Church team combines rockets, Bible study to win

Teresa Taylor Williams Chronicle Staff Writer
Muskegon Chronicle
May 11, 2001

Bible study and rockets? It may sound strange, but it works for Community United Methodist Church.
With a little divine help, the North Muskegon church team swept the competition during the Michigan Rockets for Schools, a two-day event that was part of Muskegon Aerospace Days last weekend.

The Community United Methodist Church Rocket Team took home the championship trophy and won first place in six individual competitions, including table top display, Web site design and actual flight.
Reeths-Puffer Middle School placed third in Web site design.

The Community United Methodist Church Rocket Team is comprised of 14 students who attend Mona Shores, Reeths-Puffer and North Muskegon public schools.

It was the only church in the event.

“At first, I didn’t think it really fit with my sense of call or ministry,” said the Rev. Glenn Wagner, pastor of Community United Methodist Church, 1614 Ruddiman. “But I felt maybe we could use it for the purpose of ministry.”

Rockets the team has made the past four years have had such names as Heaven’s Light, Heaven Sent, and Heaven Bound. This year’s winning rocket was Heaven’s Guide.

The students met weekly since February in preparation for the competition.

Last year, it was a challenge to find adults to lead a junior high school age youth fellowship because of schedule conflicts, according to Wagner.

But when he combined Bible study with the possibility of a rocket team, adults were standing in line.
“I really believe the church works best when people are passionate about using their gifts for the glory of God,” said Wagner. “We have engineers and people with military experience who were willing to share what they knew.”

The Rockets for Schools program was launched in Muskegon four years ago and is designed to teach youth math, science and technology skills in a fun way.

More than 20 rockets from teams as far away as Detroit were judged in nine categories during the competition at the Mart Dock.

The event was coordinated by the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Math/Science Center and the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.