A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on 2 Kings 5:1–14, part of a short series about living in between the “I believe” and the “help my unbelief.” In this text, Naaman is healed by the prophet, and he returns to Syria, to the house of Rimmon—where he knows he will worship another god than the one that healed him. But before he goes, he takes some of Israel's soil with him. What’s he going to do with it? He might just sprinkle some in his shoes to remind himself of where and to whom he ultimately belongs. It’s not always safe to act like you belong to God—but it is faithful.
Dear Westminster members and friends,
We are asking you to support our mission at Camp Henry with a financial gift. While Camp Henry has experienced tremendous success over the past year with record enrollment, new capital improvements, and a strong staff, there is one area where Camp Henry is in significant, urgent need of support:
The Camp Henry Scholarship Fund is drastically underfunded.
Foundations grants for scholarships have been reduced by a combined $32,000, and we are committed to only offering scholarships once we have the money. We have 73 campers on a waiting list, who need financial assistance in order to attend Camp Henry this summer—and this number grows daily.
The current need is $29,967 to get those 73 campers into camp.
Because we are financially healthy, every dollar you send goes directly to the scholarship fund.
We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure money is not a barrier to attending Camp Henry this summer.
Camp Henry is not possible without the faithful and consistent support of WPC. We invite you to be a part of extending the Westminster Welcome at Camp Henry and to helping us move these campers off of the waiting list and into camp.
—Rev. Chandler Stokes, senior pastor, and Dr. Jeff “Jake” Jacobs, executive director of Camp Henry
Over the past few years, Camp Henry has moved from a sometimes tenuous part of our ministry to a vibrant, steady and fully integrated part of Westminster. And this summer we will also be ending one of our ministries up at Camp. We will be conducting Sunday services on Sundays at Camp Henry on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, but not during the rest of the summer.
It has become increasingly expensive and difficult for us to provide the appropriate coordination and staff support for these services. The overhead of energy, time and money, has become more than is sustainable or is in our best interests. Rev. Stokes will be preaching next Sunday up at camp, but we wanted you all to know of this change.
We are very happy to announce the start of summer softball! Westminster has two co-ed teams this season, both playing on Thursday evenings—and their season starts with a head-to-head matchup!
You can find the full schedule online.
All games are played at the Christian Recreation Center, 3450 36th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. See it on Google Maps. You can also find rosters for each team online. Games begin this Thursday and continue through July. Come cheer on your home church team!
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Matthew 1:18–25. We are called to live holy lives in an unredeemed world. We are baptized and given a name (“Christian”) that puts us in the world but not of the world. Living in “two worlds at once” is like being an immigrant in some ways; it is a metaphor for those who worship and serve the living God. We are in one sense never really at home.
A sermon by Ryan Donahoe on Mark 16:1–8. What do we do when we wake up the Monday after Easter and it appears as though the resurrection never happened—that the world is exactly the same as it was on Palm Sunday? The good news is that we know what to do—even when our faith is lacking, our doubt is overwhelming, and we don't comprehend what took place on Easter morning.
May 4: The second Sunday of Easter
Music: Hannah Nelson, clarinet at 8:30a, and the Sanctuary Choir at 11:00a.
Sacrament: Communion and reception of new members.
Sermon: ‘Fleeing in Terror,’ Ryan Donahoe preaching on Mark 16:1–8.
What do we do when we wake up after Easter and it appears as though the resurrection never happened—that the world is exactly the same as it was on Palm Sunday? The good news is that we know what to do—even when our faith is lacking, our doubt is overwhelming, and we don't comprehend what took place on Easter morning
May 11: The third Sunday of Easter
Music: Rev. Chandler Stokes at 8:30a, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse at 11:00a
Sacrament: Baptism at 8:30a
Sermon: ‘Namesake,’ Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching on Matthew 1:18–25.
“So, Gogol changes his name to Nikil. While not a name common in Kansas, it is a name that sets him free. But in time he discovers much to his amazement that there is too much Begali in him to be completely at home in America. He is … caught between two worlds….”
May 18: The fourth Sunday of Easter
Music: Min Jin, tenor and Hyun Ji, cello at 8:30a, and the Sanctuary Choir at 11:00a
Sermon: ‘Dirt in Our Shoes,’ Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching on 2 Kings 5:1–14.
Like Naaman, we all live in the shadow of the house of Rimmon. Call it Syria, Washington, DC, Jerusalem or Bethlehem, with an incarnational God, we are called not to rise above these houses, but to find the holy ground within them.
Summer worship schedule begins May 25: One service at 10:00a
May 25: The fifth Sunday of Easter
Music: The Sanctuary Choir
Sermon: Rev. Dave Baak preaching at Westminster, and Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching at Camp Henry.
June 1: The sixth Sunday of Easter
Sacrament: The Lord’s Supper
Sermon: ‘Closing the Distance,’ Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching on Matthew 26:47–58.
Blessed are the pure in heart? Peter walking on the water: he sinks but he’s out of the boat… It’s trust and a lack of trust at the same time. Faith is not black & white. We are a mixture. I follow, but only at a distance.
Westminster is searching for its next Minister to Youth and their families.
