Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Daniel 4:37 and John 1:1–5 and 14. The promise of the Incarnation is not only that God has entered into every aspect of our human living—that God has experienced everything that human life has to offer, all the pain, suffering, and even death—but also that God, by entering human life, has also laid claim to every part of our living. God enters into our flesh and says, “This is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. I cannot live without you.” And then, with every word and gesture of His fully-human life, He touches and teaches and says, “I understand. There is a way.” Our first pastor, in addition to being an abolitionist and intellectual, was a revivalist; he believed that the gospel was intended to change people’s lives. Part of his legacy is embodied in Camp Henry and in our ongoing conviction that God intends to change our lives for the sake of God.
Our new hymnals have arrived—all 950 of them!
As we introduce the new hymnal, we are asking for your support in helping to pay the cost for this vital component of our worship experience—and it’s a wonderful opportunity to honor the memory of someone you love.
Hymnals can be donated in honor or in memory of someone. You may choose to donate however many hymnals you would like. Bonus! If you purchase a new hymnal, you will get to take an old hymnal home with you.
The price for each hymnal is $25. Donations should be made by Sunday, February 9. To donate a hymnal, please fill out the form below.
Glory to God! is the name of the new hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which will make its debut at Westminster this month, replacing the previous hymnal, which dates from 1990.
Last year, Helen Hofmeister, minister for music, and Bruce Klein-Wassink, outgoing elder for music, attended a national workshop on the new hymnal, which explained the process through which the new hymnal was created as well as the reason why its hymns were selected.
Following from that workship, Helen and Bruce present a list of commonly asked questions and answers about Glory to God:
What about my favorite hymn?
Chances are pretty good it’s still in there. The new hymnal retained 65% of the hymns in the old one.
Why do we need a new one? I like the one we have.
A hymnal is like a family album. You keep adding to it over the years. We also don’t want to miss any good music that has been composed in the last 25 years.
Were there any young people on the hymnal selection committee? We want them to be involved.
There were 15 people on the selection committee, and two of those were under the age of 25.
How did they choose the hymns that are in the hymnal?
That’s a long answer. You’ll need to come to the presentation between services on February 9 to learn more. However, they committee went through 10,000 hymns before they decided on 853 of them.
What are the new hymns like?
There is a variety of styles. Some are global; some are very old hymns which have been re-introduced, and some are new hymns in a traditional style. There is both new poetry to old hymns and new poetry to new hymns.
Are there any of the new hymns that we would sing at Westminster?
After a quick first look at Glory to God, Helen found 50- 75 new hymns not in the 1990 hymnal which we could use at Westminster. After looking at it more carefully with Chandler and Sherrill, we found many more!
When we will get them?
They will be in the pews on February 9.
How much do they cost and how will we pay for them?
$25 per hymnal, which is quite a bargain considering how much music is in them. If you wish to donate a hymnal in memory or in honor of someone, that information will be printed on a plate which will be affixed to the hymnal. You may donate as many as you wish!
How many hymnals are we getting?
We are buying 950 hymnals: 750 for Westminster, and 200 for Camp Henry. We are also purchasing hymnal companions, accompaniment editions for Westminster and Camp Henry, and an online resource edition for the worship planners.
What will happen to our old hymnals?
If you donate a new one, you can take an old one home!
These new hymnals are for the use of Westminster Presbyterian Church and Camp Henry. If you would like a personal copy, you may order one at presbyterianhymnal.org.
This hymnal will help us as a congregation grow in our worship of God.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Genesis 1:1–5, 26–31, Romans 1:16–23, and ‘Immortal, Invisible.’ God transcends us; that truth requires humility and grace on our part. That humility and grace called Courtney Smith, our first pastor in 1861, to read the Bible with a critical lens, and we have followed the same path. To celebrate that we can have our hearts and minds opened and learn to love in new ways, we come to the table of the Lord’s Supper, where we are intimately connected to others, who may indeed change our understanding by helping us see a part of God we couldn’t before, and where we are called to love as Jesus loved.
