Welcome to the Unity of Battle Creek newsletter. In our newsletter, we want to give everyone a chance
to know each other better so each month there will be an interview with someone from the church. This
month we will be visiting Rev. Ann Ashby. From here on out, it will be random names drawn out of a
hat. We hope you will find this of interest. Here‟s Rev. Ann‟s story……..
Our minister, Rev. Ann Ashby was born in Grand Rapids into a large Dutch family of ten children,
although one of them died early in life. Her father, John Hager came alone to our country on a boat from
the Netherlands at the ripe old age of 13. He came to make a good life for himself and to provide for his
When he arrived, he got a job as a milkman. Eventually he was able to send for his mother and remained
in Michigan as a milkman for 50 years. During that time he had a growing family of his own. Rev. Ann
was the eighth child which consisted of 5 sisters and 4 brothers. At the young age of 7 her mother passed
away due to cancer, leaving her dad to care for their large clan.
Having been brought up in the Protestant Reform and then the Christian Reformed churches, their
religious beliefs were fundamental and strict. Her dad was an authoritarian, but also loving at the same
Eventually, she married and became Ann Haveman, raising her own family of 5 girls. Suddenly after 16
1/2 years her life turned upside down. Finding herself divorced, life as she knew it would take a surprising
turn, as a new path began to develop when she found „Unity church in the Pines‟ in Grand Rapids,
Mi. (aka, Unity Church of Practical Christianity.)
The first time she went to the church on the hill in the Pines called Unity she really didn‟t like it all that
much. She thought, “What did they mean…the Christ in you? What did they mean, you‟re not a
sinner?” After she thought about it for a month, she decided to go back one more time. This time she
would never leave, Unity had become her life.
When she met her current husband, Jim, ministry was not yet in their life‟s vision together. What was
important at that time for Rev. Ann was training to become a Unity Teacher. A serious relationship was
not in her future, but God had a different plan. They fell in love and were married in 1987. Now in
addition to her 5 daughters, Jim brought into the mix a son!
Rev. Ann and Rev. Jim found their church home at Unity of the Pines in Grand Rapids, sang in the
choir, took classes and with the mentoring of the minister there, Rev. Richard Tweedy , they applied
together to enter ministerial school, never dreaming they would be accepted on the first attempt.
After graduating in 1992, they followed procedure by sending out resumes as a team ministry with no
responses. Their vision was to go back home. Shortly after they returned home an opportunity
presented itself to pioneer a second Unity church in Grand Rapids as co-ministers. “Unity Church of
Peace” first started in a hotel on the south side of Grand Rapids, where they packed and unpacked every
Sunday morning as a “have church, will travel”, then on to a more permanent home in the business
district, and finally to their own church home in Ada, Mi. where Rev. Jim still ministers today. Their
co-ministry changed when Rev. Ann decided to retire.
As we all know, when you close one door another will open. This too was in God‟s plan. She soon
found out her ministry was not finished, as God gently encouraged her to Unity of Battle Creek.
At first retirement was wonderful, but soon she found she started feeling that something was missing in
her life. So when she was offered an opportunity to become an occasional guest speaker in our
church…it was perfect…But, once again the empty feeling started so once again she asked God ”Why
God, what is it you want me to do? The answer came back quickly, “How about 2 Sundays a month?”
This is what it means when God says, “Even before you ask I will answer!” That week the phone rang, it
was Paula Beller from Battle Creek. “Rev Ann, can you speak twice a month?” “Well yes, that would
be perfect!” Once again that old feeling returned. “Why God, what is it you want me to do?” she
prayed. How about 3 Sundays was the next question. Well, you know the rest of the story, Unity loved
Rev. Ann and when an opportunity came up to offer a full time position to her, she accepted.
What are Rev. Ann‟s life lessons? To learn how to be a child of God, to let the past be in the past, how
to live in the now, to have faith in it, and to let God guide her life. Her goal is to keep expanding who she
is and to be an inspiration for others.
I find Rev. Ann to be very interested in life, loving life with her husband, family, the critters on her farm,
her gardens, painting, photography, nature, being a minister and so much more. Rev. Ann is dedicated,
inspired, inspiring and really believes what she says in church every Sunday. She walks the talk. She
states we‟ll never know who we‟ll end up being. Now, if I could just remember half of what she says!
December Calendar of Event:
Sunday, 12/5: Following service, Friendship Potluck
Friday, 12/9: 4:00 to 7:00. Soup & Pie fundraiser
Sunday, 12/11: Board of Trustees Meeting
Sunday, 12/18: 10:20 a.m. Christmas Expressions
Friday, 12/23: 7:00 p.m. Christmas Candlelight Service
Soup and Pie Fundraiser – December 9
Just a reminder...our community soup and dessert fundraiser is Friday, December 9 from 4:00 to 7:00
p.m. We invite you to bring your family, friends and neighbors. Enjoy soup, rolls and dessert; then do a
little Christmas shopping at the Gift Boutique of handmade crafts and baked goods. The cost is $6.00 for
adults and $3.00 for kids. Support the church with your time, talents and treasures. If you can help,
please call Mary Sherwood at 989 724 5492.
Come Celebrate the Cosmic Christ of Christmas.
Sunday December 18, 2011 at 10:20 a.m.
Please join us for an awesome Christmas service featuring
Christmas carols and story, Scripture and special music.
The Christmas prelude will begin at 10:20 with Chris and
Name the Newsletter Contest
This is the first of a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter. We hope you will enjoy this letter, hoping it
will keep you up to date on news and events at Unity. We would love to have you take part in a contest
giving a name to our Unity news. Please submit your suggestion to any board member. The board will
look at all your suggestions and take a vote. The winner will receive a $10 gift certificate to Barnes and
The Real Christmas Spirit, from Rev. Ann
The Christmas lights are twinkling brightly with a melody of the holiday season. Preparations for the
biggest celebration of the year are in full swing. It is interesting to discover that for 300 years after Jesus'
birth, there were no celebrations. Eventually Christmas became a time of prayer. Yet today, it is the things
of Christmas that take center stage. Santa Claus, awesome light displays, and gifts symbolize the season.
In recent years, there are signs of the decline of Christmas, as we know it, perhaps we are beginning to
realize we have forgotten the reason for the season.
We celebrate a very special gift; the birth of the Christ child! It is a light that is brighter than any
Christmas tree; it is a song that is more inspiring than any Carol; it is a feeling that is more powerful than
any other. It is the gift of Spirit, which is Gods gift to us all.
Christmas is about being! Being conscious of God‟s blessings of love, joy and peace, and sharing that gift
with each other. This year, add something special to your Christmas list: ring a doorbell, pick up a phone
and be a blessing.
We invite you to come home to Unity of Battle Creek this season and share with us in the warmth and
radiance of this special time. Merry Christmas everyone!
Christmas Candlelight Service – December 23
Since so many people are visiting family on Christmas day which is on Sunday, Rev. Ann asked
for a show of hands of how many would be attending. Only 2 raised their hands. It was
decided to hold our Christmas service Friday night, December 23, at 7:00 p.m. Please join