LETTERS TO THE CONGREGATION

Consistory Meeting Budget Presentation.jpg

June 21, 2022

 

Dear Christ Memorial Congregation,

 

As the staff, consistory, and Sanctuary Remodel Building Team we are grateful for the overwhelming support shown in the vote of the proposed sanctuary remodel plan at our annual congregational meeting on June 12, 2022. This was an important step in our plan to outfit the church to influence the world.

 

This vote of confidence will enable the Sanctuary Remodel Building Team, (Scott Geerlings, Ron Hemmeke, Steve Martin, Stephen McCarthy, Todd Oonk, Katie Prins, Woody Steketee, Dann Stouten, and Tom VanZalen) to meet with our architect and contractors to identify and implement the specifics of our plan. These upgrades will be installed over the next several months as AVL (audio, visual, and lighting) equipment, labor and other materials are available. We will continue to keep you updated during this time. We will also do everything we can not to disrupt Sunday worship as these changes are implemented.

 

We also have a Sanctuary Remodel Finance Team (Sally Brink, Garth Deur, Terry Edewaard, Stephen McCarthy, Diane Sinclair, Rich Sinclair, and Dann Stouten) who are looking at ways for us to fund this project. They, too, will be sharing their ideas with the congregation as they unfold and will be challenging us to prayerfully consider how we could support this project.

 

We want to invite you to pray for the staff, the consistory, and these teams as we prepare to begin this remodel.  Our hope is that this will enable us to better share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the greater Holland community for years to come.

 

In the meantime, if you have questions, comments, or suggestions we would encourage you to contact Katie Prins, our Director of Operations at katiep@christmemorial.org or 616-796-3356 and she will direct your ideas to the appropriate group.  Thanks again for your prayers and support and may God be blessed by our efforts.

 

Pastor Dave VanOpstall and The Leadership at Christ Memorial Church

ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING Sunday, June 12, 2022,

11am in the sanctuary

 

Below are the three items on the agenda to approve along with details. 

 

1.  New consistory board members

         LEAD ELDERS: John Auwema, Barb Jansen, Brad Prince,and Ryan Venhuizen.

        CARE AND CONNECTION ELDERS: Jill Breuker, Jeanne Lindell, Barb Poppe, Bonnie VanDam, Terry VanderLee, and                      Debi Zahn.

        DEACONS: Tammy Brink, Ron Hemmeke, Jerry Heyerman,Rich Poppe, and Paul VandeBunte.

 

2.  Sanctuary Remodel

A little over four years ago Jon Fegel was brought on staff to evaluate our current and future technology needs. Ultimately, his evaluation and recommendations were put on hold due to cost considerations and Covid-19. Then, a little over a year ago, Jon and Dann began to look at these needs once again. What they discovered is that our sound system, our lighting, and our projection are all past their recommended shelf life. This also prompted questions about our stage layout, carpet, pew pads, and choir and orchestra needs.

 

Their findings were brought to the lead elders who then put together a sanctuary remodel team to explore our options and costs.  Several ideas were considered. Some ideas were cost prohibitive. Other ideas were considered and consolidated, and we now have what we feel is the best, most cost-efficient plan, for updating our worship space. This plan was shared with the congregation in May and it received overwhelming support.

 

Preliminary cost estimates indicate that the total cost of this project will be approximately $1.5 million dollars. We are asking for your approval of that dollar amount so that we can order the equipment and begin to schedule contractors to complete these renovations. 

3.  2022-23 Budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SANCTUARY REMODEL UPDATE

April 21, 2022

 

Dear Christ Memorial Congregation,

 

Our vision “Outfitting the Church to Influence the World” is taking shape and beginning to drive how we make decisions. Leaning into our emerging future is requiring us to name our values, study our past, and be intentional in our approach to using the resources the Lord has provided our church through His congregation in bringing ALL closer to Jesus Christ.

 

Stewardship is an important part of our past and will help us minister to others in our future. Our sanctuary is a part of our past and future. In order to minister to our current congregants and those that follow we need to ensure that we are outfitting them for ministry.

 

Our current audio, visual, and lighting, (AVL) in the sanctuary is antiquated and near dilapidation. We have been applying band-aid fixes to situations that need surgery. If we do nothing, we will fall into situations that are not manageable which cause attendees and viewers to be completely diverted from the message. Evaluating our current equipment has been the catalyst to review what is also needed in our sanctuary, allowing us to properly present the gospel to our congregation and to those who will become our members.

 

A task force of construction professionals, musicians, and members, has reviewed two plans developed from a faith-based architectural firm that previously supplied input to our facility which would outfit our sanctuary for future worship and use. Based on future needs, resource requirements, and feasibility, they have presented these options to a variety of stakeholders (choir members, musicians, consistory, etc.) and made a recommendation. These plans have been presented to more than 30% of our congregation.

