News & Updates
We are reaching out to let you know that Westminster Presbyterian Church received a threat of violence that led us to close our doors yesterday. However, in close collaboration with law enforcement, we are fully open as usual today.
Late Monday afternoon, the Grand Rapids Police Department informed us that Westminster was listed as a primary “target” alongside other faith communities within a suspicious package discovered in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. We did not open our building yesterday (including Westminster Child Development Center) until we could learn more about the nature and severity of the threat. At this point in the open investigation, local and federal authorities have told us that Westminster does not appear to be in ongoing danger.
As we recently shared with you, Westminster is making every effort to be proactive in preparing for and responding to critical incidents. For a year now, Westminster has worked closely with Secure Education Consultants, a firm that designs customized emergency and critical incident response plans and training. Our staff and volunteers recently completed a lengthy, interactive safety training; WCDC staff did the same training specialized for their space. As of last week, printed emergency plans are posted around the building detailing various emergency responses, and we encourage you to review them. We also have trained volunteers serving on a security team every Sunday morning.
We are a downtown congregation with our doors open to our community during the week, always mindful of a balance between hospitality and security. We are steadfast in our commitment to creating a hospitable and gracious environment for our city and neighbors, while doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our staff and daycare families.
If you have any questions, please contact Heather Colletto, Director of Communication and Mission, at (616)717-5536 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A personal message from Rev. Chandler Stokes:
I’m in Texas leading an event for the denomination, but staff have kept me actively in the loop. My confidence in them has only grown through this incident, but it’s not easy to be away from you now. You are never far from my heart, and you have the prayers of the people here. I will be glad to be reunited with you. This type of threat is something that other perpetually marginalized faith communities have dealt with for a long time, far too often. We pray to continue our witness undeterred in our commitments to interfaith solidarity, justice, and peace among people. By God’s grace, we will continue to go into the world in peace, have courage, and hold on to all that is good.
Register online below:
The WPC Art Gallery is currently featuring the work of Alan Adsmond. Alan is a member of Rivertown Artists’ Guild whose watercolors have been juried into area art shows for many years. Alan studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art, served in World War II and then studied at Los Angeles Art Center school. He was employed as a commercial artist for 40 years and concentrates, in retirement, on watercolor landscapes, figure work and portraits.
This is an excerpt from a sermon by Rev. Chandler Stokes on January 29, 2017 and includes the letter we sent to the members of the four mosques in our city. The letter was signed by more than 260 members of Westminster.
Last Sunday, we were anticipating a gathering that occurred last Thursday at one of our local mosques. Members of all four local Islamic communities and a number of Christian communities were gathered. It was, in fact, a capacity crowd. And our Muslim sisters and brothers were very grateful for our presence. Each of the imams spoke of how moved they were to have us there, because, as I shared with you last week, they have felt afraid. We shared a meal. We talked. We laughed. They were greatly moved to have us there, and I was also moved by the gathering and by the words of my fellow clergy—Muslim, Jewish, and Christian. When I was asked to speak, I talked about our history and why we were there. And then I said something like, “In my tradition I don’t have the authority to commit my congregation to anything, but I know their hearts, and I promise that we will stand by you. We will not abandon you.” Swept up in the moment, I testified, but I believe it would be deeply meaningful, if you could back me up on that one. I do know you, but let’s show them. Let’s bless them. The place was so small that we could have only a dozen of our folks there. It would be so great to send them lots more names. So, we have a letter, to which you can add your signature, if you would like. It’s very short; it’s addressed to the four Muslim congregations and their imams. It simply says:
We add our names to this letter to echo our delegation’s words of support to you at Thursday evening’s dinner—January 26, 2017.
We vow our support to you. As we work together with the Kaufman Interfaith Institute, we hope to back these words up with concrete and well thought out activity as plans develop.
We see you and we want you here. We love you and stand united with you. We are grateful to live with you in this community.
You are our neighbors. More than that, you are our brothers and sisters, and we are your sisters and brothers.
God bless you.
…you can add your name to the letter, if you’d like. Just words, but a self-involving gospel word that affects the hearer. As we have put the word of blessing on our lips today, so we seek also to incarnate this gospel word of blessing in our hands, as we write our support.
Related statement from the Presbyterian (PCUSA) Mission Agency (January 31, 2017)
The current featured artists at Westminster Presbyterian Church are sisters, Leilei and Beibei Chen. The pieces on display feature spheres in their fragile environment series. The spheres represent both the planet and the microscopic images of pollutants in the atmosphere. Some of the spheres include images of Chinese philosophers who spoke of the importance of a balance between the physical and natural environment. The pieces will be on display from February through April on the walls in the Gathering Place.
