We begin the lectionary's reading of James on Sept. 2nd focusing on James 1:17-27. These verses open us up to James' imperative that faith and action cannot be separated. Together we will explore what James might imagine "pure religion" looks like in our fragmented world today.
In 2017, the Porter Hills board announced it was seeking an affiliation with another senior health care organization to strategically position Porter Hills for the future. Throughout the ensuing process, the Porter Hills board has stayed in close communication and cooperation with Westminster. This spring, our Session expressed support for their plan and expressed our desire to maintain a voice and vote in the process. You may view our session letter and the Porter Hills response to learn more.
The Porter Hills Board now announces they have begun the formal “due diligence” process with United Methodist Retirement Communities, which includes the continuing participation of Westminster. The Session and Trustees voted unanimously on August 20 to welcome and support this affiliation.
Westminster owes a great deal of thanks to member Barbara Goodspeed (trustee representative to the Porter Hills board) for her incredible investment of time throughout this involved process; Ken Tiews for his legal expertise and documents; and Scott McPheeters, trustee president, and many others who helped guide us through this process alongside Porter Hills.
Check out the Grand Rapids Business Journal's story on the merger to learn more.
Let Rev. David Baak know if you have questions at email@example.com or 616-717-5544.
This fall, our community is exploring the promise and possibility of the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual growth. Westminster’s leadership began this journey at last year’s leadership retreat, and beginning in October we’ll invite the entire congregation to gather for conversations and study in small groups and on Sunday mornings during the formation hour. Further, on November 17, Westminster will host a one-day workshop led by Chris Heuertz, author of The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth. Registration for the workshop costs $110 and includes lunch and a copy of the book. Scholarships are available for Westminster members. Find out more about the workshop and register here.
Have you ever asked yourself the quintessential human question of identity, “Who am I?” Most of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out who we are and how we relate to others and God. Unfortunately, in the process of forming an identity, we succumb to building up lies and illusions around our sense of self that only lead us further away from who we truly are. But the Enneagram offers a bright path to cutting through the internal clutter and finding our way back to who we are created to be.
Based on the nine classic archetypes of human character structure, the Enneagram exposes the nine ways we lie to ourselves about who we think we are, illustrates the nine ways we get lost, and reveals nine ways we find our way home to our True Self and to God.
What is the Enneagram?
As a sacred map to our soul, the Enneagram is a compassionate tool, sketching out possibilities and opportunities, pointing us back to our True Self. The Enneagram explains the “why” of how we think, act, and feel. The Enneagram helps us come to terms with our gifts as well as the addictive psychological patterns that tether us to our greatest interpersonal, spiritual, and emotional challenges.
What Can the Enneagram do for Me?
Compared with other self-exploration profiles and assessments, many have found that the Enneagram takes self-awareness deeper.
Ultimately, the Enneagram reveals our best, truest self with its potential to heal a world in need. As a tool for spiritual awareness, the Enneagram moves beyond simple rendering of each type, to illuminating a path to develop our identity and spirituality.
From the Enneagram-curious to the seasoned lifelong enthusiast, The Sacred Enneagram one-day is for anyone who cares about nurturing a deep spirituality rooted in self-awareness. This workshop offers an innovative way of re-imagining the usefulness of the Enneagram that is tremendously practical.
One of the most famous sayings of the Desert Fathers of the early church goes like this: “A certain brother went to Abba Moses in Scete, and asked him for a good word. And the elder said to him: Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.” As our “Responses of Faith” sermon series comes to an end, and as our “yes, no, maybe…” is rounded off by a concluding “so,” we’ll explore what Jesus’ invitation to abide — to stay still – might have to say to teach us. Scripture: John 6:56-69.
Rev. Jen Porter
As we discern the yes or the no, we find ourselves living in between seeking our faithful response and action. We seek clarity and which direction to go. A maybe dwells in the middle and we find ourselves in no way aimless. While we wait and while we discern, we are formed. We find the way. We hear the Word of the Lord.
As the summer comes to a close, we are truly entering our interim season as a congregation. During this time we will hear from many different voices in our worship services. In addition to our own preaching team on staff, we'll be inviting others to our Westminster pulpit. We are eager to welcome these first guest preachers for the fall!
Rev. Dr. Sue Rozenboom
Associate Professor of Liturgical Theology
September 16, 23, and 30
Rev. Dr. Sue Rozeboom is an associate professor of liturgical theology at Western Theological Seminary, where she and students “together delve deeply into topics such as the Trinity and Christian Worship, the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments, historical Christian practices, and what we can learn from them for the church today.” She holds a PhD in Liturgical Studies from the University of Notre Dame. A West Michigan native, Sue and her husband, Paul, have two children; they are members of Boston Square Christian Reformed Church.
