This Sunday at COS:

On this Lenten Sunday, worship in the Tree of Life and All Nations Worship services begins with a palm processional, after which we turn our focus toward Holy Week with a reading of the Passion narrative. We will intersperse the reading with hymns.

Following worship, stick around for Sunday School for all ages. In Adult-Ed GPS, we welcome Cal Stapert Professor Emeritus of Music at Calvin University, who will lead a Lenten GPS discussion on Handel’s Messiah. GPS meets in Room 3 following worship. (Read more about GPS below)

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

Flourishing Forward Team:

Council has asked the Flourishing Forward team to help discern COS’ ministry priorities and make recommendations regarding some of the complex questions facing the church. We’ve been meeting since December and have gathered input so far from ministry leaders, staff members, and All Nations congregants. This month, our focus is on listening to Tree of Life congregants.

Some of the questions we’ve been grappling with include: 

-What are COS’ ministry priorities?

-Should we replace our second pastor? What leadership model should we use?   

-How should we move forward in our relationship with the CRC? 

-What is the relationship between the All Nations and Tree of Life services? 

-How can we nurture involvement among all age groups? 

-How do we embrace the Statement of Belonging and our commitment to welcome queer people?

We’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions, or any other issues you feel we should consider. We’re providing two different ways to share your input with us. If you’d like to talk to one of us in person, we will be available for drop-in “office hours”-style conversations in the library or glass room after church on Sunday, March 17 or Sunday, March 24

If you’d prefer to put your thoughts in writing, we’ve created a short online questionnaire. You can access it here.

Thank you, 

The Flourishing Forward Team

Outreach and Congregational Life:

Wanted: Easter Brunch Goodies. Easter arrives Sunday, March 31st, and COS is celebrating with its high-feast day brunch after Easter service. Here’s how you can help: If your last name begins with A-E bring some bread, muffins, bars or cookies; if your last name begins with F-K, bring veggies; if L-R, bring fruit; if S-Z, bring something brunchy – deviled eggs, quiche squares, etc. As you arrive at church, place your food in the cafe on one of the serving tables. Have the food ready to be served (sliced, uncovered, etc.) The ovens and fridge in the kitchen will also be available, as will serving spoons and knives. Enjoy the spectacular worship service; then, head to the cafe to enjoy fellowship. The 2024 Easter Bruch Coordinator is Amy Sonheim. Please contact her with any questions.

If you bring flowers for the communion table on Easter, bring your flowers from the front of the church to help “dress” the café tables, then take your flowers home. Thank you so much!

Faith Promise Missionary Support: Our missionaries are involved in many different kinds of ministry. From leadership training to evangelism and church planting to ministry among immigrant peoples to teaching at K-12 schools to ministry with university students to intentional Christian community and ministries of justice.  And overlaid over all of them is ministry of presence, of friendship, of community. Please help support this work by pledging online hereWe need to raise $26,000 through Faith Promise giving for 2024.

Food Pantry Item of the Month: Deodorant. This item is low in stock in our food pantry, so if you’re able, please able contribute deodorant during the month of March. You’ll find baskets for collecting deodorant at the children’s cart next to the coat rack at the main entrance of the church. Our food pantry is one of the ways COS can be a refuge. Thank you for your contribution!

COS FREE table: Introducing the FREE table at the south end of the cafe bar table in our fellowship space. Feel FREE to take items left here, or to bring in items to add to the table, to share with others.

Holy Week and Easter with Kids:

Palm SundayA Palm Processional! Arrive at 9:50am. On Palm Sunday, people of all ages gather in the café ten minutes before the service to pick up palm branches and line up before being led through the worship service, waving palms as the congregation sing. This is a fun way for kids to embody the joy and celebration of the crowd on Palm Sunday as they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem! When the service starts, a liturgical dancer will lead the parade into the worship service you attend. No skills required, just a chance to wave palm branches in celebration of Christ the King!

