News & Updates
The Hebrew word bara suggests the idea of shaping or creating. It names the way in which we are invited into partnership with God in the shaping of our own lives and those around us. During our retreat time this year Rev. Katie Baker will help us explore the biblical foundation of that invitation and some of the many ways that we embody that creative agency. We may not be poets or painters, singers or actors but there are, in fact, countless ways that we see, process, and then respond creatively to our world, to one another, and to our God. Come share your own experience and try out a new form! There will be a number of workshop opportunities to learn and practice creativity via cooking, mandala-making, choral reading, knitting/quilting, photography and yes—painting and writing! These will be led by members and friends of WPC. Registrations are available NOW in the Gathering Place, by calling the church office, or by downloading the form here.
Here are the details:
BARA: WOMEN CONNECTING THROUGH CREATION
October 10—11, 2014
(late Friday afternoon through 4:00p Saturday)
Friday/Saturday fee is $51, Saturday only is $24. Partial Scholarship help available as needed
Please contact Susan Jennings regarding registration or with questions! firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-5542
The Westminster Food Pantry is gearing up for one of their most important days of the year. The County Wide Food Drive is on the horizon, and will take place on October 11, 2014. We are seeking donations of non-perishable food items from now until that date. Donations can be brought directly to the church.
During this drive alone, Westminster’s Food Pantry receives several months’ worth of foods, including items such as canned vegetables and canned fruit. These donations are an enormous help in our quest to serve our clients. Please contact the Westminster Food Pantry with any questions by calling 616-717-5581.
Below is a list of suggested items to donate.
- Canned meats
- Beans & rice
- Pasta Sauce (no pasta at this time please)
- Canned fruits & vegetables
- Peanut Butter
- Beef Stew
- Low fat/sodium foods
- Personal care items (shampoo, deodorant, toilet paper, etc.)
- Household items (laundry soap, dish soap, etc.)
We have an opportunity to obtain flu vaccines for you and your family at WPC, Sunday, September 14. The flu clinic will be held from 9:30am to 12:30pm in the dining room. The injections will be $30. Cash, check or insurance is accepted for payment. Please bring your insurance or Medicare card with you this Sunday. Please consider this preventative measure for your health and the health of those around you. Help to minimize the outbreak of the flu for WPC this year.
A new youth group leader has recently been hired at First Prez and is scheduled to begin work on September 14th. Gentry Phillips, the coordinator of the summer youth leadership program that ended in July, will meet regularly with our youth twice a month for Sunday school and once a month for youth group. We are excited for his arrival and our continued partnership with him.
In celebration of a new principal at Morton Montessori, a 1st-8th grade located across the street from First Presbyterian Church, colorful walls have been painted in the office by First Prez staff members Lee Ann H. and Julie Brien. The change of leadership has brought much joy into the community and enrollment has increased in the school. First Presbyterian Thursday night’s prayer group had the opportunity to walk around and pray throughout the school for two weeks in anticipation for a great school year. Praying with the principal and secretary was a remarkable time of joy, hope and love. We are all excited for this new partnership to grow and bloom throughout the year.
Have you ever wanted to know the woman sitting in the pew ahead of you or meet other women of Westminster? Join us for a Mexican Potluck Dinner Wednesday, September 10, gathering at 5:30 pm, with dinner at 6:00 pm in the dining room. Please bring a Mexican-type dish to pass. It will just be good food and fellowship! We hope you can join us.
The September issue of Chimes is now available. In this month's issue:
- Fall holds great promise: Education, Music & Programming
- Confirmation & fall preaching series
- Meet our new staff
- Sanctuary roof project updates
- WCDC support opportunities
- Summer at Benton Harbor
Summer has been an overflowing season, full of the glow of not just the sunshine, but of God’s goodness and grace here in Benton Harbor. By the grace of God, enough money was raised to send 10 beautiful and energetic youth to Camp Henry. The tears and hugs on departure day was only a small indication of how transformal this week has been to all of them- it is a week they will forever treasure in their hearts.
The summer youth leadership program, a class dedicated to helping and encouraging middle schoolers to stand up to peer pressure, instilling good values, and discovering God in new ways through art, new experiences and Bible lessons, came to a close and seven bright youth stood up during worship on Sunday July 27th to be recognized for their accomplishment in graduating the course. Now, a fun outing to Michigan Adventures is being planned for all the youth as we partner with a church in Niles and continue to build bridges and create lasting memories and relationships.
Many service learning groups have also stepped foot into our community and church during the past few months, leaving behind beautiful footprints that demonstrate their love and dedication to our humble community- a roof of a dedicated family was repaired, flower beds were weeded at a local community garden, walls were painted, and lives were touched as helping hands, steadfast feet, and giving hearts shared their time and gifts with us.
One Saturday in the month of July had special significance, as 20 local churches came together at a park and put together a Community Explosion- an afternoon of food, fun, music, face paint, prayer, worship, speakers and raffles. It was a witness that we were not going to let the gangs run the streets of Benton Harbor and that other alternatives for the youth are available. It was a true joy to witness so many inspiring moments throughout the summer months.
