This Sunday at COS:

On this Epiphany Season Sunday, Lucy Gitau, one of our Seminary Interns, will preach from Isaiah 40:21-31 and Mark 1:29-39 in our Prism combined service in the large sanctuary.

Following worship, stick around for our all-church meal.

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

Outreach and Congregational Life:

Neighbors need neighbors to make a difference. Our church’s next blood drive is only one week away! Give blood, save lives and strengthen our community! Donate here on Monday, February 12, 2-7pm, in the church fellowship room. Make an appointment online  or contact Ruth Huisman who can schedule a time for you. This important service to our community does not cost money, but an hour of your time to share your gift of life. Be someone’s hero – donate blood!

Prayer Requests: To all in our congregation who have care needs, prayer requests, or answers to prayer, we as a ministry staff suggest a couple primary ways to share those to either the congregation as a whole, or to the ministry staff and Council in particular. Ben, Andrew, or Len attend to needs along with the Parish Care Team, so reach out to them or to your elder. A call or email to the office or anyone on the ministry staff is also welcomed. Beyond that, we can also publish needs in the bulletin, if you request that we do so. Thanks so much, COS!

AntiRacism: COS has embraced and led antiracism work for over 25 years. CORE (Communities Organizing for Racial Equity) is a non-profit that has emerged out of this continued effort. CORE is a group of Christ followers who work to empower and equip organizations, congregations, and communities to organize and disciple their members to become agents of institutional and individual racial justice leaders. CORE has workshops planned for 2024. One was just completed on January 25 and 26. The next one is a workshop on zoom held on six Wednesday evenings from 6-9pm. The dates are February 21, 28, March 6, 13, 20 and 27.  Another workshop is scheduled to be held at COS on April 11 (5:30-9pm), 12 (8:30am-6pm) and 13 (8:30am-5pm) Learn more here.

January 2024 Directory Print: The green 2023 Directory is obsolete, replaced by the blue January 2024 Directory. Copies are available by the TOL mailboxes and in the ANS space on the sound table. We’ve endeavored to correct known errors, make changes, keep up with the many additions and subtractions. When you have changes (photos, address, phone, email, etc.) throughout the year, send them to We plan to ask for updated pictures in the summers, with a goal of annually printing the directory in September of each year.

ESL starts snowy — Despite a “snow day” during the first week of the spring term, Friendship ESL has just seen its record daily attendance, record weekly classes taught, record weekly sessions, and record tutors-in-action.  Thus, it should be no surprise: the “tutors wanted” sign is hanging outside Room ESL, waiting for you.

The ESL/International Women’s Bible study begins its winter/spring season on Thursday, February 8. We will be studying how to live as Christians in community by examining what Scripture says about community. It says a lot! Plus we will be sharing perspectives from different cultures. Please join us at 10 a.m. on Thursday mornings from the 8th through May 23. Questions? Contact Barbara Hampton.

Every year since 2014, COS Prisoners in Christ Restorative Justice team has participated in the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) week of Locked in Solidarity by offering a training or event.   This year we encourage our members and friends to check out information and opportunities that are available online,  including daily webinars during the week of Feb. 5-9, 2024.    

Turn debt, deficiencies and delinquencies into deposits, dividends and deeds! On Saturdays, February 17th, 24th and March 2nd, 9th from 12 PM to 2 PM in the Reconciliation of Life center at Steepleview Apartments, 501 Eastern Ave., Suite 102, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.  Register today! Facilitated by Project GREEN.   The cost is $25 for materials.  If you have questions or need help with the fee, reach out to Carol at 616-724-6772.

From Council:

Documents from the January 21 GPS: Thank you to so many people joining us in GPS two weeks ago for our “Conversations about Synod 2024”. Cindy VanderKodde and Eric Walstra will be delegates to Synod 2024 from classis GRE. Here are some documents from that presentation giving some history, the “Conversation among friends” that shared various perspectives and discussions from council and classis, and some “principles” that are being discussed. These conversations will continue, and we welcome your input into them. Feel free to talk to any council member, use the form on our website or there will be other opportunities in the coming months.  Please continue to pray for our church and the many people navigating these challenging discussions.


