News & Updates

Who doesn’t enjoy pie?

  Updates Youth Youth Ministry pie
Monday, March 3, 2014

Now through March 9, our middle and high school youth are selling pie kits from Grand Traverse Pie for $15; each kit includes one apple, cherry, and blueberry pie. To purchase a pie kit, contact any youth group member. Pies will be delivered on March 30.

This fundraiser will benefit the Westminster youth ministry summer trips to South Manitou Island and the Montreat Youth Conference. For further information, contact Shelly Boeve, youth ministry coordinator, at

Staff review for the congregation

  Updates Staff review personnel
Friday, February 21, 2014

The Personnel Committee requests your assistance in reviewing our staff. This is a regular, annual process to which anyone from the congregation is encouraged to participate.

NOTE: Your responses will be received by Ed VanderPloeg, elder for personnel, and reviewed by the Personnel Committee. While your responses may be shared with staff, no identifiable information about you (name, email, etc.) will be included.

Donate a hymnal as a gift to Westminster

  Updates hymnal Music
Monday, February 3, 2014

Our new hymnals have arrived—all 950 of them!

As we introduce the new hymnal, we are asking for your support in helping to pay the cost for this vital component of our worship experience—and it’s a wonderful opportunity to honor the memory of someone you love.

Hymnals can be donated in honor or in memory of someone. You may choose to donate however many hymnals you would like. Bonus! If you purchase a new hymnal, you will get to take an old hymnal home with you.

The price for each hymnal is $25. Donations should be made by Sunday, February 9. To donate a hymnal, please fill out the form below.


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.

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

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.

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 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 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.

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

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