Now, the air is bustling as a new pace is set with kids going back to school, summer vacation coming to an end, and the season slowly beginning to show signs of a new and beautiful change. The community of Benton Harbor continues its journey too, as each individual and each story is weaved into God’s bigger picture. Here at First Prez, we are gearing up for the fall season as we face many big decisions that cannot be taken lightly. There is a growing number of youth involved in some way or capacity in our church and it is our hope, desire and dream to not let this spark fizzle out but instead continue to nurture and feed this little flame. God is up to something, and with time, we will see what this beautiful change will boom into. Funding and resources are limited, but with God, all things are possible and I believe something transformational is going to soon take place.
In addition, please keep our building, session and church family in your prayers. Our church body is strong and full of life, yet the structure that is supporting us is in great need of repair and some very costly decisions have to be made in the near future. Please pray for guidance, peace and love as we discern what God wants us to do with the gifts He has given us.
Thank You for your continued support and prayers. May the God that holds us all in the palm of His hands continue to lead and guide us all through His grace and mercy. Amen.
-Julie Brien, Resident in Mission
July 27th- Praying together on the Sunday that we recognized the graduation of the youth leadership program participants, all the while being blessed with volunteers from First Presbyterian Church in East Aurora, New York who came to serve in our community for the week
Wanda Tillery, Julie Brien, Gentry Phillips and Cherrie Okonski- a great team of leaders, teachers and artists who led the Summer Leadership Program 2014
A number of the pastors in and around Benton Harbor who made the Community Explosion on July 26th possible. Pastor Laurie Hartzell of First Presbyterian Church of Benton Harbor is 5th from the left.
August 10: The 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
One Service at 10:00a
Music: Janlee Richter & Family
Sermon: “What’s Next for the Church: Embodied Faith” - Reverend Katherine Baker will deliver this week’s sermon and will be exploring our call to embodied faith--What does it mean? How is it demonstrated? Why does it matter? At the forefront of our congregation, what's next for the church? We’ll look to the greatest commandment to aid us in answering these questions.
August 17: The 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
One Service at 10:00a
Music: Frank Van Haven and New Revival Jazz Band
Sermon: “Rocks and Words” a sermon by Rev. David Baak on Exodus 2 and Matthew 16 — two conversations that we overhear; words about important events, but also stories that are critical points in our faith history: Moses is rescued by his sister’s quick words for the Princess who takes him from the river and it is he who later delivers his people; Peter the disciple says out loud who he believes Jesus to be—the one who will deliver his people. These are stories that help us “check our words” and help us explore the will of God, challenging each other to understand what following Christ means.
August 24: The 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
One Service at 10:00a
Celebration of the Ministry of Jackie Schoon
Music: Viviana Kloostra, Soprano
Sermon: “Trace Evidence” Rev. Chandler Stokes will be preaching on Matthew 11:2-6. This is one of those sermons back by request. By reflecting on a story by Jorge Luis Borges and the work of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, we will look for the trace evidence of the world changed by Christ’s presence “…not through proofs or arguments, not by ceasing to question or doubt,” but by listening for and following that voice that seems out of place in this world, listening for and heeding that discrepant note: the tenderness and exaltation, the silence and the mitigation of this often harsh world.
August 31: The 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
One Service at 10:00a
Labor Day Weekend
Music: Al Exoo, guitar and voice
Sermon: “No God in There?” Rev. Chandler Stokes will be preaching on John 1:1-14. This is the last of the sermons back by request. In the midst of tragedy and suffering, we often struggle to find where God is. We will explore the hopeful meaning of the Incarnation in the midst of a world of hurt.
Worship and Communion at Camp Henry
Music: Sanctuary Choir
Sermon: “Lost and Found” a sermon by Rev. David Baak on Exodus 3 and Matthew 16.21-26. Losing and Finding each produce strong emotions and interesting behaviors. The mundane looking through the camp dining hall for that elusive shoe can be a metaphor for the sublime theological attempt to understand how losing can be finding a whole new life—and both are strengthened by community.
The August issue of Chimes is now available. In this month's issue:
- The building through the years
- Welcoming our new friends
- Downtown Food Pantry notes
- Roofing project moves forward
- Music - summer projects in motion
- WCDC receives surprise gift
The June issue of Chimes is now available. In this month's issue:
- Information on our Feasibility Study
- Staff picks for summer reads
- Sanctuary roof updates…it's time for slate tiles!
- Welcome to our new members
- Camp Henry happenings
- Youth and Music Ministries summer activities and trips
One of the things that makes Westminster such a special community for all of us is that it values inclusion of every person - including those folks in the LGBT community. Every year Grand Rapids has a Pride festival to celebrate the LGBT community. Many churches, including Westminster, host booths to let the LGBT community know that God loves them and that there is a faith community for them right here in Grand Rapids. For several years now, Westminster has hosted a booth at the festival. Emerging Westminster will be coordinating our church's booth for the second year in a row.
