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Expecting Change

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on I Corinthians 3:1–9. We’ve been talking about Christian maturity, and there will indeed be change as a mark of that maturity. God is not finished with us yet, and everyone we know who is “mature” in Christ is still growing—no matter how old they are. As soon as we think we’ve learned all we need to learn, and we’ve decided that we are as in touch with God as we’re ever going to get, we stop growing and stop being in touch. Christian maturity thus includes a kind of humility that says, “I’m not there yet”—all the time.

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Trusting the Fire

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Lent Ash Wednesday
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Matthew 7:15–20 on Ash Wednesday. “Lent can be a dangerous time. People come to the church looking for discipline and a new way to live; they come to be challenged—prepared for the heartache and joy of the cross to come. The problem with Lent, however, is a direct outgrowth of this urgency: we contain the season to six weeks of doing good, rather than building a Lent that becomes a life.” ―Maryetta Anschutz (For this service, the lighting in our sanctuary was dimmed for ambiance, hence why the resulting video looks so dark.)

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A thank you note for our Valentine Bag Project

  Updates PWW Valentine Bag
Monday, March 3, 2014

We received a wonderful thank you note recently from Our Hope Association, in response to the Valentine Bag Project these women helped put together. Here’s what Our Hope had to say:

The women of Our Hope Association would like to express their most sincere gratitude to Westminster Presbyterian Church for the Valentine Gifts.

The support of Westminster and the meaning it brings to our women is immeasurable as they work to build a newfound sense of strength and confidence. Hidden away in an historic home in a West Michigan neighborhood, Our Hope Association provides a voice for women against a disease known for shame and silence.

The thoughtful donation from Westminster supports our mission of providing a dignified space to do difficult work that is rooted in honesty, healing and hope.

Let’s play softball!

  Updates softball
Monday, March 3, 2014

We are very happy to announce the start of summer softball! Westminster has two co-ed teams this season, both playing on Thursday evenings. Within this post you’ll find important info about the season.

Where we play: The Christian Rec Center

All games are played at the Christian Recreation Center, 3450 36th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. See it on Google Maps.

The CRC (or Rec Center) was formerly called the Christian Reformed Rec Center.

What you need: A glove

All you need is a glove. If you have softball bats, please bring them.

First game: Next Thursday

Our first game is next Thursday, May 15—with an intra-church matchup! Westminster Team A vs. Westminster Team B at 8:30p at the Rec Center on Diamond 1.

Rosters and schedules: Online

Rosters and schedules are available online.

Jerseys: Please order

If you did not play last year, please order your jerseys here.

Kuiper Orlebeke is once again graciously subsidizing the cost of our jerseys. If you played last year, you do not need a new jersey.


We are still working to determine final costs for jersey and team fees, but expect this cost will not exceed $25/person. If you have not yet repaid your CRC registration costs, we will contact you.

Go team!

Thank you for your energy around this recreational ministry! Looking forward to the mercies of the Lord, and maybe a few home-runs smile

Who doesn’t enjoy pie?

  Updates Youth Youth Ministry pie
Monday, March 3, 2014

Now through March 9, our middle and high school youth are selling pie kits from Grand Traverse Pie for $15; each kit includes one apple, cherry, and blueberry pie. To purchase a pie kit, contact any youth group member. Pies will be delivered on March 30.

This fundraiser will benefit the Westminster youth ministry summer trips to South Manitou Island and the Montreat Youth Conference. For further information, contact Shelly Boeve, youth ministry coordinator, at

Grace: Living with the End in Sight

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Revelation 4:9–11 and ‘Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.’ The book of Revelation is a testimony—a vision, a holy imagining. John is painting a picture; that’s the way with this strange language called “apocalyptic language.” He doesn’t communicate by making one logical point after the other; rather, he paints a picture—tells a story. He tries to describe to us what he sees, and what he sees is that in the end, Jesus is Lord. John starts at the very ending, and in the end, Jesus rules, Jesus reigns, Jesus is Lord. Like John, we too profess that Jesus is Lord—not just here when we join the church or become officers. This is how we “cast our crowns before him” now: by proclaiming him Lord, by proclaiming Love as the Lord of our lives.

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March Chimes: Identity in Christ

  Chimes Lent community food club food club
Friday, February 21, 2014

The March issue of Chimes is now available. In this month’s issue:

  • Our Lenten journey in 2014
  • Updates and pictures of the sanctuary roof
  • Food Club raises two-thirds of startup costs
  • Westminster joins refugee resettlement partnership
  • A new church: New members and their stories
  • Rev. Chandler Stokes: The meaning and features of Christian maturity
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Staff review for the congregation

  Updates Staff review personnel
Friday, February 21, 2014

The Personnel Committee requests your assistance in reviewing our staff. This is a regular, annual process to which anyone from the congregation is encouraged to participate.

NOTE: Your responses will be received by Ed VanderPloeg, elder for personnel, and reviewed by the Personnel Committee. While your responses may be shared with staff, no identifiable information about you (name, email, etc.) will be included.

Grace: Social Justice

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Matthew 25:31–46, and ‘God of Grace and God of Glory,’ part of our continuing series on the hymns of the church. Tom Long tells the story of chaplains at a university; one remarked how well the students were doing: “They tutor kids, work in the night shelter and soup kitchen, and protest apartheid.” But another said, “I was just thinking the one thing they lack is a vision of salvation. If you don’t have some vision of what God is doing to repair the whole creation, you can’t get up every day and work in a soup kitchen. It finally beats you down.” Maybe one reason Westminster has not left downtown is that, across generations, we built Camp Henry, Porter Hills, Ferguson House, Dwelling Place, WCDC, and the Downtown Food Pantry. And all throughout that time we’ve sun ‘God of Grace and God of Glory.’ The message of that hymn inspires our mission work—and the vision of salvation and God’s Kingdom that makes it possible each day.

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God in Christ: Incarnation

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sermon     Incarnation Christ
Sunday, February 9, 2014

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.

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Donate a hymnal as a gift to Westminster

  Updates hymnal Music
Monday, February 3, 2014

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.


Introducing the new Presbyterian hymnal

  Updates Worship hymnal Music
Monday, February 3, 2014

(from the February 2014 issue of Chimes)

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

This hymnal will help us as a congregation grow in our worship of God.

God the Creator: Grace and Sin

Rev. Chandler Stokes

Sunday, February 2, 2014

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.

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A Visible Sign of the New Humanity

  Updates Worship lgbt Ordination Task Force
Sunday, February 2, 2014

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.

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February Chimes: Our New Hymnal

  Chimes hymnal Mission roof Watanabe refugee Updates
Thursday, January 30, 2014

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
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