A Dramatic Reading of the Passion Story, Children May Wish To Stay in the Service. Our Palm Sunday services include a dramatic reading of the passion story instead of a sermon. Illustrations of the reading are also included in the liturgy, making it an appealing service for children’s participation. Children’s Worship and Little Lambs will be available as usual, but some families like to keep their children in the service to hear the full passion story. 

Maundy Thursday: March 28, 7:00pm. The service starts around tables, with communion. Scripture is read while we witness foot washing. Next, we move to sanctuary, where everything is removed from the communion table and the black cloth banner taken down. The sanctuary is bare as we anticipate Good Friday. This service would be meaningful for kids who participate in the Lord’s supper and are used to staying up past 8pm. No other children’s programming or nursery will be available.

A Good Friday Prayer Walk: 12:15pm. Our Good Friday service is a quiet walk around our nature trail. We start at the front doors of COS and walk into the woods, pausing at several crosses along the trail for a Scripture reading and song, marking the journey to the cross and the suffering of Christ. Children are welcome and encouraged to participate.

Easter Morning Combined Service: March 31, 10:00am. Nursery & Little Lambs Programming Only (age 0-Preschool). On Easter Sunday children in Children’s Worship (ages kindergarten-2nd grade) remain in the worship service to experience the full Easter celebration! Consider arriving a little early and finding seats up close to the front, so your kids will have a great view of all that happens on Sunday morning–including the Halleluiah Chorus! 

Help your kids engage in Easter Sunday worship by: 

Joining the Easter flower Processional: Children love to bring flowers to decorate the communion table! Consider bringing a small flowering plant or cut flowers in a durable container your child can easily carry. Find a seat, then join the line forming at the back of the sanctuary. When it’s time, you’ll follow the leaders to the front, where your kids will give the flowers to one of the liturgical dancers who will place it on the table. Your kids will be delighted to see their flowers from their seat! Don’t forget to pick up your flowers to bring home after the service or after brunch.

Saving the green worship-help bag for the sermon: That’s the longest time of stillness in the service. Let kids know the doodle board and crafts are meant to keep their hands busy so their ears can listen to what the pastor is saying.

Prompting kid to move with the liturgy: Our liturgy involves standing, singing/humming, speaking, and maybe even clapping! Helping your kids move along with the liturgy and participate to their fullest will help them feel involved and engaged. Even kids who can’t yet read the words to a song can stand to hum along, help hold the hymnal or liturgy, or watch the musicians play their instruments. Whispering encouraging words like, “I love this song!” and wrapping an arm around their shoulder as you sing, or lifting a little one up to sing the words near their ears can help see what a joy it is to worship. 

Taking a bathroom break: It’s okay to take a bathroom break after the sermon or communion, or when you see your kid really needs a chance to stretch their legs, and get some wiggles out.

Hyping the Hallelujah Chorus: Get your kids excited about hearing and singing the Hallelujah Chorus on Easter Sunday! Share a video like this from the Sydney Opera House, pointing out all the musicians and singers who come together to sing this song of praise. Express that we will be joining Christians all over the world as we sing this song to God on Easter morning! Children in Kinder-2nd Grade who have attended Children’s Worship during Lent will remember burying the Alleluia during the sad time of Lent—now it’s time to celebrate and sing Alleluia with all our hearts!  

Staying for Easter Brunch & Crafts after church: Easter brunch is a fun way to enjoy a meal together after the service. Take note of the email newsletter to see which dish you’re recommended to bring to share. Please walk with your kids through the line so they don’t end up with more than they can eat! Easter themed crafts will be set up at the far end of the dining area for children to enjoy during brunch. These crafts will be easy for elementary-aged children to do on their own, but young children may appreciate the help of an older sibling or parent.

Easter Evening Testimonies, 6:00pm. Our Easter celebrations end with a 6pm Testimony Service. Three members of COS will share on the theme, “What does Resurrection mean to you?” Hearing others share from the heart about God’s power, love, and faithfulness is a significant way for older children and youth, as well as adults, to see how God works in our lives and sense God’s presence and love. Consider making this part of your Easter tradition!