In this Sunday’s sermon, Rev. Chandler Stokes referenced the report from our Ordination Task Force, ‘A Visible Sign of the New Humanity.’ We present this document here again, hoping that it will be as illuminating today as it was eight years ago when the report was first written.
The February issue of Chimes is now available. In this month’s issue:
- Q&A about the new hymnal
- Renovation of the sanctuary roof
- Pasta dinner raises over $5000
- Mission update from Julie Brien
- Watanabe window featured in art exhibit
- Help out with refugee resettlement
Westminster’s building is full of artistic and architectural treasures, one of which is the large stained glass window on the west wall of the chapel. This window, affectionately called the ‘Watanabe Window,’ was created by the renowned 20th century Japanese artist Sadao Watanabe.
Watanabe’s art is the subject of a traveling exhibit, ‘Beauty Given by Grace: The Biblical Art of Sadao Watanabe,’ which will be at the Calvin College Center Art Gallery through February 22.
As part of the exhibit, visitors will attend a study session in the Westminster Presbyterian Church chapel this Thursday, January 30, at 1:00p. This event is free and open to the public; come and join in the study and celebration of this magnificent window.
The Center Art Gallery describes Watanabe’s life and work thusly:
Born in 1913, Sadao Watanabe was baptized at 17 and devoted his life to depicting stories of the Bible in a visual language understandable to the Japanese. Finding inspiration in the mingei (folk arts) movement, he worked with his wife to produce each stencil and print on handmade paper.
These intricately patterned images, in a variety of styles and formats, offer a panoramic view of the Bible beginning with the Garden of Eden in Genesis and concluding with angelic trumpeters at the end of time in Revelation.
Watanabe’s art is part of permanent collections in the British Museum, MoMA in New York City, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on I John 4:7-21 and ‘Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,’ continuing our series on the hymns of the church. Our hymn this week is a Beethoven tune with text by Henry Van Dyke—a Presbyterian. The theological focus of this cheerful text is the Holy Spirit. Westminster’s first pastor, Rev. Courtney Smith, was a revivalist and abolitionist called to the church in 1861. In the Van Dyke text, there’s a powerful affirmation of God as love and Spirit, there’s an intellectual coherence to the music, and there’s a revivalist joy to both the text and the music. So there’s a lot of theological room here, and that is the kind of “room” we identify with the Holy Spirit.
Each year, Westminster produces an annual report of its life and ministry during the past year. The purpose of this report is to inform and remind us of the multitudinous ways in which God has been faithful in the life of our congregation. We’re pleased to announce that the 2013 Annual Report is now available.
We invite you to join us at the annual all-congregation meeting on Sunday, February 2 following the 11:00a service—lunch is provided! You can ask questions of principals from staff, Trustees, and session, hear an update about our sanctuary roof project, celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness and generosity, and remember the saints from our congregation who have passed into the fuller life of the Church Triumphant.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Psalms 46 and 90:1–6 and A Mighty Fortress is Our God and Our God, Our Help in Ages Past. This week begins a new series looking at the hymns of our faith alongside Scripture. Winter tends to be an introspective time, and so our worship in January and February has become a time when we focus on “basics”—the core of our tradition. The hymns in the series are those that this congregation has sung consistently for at least the last decade. We want to point out what the hymns say about God and about us—even us specifically at Westminster. In this series, we both celebrate “old standard” hymns as well as introduce a new hymnal.
One of our longstanding commitments at Westminster has been supporting those with special needs, particularly those within the FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorder) community.
Raising awareness and creating a space of welcome, there are two groups that meet at Westminster: An FASD support group for those diagnosed with or passionate about the FASD community, and an FASD parents support group for those who have children with FASD.
It is with great excitement that the FASD support group at Westminster is getting more attention, and a new facilitator has been appointed! Michele Yaquinto is a full-time art teacher currently seeking her masters in clinical mental health counseling and will be serving as the new liaison for the young adult ministry.
“My desire for this group is to offer an opportunity to share, reflect on, and grow from unique life experiences together,” Michele said. “This will be a place to work on building successful relationships both within the group and the community. I am excited to be involved with this group and would encourage any individual who identifies as a young person with FASD symptoms to join.”