Ash Wednesday Service – February 14: Everyone is invited to our Ash Wednesday worship service on February 14 at 7 pm in the Large Sanctuary. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a season for introspection and spiritual renewal. In our evening service, we’ll reflect on our human fragility and the redemptive power of Christ. It’s a moment to reaffirm our commitment to daily repentance and to embrace the powerful truth that Christ has triumphed over death and sin. The service concludes with the imposition of ashes, a moving symbol of our repentance and recognition of our need for God’s grace.

Preaching Schedule
Feb. 11             ANWS – Makema Lwenge, TOL – Rev. Andrew Mead
Feb. 14             Ash Wednesday, 7 pm – Rev. Andrew Mead
Feb. 18             ANWS – Albert Strydhorst, TOL – Ruth Lemmen
Feb. 25             ANWS – Rachel Park, TOL – Rev. Len Vander Zee


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.
161 pledges totaling $902,988 (Avg pledge $5,609)
Last year we had 154 pledges totaling $868,780.

Giving receipts for calendar year 2023 went in the mail last Friday and should be received very soon. Please review your giving statements and contact AJ Zahrt if you have any questions or concerns.

We recently passed a milestone in our church history: the 30th anniversary of the first service held in our brand-new building. After 30 vibrant and eventful years of worship, fellowship, faith formation, VBS, ESL, GPS, and so on, this place is showing its age. Look around and you’ll see stuck doors, broken windows, warped sills, frayed carpet, inadequate security and more – all signs of an active community life and all in need of repair or replacement. But be assured – we’re on it! A task force has been identifying needs, estimating costs, and considering funding; you’ll hear more in the coming weeks about how you can learn about what’s needed and participate in the renewal of our refuge and our home.

Faith Formation:

Questions Anyone? Many of us find ourselves having questions, doubts, and wonderings about the Christian faith and the Bible. This is true whether we grew up as Christians or are just now discovering the Christian faith. This group, led by Len Vander Zee and Jack Roeda, will offer a space in which all such questions are honored and explored together. We may not necessarily arrive at answers to our questions that satisfy everyone, but we hope to find support and spiritual growth in exploring the questions together. Each meeting we will choose one or two questions from the group to discuss. The group will meet the first three Wednesdays of the month at 6:30-8pm beginning February 7. Join us for the all-church supper at 5:30 as well. 

GPS on Feb. 11- Religion and Political Polarization: Political polarization has grown dramatically in the US since the 1970s, and evidence suggests that it tends to undermine citizens’ commitment to democratic norms and civil dialogue. I begin by outlining some ways in which religious communities may aggravate political polarization, and in so doing undermine the health of democratic institutions. For some, this negative influence of religion on polarization may reinforce the idea that we should keep religion out of politics. However, I suggest that some of the same features of religious life that may lead believers to become more polarized can also be effectively used in the fight against polarization. Believers who are pro-active and reflective in drawing on their rich ethical traditions and social capital to facilitate dialogue between partisans may actually be able to help depolarize American politics.

GPS on Feb 25, the COS anti-racism team invites you to join us for a presentation titled “The Danger of a Good Story: Telling Our Messy Stories as an Act of Repentance and an Exercise in Sanctification”–in which we we’ll learn about an often-overlooked piece of Classis Grand Rapids East’s history and why it’s important to embrace our messy stories. Our presenter will be Jodi VanWingerden, BSW, M.Div., a member of Neland Ave CRC’s anti-racism team and Coordinator for Student Support and Sexuality Programming at Calvin University.

