Comfort for Devastating Loss | How to help

Dear Cornerstone Family,

It's happened again.

Our community is rocking with the pain of another young death from suicide. For whatever reason, he couldn't push past the despair he felt in that moment to get to the place where he felt hope. All of us are hurting.

Words fail.

A few things you can do when words fail:

Just listen.

There are no magic words, not even a Bible verse, that can minimize the pain. You can actually make the pain worse by saying misguided things, or asking questions, or spiritualizing the situation. Please don't say things like, "Everything happens for a reason" or "God needed another angel" or "He's in a better place" or "God won't give you more than you can handle." In our broken world, unspeakable tragedies occur daily, but that doesn't mean God causes or approves of those tragedies. Some grieving people have turned away from God, the one they really need to be their ultimate source of comfort, because of such misguided thoughts. Even assuring someone that their loved one is in heaven may not be helpful to a survivor in early grief who is only thinking, "BUT I WANT HIM HERE WITH ME!"

What can you say?

"I love you, and my prayers are with you."

"What a terrible loss for your family."

"He was a good person. He will be so missed."

"How can I help you today?" (Then follow-through with errands, grocery shopping, cleaning, going to church with them, etc.)

"I am so sorry for your loss. I don't even have words for it."

"I can't imagine how much pain you are in. We hurt, because we love him too."

"I'm here."

You can write a note with a good memory of the person who has died, and share something wonderful about their kindness, humor, good deeds - something to show their life left a mark.

Show up.

Probably the very best thing you can do is show up. Don't avoid them, that hurts worst of all. Let them see you care, and don't tell them how to feel. The Jews called it "sitting shiva." It means that friends come, and just sit silently and grieve with you. It's healing - just the caring, praying presence of friends. Tell them that you are praying for them. And then really do. God can say and do things that we can't imagine.

He is the healer, and we are his people. Pray, show up, sit shiva. God will use you.

Love and Prayers,

Pastor Brenda Young

Senior Pastor | Cornerstone Church

Cornerstone Church is in the midst of much change.

We have been a denominational church for many years. It is a good denomination, and we stand with them in all our foundational beliefs. However, over the last few years, the denominational priorities have made it increasingly difficult and financially unfeasible to fulfill our mission and responsibility to the local area and needs to which God has called us. We believe after Jesus, our first commitment must be to the area where we live and serve. We attempted to dialogue and mutually negotiate over the last few years, but the gap between us actually widened. In August the Cornerstone Church congregation voted overwhelmingly to discontinue denominational membership, and become an independent congregation for the sake of the mission. We believe that the kingdom of God, and bringing people into it, is bigger than denominational loyalty. So though we loved the denomination and agree with their doctrine, we could no longer work within their structure and polity and feel clear in our hearts about our responsibility to the community.

Our former denomination, like many denominations, has a policy that all church deeds have a trust clause claim, stating that the building belongs to the denomination, not the local congregation. Despite our desire to pay the remainder of our building loan to our denomination, and additional money billed to us, in exchange for keeping the property and additions we have paid for since 1984, the denomination has chosen to exercise their claim, refusing our request. Of course, news spreads and people hear all kinds of truth and fiction mixed together. Everyone who hears it is asking, “How can they do that? Can’t we fight it?” Yes, we can. In fact, we have had very competent and affirmative legal advice from a variety of experienced attorneys. The trust clause has been challenged many times and been overturned many times. However, the Bible is very clear in I Corinthians 6 that believers are not supposed to take other Christians to court, that it is a bad witness to the name of Christ. So, our Leadership Board has chosen not to initiate a court battle, but to just let denominational polity have its way, and trust God with our future. As a simple matter of information, the trust clause was not included on the deed to our Mogadore property, and that campus will not be affected.

Are we are disappointed?

Of course, but we are not discouraged. This is just a building. A very special building, yes. But it is just bricks and mortar. The CHURCH is the PEOPLE and the relationships that have been built among those people. We have kept everything that is most important—the presence of God and his people. That makes my heart full and happy!


So, what does all this mean for us?

It means our last day to worship in the Killian Rd. building is Sunday, October 29. We will have all three regular services that day, and then at 6 o’clock in the evening, we will have an all-church praise service, sharing testimonies of how God has moved in us and grown us in that location, thanking God for his goodness, and believing him for the future.

