This Sunday at COS:

On this Epiphany Season Sunday, Rev. Len Vander Zee will preach from Deuteronomy 18:15-20 and Mark 1:21-28 inour Tree of Life service in the large sanctuary. Rev. Andrew Mead will preach from 1 Timothy 4:8-16 in the All Nations Worship service in Room 4.

Following worship, stick around for Sunday School for all ages including our Adult-ed Sunday School (GPS) in room 3. Today in GPS we welcome Harry Plantinga (read more about GPS below)

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

From Council:

Council extends a thank you to Len Vander Zee for being our interim pastor of preaching and worship. He began Sunday, January 21, and will continue through at least the first half of 2024 as Council continues to evaluate the needs of COS, the congregation, and staff.

In our denomination, Church Order lays out a plan for Church Visitors. Appointed by a Classis (a regional group of churches, COS belongs to Classis Grand Rapids East), Church Visitors are typically two-person teams who connect with a set number of churches within the Classis regularly. The Church Visitor Team connecting with COS came to our January Council meeting. They were kind and gracious. They prayed with Council, and they encouraged Council saying, “You are a healthy church who is deeply committed to your mission: Rooted in Christ and nurtured by the Spirit, we grow in grace to share gifts of refuge, fellowship, and hope. The unity your Staff and Council displayed in your commitment to COS and your mission is very special. We often don’t see that.” Also, they noted, COS has several challenges in front of us from Pastor Karen leaving to our relationship with the CRC. They encouraged us to be intentional about planning for the future and that we are not alone in our challenges with the CRC. We will continue developing this relationship in the future.

Flourishing Forward: Given our commitment to our mission and to our calling to be a community of belonging in Christ, Council established the Flourishing Forward Team to answer some of the big questions in front of us. Council is asking them to gather input from the congregation, staff, and other stakeholders and discern the direction in which God is calling us. They are presently reviewing input from the Council retreat, past visioning exercises and congregational master planning, and engaging with various people within the congregation at COS. The Team’s members are Claudia Beversluis, Ken Heffner, Ruth Lemmen, Margaret Mwenda, Kate Snow, Andrew Vyumvuhore, and Klaas Walhout. Please be in prayer for them as we seek God’s will.

In Sunday, January 21’s GPS, several members of leadership talked about COS’s relationship with the CRC denomination. Nothing profound. No decisions have been made. Several documents were shared which Council has reviewed, and some updates on what is happening at the Classis level. If you were unable to attend and want a short recap of the meeting, you can contact Eric Walstra or Pam Bratt.

Continue praying for Council and the CRC as we face many of challenges ahead. Prayer and support become even more important for the two people from COS who were selected as delegates from Classis GREast to Synod 2024, Cindy VanderKodde and Eric Walstra. (Synod is the annual meeting of the denomination, while each Classis can send delegates, anyone can attend or watch online. More details on how closer to the June meetings) These are difficult times, and we cherish your prayers.

Outreach and Congregational Life:

Be a Beacon of Hope! A blood transfusion can literally be the gift of life. No one plans to be in a car accident, have a heart attack, or have emergency surgery. But if that happens, and blood is needed, it’s too late to recruit a donor. A good supply of blood at all times is critical. So be your most generous self – donate blood!  Our next blood drive is in two weeks: Monday, February 12, from 2-7pm in our church cafe. Follow this link to the online schedule:  If you are already signed up, thank you! Would you ask a family member or friend to join you in donating? Most people donate for the first time after receiving a personal invitation or by knowing someone who needed blood. Questions? Contact Beth Karanicola or Ruth Huisman. THANK YOU!

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. A call or email to anyone on the ministry staff is fine, and Ben or Andrew attend to needs along with the Parish Care Team. 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.

