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Who is Jesus?

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Sermons
Sunday, October 12, 2014

Knowing who Jesus is helps us understand how to be stewards of our lives, how to be good caretakers of the amazing human life we have each been given. And being in relationship with Jesus, that is, knowing Jesus, not just who he is, pursuing this question fully, also empowers us to become good stewards. That's a lot. Really? Is that really possible?

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10,000 Places, and More…

Rev. Jen A. Porter

Sermon     Sermons
Sunday, October 5, 2014

10,000 places, and more..." Acts 8:26-40 The Ethiopian Eunuch asks Philip some central questions about faith: Am I included? It this word for me, today? Churches around the world proclaim on World Communion Sunday that we are all connected. We come to this table with our innumerable differences to the one- and through the one- who unites us all. To the table and out into the world, we are all part of the answer that Christ gives.

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Worship Schedule for October

  Worship Worship Blog
Wednesday, October 1, 2014


10,000 Places, and more…

October 5—The 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Rev. Jen Porter preaching
Acts 8:26-40


Who is Jesus?

The Stewardship of a Human Life
October 12—The 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Third Graders receive their Bibles
Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching on Jesus Christ
John 1:1-5, 14
And the Word became flesh…
—John 1:14


Where Did All This Come From?

The Stewardship of Creation
October 19—The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reception of New Members
Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching on the Creator
Genesis 1:1-4
And God said, “Let there be light; and there was light.”
—Genesis 1:3


How Do I Work This?

The Stewardship of What We Have Received
October 26—The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reformation Sunday Stewardship Dedication Sunday
Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching on Scripture & Spirit
2 Peter 3:14-18
So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,
speaking of this as he does in all his letters.
There are some things in them hard to understand…

—2 Peter 3:15-16



Stewardship: A Life Given By God (October 12-26)

  Worship Worship Blog
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Worship 2014
Within our Series on Confirmation:

Confirmation: Questions for a Lifetime of Faith


We have a three-week section devoted to Stewardship—

Stewardship: A Life Given By God (October 12-26)

Some years ago the following short hymn text was commissioned by Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Throughout this confirmation series, we are singing this as a response during the presentation of the offering. It is particularly appropriate to the stewardship section of the confirmation series. These words say what may of us feel to be the way that God has blessed us, as we return our gifts to God on Sunday morning:

For the life that you have given,
for the love in Christ made known,
with these fruits of time and labor,
with these gifts that are your own:
here we offer, Lord, our praises;
heart and mind and strength we bring;
give us grace to love and serve you, 
living what we pray and sing.


The devotions, which I prepared for the October Chimes are also closely linked to the stewardship theme. The October issue of Chimes is available here.

October Chimes: Westminster Membership, Stewardship & News

  Chimes food pantry Mission Staff
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The October issue of Chimes is now available. In this month's issue:

  • Educational Programs
  • Membership at Westminster
  • Staff Updates
  • Core Missions
  • Downtown Pantry
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WPC Deli

  News Updates WPC Deli ArtPrize
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The WPC Deli will be Sunday, October 5 following the 11:00a service in the dining room, or you may get your lunch “to go.” The Middle School youth will once again be offering a deli style lunch in conjunction with ArtPrize. Suggested donation is $8; the money raised will go toward the MS youth group summer trip. Contact Shelly at with any questions.

Who Are We?

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Sermons
Monday, September 22, 2014

The Apostle Paul says, If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Is that when church happens? Is that who we are--those who suffer with those who suffer and rejoice with those who rejoice? There is something about the church that makes it always engaged with the joy and suffering of the world. There is something about the church that is always "sent" or "connected" and not isolated or separate.