Council Nominations:  At this time of the year each of our members is asked to prayerfully consider leading and caring for our congregation by serving as an elder or deacon.  The council needs to nominate four elders and two deacons for a new term.  If you feel so called and/or have questions about this opportunity please contact a member of the council or the nomination committee which consists of Kurt Schaffer, Jolene Vos-Camy and Suzanne Van Engen.

Faith Formation:

GPS March 24: From Slain Lamb to King of Kings. Perhaps you associate Handel’s Messiah primarily with Advent. Did you know Handel always performed it in Lent? The reason might not be what you expect.
Cal Stapert, Professor Emeritus of Music at Calvin University, will lead a Lenten GPS discussion on Handel’s Messiah. This session will focus on Part Two of Messiah, which dwells at great length on the Messiah’s suffering and death, but also moves on to his coronation as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Summer Mission Trip for students currently in grades 8-12: Join 100 other students from around the US as we participate in a LOCAL MISSION TRIP the week of June 22-29. Our base camp for the week will be LaGrave Ave. CRC and we will spend our week helping our neighbors and local organizations, worshiping “energetically” every night with 100’s of other HS students, and having fun. Students will need to commit to staying on this local mission trip 24/7 from June 22-29. Cost is $400. Assistance and fundraising opportunities are available, if needed. Contact Annette for more information or to reserve your spot.

Wednesday Night Meal & Programming in April. The schedule for the rest of winter/spring programming is April 10 and 17. April 17 will be the grand finale of our school year programming with the Pinewood Derby! We’ll take a break and start summer programming again in June.

GPS April 7: Beyond Homelessness. GPS welcomes Steven Bouma-Prediger, professor of Religion at Hope College. This presentation will focus on the big picture of homelessness and the three distinct kinds of homelessness discussed in his book Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement: Socio-economic homelessness, ecological homelessness, and post-modern homelessness.


Easter Season dance: join the dancers for Easter season as we dance the sermon response. Rehearsal will be held Tuesday, March 26 at 6:30 PM. Questions – contact Julie Yonkers.

Preaching Schedule
March 31          Easter Prism Service – Rev. Andrew Mead
April 7              ANWS – Ntarambirwa Alexis, TOL – Rev. Len Vander Zee
April 14            ANWS – Lucy Gitau, TOL – Rev. Andrew Mead
April 21            ANWS – Rev. Andrew Mead, TOL – Rev. Jack Roeda

Holy Week Worship Schedule:
Palm Sunday • March 24 • 10 am • ANWS & TOL
Maundy Thursday • March 28 • 7 pm • Café
Good Friday • March 29 • 12:15 pm • Outdoor Prayer Walk
Easter Morning • March 31 • 10 am • Prism combined service
Easter Brunch • 12 pm
Easter Testimonies • March 31 • 6 pm
The evening service will include testimonies from Lucy Gitau, Arend Vander Pols, and Mary Loeks.

Office and Facilities:

COS’s finances for early 2024. During the months of January and February, we all contributed $203,904 to our congregation’s core costs while our expenses came to $196,847. Including some interest earned, our total income came to $205,180. For now, we show a healthy balance, though the Finance Committee thinks it could still be higher. The Finance Committee is pleased and grateful to see so many experience the joy of faithful giving. Let’s keep it going!

Adopt-a-Garden – Spring 2024. The COS grounds are flourishing! Our native plants are growing rapidly and look lovely, but they need a little TLC from volunteers who can adopt a garden or section of a garden. Adopter responsibilities include preparing the garden bed in the spring, weeding 3 to 4 times a summer, watering if there is a drought, transplanting if an area is too thin with plants, and preparing the beds in the fall for their winter nap.

The COS website offers a brief list of the garden areas. Do you see an area that you could adopt? If so, please contact Hope Bradley.

You may use this PDF for a more thorough description of each garden and the care responsibilities.

April is Staff Appreciation Month at COS. Throughout the month of April, there will be a box in the café to place cards of thankfulness and encouragement.