The FASD support group will meet regularly on the third Tuesday of each month, from 7:00–8:30p, in the youth space of the church. The FASD parents support group will meet at the same time in the conference room. Please contact Michele at email@example.com or 770-329-9563 with any questions or interest in the groups. Parents are free to contact Barb Wybrecht directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-241-9126.
Rev. David Baak
A sermon by Rev. David Baak on Isaiah 42:1–9 and Matthew 3:13–17 on The Baptism of the Lord Sunday. Matthew announces the ministry of Jesus in terms of his “bringing justice to the nations…” But the message is even more comprehensive, as Walter Brueggemann suggests, in that the “Creator’s intent is that the [whole] creation should be rehabilitated to full, fruitful function”—which surely involves us somewhere in the effort.
Join us this Sunday for The Baptism of the Lord Sunday and a sermon on Isaiah 42:1–9 and Matthew 3:13–17. Matthew announces the ministry of Jesus in terms of his “bringing justice to the nations…” But the message is even more comprehensive, as Walter Brueggemann suggests, in that the “Creator’s intent is that the [whole] creation should be rehabilitated to full, fruitful function”—which surely involves us somewhere in the effort.
We invite you also to come for the education hour at 9:40a for ‘The Story of Jonah—Who Gets to Judge?’
Bring a friend and join us as we celebrate creation and the Creator who rehabilitates it.
This week we begin a new series looking at the hymns of our faith alongside Scripture.
Winter tends to be an introspective time, and so our worship in January and February has become a time when we focus on “basics”—the core of our tradition.
The hymns in the series are those that this congregation has sung consistently for at least the last decade. We want to point out what the hymns say about God and about us—even us specifically at Westminster. In this series, we both celebrate “old standard” hymns as well as introduce a new hymnal.
Join us this Sunday at 8:30a and 11:00a as we sing, pray, worship, and learn together.
You’re invited to join us for conversation and reflection during the education hour from 9:40–10:40a every Sunday. Here’s the winter 2014 schedule:
January 12 • The Story of Jonah—Who Gets to Judge?
The children will begin work this month on their Spring Choir Musical, which explores the story of Jonah and the Ninevites (and the big fish too!). We often think of this as a sort of “kid” story, but there are some major concerns surfaced here about what we expect of God and how we think of redemption.
Leader: Sherrill Vore, minister for Christian education
January 19 • A Church With a Harpsichord!
We are fortunate to have a beautiful harpsichord here at Westminster! Meet in the sanctuary to learn about the history and special features of this instrument.
Leader: Helen Hofmeister, minister for music
January 26 • Discipleship: The Way of Jesus—session 1
We started our year considering what it looks like to be the People of God—what are characteristics that would identify such people? We have claimed and continue to explore the notion of what it means to claim the “people of peace” identity. Over three sessions in the next few weeks, we’ll consider both the comfort and challenge of claiming the identity of “followers.”
Leader: Sherrill Vore, minister for Christian education
February 2 • Discipleship: The Way of Jesus—Session 2
February 9 • Introducing Our New presbyterian Hymnal!
Meet in the sanctuary to learn about how the new Presbyterian Hymnal was devised—and to do some singing!
Leaders: Helen Hawley, minister for music, and Bruce Klein-Wassink, 2013 elder for music in 2013.
February 16 • Discipleship: The Way of Jesus—Session 3
February 23 • People of Peace in a City with Challenges: Guns, Gangs and Grand Rapids
When we spoke together about gun violence last fall we surfaced a number of questions about our own city to which we did not have ready answers. This week Mayor George Heartwell will join us to both provide some statistics and certainly, some reflections as to our challenges and our hopes.
March 2 • People of Peace Reaching Out in Community—Our Partnership with first Presbyterian church in Benton Harbor
A panel of people from Benton Harbor will reflect on their work in their neighborhood and the impact the partnership between First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbon and Westminster has had for that work.
March 9 • Exploring the Culture of Poverty and the Systems that Support It
This is a presentation that one of the members of 1st Presbyterian in Benton Harbor provides for those who come to work in that area. It is a reflective and thought-provoking look at the culture of poverty.