Prisoners in Christ: 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. Note that there is a movement to amend the 13th Amendment of the US constitution that says there shall be “no slavery or no servitude in these United States except as punishment for a crime.” Sign up to receive regular updates about this movement and learn how you can help educate others, and “end the exception.” For more information, email Troy Rienstra at

Financial Freedom Event: For those who wish to learn about turning debt, deficiencies and delinquencies into deposits, dividends and deeds, consider signing up for the 4-session dfree 12 Steps to Financial Freedom course offered 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.

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.


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.

155 pledges totaling $875,688 ( Avg pledge $5,650)

Last year we had154 pledges totaling $868,780.

Giving receipts for calendar year 2023 went in the mail this 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:

GPS this Sunday- Harry Plantinga will lead our GPS session on Sunday January 28. Harry is the director of, an online hymn and worship music database. He is also director of, a digital library providing free electronic copies of Christian scripture and literature to build up the church. Harry will share where these websites came from, where they are headed, and the role they play in spiritual formation generally and in his own life.

Upcoming Spiritual Formation Class– Harry Plantinga is extending an invitation to join him for a biweekly spiritual formation class he will be leading. The goal is for participants to experience a deeper intimacy with God and it will be organized around Richard Rohr’s book “Everything Belongs”. The book is “a personal retreat for those who hunger for a deeper spiritual life but don’t know what contemplation is.” This spiritual formation sessions will begin on February 11 at 9 AM (Note date and time change!). It will meet eight times, every other Sunday until May 5. All are invited to this “unretreat” over the next couple of months, spending a few minutes a day in suggested exercises leading to a deeper intimacy with God. Contact Harry soon to sign up for this class to ensure there are enough materials for all participants. Harry Plantinga. Learn more here.

Upcoming GPS: Our page on the COS website lists our upcoming GPS sessions. Here’s some of the presenters and topics to look forward to:

Feb. 11 – Religion and Political Polarization with Marillie Coetsee
Feb. 18 – Presentation from the COS AntiRacism Team
Feb. 25 – The Danger of a Good Story: Telling Our Messy Stories as an Act of Repentance and an Exercise in Sanctification (read more below)
March 10 – The COS Mental Health Team presents Jeff Munroe, author of Telling Stories in the Dark.

For adult education 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.

Rescheduled: Mulick Park All-Church Sledding Meetup: New Date: February 10, 1:30pm-3:30 pm. The slushy snow would likely have caused a cancelation, but Jo made the call earlier this week due to the death of an uncle, whose funeral is at the same time. Since the forecast for next weekend also looks warm, the new date is Feb. 10. Let’s hope the snow comes back by then! 

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. This season there’s also an option for adults called Seekers and Skeptics, led by Len Vander Zee. 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 Names Revealed for 2nd-6th Grade Clubs on February 7th! Last fall 2nd-6th graders explored the theme of Refuge, and how to help make our clubs a place of refuge where all are welcome. We worked on coming up with new gender-neutral names for Girls Club and Boys Club. We aimed for names that capture the ethos and energy of each group, to make it easier for kids to choose the club that suits them best, regardless of gender. Those who participated in Girls Club were especially involved in this process and have been waiting in suspense for the big name reveal after several rounds of voting! If your children are in 2nd through 6th grade and haven’t been to COS on a Wednesday, February 7 would be a great time to come for dinner and check out the clubs! 

Help Needed for Wednesday Night Dinner Cleanup. Jo has added the names of parents whose kids are involved in programming on Wed. night to take turns helping Ellen and her crew vacuum, do dishes, and wipe down tables after dinner. If there’s a reason you shouldn’t be on the list, please let Jo know. Or, if you don’t see yourself on the schedule, but are you’re willing to join the rotation, please let me know! This act of service doesn’t take a lot of time but is very helpful to the success of our Wednesday night gatherings. The new volunteer schedule will go out this week, so please look for an email from Monica Smith coming from Rotunda Services, and check your spam box this week if you don’t see it!


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. 4               Prism combined service – Lucy Gitau
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