Our new Portage Lakes Campus location is Coventry Elementary School at 3089 Manchester Rd. Our first time to worship there together will be Sunday, November 5. On this day only we will have our three regular services at 9, 10:30 AM & 12 PM to celebrate and dedicate this new space and place together in our journey to God. It will be a super day!

To be clear, if you see a group meeting on Killian Rd. at our former location any day or time after Sunday, October 29, it will NOT be Cornerstone Church. You will find the Cornerstone you know at Coventry Elementary every week at our regular times from November 5 on.


For decades in this location, Cornerstone has been helping people find the Father, a Family, and a Fulfilling Future.

In recent months, so many new, wonderful people have become part of the Cornerstone experience. And I am confident—our best days are ahead of us, not behind us! God will work it all out for our good and his glory.  We will continue to serve the community and world we love, as we always have.

We are ready to have you join us in the adventure ahead.

We are saving a place just for you.

We are Cornerstone.

Not Easy, But Worth It

Not Easy, But Worth It

Have you acknowledged to yourself that, despite your best efforts and optimistic overlook,  there are seasons that are astonishingly hard? Despite the happy face we deliberately choose to encourage other people, or even the perhaps less well-intentioned social media posts presenting the highlight reels of our lives, there are days, episodes, even entire seasons when we live anywhere but Easy Street.

This week my daughterRachel Carpenter and I were texting about the winter of the soul we both had experienced in the last year, made bleaker by the significant struggles and hurts of those we care about so deeply. Her texts were so...well, I can't describe them. But they were mightily on point, and I asked her if she would type them up and let me share. She agreed. Here they are. I'm going to reflect a moment at the end. Please know these come from a very difficult head and heart space, but not a depressed one.



This Is Us is an American televisionseries created by Dan Fogleman that premiered on NBC on September 20, 2016. It has gained a huge fan base, including me.  The cast of characters is fascinating and multi-hued. They seem like people I either know or interact with every day, people I see in my office. The series follows siblings Kate, Kevin and Randall who share the same birthday, but not the same parents or race, as Randall was adopted after their natural sibling was stillborn. Their lives intertwine through current events, flashbacks, and not a few tears.

Feeling Like Job? Maybe Not So Much...

Feeling Like Job? Maybe Not So Much...

Just finished reading the book of Job again. Fascinating dialogue between a man badly misunderstood by his self-righteous friends, and an intimate dialogue with God who knew him best. It's interesting how common culture misuses this story, though. Many people compare themselves with Job when they are suffering...but few of us could even aspire to that, myself included. NONE of Job's trials were brought on himself because of his own poor choices. NONE of his suffering was because he had sinned. In fact, according to Job 1, God himself said about Job, "There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”(v.8) HIS suffering was initiated because Satan believed the only reason Job was obedient and faithful was because he was enjoying God's favor and protection.

The Meaning of the Medallion

The Meaning of the Medallion

This materially cheap, otherwise priceless, necklace was given to me by the Sisters of Mercy in Kolkata, India, after my niece Sara Potter and I, had spent a day serving with Mother Teresa's humble crew. They serve the last, the lowest, and the least--the most forgotten of God's creation. I have found myself wearing it most days since early November. We weren't permitted to take pictures, or voice opinions. Everyone who came there to serve had to attend the excruciatingly early prayer service (didn't have to pray, but did have to respectfully attend), for they wanted no serving that did not begin in prayer. After that, everyone had to do behind the scenes, non-feel good, no glory jobs for an undetermined period. Sara and I were assigned to clean a very large space/meeting room with cobbled floors and thousands of crevices in this old building that served them--a building that would have been condemned in the US. I had to mop floors with a handmade mop--rag on a stick. It was difficult and long. When I was finished, the tiny little woman in the white and blue habit didn't even inspect it. She just motioned for me to do it again. 



I remember the first time I was aware that not everyone respected our US Presidents. I was a very young elementary student, and John F. Kennedy had been elected president. Our class at school was sharply divided or whether or not he was an answer to prayer or a demon straight from hell. We were too young to even have an opinion of our own. Everyone was spouting information, mostly misinformation, based on what they had heard. When I reported a bit of what I had heard, my Dad sharply reprimanded me for repeating ugly things. He reminded me that this man was now our president, and if I had Jesus in my heart, my job was to honor, respect, and pray for him.