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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-329-9563 with any questions or interest in the groups. Parents are free to contact Barb Wybrecht directly at email@example.com 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.
This past year, the Worship Committee took a discerning look at the many elements of our worship services at 8:30a and 11:00a. Knowing that the proclamation of the Word—the sermon—is the cornerstone of a Reformed faith worship service, we began our work around that.
“What is happening in the life of the church?”
This is a question we hear a great deal from our congregation. The value of the information shared on Sunday mornings remains a primary communication tool. The worship service, especially at 11:00a, includes many instances of “sharing the life of the congregation,” e.g. minutes for mission, stewardship, recognition of service, dedication of members/missions, etc. In addition to these moments, we also include our fantastic music program—which include participation from all ages. The Sunday morning service provides all of us a platform for our living faith in the world.
Keeping in mind all these elements, the Worship Committee wanted to distinguish between the services at 8:30a and 11:00a in order to maintain the sermon, and to allow additional flexibility in the timing of 8:30a service. The intention was to celebrate communion weekly at 8:30a, and maintain purposeful placement of communion at 11:00a when the sermon included an invitation to the table.
The Worship Committee heard from the congregation of regular 8:30a attenders that the 8:30a service—while reverent and respectful—felt vacant from the congregational interaction they embraced prior to the introduction of weekly communion. Considering this input and other input it received, the Worship Committee heard and adjusted the 8:30a service. The 8:30a service worship now includes the sacrament of communion on the first Sunday of every month as before, rather than weekly. Most other elements of the 8:30a service remain unchanged.
The placement of communion at the 11:00a service still remains a question. During Advent, we did not celebrate communion on the first Sunday, nor did we celebrate communion during Lent—other than during the Maundy Thursday service. No other element of the 11:00a changed during these parts of our calendar year.
The Worship Committee continues the work of defining the elements of the service for this year, and welcomes the input of the congregation.
The PCUSA Book of Order states that “whenever the Lord’s Supper is observed, it shall be preceded by the reading and the proclamation of the Word.” It is to be celebrated regularly and frequently enough to be recognized as integral to the Service for the Lord’s Day.
Pray with us as we explore the timing of the celebration of this sacrament.
In Christ’s name,
David Abbott, elder for worship
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on 2 Corinthians 5:16–21 to start the year: “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” The title for this week’s sermon, ‘The Land of Beginning Again,’ comes from a poem of the same name by Louisa Fletcher, which begins this way: “I wish that there were some wonderful place In the Land of Beginning Again. Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches And all of our poor selfish grief Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door and never put on again.”
The 7th annual • Primo Pasta Dinner • Sunday, January 26
Dinner and Entertainment from 5:30-7:30p
Westminster Presbyterian Church Dining Room
Suggested donation: $15 per person or $50 per family
Join us and support our high school Montreat trip and Kirk Singers tour. If you can’t make the dinner, pledges and donations are welcome as well.
RSVP by January 21 to Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-456-1456.
Our goal is to raise $5,000. Please contact Shelly Boeve at email@example.com or 616-481-7475 with any questions.