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Fall Women’s Retreat

  Women's Retreat News Updates
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Hebrew word bara suggests the idea of shaping or creating.  It names the way in which we are invited into partnership with God in the shaping of our own lives and those around us.  During our retreat time this year Rev. Katie Baker will help us explore the biblical foundation of that invitation and some of the many ways that we embody that creative agency.  We may not be poets or painters, singers or actors but there are, in fact, countless ways that we see, process, and then respond creatively to our world, to one another, and to our God.  Come share your own experience and try out a new form!  There will be a number of workshop opportunities to learn and practice creativity via cooking, mandala-making, choral reading, knitting/quilting, photography and yes—painting and writing!  These will be led by members and friends of WPC.  Registrations are available NOW in the Gathering Place, by calling the church office, or by downloading the form here

Here are the details:
October 10—11, 2014
(late Friday afternoon through 4:00p Saturday)
Friday/Saturday fee is $51, Saturday only is $24. Partial Scholarship help available as needed
Please contact Susan Jennings regarding registration or with questions!, 717-5542

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Rev. David P. Baak appointed Executive Pastor

Monday, September 15, 2014

It is with great joy and a deep sense
of spiritual calling that the Personnel
Committee presents to you:

Rev. David P. Baak
for Executive Pastor of
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Grand Rapids, MI

"I am so very thankful that the Westminster congregation and staff will continue to be such an important part of my life and I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to develop this role, especially within a new, exciting staff configuration as we all grow into the future."
-Rev. David P. Baak, Executive Pastor

Personnel Committee Chair Introduction of Rev. David P. Baak as Executive Pastor

Announcement Text


Rev. David Baak has extensive administrative experience in the life of the Church, including here at Westminster, where he has served as the Designated Associate Pastor for Mission and Pastoral Care since January 2012.  He served in two similar roles for Westminster in 2005-2006 and again in 2008.  From 1983 – 2007 he was the Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism (GRACE). He also served congregations in New York City and Flint, Michigan and worked as an administrator in criminal justice system pre-trial alternative programs in Flint and Salt Lake City, Utah.

During this interim period Dave has led the development of the Pastoral Care Team and the Hospitality Committee and has provided staff support for the Deacons and for the several mission committees as they explored new “participation” opportunities. He is the WPC representative and the convener of the Food Club collaborative development team and is the facilitator of a committee currently exploring counseling services available to our members. He has preached 10-12 times a year, including at Porter Hills and Camp Henry; has been a regular sanctuary worship leader; and, has worked closely with the administrative and facilities staffs. 

Rev. Baak is active in the community as a member of the planning committee for the “Interfaith Understanding” effort in Grand Rapids and has been the convener of its Congregations Council. He is a member of the Community Relations Commission of the City of Grand Rapids and of the Kaufman Interfaith Institute Advisory Committee (at Grand Valley State University).  He served two terms as an ecumenical appointee to the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

David is a past moderator of the Commission on Christian Unity for the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and served as one of its delegates to the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA and several of its committees for a number of years. In 2010 he assisted with local arrangements for the Uniting General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches. He has long worked with the issues of racial justice, particularly through the GRACE Racial Justice Institute, its Summits on Racism and the Partners for a Racism-Free Community (PRFC). He is a 1994 graduate of Leadership Grand Rapids and received its Distinguished Community Trustee Award in 2003.  In 2008 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Partners for a Racism-Free Community, in Grand Rapids.

David has served in Interim Pastor assignments with several congregations since 2004.  He is ordained clergy in the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and holds interim ministry credentials in several denominations. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary and received training in criminal justice administration at the University of Detroit; in ecumenical studies through Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan; and, in intentional transitional ministry through the Interim Ministry Network, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dave is married to Betty Zylstra who is a member and Deacon of Westminster and who is the Director of The Salvation Army Social Services.

Rev. David Baak's New Role

The Executive Minister position at Westminster Presbyterian Church is a three-quarter time contract staff appointment reporting to the Senior Pastor with primary responsibility for the administrative, communication, and support components of the church's life.

The areas of responsibility include:


Leadership of the administrative team; maintaining successful relationships with our core missions; serving as WPC representative to the Food Club; leadership in strategy and planning with the Head of Staff; and, serving as staff liaison to the Board of Trustees.


Providing leadership with the Communications Committee and the staff team for the effective communication of the mission and messages of Westminster; the coordination of communications policy, strategy, and planning; providing counsel to staff, session, trustees, and other lay ministries in communication; and, facilitating the free flow of information within the membership; to external audiences; and through social media.