Rev. Dr. John Buchanan
Pastor Emeritus of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago
October 14, 21, and 28
Rev. Dr. John Buchanan served as pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago for 26 years. He has held various of leadership positions in the PC(USA) and was editor/publisher of The Christian Century magazine for 15 years. He served as moderator of the 208th General Assembly in 1996-1997 and has represented the Presbyterian Church as a member of the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches. He has received numerous doctorates and honors and has written three books. John and his wife, Sue, have five children.
Dr. Chuck DeGroat
Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling
November 4, 18, and 25
Dr. Chuck DeGroat is a professor of pastoral care and counseling at Western Theological Seminary, and he is “committed to spiritual and emotional formation for the sake of mission.” He has spent the last 20 years in seminary training and pastoral ministry, including several church plants and two church-based clinical counseling centers. Chuck participated in our 2016 Westminster Camp, so he may be familiar to many of you! Most recently, he was a teaching pastor at City Church San Francisco, where he co-founded Newbigin House of Studies, an urban and missional training center. His academic specialization is in the intersection of psychology and the Bible, and he has published three books. Chuck and his wife, Sara, have two daughters.
Other dates to note:
Kyle Nolan will preach October 7 and Rev. Jeremy Bork will preach November 11.
Rev. Jeremy Bork
We continue our Yes, No, Maybe, So series this week with saying no. The Ephesians text is quite the list of dos and don’ts, and if you’re like me it’s not always easy to engage a passage like this. Join us as we wrestle and wonder together about the connection between the things God might be inviting us to say no to and the deeper yes behind them. Scripture: Ephesians 4:25-5:2
Rev. Laurie Hartzell
On Sunday August 5th, we welcome back to our pulpit Rev. Laurie Hartzell from Benton Harbor First Presbyterian. As we continue to join together in ministry, Kyle Nolan will be preaching in Benton Harbor while Rev. Laurie preaches here. She is preaching on Isaiah 6:1-8 and our continued "Saying Yes" to God. All are welcome.
Rev. Jen Porter
John 6:1-21 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Feeding the Five Thousand 6 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias.[a] 2 A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick. 3 Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. 5 When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, 9 “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.” Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they[c] sat down, about five thousand in all. 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself. Jesus Walks on the Water 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[d] they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. 20 But he said to them, “It is I;[e] do not be afraid.” 21 Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.
Do all dogs go to heaven? What about dinosaurs and dragonflies? Is all life resurrection eligible? And why are we compelled to ask these sorts of questions in the first place? Jeremiah — distinguished among Israel’s prophets by his ability to see beyond the possibility of exile to its inevitability, beyond the “losability” of the land that God had promised Israel to the absolute certainty of its impending loss — casts a hope-filled vision of what human vocation can be when we join God in welcoming all creation home. Join us in worship as Kyle Nolan preaches on Jeremiah 23:1-6.
Rev. David Baak
“Has God ever been mad at anyone?” The reading from Amos 7 begins with a plumb line (a standard or expectation) and ends with a call to be a prophet — and in between God certainly seems mad at the people. We ask, "What else is there to know about this?" as we join in worship on Sunday at 10:00a. Rev. David Baak preaching; Sanctuary Choir.
Rev Jeremy Bork
For the month of July, we're responding to some of the questions we didn't get to in the Q&A last month. This weeks sermon responds to the question, "Are there ideas in the original Greek New Testament that you think got lost in translation to English?" as it pertains to our lectionary text. In these verses, Jesus instructs the newly called and sent disciples with these words, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” While it is easy to limit our understanding of this passage to these English words, let us take another step together in wondering what else Jesus might be teaching through them. Perhaps there's not only a message for those unwelcoming places but also good news for the disciples themselves. Join us in worship at 10am as we listen for how God's Spirit is speaking to us through this question and this passage.
Rev. Jen Porter
In the gospels, the healing power of God is evident and real. God comes to heal and to forgive, to make hearts whole and well. Why does it seems like sometimes there is no answer? As we ask that question, we remember that Jesus often answered questions with questions. This week: "Why wouldn't God answer prayers for good things?" Perhaps the question back to us is "What are we looking for, what are we expecting?"
Rev. Chandler Stokes
The pressures on human beings, whether they are four- or fourteen- or forty-year-olds, can be enormous. The way we wait for children to come forward on Sunday for the blessings is an attempt on our part to remember to honor children as they areand not as we want them to be. That honoring is a part of how we honor all people.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
Sometimes the Great Commission has been taken very seriously by the Church. It reads: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. There was an imperative, an almost breathless urgency in the early church: the doors to God’s community had been flung wide open to the world—the nations, the gentiles were all given access to the transforming love of God. After all these centuries, people still wonder if that word is really for them. And yet somewhere along the way we seem to have lost our urgency.