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This Sunday in Worship: What About Joseph?

  Worship Advent Will Willimon virgin birth
Thursday, December 19, 2013

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.

Christmas Eve at Westminster

  Christmas Eve Christmas Advent
Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Absolutely everyone is welcome at Westminster for our three services of worship, music, and celebration on Christmas Eve:

  1. Family service at 4:30p with the Cherub and Carol choirs.
  2. Festival service at 8:00p with the Sanctuary Choir, Kirk Singers, and Alumni Singers.
  3. 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.

Full Christmas Eve details Map and directions

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This week at Westminster

  Updates Feminist Womanist winter weather Christmas Camp Henry
Monday, December 16, 2013

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 CampSpring Sweep, or Dad & Me Weekend!


Missed worship? Read the additional bulletin announcements and calendar here.

Severe and Winter Weather Policy

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:

Online and social media:

This Sunday in Worship: Has Nothing Changed?

  Worship Advent
Friday, December 13, 2013

This Sunday in worship: Has Nothing Changed?

We’ll worship with a sermon on Matthew 11:2–6. John hears what’s going on with Jesus; he looks around and says, “Has nothing changed?” So, John asks Jesus if he’s the one. But John already said earlier that Jesus is the one—he’s made his confession of faith, and now he’s wavering. He’s saying, “I thought you’d be liberating us; I’m still in prison.” Jesus says, “This is what’s going on: Mercy, healing, and hope.” Maybe John was hoping for something more …and aren’t we, too?

We’ll also have wonderful music and reflection on this third Sunday of Advent. Join us as we anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ the Lord this Advent season.

This week at Westminster

  Updates Advent Christmas Education Wpa Christmas Eve
Monday, December 9, 2013

Bring your ornaments

As part of our Advent celebration, we invite you to share an ornament from your family tree. If you’re willing to share an ornament and its story, put it on the Christmas tree in the sanctuary and bring the story to Chandler. (Please be sure the ornament is labeled with your name and isn’t too fragile or valuable.)

Thursday: WPA luncheon

You are invited to the Westminster Presbyterian Adults’ Christmas luncheon this Thursday, December 12, at Porter Hills in the Meeting House—11:30a punch bowl and 12:00p luncheon. The EGRHS Madrigals, led by Dr. James Borst, will entertain us with accapella Christmas songs. For reservations, please contact Jan Dildine at or 616-866-9281.

Christmas service schedule

Sunday, December 22: Regular worship at 8:30a and 11:00a.
Christmas Eve: Family service at 4:30p with the Cherub and Carol choirs; a festival service at 8:00p with the Sanctuary Choir, Kirk Singers, and Alumni Singers; and a candlelight service with communion at 11:00p. Nursery care will be provided at 4:30p and 8:00p.
Sunday, December 29: Only one service at 10:00a.

No children’s education/choir hour until January

There will be no children’s education/choir hour on December 15, 22, or 29. In its place, Sherrill Vore has developed an educational resource for families to use at home during Advent. If you did not receive a copy, please contact her at or 616-717-5541.


Missed worship? Read the additional bulletin announcements and calendar here.

This Sunday in Worship: Nothing to Fear?

Join us this Sunday as we continue our ‘What Love Requires’ Advent series and look at the familiar story of Luke 2:8–14.

The angels in the Christmas story say to the shepherds, “Don’t be afraid.” One of our responses to fear is ritual and its formative, creative, life-giving role in our lives. We’re called to fashion a meaningful response to God, and in doing so we become a part of the story of God. We’re not here simply to watch or be the audience; instead, we’re making this happen—together.

We’ll have wonderful music to accompany our worship. At 8:30a, Andrew Wilkinson will play the classical recorder with Janlee Richter on harpsichord, and at 11:00a, the Cantus, Cherub, and Carol childrens choirs will sing, and the Chapel Ringers will ring handbells. Be sure to come early to get a good seat!

