COS has a rich history of deep and meaningful adult education opportunities. Our Sunday Morning Adult Ed Sunday School has included times of story and testimony, theological discussions, lectures, and opportunities to share about what God is doing in our lives.

GPS sessions have three stated goals:

  • Build community
  • Expand our view of God
  • Grapple with faith

We invite you to join us Sundays immediately following our 10 am worship services on the following dates:

GPS Dates:
Info and Topics:
Upcoming GPS Sessions:
May 5, 2024Conflict in the Congo
Among the many horrible conflicts in the world, one of the worst is the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has killed an estimated 6 million people over the last three decades. Some of the people whose lives were uprooted by this conflict have made their way to Grand Rapids and worship with us here at COS. Andrew Vyumvuhore and other COS members will tell their stories; come listen, learn what is happening in the East Africa, and bear witness to resilience in the face of immense suffering.
Past GPS sessionsInfo and Topics
April 28, 2024Israelis and Palestinians – Two Traumatized Peoples: Key Understandings for Americans
This presentation, led by Bart Den Boer, briefly addressed how the post-WWII traumas of Israelis and Palestinians affect their relationship to each other and other parties. It examined the reality of settler colonialism, the military occupation of Palestine, the siege of Gaza, and apartheid. It considered a way forward that is not recognized by either Hamas or the Israeli government, but honors biblical shalom and is thoroughly American.
April 21, 2024The Pain and the Blessings of the Ukrainian Wartime Refugees
This week in GPS we welcomed John Bernbaum. Ukrainian refugees began one of the largest migrations since World War II when the Russian armed forces invaded their country in February 2022. What happened to these refugees, mostly women and children, and what impact have they had where they settled? How has God used the evil of this vicious war to build God’s Kingdom?
April 14, 2024Update from Council regarding Synod 2024
April 7, 2024Beyond Homelessness
This Sunday, GPS welcomed Steven Bouma-Prediger, professor of Religion at Hope College. This presentation focused 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.
March 24, 2024From 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, led a Lenten GPS discussion on Handel’s Messiah. This session focused 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.
March 17, 2024COS Mental Health Team – Part Two
March 10, 2024The COS Mental Health Team presents Jeff Munroe, author of Telling Stories in the Dark. Jeff joined us to talk about healing and hope amid grief and loss.
Feb. 25, 2024The Danger of a Good Story: Telling Our Messy Stories as an Act of Repentance and an Exercise in Sanctification

For adult education on Feb 25, the COS anti-racism team hosted 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 learned about an often-overlooked piece of Classis Grand Rapids East’s history and why it’s important to embrace our messy stories. Our presenter was 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.
Feb. 18
Disrupting the Cycle of Exploitation in Housing

In GPS this Sunday, we looked behind the curtain of racism in America, focusing specifically on the impact of housing policies. We explored how overtly racist policies of the past set the stage for the covert ways today’s housing market creates stability and wealth primarily for white families while trapping many Black and Brown families in poverty. We considered what we can do individually and collectively to disrupt this cycle of exploitation.
Feb. 11Religion and Political Polarization: Marillie Coetsee presenting

“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.”
Jan. 28, 2024Harry Plantinga led our GPS session on Sunday, January 28. Harry is the director of, an online hymn and worship music database. He is also the director of, a digital library providing free electronic copies of Christian scripture and literature to build up the church. Harry shared 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.”

These spiritual formation sessions will begin on February 11 at 11:45 AM (Note the date and time change!) in the Glass Room. 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.
Jan. 21, 2024“Conversations about Synod 2024: Updates from council and classis” by Pam Bratt, Eric Walstra, Cindy VanderKodde, and David Clemo.
Dec. 17, 2023Come a-caroling!
In the Dec. 17 GPS, Cal and Maria Stapert led us in singing and learning the history of Christmas carols. We learned about and sang some old, some new, some familiar, some forgotten carols.
Dec. 10, 2023What are the “Great O Antiphons”?
In GPS we had a little liturgical history, a little poetry, a little chanting, a little artwork, and a little taste of our Advent O Antiphon service. The hope is that this GPS session gives a richer understanding of the depths of the O Antiphons, around which our special evening Advent service is organized.
Nov. 19, 2023Movie Discussion: Barbie from a Christian Worldview. 

