Just over the dune from Bluffton Church is the incredibly beautiful family-friendly Pere Marquette Beach on Lake Michigan. Our beach is award winning as one of the cleanest, safest beaches on the Great Lakes.
But about once a month or so, water and wind conditions cause rip currents, long shore currents, and structural currents to form along the beach. These currents cause unsafe conditions and take the lives of several people each summer.
The National Weather Service issues warnings when swimming conditions are dangerous, but for several years due to budget restrictions there are no notifications on or near the beach when warnings are in effect.
In July of 2013, as Bluffton Church comforted another family at the beach who lost a loved one, Pastor Kathleen felt an urging from the Lord to do something about it, and you can help! We are currently meeting with a local group concerned with beach safety to help lead our city toward a solution.
Working with the Muskegon City Police Department and specifically neighborhood officer Joshua DeHoag, Bluffton Church is working on coordinating beach safety training classes open to the public in 2014. More details will be available in the Spring of 2014. However we are currently compiling a list of Muskegon residents interested in possibly attending a training class. If you would like to receive an email when more information is available about the class schedule, please use our contact form below, and be sure to include your name, email address, phone number, and a note that you are interested in details on the upcoming beach safety training classes.
Update August 15th 2013:
Pastors Hugh and Kathleen met with senior officials and a City Commissioner in the City of Muskegon Government. They are in complete agreement that something needs to be done by the city to make the beaches safer. They are studying what other local governments are doing, as well as looking at systems that will not open up the city to millions of dollars of potential liability. They said that since the dangerous swimming season is almost over, their plans are to try to have a warning system in place by the opening of the beaches for the summer of 2014. They asked that Bluffton Church members and neighbors be patient, that this is a hot issue for the city and that it will take some time and study to do this in the best way possible.
Pastor Hugh was Comptroller for the City of Kalamazoo for many years. He agrees that the wheels of government turn slowly but this is obviously a priority for them and trusts that appropriate actions will be taken to save lives on our beautiful beaches. For this reason we are holding off on doing anything related to members and neighbors putting up signs on the beach, and will pick the issue up again next summer if needed. Thank you for all your encouragement and donations. Please let us know where to return your donations or if you want us to just keep them for next year.
Update August 5th 2013:
The City of Muskegon has informed us that if individuals or organizations print and post signs they will be subject to fines due to breaking the sign ordinance. So we are not planning to print and distribute signs. However there is nothing to prevent individuals from printing and posting their own signs while the city figures out what, if anything, they want to do to warn people when a Red Flag Rip Current Warning is in place.
If you want to buy your own sign, this one would probably be a great one to use.
Our Original Idea, July 2013:
Keep a Sign & Post Your Sign During Warnings
We are asking members of Bluffton Church and our beach neighbor friends who care about saving lives to take and keep one of our signs. When the National Weather Service issues a Rip Current Warning affecting Pere Marquette Beach, each one of our sign keepers who is available will place their sign on the beach near the water, and then take it back in at night.
Only 30 church members and neighbors committing to this effort will assure that no one will swim on our three miles of public beach during dangerous rip currents without at least being aware of the danger! Many people doing this little bit will save lives!
Members and Neighbors: Be a Sign Keeper
Members of Bluffton Church and our Beach Neighbor Friends, please fill out our contact form with your name, email address, phone number, where you live, and what you would like to do to help. We will get in touch with you when our signs are available. Thank you!
Help Us Buy Signs
Another way to help is to contribute towards the purchase of the signs. Signs cost about $10 each. You can donate by mailing a check to Bluffton Church, 3320 Thompson Ave., Muskegon MI 49441 or use the secure donation button below. If you live nearby please feel free to simply put an envelope in secure mail slot at the side door of our church building. Thank you for partnering with us to save lives!
Donations are tax deductible and all donations of $25 or more will receive a donation receipt/letter of thanks. (Note: the donation screen indicates donations go to “Rev. Hugh Kallen” but 100% of funds donated will go directly to the Bluffton Church rip current awareness fund. Bluffton Church is a registered 501(c)3 charitable non-profit as member in good standing of the FGFCMI, and all your contributions are fully deductible as a charitable donation).
(Note that due to liability issues the church decided they could not purchase signs but would need to leave it up to individual members and neighbors who care).
A great story about our efforts on Fox 17 news:
Luddington (an hour north of us) took action this year to prevent drownings:
The local newspaper interviews Pastors Hugh and Kathleen and the story gets picked up by the AP newswire and put on websites nationwide:
News Channel 3 in Kalamazoo covered the story as well:
Rip Current Story
See the Lake
Members of Bluffton Church and our Beach Neighbor Friends, please fill out our contact form with your name, email address, phone number, where you live, and how you want to help. Thank you!