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Humility and Humanity

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, April 9, 2017

Mary Oliver has a short poem that includes these lines: On the outskirts of Jerusalem the donkey waited. Not especially brave, or filled with understanding, he stood and waited. … Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient. I hope, finally, he felt brave. I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him, as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward. It is this line that has always captured me:… stepped, as he had to, forward. The poem brings me closer to Jesus’ own steps. In focusing on his silent resolve, I have felt encouragement for my own steps that simply must come, one after the other. I pray they may be for you as well.


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Bones and Breath

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, April 2, 2017

Israel felt that their being sent into exile meant that God’s will had been thwarted. It made no sense to them. They had dozens of ways to explain it. In Ezekiel, as soon as he is given the scroll with the word of hope and warning, he is told by God to eat the scroll [God is still willing this.], and Ezekiel goes mute. How is the Word to get out of his belly and into the ears of Israel!?!? It’s bizarre, but it points to a real problem that ends up with Israel in exile, feeling abandoned, dead in the water. However we got there, that is the problem that Ezekiel and we face. God said to me, “Mortal, can these bones live?” I answered, “O Lord God, you know.”


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Once Upon a Parable

Sermon    
Sunday, March 26, 2017

God’s great story is filled with countless, timeless short stories. God’s big story uses these little stories to delight us, inspire us, and change us. God’s story is a message of hope in trouble, light in darkness, and love in rejection. It is a message of peace on earth and welcome to absolutely everyone.


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Suffering and Hope

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, March 19, 2017

We will consider closely the life of Jesus Christ and the struggles we have in following him. As we are invited to follow after Christ by denying our self, taking up a cross and following him, we might think that only a masochist, a fool, or a loser could embrace such a life… …or perhaps it would be one who understands that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.


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Chimes Volume 2017, #1: Westminster’s Servant Leadership

  Chimes
Friday, March 17, 2017

The Volume 2017, #1 issue of Chimes is now available. In this issue: 

  • Servant Leadership: A Letter from Rev. Chandler Stokes
  • Memorial Trust
  • Elders
  • Deacons
  • Trustees
  • WPC Staff
Files Size

2017-03_Chimes.pdf

2 MB

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Minister for Adult Faith Formation

 
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Since Sherrill Vore's retirement in 2015, Session has been evaluating our children’s and adult educational ministries. We realized that we needed two full-time equivalents to lead that wide range of programs. With Nancy Greidanus now our Minister for Children’s Ministries, Session has appointed a search committee for full-time leadership in Adult Faith Formation. We ask your prayers as they begin their work.

Part of the session's discernment process included asking Ministry Architects (a firm with whom we had worked on evaluating our youth ministry) to evaluate our children’s and adult educational ministries as well. We found that—from young adults and old, from newcomers to our long-seasoned members—people are expressing a longing for more in-depth exploration, study, and practice in their faith. We are excited to begin to address our congregation's deep hunger for greater spiritual growth in intentional and sustaining ways. We pray that will be a step toward feeding that hunger.

The creation of this position has been considered and approved by the Minister for Children's Ministries Search Committee, the Personnel Committee and the Session. A full-time Minister for Adult Faith Formation position is currently posted.

Then, a search committee was formed under the guidance of Session, and funding for the position is being considered by the Memorial Trust Committee.

The members of the Adult Faith Formation search committee are: Kelley Barr, Jim Bottenhorn, Francisco Calderon, Lara Dengerink-Van Til, Nancy Janisch, Bruce Klein-Wassink, Larry Slager, Kathy Speeter, Amy Strand, and Ed VanderPloeg.

Trust and Leaving

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, March 12, 2017

This week, I have been deeply inspired by my colleague in the Moveable Feast, David Lewicki. He has drawn my attention to a deep irony in God’s call to us. The paradox is that trust, which is our orientation to God’s promises, which are full of new life, full of new possibilities, full of… well, promise—our trust, our leaning in to those promises also inevitably entails loss. We must leave in order to move ahead. In that is a deep truth. David says it this way: Faith is leaving, holding tenderly to the grief of leaving’s loss.


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Humanity and Humility

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, March 5, 2017

Jesus’s obedience is what the temptations in Matthew 4 reveal, not his trying to be God. The temptation that we share with Jesus is not to be human. Against that temptation, we seek to live on the side of obedience to God with the Holy Spirit keeping us company on our side, and hope to keep our presumption to be God on the other. It is a genuine temptation to cross the line.


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Hunger Walk 2017

 
Friday, March 3, 2017

To register for the 2017 Hunger Walk, visit accessofwestmichigan.org.