Debra Rienstra, Stacey Steen, Madeline Witvliet, and Annaka Ediger provided their perspectives on the movie and facilitated a discussion about what this movie has to say about our culture’s view of women and men and how we as Christians might respond. 
Nov. 12, 2023The Philosophy of Gender
Prof. Kevin Timpe discussed how our views of gender can shape our conception of God
Oct. 29, 2023From “Toxic” Privilege to Loving Sacrifice: How Jesus and the Gospel Revolutionize Male Identity

Christians often feel stuck between cultural and Christian scripts of masculinity. We see and want to address the struggles and crises associated with masculinity in broader society and in the church. But sometimes our appeals to the “biblical” vision of masculinity only betray our own biases instead of illuminating what Jesus and the apostles actually said. Through the lens of male sexuality, we’ll take another look at what a theologically and biblically informed vision of renewed humanity can and should look like. We’ll also see how an identity built around the Christian virtue of love can not only enable men to live in freedom and joy, but also empower them for service and the work of justice. (Both men and women are welcome and encouraged to attend!)

This week we welcomed Zachary Wagner, author of Non-Toxic Masculinity
Recovering Healthy Male Sexuality
Oct. 22, 2023How We Worship at COS: What you need to know

Ron Rienstra led on “PIED beauty” – a discussion on principles for the use of music in worship at Church of the Servant. Why do we sing the music we do? What guides music planners in their choices? (hint: It’s more complicated than just choosing a few favorite hymns!)
Oct. 15, 2023Refugium
Nick Wolterstorff gave a presentation and led a discussion by reflecting on the origins and history of COS through the lens of Refugium.
Oct. 8, 2023COS: A Refuge for Whom?

Safe Church Sunday – Members of our Safe Church team held a panel on our Safe church policy and discuss what practices should be in place to make sure COS is a Safe Place and a trauma-informed church.
Sept. 24, 2023Faithful Advocacy in a Warming World
Kyle Meyaard-Schaap presentation on Creation Care and advocacy.
See his presentation slides here.
Sept. 17, 2023Understanding Our Times and Knowing What To Do

Nick Wolterstorff gave a presentation and led a discussion on how we go about understanding our ever-changing times.

Check out the GPS Sessions from Last Year:

2022 -2023
GPS Dates:
Info and Topics:
Past GPS Sessions:
April 23, 30, May 14, 21For our last four GPS sessions of the program year, Dr. Gary Burge will present four sessions of his course, How to Read a Parable.

Throughout his ministry, Jesus used parables to explain how many of his primary teachings should be understood. This reflex to employ story (rather than abstraction) is characteristically Jewish and is known in the Middle East even today. However, this story-telling technique also used cultural codes that only Jesus’ ancient audience understood. And many of them are lost to us today. By reclaiming them, we will discover how to interpret Jesus’ parables and discover new meanings in them. Join us on April 23, 30, May 14, and 21 at 11:45 am.
April 16A Tale of Two Easters – a personal reflection on 20th Century life in Ireland and the Significance of the Good Friday Agreement

Some of our young people will be following in the footsteps of President Biden and spending time in Northern Ireland over the summer break. Many of the recent headlines reflecting on the Presidential visit have dealt with the 25th Anniversary of the peace accord which has come to be known as ‘The Good Friday Agreement’. Why should we pay attention to the process which led to this document and what lessons can be learned from the political, cultural and spiritual journey from Easter 1916 to Easter 1998 on the island of Ireland? Come along to GPS to hear some stories, poetry and conversation to explore this topic together.
March 26God’s People Seeking this week continues this month’s focus on Mental Health and the church by welcoming a panel of mental health professionals discussing their work and its implications within a worshipping body.
March 19Following the worship services this Sunday (March 19), Dr. Danjuma Gibson will present on the importance of lament and griefwork within the life of a congregation. Dr. Gibson is professor of pastoral care at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is also in private practice as a psychotherapist. Prior to joining Calvin Seminary, he was the senior pastor of a church in Chicago for over sixteen years and was also bivocational as a commercial banker during that time. In addition to his 2018 book on Frederick Douglass, his areas of research include emotional and psychological trauma, the intersection of black religious experience and psychoanalytic discourse.
February 19 and March 12Racism and Policing in America
Why is it that in the United States more than 1,000 people, particularly young Black men, are killed by the police each year? By comparison, in England in 2019, police killed 3 people (0.5 per 10 million, as compared to 33.5 per 10 million). In a two-part presentation, we look at “why?” The first session will examine the larger historical and structural context of policing in the United States. The second session will look at Grand Rapids specifically.