Seekers and Skeptics: Skeptical about Christianity? The existence of God? Curious about the relationship between faith and reason? This group will undertake a structured but open-ended exploration of questions central to the Christian tradition. We will select a course related to the philosophy of religion or the historical Jesus offered by The Great Courses, and watch and discuss a lecture from that course every other Sunday. The group will be led by Marilie Coetsee, assistant professor of philosophy at Hope College. Our aim is not to convert, but to move towards finding honest answers to difficult questions. In weeks between video lecture discussions, group members are invited to meet together for lunch. Want to hear more about this group? Join me for lunch after GPS on Sun., Feb. 11. To sign up for lunch on the 11th, contact

Youth Newsletter – Annette Ediger sends out a FREE! NO SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED! weekly newsletter to students (and parents of students) in grades 7-12. The newsletter keeps families looped in on activities and programs we offer to these students. And often includes some pictures of our recent activities. If you would like to get your name added to this newsletter list so you can be “in the know,” please email

UPDATE: Pop Up All-Church Sledding Meetup at Mulick Park 

Date To Be Determined by Snowfall Friends, it appears our alternate sledding date will also be lacking in snow, so I’ve decided to make this event a sledding “Pop Up.” This means Jo will wait to declare a new date for our sledding meetup until there is snow in the forecast. So, let’s all agree to be ready to join in the wintery fun on short notice, if the snow flies! In the event of a sledding pop up, you’ll hear about it on our COS and Children’s Ministry Facebook pages, the All-Nations Service WhatsApp group, and via email and the Friday Newsletter.

Safe Church Sunday School Lessons for Preschool-6th Grade Over the next few months, our preschool—6th grade Sunday School classes will each feature 1-2 lessons from the Circle of Grace curriculum aimed at helping to prevent abuse. I’ll be teaching these lessons along with our Safe Church Coordinator, Amy Heeringa. Circle of Grace is, “designed to provide children, youth and parents with a knowledge and language to assist the adults in their faith community to keep them safe.” We hope you’ll send your children to these sessions and follow up with them after class to review the materials sent home. The dates of the lessons will be Feb. 11 for the Preschool- 1st Grade Class, March 10, for the 2nd-4th Grade Class, and April 21 & 28 for the 5th-6th Grade Class. Please reach out to me or Amy if you have any questions.  

February 7th: Wednesday Night Meals and Programs Begin Again! 5:30pm Dinner, 6:30-8:00pm Programming. Our Wednesday night meals are a great chance for the congregation to gather to break bread and connect. After dinner, ministries will meet throughout the building with opportunities for children and students in 2nd grade through high school grow in faith and build faith-nurturing relationships with peers and adults who care. Nursery will be available for children in first grade and younger. The Winter/Spring Wednesday Night Ministry dates are Feb. 7, 21, Mar. 6, 13, 20, and Apr. 10, 17.  You’ll notice that Ash Wed. is Feb. 14, so there is no programming that night, but there will be an Ash Wednesday service, and the first week of April is off for spring break.   

New Name Reveal for 2nd– 6th Grade Club Ministries! February 7th During Wednesday Night Programs. This Wednesday night will include the exciting reveal of the new names for Girls Club and Boys Club! Last fall, we explored the theme of refuge, and the many ways we all contribute to making our clubs places of refuge, where all feel welcome. We thought it would be nice to choose new names for our clubs—names that capture the energy and vibe of each–so kids could feel comfortable choosing the club that suits them best, regardless of gender. Those who participated in Girls Club even voted on several rounds of names. Wednesday night they’ll find out the results! Both clubs will also be starting new projects and activities, so this Wednesday is a great time for your kids to jump in if they haven’t been involved before!

Item of the Month for the COS Food Pantry: Lotion All of February 

The children’s ministry is collecting a new personal care item each month to help stock up our food pantry with these essential items. This month we invite everyone who can contribute a bottle of lotion. During these cold winter months lotion is so soothing. If it’s possible for you to donate a new, unopened bottle of Lotion, please include your child in shopping for and/or putting the item in the labeled basket near the front entrance to the church.