The 2014 Pride Festival will be held on Saturday, June 14 at Calder Plaza. We are looking for volunteers to staff the booth for one hour between 1:00 and 6:00p. The volunteers will be asked to represent Westminster, talk a little about our church to festival attendees who stop by the booth, and answer any questions they may have about the life of our community. They are looking for three volunteers each hour during the afternoon.
If you are interested in supporting this special event and are willing to donate one hour of your time on June 14, please e-mail A.J. at email@example.com and let him know which time slot between 1:00 and 6:00p you are interested in volunteering. If you have any questions, please contact A.J. at 616-531-4653.
Thank you for considering supporting Westminster in this event!
The Westminster Welcome...Seven Days a Week
The plan for addressing the facility needs of our core missions and our roof is ready for you to review. Before any fundraising begins, we need your opinion, which will be kept confidential, to determine the level of support for the plan.
First... Read this Letter
Second... View this video:
Third…Read this Letter
Fourth...Take this Survey
If you have questions regarding either the online or materials you will receive this week - or if you want to request a personal interview, please contact Kathy Cisler, Church Administrator, at 616-717-5533 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for your guidance.
WPC and Camp Henry are very proud to host the ministry of Camp Sunshine, a specialized summer camp providing people ages 12-50 with developmental disabilities the opportunity for fellowship and recreational activity in a safe, caring and inclusive environment. In order to make this week possible, we are looking for volunteers to help with moving belongings, relieving staff, troubleshooting technology, and encouraging campers and volunteers alike. If you'd like more information, please contact Rev. Katherine Baker (email@example.com) or Cindy Terlouw (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Director Jake Jacobs (email@example.com).
1. Help move in and/or help pack up Camp Sunshine.
- a. Volunteer Move In: Saturday afternoon, June 28: (10+ people)
- b. Volunteer Move Out: Sunday afternoon, July 6: (10+ people)
2. Help relieve counselors at nights for cabin coverage (from 8:45p-midnight).
- a. Volunteer Night 1: Sunday, June 29 (20+ people)
- b. Volunteer Night 2: Monday, June 30 (20+ people)
- c. Volunteer Night 3: Tuesday, July 1 (20+ people)
- a. Volunteer Night 1: Thursday, July 3 (20+ people)
- b. Volunteer Night 2: Friday, July 4 (20+ people)
- c. Volunteer Night 3: Saturday, July 5 (20+ people)
3. Helping relieve counselors during the day for floating (from 9:00a-2:00p).
- a. Volunteer Day 2: Monday, June 30 (10+ people)
- a. Volunteer Day 2: Friday, July 4 (10+ people)
- b. Volunteer Day 3: Saturday, July 5 (10+ people)
4. Help encourage counselors and staff of both Camp Henry and Camp Sunshine.
- a. Hospitality Baskets at Idema House for Camp Sunshine Staff (Session 1, Session 2)
- b. Letters of affirmation to each cabin, praying for campers and leaders (Session 1, Session 2)
- c. Hospitality Baskets to Camp Henry Counselors and Staff (End of Week)
5. Help run the expansive sound systems! Are you good with tech equipment and assisting with communications?
6. Help document memories by taking pictures! Seeking professional or very seasoned photographers!
Please join us in welcoming Camp Sunshine to Camp Henry this summer!
Dear Westminster members and friends,
We are asking you to support our mission at Camp Henry with a financial gift. While Camp Henry has experienced tremendous success over the past year with record enrollment, new capital improvements, and a strong staff, there is one area where Camp Henry is in significant, urgent need of support:
The Camp Henry Scholarship Fund is drastically underfunded.
Foundations grants for scholarships have been reduced by a combined $32,000, and we are committed to only offering scholarships once we have the money. We have 73 campers on a waiting list, who need financial assistance in order to attend Camp Henry this summer—and this number grows daily.
The current need is $29,967 to get those 73 campers into camp.
Because we are financially healthy, every dollar you send goes directly to the scholarship fund.
We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure money is not a barrier to attending Camp Henry this summer.
Camp Henry is not possible without the faithful and consistent support of WPC. We invite you to be a part of extending the Westminster Welcome at Camp Henry and to helping us move these campers off of the waiting list and into camp.
—Rev. Chandler Stokes, senior pastor, and Dr. Jeff “Jake” Jacobs, executive director of Camp Henry
Over the past few years, Camp Henry has moved from a sometimes tenuous part of our ministry to a vibrant, steady and fully integrated part of Westminster. And this summer we will also be ending one of our ministries up at Camp. We will be conducting Sunday services on Sundays at Camp Henry on Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend, but not during the rest of the summer.
It has become increasingly expensive and difficult for us to provide the appropriate coordination and staff support for these services. The overhead of energy, time and money, has become more than is sustainable or is in our best interests. Rev. Stokes will be preaching next Sunday up at camp, but we wanted you all to know of this change.