Dedication Sunday is October 25, 2015
Dear Westminster Family,
Over the course of this year, my appreciation and gratitude for the generosity and faithfulness of Westminster has grown steadily. You “pray and work” as you practice stewardship; your commitment is demonstrated through regular faithful pledge giving—and you give at a remarkably generous level. On behalf of the Session and staff, I thank all of you who pledge and give to the ministry of Westminster.
In preparation for setting our 2016 budget, four goals have been set with direction from the Session, Stewardship Committee, staff, and others.
Goal #1: Establish and maintain a balanced budget, an annual imperative.
Goal #2: Continue to support our programs, facilities, and core missions.
Goal #3: Continue to support our excellent staff with a cost of living adjustment.
Goal #4: Maintain nearly level giving with as little increase as necessary.
This last goal is critical. Your giving, especially with the addition of MissionMatters, has been profoundly generous, and we want to honor your generosity. Again, thank you. And we are facing a challenge with an unexpected and significant increase in the cost of utilities. To meet that challenge and maintain our other priorities, the Session and the Stewardship Committee are working with the budget to close the gap in the cost of utilities for next year, and we are asking you to consider raising your pledge by 1%—about $10 per member. If everyone does that, we will keep our financial commitments and present a balanced budget.
This week you will receive your pledge card in the mail. Please join me in making a commitment to stewardship and Westminster. Please take time to personally reflect on the importance of Westminster to you and those you love and respond with a pledge of financial support for 2016.
On Dedication Sunday, October 25, in keeping with our practice, your participation is requested in one of the following ways:
Thank you for your continuing and faithful generosity. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday, October 25.
Elder for Stewardship
Next Sunday, October 25 is Dedication Sunday. You will receive a letter and pledge card next week from Roger Nelson, Elder for Stewardship. Please prayerfully consider making a pledge to support the ministry of Westminster in the coming year. Then, bring your pledge card to either service next Sunday; or, you may mail in your pledge, or go online to http://westminstergr.org/stewardship-2016/stewpledge. Thank you all for your great generosity and faithful support!
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Grace and peace to you all. This time of year, when we recommit ourselves to Westminster through our stewardship pledges, it is also a good time for our “annual check-up,” as it were. Rodger Nishioka, Professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary, tells a story that opens the door to our taking our pulse, a story about a transplant recipient.
Senora Gonzales, Rodger said, had lost her son in a car accident. Because her son was an organ donor, she was able to steward many of his organs: see that they were harvested and given to a number of people whose lives were saved through those gifts. The man who received her son’s heart was so deeply grateful that he asked if he could meet her to thank her in person. She agreed. When they met, she asked if she could once again hear her son’s heart. The man in turn gladly obliged, and she put her head on his chest and listened. She said, “Oh, it’s beating so strong. It’s so strong!”
Rodger then prayed, “O God, may you place your ear upon the chest of your Church and hear your Son’s heart beating so strong, so strong.”
Last Monday, I asked the session to listen to the heart of Westminster and tell me what they heard, where they thought they could hear Christ’s heart beating in the church. They told of children catching the deep rhythms of God’s heart, worshipping together with adults—down in the worship centers or up in the sanctuary; the beat of youth in the joy of serving the food pantry or home communion with deacons; the beat of honest worship forming and transforming us; the beat of a big-hearted welcome received; the beat of a congregation’s generous heart adding a capital campaign for mission to all its other work; the rhythm of volunteers active in the community; the rhythm of leaders and servants of all kinds working together with grace, maturity, and creativity, seeking to be a more faithful community.
The pulse is strong. I do believe that there are many ways that Christ’s heart beats faithfully among us. And it is strong because so very, very many of you continue to show up. You continue to offer the gift of your time, the gift of your many talents, and the gift of your treasure for the ministry of Westminster. It is your generous hearts, generous lives, and generous pocket books that make our ministry here possible. We simply cannot be who we are called to be without your generosity.
I truly do love Westminster. I am humbled by the privilege of serving here among you. So, it is with a glad heart that I invite you to give generously to keep Christ’s heart beating strong among us. Next week, you will receive a commitment card in the mail. Please remember to bring your commitment cards to worship on October 25, when we will celebrate our annual dedication of stewardship pledges for the coming year.
With gratitude and appreciation to God for your many gifts. Grace and peace,
Rev. Chandler Stokes, Senior Pastor
Dear Westminster Friends,
Some people know Grand Rapids as a city with a church on every corner. However, in spite of this, it was not easy for us to find a church to call home.
Before settling in Grand Rapids we lived in Tokyo, Japan for the first two years of our married life. Ironically, finding a church in a metropolis of roughly 35 million people was actually quite simple as there were comparatively few churches, and even fewer that worshiped in English.
We began worshipping at Westminster regularly in the fall of 2008 after looking for a church that was a good fit for our entire family, including our three children, Anya, Ian and Eliza. Similar to many of you, we felt welcomed at Westminster from the moment we set foot in the building. We appreciated the music and the liturgy, as well as the preaching that made concrete the incarnation of our beliefs as Christians living in the 21st century. In particular, it was important to us that Westminster offered comprehensive youth programming including Worship Centers, Christian education, and youth groups, all with a thoughtful curriculum that included teaching about the Bible and sacraments of the church for children from birth through young adulthood. Sherrill Vore patiently answered our questions about curriculum, for which we remain grateful.
Since we decided to join Westminster, the reasons that brought us here continue to be an important part of our lives. The education programming, the music, preaching and the liturgy all contribute to why we feel at home at Westminster and how we choose to participate in church. However, in addition, we have also grown to love Westminster for many new reasons. What we have learned and appreciate is that Westminster is a church that is dynamically involved in the local community, adjusting and responding to the needs of the people around us as we determine as a congregation how to live in and with the world. Westminster’s participation in the development of the Food Club and the prioritizing of the Child Development Center are two examples of this work. We have also been privileged to learn from the many intergenerational relationships that we have developed over the past seven years, as we mutually participate, and benefit from the ministry of Westminster. We are fortunate that many of you have shared your time with us and our children in ways that shape who they are and show them how to live as people of faith.
We have also grown to love the intentional inclusivity of Westminster that is evident every week both in the welcome and in the charge, a reminder that we are active and intentional participants both within the walls of Westminster and in the communities where we live and work. As Chandler wrote in the most recent Chimes article in reference to Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, we are “in this together” with each other and with God.
We strive to support Westminster with our time, talent and treasure, and we hope you’ll prayerfully consider an annual financial pledge to Westminster for 2016. Please join us!
We look forward to continuing to grow with you in faith and in worship.
Dan and Lara Dengerink-Van Til