 

Particular attention has been given to how any proposed changes would affect the congregation / members versus our commission to introduce and strengthen others’ relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe these changes will enhance our ability to attract our neighbors and the community to use our facility and attend worship and functions at CMC. These changes become an integral part of our ability to reach those people, families, and organizations in our immediate proximity and beyond. They are not believed to be solely an internal fix to a current situation that only affects our congregation.  

The lead elders have reviewed these options and have strongly recommended that which follows:

  1. The audio, visual, and lighting functions in the sanctuary would be replaced and enhanced for in-person viewing, streaming, and recording.

  2. After looking at both plans that were suggested by the building committee, we decided to incorporate the best of both by renovating the center stage area so that it is both larger and all at the same level. We also will be upgrading the AVL (audio, visual and lighting) for this part of the stage. These upgrades will allow us to better utilize this space for concerts and productions in the future. It will also make our stage more accessible to all people.

  3. The choir loft area would remain in the present location and be reconfigured for more convenient and useful access, providing easier egress and storage and more space for the orchestra and bells.

  4. The general appearance would be freshened up including flooring and seating / pew pad replacement.

  5. A separate proposal would be made for landscaping outside the main windows due to the deterioration of current plantings.

  6. A tithe of the total project will be given to the deacons for ministry in our local neighborhood.

 

Next Steps:

  1. The lead elder’s task force has authorized the architect to move forward, working with worship arts, to prepare diagrams / renderings and cost of what has been proposed.  They should receive those in May for display and further input from the congregation.

  2. The lead elders will appoint a task force to pursue methods for financing / fundraising.

  3. We expect, based on current reasonable scheduling, that renovation would begin in July with a target of completion in November.

  4. During construction, alternates for worship would include a) erecting an unobtrusive wall in the sanctuary or b) using The Gathering Place for the classic service.

 

We believe that this is an opportunity to refresh our approach to worship. We believe this is an opportunity to improve how we deliver the message of hope and love to which Jesus has called us. Come. Join us in this exciting new endeavor!

 

In Christ’s Love,

The Lead Elders

 

 

 

 

 

RCA UPDATE

To the Christ Memorial Church Family, 

 

We have a lot going on around CMC as we prepare for spring and summer! Michael W. Smith will be here in concert during Holy Week. The youth mission trips are filling up with enthusiastic students. And we are working through a plan to do some major updating of our audio, visual, and lighting in the sanctuary (maybe a little facelift too!). 

 

There are a lot of things to be excited about, even a possibility of emerging from this two-year pandemic. Amid all of that, there has been an undercurrent of uncertainty with our denomination, and many of us are hearing about restructuring, churches leaving, and still some contentious spirits. So, here is an update from leadership. 

 

First, at last year’s General Synod, the RCA voted to form a restructuring team to adapt our denomination to a changing faith environment. We understand that RCA Missions are doing incredible things – planting churches and seeing lives changed around the world. But back here at home, the denomination has lost members and churches and needs to outfit itself to better serve the churches that remain. On January 31, 2022, the RCA announced the restructuring team members who will best assess how the denomination will operate in the coming years. It is too early to know with any certainty what this team will propose to denominational leadership and churches. 

 

Second, we know that many of us are hearing about churches leaving the denomination – in some cases, entire classes. This is certainly a cause to take notice, but not necessarily a cause for alarm. Some churches are doing so because of theological convictions. Others are doing so for a reduction in denominational dues. Some are leaving for historic denominations, and others are leaving and joining newly formed groups such as the Alliance of Reformed Churches (ARC). Additionally, some churches are in conversations about changing classes (or creating new ones), but not leaving the denomination.  

 

Third, we have chosen not to make pronouncement about certain social issues.  God’s Word defines sin, and it clearly teaches that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).  The church’s calling is not to emphasize certain sins over others, but to show the world its need for a Savior and to declare the hope of forgiveness, grace, and new life in Christ.  For this reason, we want to begin our conversations with people who are far from God with the love of God.  Once we begin to show our neighbors that God loves them—and that we love them—we can better explain what it means to be a follower of Christ and how that affects the way we live. 

 

Christ Memorial’s mission, vision and values have not changed. Our calling from the Lord is to “outfit the church to influence the world.”  We aim to do so by thinking, loving, and serving like Jesus. Our adherence to scripture and our creeds and confessions remains steadfast and resolute. Similarly, the denomination has not changed its positions or theology in the last number of years. Some churches have, but the denomination has not. We continue to wait, have conversations, and pray. The Reformed Church is the oldest denomination in the United States. She has weathered theological and missional differences in the past and in various ways will continue to do so in the future. We do not believe it is time to panic or make a major decision like leaving the denomination to join another denomination that has no history or a historic denomination that may go through what we have been going through soon. We value the partnership in mission, the work being done to engage the next generation, the historical standards, and the resources for discipleship, worship, and mission that have been the defining characteristics of what it means to be Reformed. 

 

At last year’s General Synod, they also voted to allow graceful separations (allowable until at least 2026). This allows us time to wait and see what form the restructuring takes rather than speculate on the outcome.  When this becomes clear, we can thoughtfully consider our options as a congregation and as leadership based on Christ Memorial’s mission, vision, and values. The Leader’s Journey worked with us two years ago to help us understand that the church is made up of different people with a variety of perspectives and beliefs, but if the core tenets of the faith are present, we can stay defined and connected. Our prayer is that more churches try to walk this path for the good of the church, the good of the Kingdom, and the good of the glorious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

 

May grace and peace be yours in abundance, 

 

Pastors Dave, Dann, and Mike, and the Lead Elders of CMC. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CALLING LEADERS FORWARD

2022 NOMINATION LETTER

 

January 2022 

 

Dear Christ Memorial Church,

One of the most important decisions we make as a congregation is bringing forward those who lead us in our pursuit of outfitting the church to influence the world. Will you prayerfully nominate candidates from the Christ Memorial Church body for lead elder, care and connection elder, and deacon?

After you nominate someone, they will be asked if they wish to serve. Those who sense God calling them will proceed through a vetting process. Once a list of names of those called to serve is prayed over and affirmed by the leadership community/full consistory, it will be presented to the whole church. Those called by God and the church will serve as leaders in one of the groups below for the next three years. 

The leadership roles we are asking you to nominate people for are …

Lead Elders: Entrusted with prayerfully guiding the mission and vision of the church, ensuring everything is done in good and proper order, and providing pastoral leadership to the congregation.

Care and Connection Elders: Entrusted with congregational care, administration of sacraments, and membership.

Deacons: Entrusted with local and global engagement including church ministry, service, and missions, as well as providing care for the physical needs of church members, the local community, and the world.

Please ask God to reveal to you the names of people with the ability to lead our congregation in living out the mission, vision, and values of Christ Memorial Church as stated on the back of this letter. There are several ways in which you can nominate those that God has placed on your heart:

 

1)   E-mail your names with the position you are nominating them for to Peggy Ankerman at peggya@christmemorial.org.  (There will also be a link in the e-news).

2)   Write down your names with the position you are nominating them for and submit them to the attendant at the Info Center in the lobby on Sundays. You may also give them to the receptionist at the church office during the week in an envelope marked “Peggy Ankerman.”  There will be nominating cards at both locations.

3)   Mail your names with the position you are nominating them for to: Christ Memorial Church, Attn: Peggy Ankerman, 595 Graafschap Rd., Holland, MI 49423.

 

Please visit our website to see the list of those who are currently serving as they are ineligible. As you consider nominating candidates, know that our process is being refined and includes an informational meeting for initial understanding of positions and a time to ask questions.  We also have established an orientation for new leaders to better inform them of systems, personnel, and resources. 

 

The final day to submit nominations will be Sunday, January 30, 2022.

Thank you for being a part of God’s work calling forth leaders to serve!

 

David VanOpstall, Stephen McCarthy

Lead Pastor of Formation and Teaching VP Lead Elders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year-end letter from Pastor Dave

 

December 2021

 

Dear Christ Memorial Church,

 

At the beginning of 2021, we went through a sermon series together titled My One Word. Instead of setting a resolution (i.e. lose weight, exercise more, read the Bible everyday), everyone was invited to spend some time listening to the Lord and then choose a word they would focus on for the year. After a chaotic and frenzied 2020, I felt God guiding me toward my one word: composed.

 

Then we were supposed to find a verse. This is what I found:

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.

Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever;

their horn will be lifted high in honor. Psalm 112:6-9

 

Words here like shaken[1], fear, and bad news, do not just mark this psalm;  they threaten to envelope us every day as we watch the news, talk with our friends and families, and drive through our community. If 2021 was supposed to be the rebound year from 2020, it seems to have missed the mark.

 

But amid all that this year brought with it, I am happy to say that by and large I was able to anchor myself in my one word. Much of that is because of this church. Everywhere I look I see people steadfast in prayer, lifting up both thanksgiving and petition to God. Everywhere I look I see hearts that are secure, facing each day with worship and a song. Everywhere I look, I see generous spirits, scattering their gifts to the poor. As such, I believe we have been blessed as a congregation, and the world has been blessed because of God’s work in us. Nearly 150 students and volunteers went on summer mission trips funded by this church’s generosity. Our Thanksgiving offering goal was reached in a week. Because of our steadfastness, students were prepared for school, are now being mentored, and teachers are blessed. Around the world, your mission giving is planting churches, changing hearts, and transforming communities.

 

I believe that God has already given us a word for the new year: create. Together we can create a renewed sanctuary to honor the gifts of music and worship God has bestowed upon us. We can create new mediums for communicating the gospel digitally and in-person. We can create new and deeper partnerships in our community and world to scatter our gifts. We can create unity amidst a world of chaos. We can create new relationships with one another and our neighbors.

 

As we look to the close of this year, I ask you to pray and commit to continuing this work of creating with Christ Memorial Church. If you have not found a place to get involved and serve, please do so. If you are in need and have not reached out, our pastors and care team are waiting. If you are considering making a year-end contribution, please know it will be used faithfully and responsibly to reach the people in our community and around the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. If you want to make a special gift, you can do so in person at a weekend service, through the mail, or through our website (cmcholland.org/give). For gifts of stock or IRA distributions, please contact Betty Roels (796-3340, bettyr@christmemorial.org).

 

Grace, peace, and Merry Christmas,

 

Rev. Dave VanOpstall

 

[1] Hebrews 12:22-29 speaks of God shaking things up (a reference to Haggai 2:6-9 when God shakes the nations so his temple, the true desire of all nations will come about…and then Paul later says that we are God’s temple!) to establish a kingdom that cannot be shaken. By God’s grace, we are part of that kingdom, and I pray the horn of Christ Memorial will be lifted high in honor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A note from Pastor Dave regarding potential updates in the sanctuary

December 9, 2021

Dear Christ Memorial Church,

Last Sunday I gave a short introduction to some potential sanctuary updating we are considering after the new year. There is nothing set in stone at this point, but we wanted to make you aware of our current and future realities. As mentioned, Jon Fegel was brought on staff approximately four years ago to review our audio/visual/lighting (AVL) situation and make proposals for updates and improvements. This AVL proposal became part of a much larger initiative of building and sanctuary renovations that never really got off the ground. As such, Jon upgraded and replaced things as he could over time, but we are really in a place where an overhaul is needed. (Earlier this year we did many updates in the chapel before launching Dwell).

Let’s remember that our sanctuary was built about 30 years ago. Many of our lighting fixtures are inoperative, and the amplifiers, speakers, cameras, and projectors are antiquated. What all of this means is that depending on where you sit in the sanctuary, your Sunday worship experience can be quite varied. In addition, our digital presence (where most people see us for the first time) is lagging behind what many other churches are capable of.

We have a beautiful sanctuary, an incredible group of musicians and vocalists, support staff that is meticulous, and an extremely talented classic worship director. As we proposed these AVL updates, we also sought different perspectives in stage design to propose improvements that could enhance worship in the near future. Steve Martin and other staff have been talking with the choir and orchestra, consulting with an in-house renovation team, and are working on concepts that we will share after the new year. At that point we will be seeking your feedback and listening to your perspectives before anything concrete happens.

Our hope is to update our worship space enough to accomplish three goals:

1.         Repair or replace audio, visual, and lighting components to get us up-to-date, eliminating distractions and limitations from excellence in worship.

2.         Update the stage and physical space with things like matching carpet, electrical receptacles, better accessibility, etc. Design elements are also being considered for choir, orchestra, and bells.

3.         Make our physical space digitally friendly and appealing to those who engage with us online.

We believe what we have here at Christ Memorial is special, and we want to make sure that anyone and everyone can engage in the worship of Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and with great joy. We look forward to 2022 when we talk with you further and hear your perspective.

 

Grace and peace,

Dave VanOpstall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An update from the CMC Ministry Leadership Team regarding our church community

and the latest guidelines and advisories from our local Ottawa County Health Department: 

 

 

Dear Christ Memorial Family,

 

As the holiday season approaches, we have much to be thankful for, especially as we anticipate gathering to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This is a special time of the year not only to worship, but to spend time with family and friends. As you may know, Michigan is winning an unenviable contest. We are currently leading the nation in positive COVID-19 cases, and Ottawa county ranks 6th highest in the state for confirmed cases. This past week a number of local schools closed early for the Thanksgiving break due to illness, and our local hospitals are nearing capacity.  

 

As you make choices about your personal health and well-being in the coming weeks and months, please also consider the health of your family, friends, fellow congregants, healthcare workers, teachers, and community members. Click here to see the latest guidelines and advisories from our local Ottawa County Health Department. Let’s all do our part to have a safe, healthy holiday season. 

 

Grace and peace, 

The CMC Staff Ministry Leadership Team 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vision 2020 and General Synod Update - Congregational Letter 10/27/21

Christ Memorial Congregation,

 

Thanks to Joel Bouwens (chair), Dave Hoekstra, and Norma Hook, for serving on our CMC Vision 2020 Task Force.  Their charge was to follow the development and outcome of the RCA Vision 2020 action at General Synod that concluded last week.

 

Attached is their report for your review and comment.  We recognize the length of the report but there was much business undertaken at this General Synod.  If you have any questions please e-mail communications@christmemorial.org.

 

Blessings.

Lead Elders

Christ Memorial Church members have been asking if CMC leadership has made a decision regarding the RCA Vision 2020 Report.

The answer is NO, we have not made any decision about the RCA Vision 2020 Report nor any of the deliberations at the recent General Synod. RCA restructuring is targeted to be completed by 2024 and if an RCA church still wants to leave the denomination, it can do so with its assets until October 2026, under the modified separation procedures.

As the General Secretary and the new General Synod President stated in their reports summarized below, there are wonderful things happening in the RCA. New believers have joined the RCA. New churches are being formed that want to be a part of the RCA, despite differences.

We must remember that there have been many topics and changes in the past that sought to divide our denomination. We have had differences over whether divorced persons could serve in leadership and whether women could be ordained.

We at CMC are choosing to continue to focus on our Vision and Mission: “Outfitting the Church to Influence the World.” We feel we are in a good place, aligned with the emerging future the Lord has for us. We are moving in the right direction, with the Spirit’s guidance. Good things are happening, and more great things are coming.

We invite each of you to join in reflecting and praying on what we are called to be doing as the bride of Christ: people following Jesus Christ, loving God, loving each other, and loving our neighbors, including those different than us.

The RCA will not look the same as in the past, and some changes may be hard. But change can also be good.

If you want to watch any of the RCA General Synod proceedings, the sessions can be found on www.youtube.com and search for “Synod 2021.” 

The General Secretary’s Report may be found in Friday Plenary 1.

Phil Assink’s Report can be found on Monday Plenary 2.

Mission and Multiplication Reports can be listened to on the Sunday Plenary Video.

You are invited to read more at:  www.rca.org/synod.          

 

Vision 2020 Task Force for CMC: Joel Bouwens, Dave Hoekstra, Norma Hook

The CMC Vision 2020 Task Force and Lead Elder Board are reporting activities in our denomination and events of General Synod 2021.

Though there were fears that the General Synod would be contentious, and that the RCA was falling apart, the Holy Spirit was working, bringing a spirit of civility and respect for each other. There were disagreements, yet many attendees expressed that the bond which draws us together as a denomination is stronger than the issues which attempt to tear our denomination apart.

In his report, General Secretary Eddy Alemán described the RCA as at a Red Sea Moment saying that God will make a way for the RCA. He reminded everyone that God is a specialist for complicated situations.

There are many churches who want to join the RCA, as you can read about in the Church Multiplication Report. Alemán knows that in the next few years, the RCA may grow smaller, but he predicts that between 2025 and 2030 the RCA will see much growth. The growth is happening in the area where the global church is now centered, which is the Global South. There will be an increase in racial and ethnic diversity. Alemán stated that he would rather hear conversations about a church’s vision and mission than a conversation on human sexuality. He urged the denomination to focus on the Gospel and the life, ministry, and work of Jesus Christ.

Global Mission

Director of Global Mission, JP Sundararajan reported: “In the last 18 months, we’ve seen thousands come to know Jesus in Africa. We’ve seen churches be faithfully planted where the church has mostly been left for dead. We’ve seen hundreds of kids be fostered and adopted through the work of Encompass Kids at Christ Memorial Church. In other areas, we’re working to remove refugees from some of the most hostile places on earth.”

 

He reported that appeals for disaster relief have received overwhelming support demonstrating the generosity of the RCA membership.

 

Church Multiplication

General Synod celebrated 34 domestic church plants and 34 church plants in Nepal that have begun ministry since 2019, along with the organization of ten new churches that are now self-supporting, self-governing, and self-reproducing.

 

Randy Weener, Director of Church Multiplication, shared the stories of Central Plains Classis, which tripled in size in recent years, and of Clásis de las Naciones, which reestablished a classis in Florida and Georgia less than a decade after the Florida Classis closed, and now has 15 organized churches and a number of church plants in process.

Vision 2020 decisions

  1. Restructure. A restructuring team will develop a plan for the denomination by 2024, “with a view to optimizing the RCA’s sustained spiritual and organizational health.” The restructuring team will consider the guidance of the Vision 2020 Team about future structure. Consideration will be given to forming “Affinity Synods.” The idea of what “Affinity” means will be studied to discern if this would be wiser than geographically based synods and classes.

 

Regarding the idea of the “Affinity Synods,” some see this as a way forward considering divisions. Others expressed concern  over what implications this would have if “Affinity” would be defined based on differences regarding the desire to follow, or to not follow, the historical stance the RCA has held regarding human sexuality. Some church representatives stated with great sadness, that if Affinity Synods were formed based solely on this issue, and their church had to decide to go with one synod or the other, it would divide their church and significantly harm the ministry that they are engaged in together as a congregation that loves and serves, despite their own differences on this issue.

 

  1. Global Mission. After nearly an hour of discussion that spoke volumes to the centrality of mission within the Reformed Church in America, the General Synod voted against the Vision 2020 Team’s recommendation to create a separate 501(c)(3) mission agency.

 

  1. Gracious Separation. The regulations provide for mutually gracious separation if churches leave the RCA over the next five years (until 2026).   A sense of loss and grief was present knowing that some congregations will be leaving the RCA.

Other General Synod Business

  1. Statement on racism and treatment of indigenous communities.

  2. Statement on Climate Change.

 

  1. Commission on Theology paper on the challenges and opportunities of a postmodern culture. Read the paper, entitled “Christians in a Culture of Suspicion: Reflections on Living Faithfully in a Postmodern Age.”

 

  1. Western Theological Seminary is currently owned by the RCA. A proposal was made by the Seminary to withdraw from the RCA with its buildings and campus in Holland. The rationale for the proposal is that the Seminary desires to broaden its donor base beyond the RCA. The proposal was not approved and was referred to the General Synod Council and Commission on Church order for further consideration.

 

  1. Phil Assink was approved as the next General Synod president. Since General Synod 2019, he has served as General Synod vice president. Assink offered words of invitation and assurance to General Synod delegates: “While we are far from finished in our transformation, the spirit and tone of this Synod indicates there is something worth sticking around for.”  Assink then invited all churches who are considering leaving the RCA to put a pause on their plans to leave, and to ponder how their leaving the RCA would impact the great work that is happening.

 

CMC Lead Elders

 

 

 

 

Fall Letter to the Congregation from the Ministry Leadership Team

October 14, 2021

To Our Beloved Community at Christ Memorial Church,

 

We hope you are sharing in our excitement as the season changes from summer into fall at Christ Memorial. It has been such a pleasure to see the choir and orchestra back in full swing. We re-launched our contemporary service, now named dwell, in the chapel, with a more modern and creative worship format, and our youth banquet reached its $60,000 goal thanks to your overwhelming support!

 

Each week we have been learning more about how to Win the Day by “eating the frog,” “flying the kite,” and “cutting the rope.” We look forward to our next message series, Influence, where we will examine how our values as a church contribute to making an impact in our community and world. Kevin Harney will be wrapping that series up, and his accomplished wife, Sherry, will be leading a prayer workshop on November 20.

 

The Holy Spirit is at work unifying, encouraging, and counseling us to be the people that God created us to be. May we maintain humble and graceful spirits as we endeavor together to become more and more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

In the whirlwind of happenings right now we also want to remind everyone that the reality of the global pandemic has not subsided. It is encouraging to know that vaccination rates are over 60% in Michigan (for those over 12 years of age) and are even higher for those over the age of 65 in Ottawa County (80%+). Still, the reality of COVID-19 is all around us. Over the past week, we were made aware of six choir members who tested positive as well as our Worship Arts Director, Steve Martin. We have taken the necessary steps to inform those who were in close contact with these individuals to monitor any symptoms, get tested, and consult with their doctor if necessary. Please be in prayer for these folks, our congregation, and the community. Pray for healing, perseverance, and victory over sickness and death in Jesus' name.

 

Paul encourages us, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…and be thankful…and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15, 17)

 

Whatever you do…do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. The church will persevere. The Spirit will continue to fill us and move us. Thank you, Lord! As such, let us be wise and gentle with one another and ourselves. If the situation in the world makes you feel like worshipping from home is more comfortable, that’s just fine. Do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. If worshipping in person with a mask on seems prudent, that’s great. Do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. If faith over fear is your mantra, God bless you. Do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. But let us all remember in the days ahead, that the world will know we are doing it in the name of the Lord Jesus if we…all together now…love one another.

 

Grace and peace,

Your Ministry Leadership Team

 

 

 

 

NEW DIRECTOR OF WORSHIP ARTS ANNOUNCED



August 2021

 

Dear Christ Memorial Congregation,

 

As you all know, for the past month or so, a Worship Arts Search Team has been meeting to seek God’s will for our next Director of Worship Arts. This team is made up of a phenomenal and gifted mix of persons including former worship leaders, professional musicians and educators, worship volunteers, an HR professional, and our lead pastor. Even prior to our first meeting, dozens of folks if not more have been bathing the process in prayer.

 

At our first meeting, the consensus of the group was that this would be a long process. Christ Memorial Church has been undeniably blessed with world-class worship leaders, and we assumed it would take a bit of time to find someone who ticked all of the boxes not only musically but pastorally as well.  We knew we had an outstanding internal candidate in Phil Holmes, and yet we believed it was wise and prudent to embark on an official search process to ensure things were done in right and proper order.

 

Far sooner that we ever thought possible, two candidates clearly stood out head and shoulders above the rest. The search team continued to pray, communicate with current worship staff, contact references, and review samples of each candidate’s worship leadership. We conducted two interviews with each candidate, witnessed both rehearsing the same piece of music with the choir, orchestra, and bell ringers, and sought the worship staff’s feedback.

