Reverend Mike Baynai
I remember thinking this is the most wonderful irony; Our Lord’s life ended at 33, mine was just beginning. And perhaps one of the more significant events in leading up to this discovery was the birth of my first niece. Raised in a time of great skepticism, I wondered if her perfect tiny hands and nose, her perfectly formed eyes and ears, were simply a random act of nature, or the intentional design of a loving God. I chose to believe! I accepted her birth and life as a sign and a gift that God is real, that He’s behind all things, working, creating, sustaining and blessing.
Born and raised a Roman Catholic, I failed as a child to fully appreciate the beauty of our Lord’s church and His Word. Idealistic, I found it hard to reconcile the terrible things happening in the world with a God who is “slow to anger and abounding with loving kindness.” As a young man however, I was introduced to Presbyterianism during a family member’s baptism (the child mentioned above) and soon fell in love with that church family and its pastor. They were an authentically kind and loving, multi-cultural, and economically diverse inner-city community. I became an active member of that church family
One day while visiting with the pastor he asked me, “Mike, if you did not need to worry about income, what would you do with your life?” I told him “I’d be down here, helping you all with the food pantry and clothing closet.” “Ever think about going to seminary?” I had never considered such a thing and did not feel called to do so. Then in January of my 33rd year of life – much like the old World War II poster “Uncle Sam wants you” – in my heart He was there, looking down the barrel of His beautiful and eternal finger, inviting me to serve Him. I agreed that night to follow Him wherever He would lead.
I married my wonderful wife Donna, and then completed seminary in 1998, earning a Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary. My wife and I have since served churches in South Carolina, North Carolina and now Michigan.
Good Shepherd Church is a new church plant, currently meeting at Calvin Theological Seminary (10:00am Sunday mornings). We belong to a newly formed reformed denomination known as ECO A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. We love all people, we love God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and we love God’s Word. We would be thrilled to have you worship with us. If on the other hand you would like to visit or just talk, I would be honored to hear from you.
Reverend Doctor Laura A. Smit is Assistant Pastor for Good Shepherd. She is Professor of Theology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, where she has been teaching since 1999. She was ordained in the PC(USA) in 1989 and served as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Clayton, New Jersey for six years before going to Boston University for a Ph.D. in medieval philosophy and theological aesthetics. Her dissertation was on aesthetic epistemology in the theology of Bonaventure.
She is the author of Loves Me, Loves Me Not: The Ethics of Unrequited Love, a book that features interviews with many college students about their experiences of romantic rejection. This book has led to many speaking engagements on college campuses.
From 2003 to 2008, Smit served as Dean of the Chapel at Calvin College, and in connection with that position she was ordained as a minister in the Christian Reformed Church, while retaining her PC(USA) ordination. In the summer of 2012, Rev. Smit was dismissed from the PC(USA) to ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. She has been a member of the theology team for both the Fellowship of Presbyterians and ECO since August 2011. She is a member of ECO’s Great Lakes Presbytery and serves on the Ministry Assimilation Team. She also serves on ECO’s Synod Executive Council.
Betty Rittersdorf (Elder Emeritus)
Betty is a founding Elder of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. She has served as Personnel Chair and currently serves as co-chair of Personnel and of Missions as well as editor of “The Shepherd’s Voice” newsletter. She also sings in any choir performances.
She is a graduate of Macalester College and earned her Master’s Degree in Orientation and Mobility for the Blind (O&M) from WMU, where she also taught O&M to students in training before retiring from the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. In June, after serving out her latest term as a ruling elder, Betty was awarded the designation of Elder Emeritus.
Bill has been a member of Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church, since its founding. He serves as a member of the Personnel Committee and is currently serving as an Elder on our Session. Bill is, also, serving as our Treasurer.
Bill graduated from Ohio State University with a degree in Microbiology, where he taught biology lab courses. He also holds a master’s degree in Biological Engineering from University of Southern California. Bill retired from the U. S. Air Force, as a fighter pilot with extensive flight test experience. He then retired form an aerospace company in Grand Rapids where he was responsible for International Marketing.
Jim Miller One of the church’s founders, Jim has served in many roles with the church including as Treasurer for a number of years. He is a retired Marketing/Advertising executive and former business owner, and currently edits the web site and helps Betty produce the newsletter each month. He also serves the church as Clerk of Session.
Not Pictured – Elder Gary Lehmann