Presenter Joseph Kuilema is a visiting professor in the School of Social Work at Grand Valley State University. Before that, he taught at Calvin University for 14 years. He was baptized at COS in 1982 and was a member for decades.
February 12Making Your Home Climate Friendly: A Discussion with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.

Have you been thinking about improving the energy efficiency of your home, adding solar panels, or replacing appliances with climate-friendly alternatives? Have you wondered how best to evaluate and prioritize the different available options? Are you curious about qualifications for incentive programs (especially through the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act) that could help offset your initial costs? If your answer to any of these is ‘yes,’ then join us for the GPS at 11:45-12:30 in Room 3 on Sunday, February 12. Mark Ogland-Hand from Habitat for Humanity of Kent County will share insights and tips from the organization’s extensive experience in energy-efficient and zero-emissions homes.
January 29Join us for a GPS this Sunday about Classis, the draft Vision Statement, and COS.  We are offering two options. First, if you missed the walk-through of the vision statement by council last week, you can watch it in Room 3. Second, the Next Steps Task Force invites you to join us this week for an update on what is happening in Classis Grand Rapids East.  Classis met last week and voted on some important overtures and appeals about the Human Sexuality Report as well as the discipline of Neland Ave CRC and Classis GRE. This is a great way to get caught up on the latest developments.  We will also talk about the risks and possibilities you see going forward at COS with the draft vision statement from council. We will meet in the sanctuary after the morning service.
DecemberG.P.S. Schedule. GPS (God’s People Seeking) invites you to join us on Sundays in Fellowship Room 3 (next to the café) from 11:45am-12:30pm. GPS seeks to offer a space where friends and members of COS can build connections, expand their view of God, and grapple with faith.

“When COS Went to Prison”. 11:45-12:30, Sunday, Dec. 11 GPS
Prisoners in Christ team members Patrick Campbell, Lynette LaBine, Rich and Carol Rienstra, Arend VanderPols and Jennifer West will share some of the impacts that COS is having in and beyond prison. Consider chapter 5 of Nick Wolterstorff’s book “Beyond Imagining,” and hear about the monthly Monday restorative justice supper conversations that are drawing dozens of community members into the COS space of refuge, fellowship, and hope.

On December 18, COS members who have been involved in the Handlon prison book group, the Celebration Fellowship prison congregation, and the Calvin Prison Initiative will give testimony about how their involvement inside prison has affected their thinking and living on the outside.
November 13November’s GPS theme is Jubilee and your Checkbook. These sessions will explore how Jubilee shaped Israel’s understanding of economics, and how this vision might impact our view of finances today. This Sunday (11/13), GPS welcomes Kurt Schaefer to discuss “The Economics of Jubilee” in Room 3.
November 20GPS on November 20 will include a presentation after the worship services titled “Estate Planning for Everyone”. In this session, COS member and attorney Mike Zahrt will talk about medical and legal/financial powers of attorney, how to create a will, and how to include COS as a part of your will or estate plan. No matter your age or life circumstance, if you don’t have a will or estate plan, or you think yours needs to be updated, you may find this session helpful. This presentation has been arranged by the COS Legacy Foundation Trustees and the Stewardship Committee.

October 9-30th

Refugia Faith with Debra Rienstra and Dave Koetje
To follow up on our wonderful observance of the Season of Creation at COS, join Dave Koetje and Debra Rienstra during the month of October to explore the concept of refugia. On October 9 and 16, Debra will present and lead a discussion on her book Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth. (No need to read the book ahead of time!) We’ll learn about seven transformations that can prepare us as people of faith to become healers and people of refugia in a crisis-stressed world.

On October 23 and 30, Dave will lead us on an informative walk around COS’s nature trail (23rd), where you can see how COS is engaged in ecosystem restoration. The next week (30th) we’ll learn about and discuss Dave’s research into “refugia gardening.” Join us for a thought-provoking and encouraging time of responding to our call to be earth healers.

COS Nature Trail Guide
Powerpoint Slides from October 30 – Refugia Gardening