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.
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.
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.
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!
Rev. Katherine Baker
A sermon by Rev. Katherine Baker 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.
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.
Rev. Chandler Stokes
A sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on Matthew 1:18-25. A student once asked theologian Will Willimon if she had to believe in the Virgin Birth to be a Christian. “No you don’t,” he said, “But if we can get you to swallow that without choking, there’s no telling what we can get you to believe. Come back next week, and we’ll try to persuade you that the meek will inherit the earth, that it is better to give than to receive, that your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions, and that it’s not nations, empires, or the United States, but God who rules the world. We start you out with something fairly small, like the virgin birth, then work you up to even more outrageous assertions.”
Join us as we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent and plumb one of the mysterious stories in the Advent journey and look at Matthew 1:18-25.
A student once asked theologian Will Willimon if she had to believe in the virgin birth to be a Christian. “No you don’t,” he said, “But if we can get you to swallow that without choking, there’s no telling what we can get you to believe.”
“Come back next week,” Willimon continued, “and we’ll try to persuade you that the meek will inherit the earth, that it is better to give than to receive, that your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions, and that it’s not nations, empires, or the United States, but God who rules the world. We start you out with something fairly small, like the virgin birth, then work you up to even more outrageous assertions.”
We’ll also have wonderful music and reflection, so gather with us as we anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ the Lord this Advent season.
Absolutely everyone is welcome at Westminster for our three services of worship, music, and celebration on Christmas Eve:
- Family service at 4:30p with the Cherub and Carol choirs.
- Festival service at 8:00p with the Sanctuary Choir, Kirk Singers, and Alumni Singers.
- Candlelight service with communion at 11:00p.
Nursery care will be provided at 4:30p and 8:00p. Attendance at the 8:00p service is usually very high, and we advise you to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance for seating in the sanctuary. Additional seating will be available in the chapel for all services.
Wednesday: Feminist and womanist theology
Join an intergenerational dialogue in the chapel from 6:00–7:30p. This week’s conversation will center around “Golden Girls: Naomi and Ruth, In-Laws and In Between.” Join our intergenerational dialogue on the stories two women integral to each other’s redemption and survival.
Please note: No childcare or dinner this week.
Give the gift of Camp this Christmas
Are you looking for the perfect gift to give to your loved one at Christmas? Consider giving the gift of camp—register them for summer camp 2014—or sign them up for one of our upcoming events: New Year’s Eve Camp, Spring Sweep, or Dad & Me Weekend!
Missed worship? Read the additional bulletin announcements and calendar here.
As we enter into another snowy Michigan winter, it’s a good time to review Westminster’s and WCDC’s severe and winter weather policy—particularly where and when to find information about whether or not church events are cancelled.
Westminster’s severe weather policy
During severe weather, Westminster staff will monitor weather broadcasts to determine the appropriate course of action; assume the church is open unless otherwise specified.
If the church is closed, announcements will be made by the following times:
|Day of week||When announced|
|Sunday worship||By 6:30a|
|Morning events||By 6:30a|
|Afternoon events||By 10:00a|
|Evening events||By 4:00p|
Westminster Child Development Center (WCDC)
WCDC typically follows Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS):
- If GRPS is closed, WCDC will also be closed.
- If GRPS is closed for non-weather reasons (inservice or holiday breaks), but the weather is inclement, WCDC may close.
- If GRPS closes only afternoon kindergarten, WCDC will remain open.
Where to find closing information
Radio and television stations:
- WOOD-AM (AM 1300) (woodradio.com)
- WOOD-TV NBC 8 (channel 8) (woodtv.com)
- WZZM ABC 13 (channel 13) (wzzm13.com)
- WMXI FOX 17 (channel 17) (fox17online.com)
Online and social media: