This Sunday at COS:

On this first Sunday of Advent, Rev. Andrew Mead will preach from Isaiah 64:1-9 and 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 in our Prism combined service in the large sanctuary. During morning worship, we have the joy of welcoming new members into the life of the congregation.

Following the service, stick around for our Christmas Brunch in the Café. Jo Howe, Children’s Ministry Coordinator, will also have a children’s craft table set up during the brunch.

The 10 am Prism Service will also be broadcast via Zoom. Sign up for our Newsletter to receive the Zoom links.

Events Coming Up:

December 6

5:30 Dinner, 6:30-8:00pm Club Ministries, Then Winter Break Until February 

Clubs will meet on Wednesday, Dec. 6 for our Christmas celebrations before taking a winter break. We’ll be off through January, to rest and plan for February programming. However, look for an announcement after Christmas about our annual Mulick Park Sledding Meetup in January. If your child is in Girls Club, please remind them to bring their loom knitting back to church on Dec. 6th so we can finish our projects together! 

December 17

O Antiphons Advent service at Church of the Servant – December 17, 2023 at 6 pm.The COS O Antiphons Advent service makes use of a series of medieval prayers referred to as the O Antiphons. They were composed for use in evening prayer services on the last seven days of Advent. They are best known to us as the seven verses of the advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Each antiphon is a petition for Christ to come, addressing the Messiah with a title from Old Testament prophecies. In anticipation of this year’s service, we invite members of the congregation to contribute artwork for our worship. Learn more here.

December 24

10 am • Prism Service with Intergenerational telling of God’s salvation story This year our Christmas Eve is on a Sunday! So, we’ll be incorporating the heart of our children’s Christmas Eve service into the Sunday Morning worship on Dec. 24. Since children are the storytellers in this service, we’ll need lots of kids to sign up for speaking and non-speaking role to help share the stories of Scripture. Even toddlers and preschoolers enjoy playing shepherds and angels—and you’re welcome to put on a costume to join them! We’ll need a few angelic parents to sit with the kids and shepherd them through their portion of the program! To prepare, we’ll have two rehearsals during the Sunday School hour on Dec. 10 and Dec. 17. So, you’ll simply need to be at church for the two Sundays before Christmas Eve and, and then arrive in time for your kids to get into their costumes before church on Dec. 24. Jo Howe will have sign-up sheets available on Sunday, so please find her at the children’s welcome kiosk before the service, or the craft tables in the fellowship following the service to sign your family up for the service!

11 pm • Communion & candlelight service

December 25

10 am • Christmas Day service

Christmas Day Musical Prelude Sunday, Dec. 25, 9:45am  

This year our children and teens are invited to share their musical gifts with the congregation by playing or singing a Christmas song before the Christmas Day service. This is a great opportunity for new musicians who are just learning an instrument as well as skilled musicians to play for an appreciative audience. Duets and quartets between a parent and child, siblings, or friends are welcome! Sign up at the children’s welcome kiosk or by emailing Jo at If you are playing in the musical prelude, please arrive at church at 9:40am on Christmas morning. *Please note the change this year from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day.

Council Update:

  1. At our Council meeting in September, we said we have a lot of big questions coming up. Also, we formed a new team to look into some of these larger questions, do the work required to dig deep into these questions, and report back to Council.
  1. In October’s Council meeting, we discussed the whole second pastor situation and decided we needed to have some of these larger questions answered before we look for a second pastor. Therefore, we are looking for an interim pastor to have someone preach consistently. Pastor Andrew will still preach in TOL, but this will give TOL consistency and reduce the workload for the staff.
  1. In November, we discussed COS’s relationship with CRC. We reviewed some history, we looked at various scenarios, and we received information from various Classis GR East events. No decisions were made or even proposed. The discussion at this point was to form a more common understanding of what is happening. Pam Bratt, former Council Chair, is very involved with these activities and joined us at the meeting. The Council Chairs of Classis GR East also meet on these issues to hear from each other and share information. The various facets of this topic are numerous and sometimes complex. The CRC remaining as we have known it is not likely. Something substantial is very likely to change. We are trying to position COS to live well into our statement on being a community of belonging. 2024 promises to be an interesting year for COS.
  1. Also, we had a Council and Staff Retreat in November. The goal of the day-long retreat was to give input into the “big questions” team mentioned in Item 1. We spent a lot of time discussing various questions such as “Where we have seen God at work at COS in the past?”, “What makes COS COS?” and “What are our hopes and dreams for the future?”

In summary of these meetings, the emphasis on what are we called to in the next phase of our journey at COS is not accidental. In paraphrasing one person’s comments at a Council meeting: “I really doubt we are going to get to heaven and God is going to ask us if we are CRC, RCA, Presbyterian, or….  God is much more likely to ask us about how we treated our neighbor, the poor, the hungry, the lonely, the oppressed, the stranger in our land, and the person we disagree with who thinks differently about issues than we do. Do we think and act and speak with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…..”

If you have thoughts, you are welcome to share them with Eric Walstra, Council Chair, or any Council member.  The new year will bring some more specific opportunities for the congregation to give input.

Church Announcements:

Pledge Drive: To live into our overall vision statement and recently adopted “Our Calling: a Community of Belonging” statement, COS leadership has chosen “refuge” as a guiding theme. When we support Church of the Servant’s mission with our time, treasure, and talent, we are responding to God’s invitation. God calls us to be a community “rooted in Christ, nurtured by the Spirit, to grow in God’s grace to share gifts of refuge, fellowship, and hope.”

The Stewardship team is inviting each of us to make a pledge of our finances as we live out our commitment to be a community of refuge. Both in our year-end giving and in the pledges for the 2024 General Fund that we make this December, we are showing ourselves to be people of refuge. Questions? Contact any member of the Stewardship team: Chuck Hampton, Joan Huyser-Honig, Carol Rienstra, Michael Zahrt, Andrew Zwart. You can pledge online. You can fill out a printed form at church to put in the offering bowl or designated box or to mail to the church office.

So far, we have received 12 pledges totaling $93,660 • Avg pledge: $7805.

Collecting Bar Soap for the COS Food Pantry • All of December 

Beginning in Advent, the children’s ministry will be collecting a new personal care item each month to help stock up our food pantry with these essential items. Personal care items are hard to keep in stock because the gift cards we receive through Simply Give can’t be used to purchase no-food items. Everyone in the congregation is invited to donate bar soap during the month of December. If the item of the month is something you can give, please encourage your child to join you in shopping for or purchasing the item. A bin will be available near the children’s check-in kiosk for collection.       

Collecting Used Coats, Hats, and Gloves for All Ages • All of December

As the weather gets cold, we find it’s helpful to have winter items available to share. If you have gently used winter items that you’re ready to part with, please bring them to church to drop off near the children’s check-in kiosk. 

Advent Devotions for Families • Available through Dec. 17

Special seasons of the church year are a great time to try new ways to worship as a family. Look for a resource table in the Café this Sunday featuring a variety of Advent and year-round devotionals available for purchase at a discounted rate.

Security Team Members Needed: The Security Team is entrusted with keeping the members, guests, and visitors physically safe and secure by endeavoring to make a safe facility, assistance in case of a medical emergency, and basic protection from fire, abuse, and intrusion. This Team is looking for volunteers to rotate Sundays and Wednesdays. For questions, to volunteer, or for a copy of the Security Team Mandate, contact Monica Smith or the church office.

Save the Foam: ‘Tis the season for shipping packages, and many of them contain Styrofoam and plastic. Please don’t throw it away in your trash or try to recycle it curbside. The COS Creation Care Team (CCT) will be providing an opportunity to recycle Styrofoam on two consecutive Sundays in January: the 7th and the 14th. Bring your clean, white Styrofoam to COS on either morning. A receptacle will be near the main entrance, door A. Note that plastic bags and film from your packaging can be recycled at many grocery stores. Questions? Contact Peggy Milliken.

Facilities Team is looking for some shoveling volunteers who will monitor the snow fall during Sunday services and Wednesday activities, and be willing to clear the sidewalks. Contact Bob Hoeksema or Monica Smith if you are willing to shovel snow.

Medical On-Call Team: In addition to more Security Team members, the Security Team is looking to form a sub-group with current or retired medical professionals who would be willing to be on the schedule for a Sunday morning emergency. This person would become the point person for the emergency, with support from the Security Team and Sunday Facilities Coordinator who would contact 911 and direct emergency vehicles. Hopefully, the Medical On-Call Team would be a safety net we don’t use very often. If you are willing and able to be part of the MOCT or for more information, contact the Church Administrator, Monica, or one of the co-chairs of the Security Team Dave Stransky  or Isaac Young.

Pledge Drive: In these final weeks of 2023, we as COS members and friends can put our money where our mission is: “Rooted in Christ and nurtured by the Spirit, we grow in God’s grace to share gifts of refuge, fellowship, and hope.” Both in our year-end giving and in our pledges for the 2024 General Fund, we are saying that we really want to “create a community where the burdened and suffering will find shelter, where the alienated will be accepted, and where those seeking God will be shown the way.” Please make your pledge – whether large or small – before the end of the year by completing this online form, or using the paper form that will be available in December. If you have questions, contact a member of the Stewardship Committee – Chuck Hampton, Joan Huyser-Honig, Carol Rienstra, Michael Zahrt, Andrew Zwart.

New art up in the Artery: This show by COS member Betsy Ratzsch is a fundraiser for Women’s Personal Hygiene items, which are often not covered by the usual sources of aid. The paintings have been priced at lower than regular prices and 100% of the amount goes to the fund. Maybe one could even be a gift for someone special! Questions: contact Betsy Ratzsch. Thank you, from The Artery Committee

Prisoners in Christ Update: Recent sermons by Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra and Dr. Todd Cioffi highlighted some ways God uses people who have been impacted by crime and incarceration.  Ron talked about God’s faithfulness to “my cousin Troy” and Todd referred to a mother who “adopted” the person who killed her son.  Nancy Knol gave a moving testimony at the COS Thanksgiving Service about a member of the Handlon book group who had a parole hearing.  If you weren’t there to hear it, she’s willing to repeat the story!    If you are interested in learning more about how Prisoners in Christ has been representing Church of the Servant and our Lord Jesus Christ inside and outside of prisons, in our state and beyond, for almost 20 years, read this and check out the Prisoners in Christ website for more stories and news as it develops. 

COS Anti-Racism team Invitation: The COS Anti-Racism team (Dawn Plescher, Arend VanderPols, Ellen Westrate, Jolanda Howe, Janice McWhertor, Carol Rienstra) invites you to a “reparations work group” that meets on the first Thursday of each month at Oakdale Park CRC. The next meeting is Thursday, December 7, from 7-8 p.m.  For more information, or for a free copy of the book Reparations: A Christian Call to Repentance and Repair,  contact Janice McWhertor or Carol Rienstra. According to Reparations co-author Duke Kwon “After centuries of neglect, our moral senses around reparations are collectively numbed. We’ve habitualized unrepentance. We’ve normalized the plunder of Black bodies. We capitulated to the remonstrations of our White brothers and sisters. We can barely imagine what life in the church and in society could be like once rid of the scourge of White supremacy. To find reparations morally compelling, then, what American Christians most need is not foremost a set of reparations “how-to’s,” but a renewed moral imagination—one that’s steeped in the grace of repentance, the disquieting facts of history, the vocation of radical neighbor-love, the renunciation of control and entitlement, and the hope and courage of the resurrection. And as we grow in this way, and only as we do, our capacity to envision new and creative possibilities of repair will also grow.”

Preaching Schedule

Dec. 10             ANS – Charles Rugiramarora, TOL – Pastor Mary Hulst

Dec. 17             ANS – Ruth Lemmen, TOL – Pastor Andrew Mead

Dec. 24             10 am – Intergenerational Program, 11 pm – Len Vander Zee

Dec. 31             Prism Service – Rachel Park