marais). These seven churches covered five counties, five school systems, and four hospitals.
Ideas were bounced around; support began to grow for the idea of some type of cooperative ministry. In 1982, Audrey Dunlap started a newsletter for the Cooperative. In 1984, a contest was held to name the newsletter. The name "The Cooperative Courier" was the winner. The newsletter still bears this name; it is distributed four times a year to approximately 600 recipients.
GCCP covers a 2500 square mile area that spans from Engadine near Lake Michigan, up to Paradise at Whitefish Bay, to Grand Marais on Lake Superior's south shore and encompasses McMillan, Germfask, Newberry, and Hulbert. Although it is located in some of the most beautiful country one could ever hope to see, the isolation, the extremely harsh long winters, and the scarcity of jobs bring challenges to these churches and the communities they serve. The churches range from 12-100 miles apart from each other.
In April of 1983, an application was submitted to the General Board of Global Ministries requesting a Church and Community Worker. This worker focused on Hulbert outreach ministry, primarily for youth and children. This became a reality 1985. As the years went by, the Church and the Community Worker sometimes became the parish director. The CCW began to serve the needs of the entire cooperative. God's Country Cooperative Parish is in the eastern part of the upper peninsula of Michigan.
Yet, these seven communities of faith combine their resources, share their faith and, through their active presence, work to bring self-esteem, hope and faith to all God's children throughout their vast parish.
Project goals are accomplished by: Cooperative Mission Trips, Cooperative Bible Studies, Cooperative Youth Activities, Cooperative Leadership and Training Events, Cooperative Hosting of Volunteers in Mission Teams, and Cooperative Fellowship Activities.
Each church is a beacon in its own community ? providing love, Bible Studies, support, finances, food, clothing, hygiene items, etc. to their neighbors in need. The church provides home repairs as needed as well.
Over the past several years our mission team projects have increased. We have acquired two vehicles and two trailers to transport and store our needed tools and equipment for the projects.
We have also shared in Christian Education materials, Bible Studies, and VBS materials. The churches support each other's fundraisers and events through attendance and finances.
Goals & Objectives
Goals for years 1 to 5:
1) Prayer is number one above all.
2) Talent Survey.
3) Increase cooperation and communication.
4) Volunteer and Neighbor in Mission Projects.
5) The ministry will assist the seven churches.
6) Build a sense of community and belonging for the seven churches to GCCP.
7) The new Trustees Committee will provide direction in raising financial support.
Goals for years 5-10:
2) Become financially self -supporting.
3) Increase paid staff.
4) Expand ministries; this may include community gardens, a thrift shop, increased youth ministry, or health services.
Goals for years 10-15:
2) Wean GCCP off the financial and personnel support of GBGM.
3) Continue to expand services provided to the parish.
4) Staff a full-time Executive Director.
Steps to take in the next five years to achieve our goals (steps correspond to the goals above):
1. Encourage all seven churches to pray for all the ministries.
2. Completion of Talent Inventory by members and participants in all seven churches.This will allow the sharing of personal gifts and graces within and outside our communities.
3. People of the parish will support and attend ministries and activities in other parish churches.
4. Increase awareness and participation in local mission projects.
5. This can be in a variety of ways. Secretarial, financial, and other support needs may be provided.
6. Encourage and share how all seven can share in resources and friendships to join in ministry together.
7. They will work to develop to sustainable financial plan for the cooperative.
5-10 year plan
1. Enhance what is already happening from 1-5 yr plan and work on needed ministries in each of the communities
10-15 year plan
1. Build on previous plans and develop community enriching ministries
2. Include local artisans a place to share their talents.
3. Identify and train a local person to become the director of the parish.