Staff Support

Participating in worship leadership; providing pastoral care as needed and serving on the Pastoral Care Team; serving as head of staff when necessary; and providing informal mentoring for staff.

The Personnel Committee has created this position in response to the increased numbers, participation and complexity of the ministry of Westminster and the need to restructure our communications functions. The Personnel Committee and Rev. David Baak have agreed to a three-year contract for this appointment.

On Rev. David Baak's appointment...

"Dave has a deep and valuable understanding of our congregation and we are thrilled to have Dave providing leadership to our Communications efforts at Westminster."

~Peter Larson, Chair of Communications


"Dave's wealth of experience as a pastor, administrator and community leader coupled with his devotion to and knowledge of Westminster make him ideally suited for this new role".

-Ed Vander Ploeg, Chair of Personnel


"The great success of the Ministry Task Force to 'put our arms around Camp Henry, WCDC, and the Food Pantry,' and our bringing a lot of their administration in house, combined with our adding program staff over the last five years, has increased the administrative load significantly. Personnel rightly perceives some of Dave's many, many gifts in that area. And our communications folks say that there is great wisdom in putting that 30,000 ft. view part of the communications responsibilities into his hands. I couldn't be happier. I trust Dave with my life. He is a calm and gracious mentor to many on the staff, and I am very, very glad that he will still be a part of the team."

-Rev. Chandler Stokes, Senior Pastor & Head of Staff

Rev. Jen A. Porter Called to be Associate Pastor

Monday, September 15, 2014

With great enthusiasm, deep satisfaction, and a clear sense of the Spirit,
the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee unanimously presents:
Rev. Jen A. Porter
for Associate Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church
Grand Rapids, MI.

"I believe that the Spirit isn't stagnant but continues to bring new life and direction to Christ's body today and that I am being called to a context that is looking for what that might be and how we might respond faithfully together. I feel called to participate in discipleship, in encouraging congregational giftedness and leadership, and in continuing to delight in the amazing privilege of bringing the good news to God's people…"
-From Rev. Jen A. Porter, Call to Ministry

Videos from the Congregational Meeting

The APNC formally nominates Rev. Jen Porter as a candidate for the Associate Pastor Position.
Rev. Jen Porter is unanimously approved as Associate Pastor by the Westminster Congregation


Rev. Jen Porter comes to us from Spring Lake Presbyterian Church, a 500-member congregation in our Presbytery, where she has served as Associate Pastor. In that role, she has served as a generalist, with significant experience in both pastoral care and mission. She is a graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary.

Jen on where she is growing in ministry:

"I am eager to find a setting where Frederick Buechner's beautiful insight about ministry can be explored. '[your call is]…where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.' Not a smooth or comfortable process; yet life-giving and Spirit-filled! I believe that I am called into an associate pastor role. I love to work collaboratively and then take leadership in an area. I love staying open to new seasons of ministry within a congregation and stepping forward with passion and energy."

Tributes from the APNC

“It was a blessing to work on this committee and learn so much about the church and the people that lead us. This service gave me the opportunity to view the ministries of many of God’s wonderful shepherds and to speak to folks all over the country about how they lead the faithful. I am so pleased we found such a talented candidate to fulfill Westminster’s vibrant faith leadership.”

-Harry Coffill

“Jen brings a genuine and natural care and concern for each individual. She is able to focus on one person at a time. Her prior experience combined with her energy to learn and create will be a blessing to WPC and she will contribute greatly to the ministry of Westminster.”

-Mary Van Skiver

“Jen Porter possesses a true heart for ministry and a love of God that is both strong and infectious.  That love and her joy and ability to serve are very evident and will translate into good things as she ministers among us and with us.  Her strong sense of “God’s Call” to this position is truly shared with all the members of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee.  It is with Great Joy and Thanksgiving that we present Jen to our Family of Faith here at Westminster.”