This week at Westminster

  Updates Music Christmas Advent suicide Camp Henry
Monday, December 2, 2013

Sunday at 7:00p: Christmas concert

Join us for the annual Westminster Christmas concert this Sunday, December 8, at 7:00p. The Sanctuary Choir, Kirk Singers, and orchestra will perform selections from Handel’s Messiah and African-American spirituals, together with our new harpsichord, as well as a sing-along of traditional carols by the congregation. A freewill offering will be collected, and nursery care will be provided.

Wednesday: WOW! family movie night

This Wednesday, December 4, bring the family and come for dinner at 5:30p followed by The Muppet Christmas Carol at 6:00p; the movie runs about 80 minutes long and is appropriate for ages 5–6+.

Conversation about suicide

Two weeks ago in worship, Rev. Stokes addressed questions related to suicide, and offered a time when we might gather to talk openly about a very difficult and taboo subject. It is a subject that needs light. This Wednesday, December 4, at 6:00p, two therapists from our congregation will lead a conversation about how suicide has touched our lives. Please join us.

Huge savings on Camp Henry registration!

Are you as excited as these guys for summer camp? Westminster members who register by Friday (December 6) will save $80 for week long camps or $40 for day or mini camps. Think of it as a Cyber Monday sale for your summer plans! Even if you’re unsure of your summer schedule, register anyway to take advantage of this significant discount: View the 2014 camp sessions and register online!

This Sunday in worship: What Love Requires

  Worship Advent
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Join us this Sunday as, together, we look at Isaiah 2:2–5 and begin the Advent journey.

We sometimes have a hint or an echo of something profoundly beautiful—something of God in this life—and it’s important to seek it out. But, by and large, the world is not the way it’s supposed to be. To this situation, Isaiah offers God’s promise of love, and God also brings us love in Jesus Christ. Love: That’s it. That’s what we're to be looking for, seeking out, witnessing and witnessing to: Love.

We’ll hear music from the Sanctuary Choir at 11:00a, sing a song from the new hymnal, and have a discussion of Catching Fire, the second movie in The Hunger Games trilogy, during the 9:30a education hour.

This week at Westminster

Sunday: Hanging of the Greens

Join us this Sunday, December 1, as we decorate our church home to welcome the coming of Christ. We’ll have the opportunity to listen, learn, play, and create crafts to share or take home; worship and a light dinner will be offered. RSVP to Sherrill Vore or Rev. Katherine Baker.

Relief for the Philippines

The Worldwide Ministries Committee (WWMC) is sending $5,000 to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance for the Philippines. WWMC invites you to add to that—send your contributions to the office this week, designated for disaster relief, and we will send our money the first week of December.

Christmas concert

Save the date: Join us Sunday, December 8, at 7:00p for selections from Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and African-American spirituals by the Sanctuary Choir, Kirk Singers, and orchestra, directed by Helen Hofmeister Hawley, as well as a sing-along of traditional carols by the congregation.. A freewill offering will be collected, and nursery care will be provided.

December Chimes: The Light of Worship

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

  • How and why we worship
  • Our music program
  • Resources for Advent
  • Youth ministry assessment
  • Christmas Joy offering
  • Core mission updates
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This Sunday in worship: Thanksgiving

  Worship Thanksgiving
Monday, November 18, 2013

The annual, national Thanksgiving Day is a metaphor for thanksgiving as a daily practice of our faith for our time.  Both can be responses to the message of this, the last Sunday of the liturgical year—the Reign of Christ Sunday. Come for a sermon on Colossians 1:11–20.

We’ll hear wonderful music from the Action Brass quintet at both services and the Sanctuary Choir at 11:00a.

Join us this Sunday as we celebrate—and give thanks for—the reign of Christ.