The Volume 2016, #1 issue of Chimes: The Geography of Mission is now available. In this issue:
- Introducing Linking Lives
- Rev Stokes Letter: Mission 2016
- The Geography of Mission
- Mission Committees
- Camp Henry Forest Management
- Black Lives Matter
- Much more!
Pastor Abel Mirabal Padilla is visiting from Cuba—he is the pastor of the Guines Presbyterian Church (outside Havana). Abel is in the United States visiting several partner congregations in Illinois and New York as well, who, along with Westminster, help support the ministry of the Guines congregation. Pastor Abel will participate in the services this Sunday and will hold a “Meet and Greet” time at 9:30 a.m.—everyone is welcome!
Interested in joining Westminster? Absolutely everyone is welcome! If you'd like to become a member or simply want to learn more about the life and mission of Westminster, our next New Member Orientation is scheduled for Wednesday, October 7 & 14, 5:30-8:30p. New Members will be received during the 11:00 worship service on Sunday, October 18. To register, contact Susan Jennings at email@example.com or 616-717-5542.
The Dining Hall is the oldest building at Camp Henry. Originally built in 1936, it has had additions added to all four sides. Every camper or guest that has ever been to Camp Henry has utilized this same iconic building.
During the Winter of 2015/2016 a significant renovation of the Dining Hall will take place – increasing the capacity from 187 to 300 and providing a brand new commercial kitchen, new bathrooms, a walk up snack window, and a new conference room – as well as over 3,000 square feet of additional storage.
We are thrilled to be able to retain the current Dining Hall while at the same time making these significant and necessary additions.
The August issue of Chimes is now available. In this month's issue:
- Focus on Worship: Confirmation Series Fall 2015
- Educational Programming
- Much more!
We now have a plan for the construction being funded by your MissionMatters pledges, and work is moving forward.
At the joint Session and Trustees meeting on Monday, June 1, the leadership of Westminster developed a plan for the construction being funded by the capital campaign:
Phase 1, replacement of the Sanctuary roof, was completed in 2014.
Phase 2, remodeling and expansion of the Camp Henry dining hall, will begin in October 2015.
Phase 3, work at 47 Jefferson Street SE, including remodeling of and improvements to the Westminster Child Development Center, the Downtown Food Pantry, and the Columbarium, will begin in spring 2016.
Because building permits could not be obtained before July 6, and because construction at 47 Jefferson is estimated to take five months, this three-phase schedule allows all construction to proceed at a reasonable pace and without impacting Westminster programs this fall.
We are now within reach of our goal to have 90 percent of the funds for the projects pledged or in hand before Phase 2 begins. The schedule also provides additional time for us to continue to seek outside grant money, such as that already pledged by the Frey Foundation.
As of June 1, 72 percent of the $2,500,000 goal has been met. With your prayerful support and pledges, we will soon have the additional 18 percent needed to begin construction of Phase 2. If you have not already made your pledge to MissionMatters, please do so as soon as possible. You can pledge online, contact the church office to have a pledge card mailed to you, or pick up a pledge card at church. Absolutely every gift matters.
Thank you for your participation, prayers, and pledges.
The High School Youth Group and Kirk Singers will be leaving for their Mystery Trip on Saturday, June 20. This year, they’re going to central Appalachia for a Mystery Trip of service and adventure. Whether they’re in the wilderness or the city, the surprises encountered each day will offer new opportunities for service, and to know God and themselves better. The Kirk Singers will be singing at various locations throughout their trip, including a Presbyterian Church on Sunday, June 21. Please keep the leaders and students in your prayers as they embark on this mysterious adventure!
|Tuesday||6/9/15||7:15||Manhattan Park||Rabid Bats||A|
|Tuesday||6/23/15||7:15||Manhattan Park||St. Stephens Martyrs||A|
|Tuesday||7/7/15||6:15||Manhattan Park||Micro Visions Inc.||H|
|Tuesday||7/14/15||7:15||Manhattan Park||Juust a Bit outside||H|
|Tuesday||7/21/15||8:15||Manhattan Park||Grace Episcopal||H|
|Tuesday||8/4/15||6:00||Manhattan Park||The Grass Stains||A|
|Tuesday||8/11/15||8:00||Manhattan Park||Team 3||A|
Manhattan Park is located at 3180 Cascade Rd SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506.
The 80th Community Good Friday service will be held at Central Reformed Church on Friday, April 3, from 12:00-2:00pm. The service will feature music from some of the finest soloists in the area, hymn singing and meditations on the Seven Last Words from the Cross. Participating churches are Westminster Presbyterian, First United Methodist, LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed, First (Park) Congregational, Fountain Street, the Cathedral of St. Andrew, and Central Reformed. A free-will offering will be taken for God's Kitchen. All are welcome -- come when you can, leave when you must.