 

In the end, we had a difficult decision, and through discernment we unanimously agreed the Holy Spirit was pointing us to our clear choice. A contract was extended and accepted, and it is our joy to announce to you that Dr. Stephen Martin will be joining us at the beginning of September to serve as our Director of Worship Arts at CMC!

 

Stephen and his wife Allison will be moving to Holland soon from central Arkansas. Stephen has a doctorate in vocal performance and a masters is music theory pedagogy from Michigan State University. He has a history of performing music internationally, teaching at the university level, and served two churches as a worship leader. His wife, Allison, also has a strong pedigree in music and has served churches in the areas of children, youth, and adult discipleship. We are delighted to welcome them to the CMC family!

 

Thank you for your prayers, feedback, and encouragement. We have seen the hand of God guiding every step of this process and are confident that the God who began a good work in us, is continuing to bring us to a flourishing future.

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Jacki Kleinheksel, Worship Arts Search Team Chair

David VanOpstall, Lead Pastor of Formation and Teaching

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New Fall Worship Schedule Planned:

Two Worship Styles, One Community

Over the past few years we have requested and received feedback from the congregation regarding service times, worship preferences, and the core values of Christ Memorial Church.  When we returned to in-person services and after a time of prayer and reflection, we have concluded that our congregation places high value on excellence in worship (both classic and modern).  We also value strong discipleship and group programming, desiring to be a church that serves our community and the world. Another overarching value that has come through in our multiple conversations with congregational members is unity and oneness in our church. Therefore, beginning this fall, we want to strengthen these values by making a small but significant shift.

 

Here is what we are planning:

  • Both morning worship services will start at 9:30am beginning on Sunday, September 12.

  • The Classic service will be held in the sanctuary, and the Modern service will be held in the chapel. The Gathering Place will continue to have the Classic service simulcast there.

  • The sanctuary service will have a more classic style of worship and live preaching.

  • The chapel service will have a more modern musical style, a more intimate atmosphere, and a pre-recorded sermon created specifically for that community. (Each service will hear basically the same sermon.)

  • Following each service we will have a church-wide community hour from 10:45-11:45am with classes and groups available for all ages as well as plenty of space for informal conversations and good coffee.

  • The pastors will be a regular presence and active participants in each service.

 

Why we are making these changes:

  • We want to maintain excellent worship experiences for both our Classic and Modern services.

  • We want discipleship groups, connection opportunities, new member classes, and other offerings available to people from both worshipping communities. This is our basis for outfitting the church. (Currently, most programming is offered during the second service, creating a barrier to participation.)

  • This change creates opportunities for people to visit both services from time to time without disrupting discipleship group and life rhythms.

  • Each service will adjourn at the same time, providing an opportunity for fellowship with everyone.  Also, the pastors will be available after services to meet with people, answer questions, pray, and possibly lead further discussions on the sermon topics.

 

This can propel us into what we feel is God’s desired future for CMC in the following ways:

  • Imagine a Sunday when we all worshipped together and then went out to bless and serve this community together! This is easily accomplished with this plan. We could even hold joint services for kick-off and year-end celebrations!

  • This plan improves our digital offerings (which is now the new place for first impressions to those outside the church and faith) by having a pre-recorded, professionally produced message.

  • This plan makes it easier to start satellite campuses to influence the world.

 

We think that this is a great start to continue what we feel God is doing at CMC. Please pray about this, ask God to bring us into a flourishing future, and connect with us if you have suggestions, encouragement, or ideas. The lead elders are available August 1 and 15 after the first service at “Lead Elders Listen” in the Fireside Cafe.

FAQ (Frequently asked questions):

  • What will happen with Children’s Ministries?

    • There will be activities for children during the 9:30 hour if parents want to drop them off instead of having them in the worship service. The regular Sunday School hour for children will be from 10:45-11:45am.

 

  • What about our students in Youth Ministries?

    • Our Youth Team will offer a gathering for students from 10:45-11:45am to learn, grow, build fellowship, and have fun.

 

  • Why does the Modern service have pre-recorded sermons?

    • We believe in the unity this plan offers and the discipleship opportunities that will become available for our Modern service members. We have all been watching screens for the last year, and many of us have become accustomed to it and often prefer it.  Thousands of Christians around the world participate in worship on satellite campuses where the worship is live, but the message is streamed or often pre-recorded. Pre-recording the message means the pastor will craft it with a particular audience in mind and will be preaching it specifically to them as opposed to their watching the pastor preaching it to another crowd. Most weekends our pastors will be available after the services for interactions and feedback.

 

  • Can the Classic service stay at the same time?

    •  If we did that, the services would not get out at the same time and we would lose the opportunity for participants in each service to connect with one another afterwards as well as other previously stated reasons. (Please see “Why we are making these changes” in the third paragraph of the white paper.)

 

  • Why have you chosen the 9:30am time for the services?