This week at Westminster

  Updates Wow EaRN Westminster Works Feminist Womanist Theology
Monday, November 18, 2013

Tuesday: Employment networking event

The EaRN/Westminster Works program invites you to NetWork 2 NewWork, an employment networking event, on Tuesday, November 19, from 5:00–8:00p! Everyone is welcome to attend this free professional gathering focused on networking and building careers. RSVP at Space is limited to the first 100 participants.

Wednesday: WOW! with Feminist/Womanist theology

Join us this Wednesday for Westminster on Wednesday (WOW!). Come for dinner at 5:30p, and stay for conversation with friends, or join the Feminist and Womanist Theology discussion group at 6:00p for “The Real Housewives of Abraham: Sarah and Hagar, Dueling Matriarchs,” a dialogue about the women and feminist voices in the bible, throughout history, and in our public spheres.

Saturday: Catching Fire

People who would like to follow up on this month’s WOW! viewing of The Hunger Games can gather to see its sequel Catching Fire at Celebration Cinema North. We’ll gather in the lobby at 2:15p for a 2:45p showtime on Saturday, November 23. Purchase of tickets online in advance of that day is encouraged. We’ll discuss the movie during the education hour on Sunday, December 1.

Report from Ministry Architects

  Updates Youth Youth Ministry Ministry Architects
Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ministry Architects, a church consulting group, recently concluded a three-day assessment of Westminster’s youth ministry. The group presented the church with a 26-page report about the ministry, its strengths, and its needs.

For the most part, Ministry Architects feels “the youth ministry at WPC is doing extremely well.” In fact, Sara Bailey, the consultant on-site, described our church as “great.” Bailey continued by saying “Unlike the title of Collin’s book, Good to Great, in which he speaks of companies moving from being ‘good’ companies to being ‘great’ companies, the youth ministry at Westminster is already at ‘great.’ The church is ready to make a leap from a great youth ministry to a top-notch youth ministry.” In a time of transition, this is music to our ears!

So what makes Westminster’s youth program great? Some of the current strengths listed in the report are: The exceptional youth at WPC, very dedicated volunteers, consistent and established programming, youth choirs, and the collaborative staff. Given the much beloved youth ministers recently left the staff, the overall climate surrounding our youth ministry is quite positive.

How do we become a “top-notch” youth ministry? According to Ministry Architects, we work through the obstacles sited in the report collaboratively to strategically move the youth ministry forward. Some of those obstacles include: understanding the challenges most youth ministries face, missing framework in the infrastructure of the youth ministry, long term goals to lead us forward, clarification of roles with the new staffing structure, unrealistic expectations for our new youth minister, and the physical youth space.

Where do we go from here? Ministry Architects concluded their visit with very detailed recommendations and an outline on how to strategically implement their recommendations. We will continue to pray and process all the information presented. In the meantime we continue along our path, the right path, which is all “great” stuff!

Read the full Ministry Architects report

This Sunday in worship: Praise

  Worship Praise Sermon
Monday, November 11, 2013

Psalm 8 declares, “You have set your glory above the heavens.” Praise, praise, praise—that our lives may be an expression of praise. We often say during worship, “It is right to give thanks and praise,” which is a doxology—a word that means “to speak praise.” Doxology does not deny the pain or other realities of the world, nor does it withdraw and ignore the pain, suffering and grief that await when worship ends. Just as worship names that which is worthy, it also dismisses the competing claims upon our loyalty.

Our music, too, will be full of praise: Westminster members Linda and Roger Nelson will play string music at both services along with our new harpsichord, and then at 11:00a the Cherub Choir, Carol Choir, and Sanctuary Choir will sing together.

And fon’t forget us at 9:30a for roundtable conversations! We’ll consider if violence is ever justified, and if Jesus always condemned violence.

Finally, follow on to the dining room for a special meeting after the 11:00a service to elect the newly-formed Youth Minister Search Committee (YMSC).

Bring a friend or neighbor and join us Sunday as we celebrate and give praise to the God who created and sustains us.

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