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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.

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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Westminster’s Watanabe Window to be part of art gallery exhibit

  Watanabe Updates
Tuesday, January 28, 2014

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.

The 2013 Annual Report and meeting

  annual meeting annual report 2013 saints Updates
Thursday, January 23, 2014

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.

Download the 2013 Annual Report Download the 2013 Financials

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.

Reintroducing our FASD support group

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 or 770-329-9563 with any questions or interest in the groups. Parents are free to contact Barb Wybrecht directly at or 616-241-9126.

This Sunday in Worship: The Rehabilitation of Creation

  Worship Baptism of the Lord
Friday, January 10, 2014

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 Sunday in Worship: Hymns: Tradition and Change

  Worship hymns Music hymnal new hymnal
Friday, January 10, 2014

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.

Adult Education Winter 2014

  Adult Education Education
Thursday, January 9, 2014

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.

Download the flyer

Worship and Communion

  Updates Worship communion
Tuesday, January 7, 2014

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

Let’s Eat Out!

The 7th annual  Primo Pasta Dinner • Sunday, January 26

You’re invited!
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 or 616-456-1456.

Our goal is to raise $5,000. Please contact Shelly Boeve at or 616-481-7475 with any questions.

This Sunday in Worship: The Land of Beginning Again

  Worship Worship
Thursday, January 2, 2014

This week, we offer a clean slate from 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.”

Join us at 8:30a and 11:00a this Epiphany Sunday as we celebrate the revelation of God the Son in Jesus Christ.

Valentine Day gift bag project

  PWW Valentines Day
Monday, December 30, 2013

This will be the final year for the Valentine Day Gift Bag project for women in transitional housing; Presbyterian Women of Westminster (PWW) is planning on making it the best ever!

To celebrate the end of this very meaningful project, PWW is hoping for many contributions. Look for the red donation box by the coat room, and save Saturday morning February 8 for assembly and delivery. We also accept monetary donation for the many items we purchase for the gift bags.

Any questions? Please contact Jane Hedges at 616-450-8117.

Take a Step: MLK celebration 2014

  Martin Luther King MLK Heartside Mission
Monday, December 30, 2013

Building our Community: Take a Step

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

The first step in building community is being together.
Join us in the Gathering Place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 20, from 2:00–4:00p for the fifth annual Westminster–Heartside Martin Luther King Day Celebration.

The second step in building community is sharing something of yourself with others and receiving what they offer to you.
Come share music, art, poetry and prayer. Be a performer. Be in the audience. Be here.
This year church members will be joined by Heartside and Kendall Artists, musicians from True North campus ministry and musicians and poets from the neighborhood.

Come to the Mission Action Table on January 5–19 to find out how you can participate. Whether you are a musician, writer, artist, reader, listener, enjoyer or not sure what you can contribute, stop by and we’ll talk!

This Sunday in Worship: Hide and Seek

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Join us this Sunday—only one service at 10:00a—for a sermon on Matthew 2:13–23.

The hidden years of Jesus Christ seem like a missed opportunity to address the journey from adolescence to adulthood. Why is it that these years go missing in the gospels? What can we learn from the hidden years? And what will we find when seeking Jesus Christ where he may be found? Join us as we explore these mysteries alongside beautiful music and liturgy as we continue our worship of our Lord.

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