    • When we conducted our survey just over a year ago, the most popular replies to, “What would be the ideal time for worship?” were 9, 9:30, and 10am. Therefore, we thought an even compromise would be 9:30am. This also give families with children a little extra time in the morning. It also means the choir and orchestra might not have to wake up so early!

 

  • What about 9 and 11am services with a Community Hour in the middle?

    • We received feedback about this as well. In practice, this hour in the middle didn’t leave enough time for groups and classes to meet for a full hour. By the time services got out, people greeted one another, and grabbed a quick cup of coffee, the earliest they arrived in class was 15 minutes late. This also led to classes going a bit long, making it difficult to arrive on time for the Modern service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worship Search Communication from Pastor David

 

June 10, 2021

 

To the Congregation of Christ Memorial Church,

 

As we approach Gary’s retirement, we celebrate the gifts he has brought to Christ Memorial Church, and we pause to reflect on the many meaningful worship experiences we have been able to share together under his leadership. Gary is a mentor, a leader, and a friend to many, and we will miss him. While he can never be “replaced,” we are searching for his successor. Who will this be? Where will they come from? What are the expectations for the future? What is the process to get us there?

 

These are all wonderful questions that we have been thinking, talking, and praying about for several months as staff leadership, lead elders, and a specially formed Worship Leader Succession Task Force. We have spoken with people inside the church, outside the church, current staff, former staff, and others who have crossed our paths, and we have pondered and prayed about what God might be calling us to do. What we continue to come back to again and again is this: worship has profoundly and providentially shaped the congregation of CMC into who we are today. For many years this congregation has attracted people with appreciation and talents for creative worship through its own unique style of classic music and other genres. Our hope is that God leads us to a person who can maintain and even bring a fresh perspective to the historic worship that CMC embraces. We are looking for someone who appreciates and utilizes the CMC choir, orchestra, Westminster Bells – someone who embraces variety and the celebrative nature of worship (2 Samuel 6:5).

 

We desire this person to have a heart for Jesus Christ, a shepherding spirit, and an excellent knowledge of music and liturgy. The next step of our process is to form a search committee, and the position will be posted publicly. We are asking that you continue to pray with us throughout this process. If you would like to provide your own perspective and feedback on the future of worship leadership at CMC, you can do that here.

 

This summer worship will be planned by our current worship staff with the help of many from our congregation.

 

Thank you all for your time and energy dedicated to furthering God’s mission and Kingdom work through Christ Memorial Church. We have been brought together for a purpose and will continue to outfit the church to influence the world.

 

Grace and peace,

 

Dave VanOpstall

 

 

 

Easter Letter

April, 2021

 

Dear Christ Memorial Family,

 

Together we continue to celebrate that Easter message of living hope – Jesus is alive and active in our midst. The sun has been shining. Trees and flowers are in bloom (pray for the tulips!). Birds are singing. Creation is proclaiming glory to God, that new life prevails even over death.

 

The promise of the COVID-19 vaccine carries with it the holy inclination to meet back in person to worship with our friends and family. As leadership, we want to thank you for enduring this last year as we have sought to balance love of neighbor and community with freedom of expression and worship. We are not out of the woods yet, but we remain hopeful. As we see more and more people gathering, don’t forget we still have hundreds engaging with us in digital formats (our Easter experience was viewed by roughly 2,500 people!). We are so delighted to meet new people just about every week. Truly God is good!

 

A few more things to celebrate include:

  • Our giving remains strong and our spending responsible. Your generosity is both meeting our daily needs and helping us prepare for our future. For that we are profoundly grateful. Our fiscal year ends June 30, 2021, so you will certainly see another update then.

  • Our youth department is preparing to send over 125 students, family members, and volunteer leaders on mission trips this summer. Note: our Youth Banquet is being planned for the fall when we hope COVID-19 numbers are diminished.

  • Children’s ministry is seeing new kids regularly, and Kids Hope mentors are back meeting in-person with students at West Elementary!

 

Included in all these celebrations is one somewhat bittersweet. We are looking forward to honoring Gary Matthews in his retirement on June 13. Let us rejoice with Gary and Martha and be thankful for his faithful service to our church. Such a wonderful and talented shepherd-leader cannot be replaced, but by God’s grace we will find a suitable successor and continue our remarkable worship and music program.

 

And finally, we hope you are encouraged as you experience our vision series, “3 Years From Now.” Whatever our new normal entails, we believe the Holy Spirit will continue to Outfit the Church to Influence the World. Christ Memorial Church has always been a strong influence in the denomination, the community, and around the world. We are committed to continuing this legacy as God opens new doors, compels us to engage in new ways, and continues to transform lives (including our own). Our work with the Leader’s Journey is now in our hands to make it a reality. All of us have a part to play. Let us devote ourselves to prayer, humility, and conviction in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

In the words of Paul, “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” (Philippians 1:6, The Message)

 

Grace and peace,

 

Pastors Dave, Dann, Gary, and your Lead Elders.