Click on “LEARN MORE” button under the “REGISTER NOW FOR HUNGER WALK 2017” heading. This will take you to the Hunger Walk page.

Click on “REGISTER NOW” button at the top of the Hunger Walk page to be redirected to the Hunger Walk Fundraising Site.

Once you are at the site, login to access your personal profile.

Once you reach your personal profile page, click on the “MY FUNDRAISING” button, which looks like a pie chart. This will take you to your fundraising page.

In the box at the top of the page you will see the words “PERSONAL PAGE:” with a link listed below. Copy and paste this link. This is the link you are to use when linking the button to your page. This is also the link you are to use when sharing your personal page with others.

Use the image below as your “button” on your homepage to link your personal link to.

If you have any questions contact Angie Kelley at angiek@wpcgr.org or (616)717-5581.

Ears to Hear

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This Wednesday, March 1st, is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent—the forty days of preparation for Easter. Our Lenten theme this year is: Ears to Hear: Preparing Our Hearts for Easter. We will explore the story of Moses on Mount Sinai in Exodus 24. After six days of silence, God finally speaks to Moses, evidently when he is finally ready to hear. How do we open our ears to our God? How can we maintain our attentiveness to our truly “other” God, who is paradoxically both so present and so elusive.


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Do Not Be Afraid

Rev. Jen Porter

Sermon    
Sunday, February 26, 2017

We have been talking about the map of the realm of God laid over the earth. In Matthew 17, this map shows us that we are not alone. There is Jesus, the one who brings together heaven and earth, the living link in between. With him, Moses and Elijah in the spirit. With him, the disciples. Jesus is the way between all the great witnesses of the faith and all here on earth. We are never alone.


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Salting the Roads

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tom Long said: The hardest part is not in being Christian for a day, but being faithful day after day, maintaining confidence in what, for all the world, appears to be a losing cause. Some days we really feel that. The confidence that Jesus has in telling us that we are the salt of the earth is that we are truly good for something. And it is something good for this world that truly matters. This Sunday we discover what it means to be the salt of the earth.


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The Edge of the Map

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon    
Sunday, February 12, 2017

Jesus is no less insistent on the critical nature of our speech. In Matthew he says: But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. What an extraordinary standard for our speech.

A World of Difference

Westminster Youth Group

Sermon    
Sunday, February 5, 2017

THIS Sunday, February 5th, please join us in this annual celebration as our high school and middle school youth lead worship during both our 8:30a and 11:00a services, including sermons preached by the senior class of 2017.


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WPC Letter of Support for Muslims in Grand Rapids

  Interfaith News Updates
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

This is an excerpt from a sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on January 29, 2017 and includes the letter we sent to the members of the four mosques in our city. The letter was signed by more than 260 members of Westminster.

Last Sunday, we were anticipating a gathering that occurred last Thursday at one of our local mosques. Members of all four local Islamic communities and a number of Christian communities were gathered. It was, in fact, a capacity crowd. And our Muslim sisters and brothers were very grateful for our presence. Each of the imams spoke of how moved they were to have us there, because, as I shared with you last week, they have felt afraid. We shared a meal. We talked. We laughed. They were greatly moved to have us there, and I was also moved by the gathering and by the words of my fellow clergy—Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. When I was asked to speak, I talked about our history and why we were there. And then I said something like, “In my tradition I don’t have the authority to commit my congregation to anything, but I know their hearts, and I promise that we will stand by you. We will not abandon you.” Swept up in the moment, I testified, but I believe it would be deeply meaningful, if you could back me up on that one. I do know you, but let’s show them. Let’s bless them. The place was so small that we could have only a dozen of our folks there. It would be so great to send them lots more names. So, we have a letter, to which you can add your signature, if you would like. It’s very short; it’s addressed to the four Muslim congregations and their imams. It simply says:

We add our names to this letter to echo our delegation’s words of support to you at Thursday evening’s dinner—January 26, 2017.

We vow our support to you. As we work together with the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, we hope to back these words up with concrete and well thought out activity as plans develop.

We see you and we want you here. We love you and stand united with you. We are grateful to live with you in this community.

You are our neighbors. More than that, you are our brothers and sisters, and we are your sisters and brothers.

God bless you.

…you can add your name to the letter, if you’d like. Just words, but a self-involving gospel word that affects the hearer. As we have put the word of blessing on our lips today, so we seek also to incarnate this gospel word of blessing in our hands, as we write our support.

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Related statement from the Presbyterian (PCUSA) Mission Agency (January 31, 2017)

http://info.pcusa.org/t/ViewEmail/i/9306C40E14FECD27/174C65B408FA58E81A21C02EB51F5606   

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