-Steve Baron

“I’m so grateful for the opportunity to nominate Jen Porter as our Associate Pastor. All through the process of meeting and getting to know Jen and her ministry, it is clear that she has a passion for her work and she cares deeply for the church. I believe her skills and abilities match up well with the areas she will be responsible for including Pastoral Care and Mission and her team approach to achieving success will be greatly appreciated by the rest of the Staff at Westminster”

-Scott Jennings

“It was a privilege to work with the members of the APNC and to see the remarkable commitment each person made to this process. We shared a love for this church and it carried us through some difficult times of discernment. I will always treasure the relationships and the support that we felt along the way as we tried to hold our congregation in our prayers, in our hearts and in our minds. Jen’s sincere faith, enthusiasm, humility and graciousness will be a gift to our congregation. I am certain."

-Julia de Jonge

“The APNC did an amazing job finding and luring great ministers to interview for this position. So, I had the privilege of interviewing fine candidates from all over the country--and talking to them about their gifts and the ministry of Westminster. In the end we found a terrific match. In Jen we have someone with great experience in both pastoral care and mission, but I think almost more importantly someone we have a pastor who really is eager to grow in ministry and develop her gifts for the sake of the Church.”

-Chandler Stokes

The Associate Pastoral Nominating Committee

Scott Jennings
Mary Van Skiver
Julia de Jonge
Steve Baron
Harry Coffill
Todd Helle
Bud Roegge
Barb Wisse
Elizabeth Topliffe

APNC announcement from 8/24/2014


Rev. Jen Porter delivers her first sermon

Why Are We Here?

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Sermons
Monday, September 15, 2014

When the confirmation process concludes, students are given an opportunity to join the church if they so discern. They are invited to join a particular church, one small part of the much larger Body of Christ—in our case, Westminster Presbyterian. What is the heart of this community? To what do we join ourselves in committing ourselves to this people?

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A Special Sunday in the Life of Westminster

Rev. Jen Porter

Sermon     Sermons
Sunday, September 14, 2014

This Sunday, our candidate for Associate Pastor will preach her candidating sermon. After the APNC’s twenty month’s search, we celebrate together their nominee and follow our worship service with a congregational meeting to consider formally the committee’s nomination.

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County Wide Food Drive

  News Updates food pantry
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Westminster Food Pantry is gearing up for one of their most important days of the year. The County Wide Food Drive is on the horizon, and will take place on October 11, 2014. We are seeking donations of non-perishable food items from now until that date. Donations can be brought directly to the church.

During this drive alone, Westminster’s Food Pantry receives several months’ worth of foods, including items such as canned vegetables and canned fruit. These donations are an enormous help in our quest to serve our clients. Please contact the Westminster Food Pantry with any questions by calling 616-717-5581.

Below is a list of suggested items to donate.


  • Canned meats
  • Beans & rice
  • Cereal
  • Pasta Sauce (no pasta at this time please)
  • Canned fruits & vegetables
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly
  • Beef Stew
  • Soups
  • Low fat/sodium foods
  • Personal care items (shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, etc.)
  • Household items (laundry soap, dish soap, etc.)

Flu Shot Clinic on Sunday

  Updates News
Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We have an opportunity to obtain flu vaccines for you and your family at WPC, Sunday, September 14. The flu clinic will be held from 9:30am to 12:30pm in the dining room. The injections will be $30. Cash, check or insurance is accepted for payment. Please bring your insurance or Medicare card with you this Sunday. Please consider this preventative measure for your health and the health of those around you. Help to minimize the outbreak of the flu for WPC this year.

Teaching the Gospel

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Sermons
Sunday, September 7, 2014

My colleague Leanne Pearce Reed writes: “’Teaching them to obey’ may sound coercive until we remember what he taught/commanded them: Be reconciled to one another. Love your enemies. Do not retaliate against evil. Pray, fast, and give alms but not in a way that draws attention to yourself. Above all, love God and your neighbor.” There is one of the keys to our teaching. The other comes in our remembering that education is rarely a matter of simply pouring information into the heads of students. “Education” comes from the Latin root educare: to draw out. But, especially in the church we are called to create a context for spiritual formation not merely the passing on of knowledge. So, Ellis Nelson’s point is apropos: Christian education is a matter of catching the aroma of hope in a place and among a people. Come and savor this experience of the gospel as we bless and commission our teachers for this holy work.

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