This is a full-time position with supervisory responsibility for a part-time High School director and a Middle School director. The youth ministry at Westminster is vibrant. Ministry Architects just came through and gave us glowing reviews. The ministry is already really working. It doesn’t need fixing; it just needs leadership.
We have a good and long history of youth ministry at Westminster. We’ve got about one hundred youth involved in the program and a number of highly dedicated lay leaders at the heart of it. We have regularly participated in the Montreat Youth Conference, and that helps define the ethos of our ministry: real, deep, authentic, life-giving and empowering.
You would be joining a cohesive and integrated staff—Minister for Educator, Minister for Music and Head of Staff all deeply committed to youth ministry. It’s a great position in a thriving congregation. Join us.
For more information, or to apply, please contact Joel Schultze, chair of the Youth Minister Search Committee. You can also learn more about the Youth Minister Search Committee in the April issue of Chimes, our congregational magazine.
Rev. Karen Stokes
Perhaps the most difficult teaching of Jesus is his admonition to ‘turn the other cheek.’ Using examples from her own ministry and from the films ‘Witness’ and ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Rev. Karen Stokes explores how we might return no one evil for evil.
The May issue of Chimes is now available. In this month’s issue:
- Celebrating the women of Westminster
- Presbyterian Women of Westminster reboots
- Feminist theology sparks a new conversation
- New cabins are being constructed at Camp Henry
- Our Heritage Sunday list of 50+ year members
by Rev. Chandler Stokes, senior pastor
On Easter, we read the story of Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus outside the tomb (in John 20:11–18).
In the sermon, I talked about the old King James translation. In that 17th century translation, after Mary recognizes Jesus, he says to her, “Don’t touch me.” It is a mistranslation, which was corrected in the RSV to read, “Don’t hold on to me.” The newer translation is very helpful.
On Sunday, I said that it is clear that Mary embraces Jesus; it is a sign of her relief and joy at seeing him after she lost him to death—and that her embrace is a sign of her love. All that is true, but there is more.
The old KJV translation suggests that there is something too holy about Jesus, something so otherworldly that Mary should not touch him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Especially in the narrative world of John’s gospel, Jesus, as the Word made flesh, is utterly touchable, embraceable. Consonant with that view, in the next story in John, Jesus explicitly invites Thomas to touch him, to touch his wounds. The divine invites our touching; the divine has become human flesh in Jesus. The old translation suggests some gulf between us and God; contrariwise, the Incarnation is the bridging of those gulfs.
As I said on Sunday, Jesus asks Mary to let go so that he can be in more than just one place, so that he can not only be present in a garden in Jerusalem but on the road to Emmaus and here in GR. That is the only reason he asks her to let go, so that he can be more available to more of his beloved children. He invites her holding him—love wants to hold on.
It is too bad that there has persisted a kind of reticence to touch the holy. In particular, we try to communicate this intimacy that the holy invites at the Lord’s Supper, but the promise of God's intimacy is always there. God has become flesh in Jesus; it is a promise of holiness in all of our lives. The preaching series that begins on May 4 will explore holiness in our lives and how we may seek holiness in an unredeemed world.
But, before that, we have one more exploration of the resurrection texts: this time Mark’s story in Mark 16:1-8, which will be lead by our talented intern Ryan Donahoe from Western Theological Seminary.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
Easter Sunday worship with Rev. Chandler Stokes preaching on John 20:11--18. God's love does not let go. God is able to hold on—death is no barrier to God's love. Even death on a cross.
Rev. David Baak
A sermon by Rev. David Baak on Luke 19:28–42. The sermon title this week is: "Faith In Spite of..." In spite of what? Whatever is going on, and so we explore what mature faith looks like. Jesus' lament in Luke was, "If only you knew what makes for peace." What helps us is that we know how the story turned out and we can apply that knowledge.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Micah 6:1–8. The gospel assumes at its root that we can mature, that we can be changed. But sometimes, in desiring change, the questions we’re pursuing aren’t the right ones. By asking better questions—“When did you feel loved today?” or “What can I do to help you right now?”—we can better come to terms with God’s call on our lives, just as the Israelites did from our text in Micah.
This week, six members of the Westminster family are in Minneapolis for the NEXT Church Conference, a national gathering of PCUSA leaders—many of them young—who are amplifying a common missional focus around which Presbyterian churches can collaborate. Representatives include staff (Rev. Katherine Baker, Christian Bell, and Rev. Chandler Stokes) and members of the Youth Minister Search Committee and Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (Joel Schultze, and Steve Baron and Todd Helle, respectively).
NEXT Church is a network of leaders across the Presbyterian Church (USA) who believe the church of the future will be more relational, more diverse, more collaborative, more hopeful and more agile. The National Gathering will take place March 31-April 2, 2014 in Minneapolis, MN and provide conversations about the theology, culture, and practice of ministry. This time will serve as a catalyst for new mission callings and support strong leadership in a time of adaptive change--particularly exploring themes on Leader-ship, Creativity, and Culture. Also, save the date and look for further details on our Midwest Regional Gathering (November 7-8, 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan).
For more information, visit NEXT Church’s website. http://nextchurch.net/