The Vine - The Newsletter of West Leonard Street CRC

September 5, 2021



The Value of Work


One of the things I keep track of at work is attendance.  And there is in a drawer in the desk where we keep the file folders filled with the daily attendance. When August started, for example, the file was empty. There were no daily seating charts, no kid schedules, nothing in there at all. Looking at it now, August’s file is very full. I’ll squeeze the last few days in and then August will be a wrap. Attendance-wise at least!


For some reason, this attendance folder has on my mind. Why, I wondered? Why am I thinking about it at all? And while I was still laughing at myself, it came to me. Someone might see the empty-to-full attendance folder as a metaphor for how fast time flies by. But what came to me was how much the full file showed how much work we had done in the last month. Every piece of paper in that file was full of names of kids. Every kid on those lists had at least one to sometimes four hours of tutoring in a day. Reading and Math can be hard to care about for that many hours at a time, but we do our best.


It is an important thing to like what you do. For sixteen years, I worked with four other people at a job and we came to be the best of friends. Although it has been ten years since we’ve worked together, we still get together several times a year. What great gifts God gave us in each other!


The deep friendships you can make at your work are one of the things that give it value. Another one is found in the song “O Master Let Me Walk with Thee.” We sang this song at a recent Sunday evening service. Verse three goes like this:


“Teach me thy patience, still with thee,

In closer, dearer company,

In work that keeps faith sweet and strong,

In trust that triumphs over wrong.”


As a teacher, the patience part really resonated with me! However, it’s the line “in work that keeps faith sweet and strong” that had me thinking over all the jobs I’ve had that have helped to keep my faith sweet and strong. What a blessing it is when that is the case!  Teaching and tutoring can test your faith (lol) but it has always served to bring me closer to God. Loving my students comes out of God loving me.


God gave us work to benefit us. It gives our days meaning, grows our faith and our dependence on God and - oh yes - pays the bills! And all of this means even more when we “work as for the Lord instead of men.” (Colossians 3:23) Work has a lot of value for everyone; but even more so for the believer.


As this newsletter comes out on Labor Day weekend and the beginning of September, I have already put the very full August file folder in its new spot in the back of the drawer. Now September is in the front. A new month is a nice thing and I look forward with anticipation for what will fill it; especially with the kiddos I tutor. They are full of surprises!  Let’s thank God for the work he has given us to do, and may it keep our faith sweet and strong.


- Julie Vander Slik

Coffee Break Startup Alert

For old and prospective new Coffee Break Women’s Bible Study members, the first thing we want to announce is a change in the day of our Welcome Brunch. This fun and fellowship startup to our new season will be at 9:45 the morning of Tuesday, SEPTEMBER 21.  (Not the 14th as previously announced).

Secondly, if you are a woman, single or married, aged 19 to 90, with or without preschool babies or children, who would enjoy a weekly morning of studying the Bible, fellowship, and encouragement, consider joining us this year.  Or perhaps you have a friend or neighbor whom you could invite for this opportunity to learn more about the Good News of God’s Word.

We will be starting off our study with the Gospel of Mark. The groups are casual, conversational, and non-threatening. The brunch will be in the downstairs fellowship room with subsequent meetings in the Activity Center. Childcare is provided.  We will be waiting to see if you are someone God is sending to us this year!

Coffee Break Leaders: Betty Bouwman, Barb DeKorte, Lisa Kuiper, Karen Hengeveld, Mary Polonowski, Jan Wierenga

P.S. For planning purposes, we kindly request that you phone or email the church office to let us know if you are coming to the brunch and also if you will need child care: 616-456-1994 x201 or



Introducing the Building Improvement Team


Over the years as our building has aged, we have been fortunate to maintain it with the help of many in the church congregation. We are so fortunate to have the facilities that we have, and this building has been a blessing to many! Maintaining it is good, even great, but how can we IMPROVE the building? That is one of the many questions that the Building Improvement Team is going to start asking. The Building Improvement Team is a new subcommittee of Properties under the guidance of Diane Hamstra. Our main goal is to look at the church building with fresh eyes and see what we might be able to improve. We want to update, refresh and improve our facilities; how it looks AND how we use it.


Some of the questions we will be asking are: 

  • How are we using this space and how could it be better used? 

  • What does a visitor see when they enter the building or area?

  • How might our building bless the community in new ways?

  • Just because “that's the way it’s always been” doesn’t mean that’s the way it has to be.

  • Does the artwork and signage coordinate and serve the space’s intended purpose?


We are going to dream BIG and then with the help of the Properties Committee, Council and congregation, decide what is able to be a "now" project and what will be a future project. Budget will be considered and fundraising might be needed. We are also looking into partnering with a national organization called Partners for Sacred Spaces. Partnering with Partners will help us achieve some of our more extensive goals. 


Ultimately we want to continue using our facilities to the best of our ability so we can continue to grow devoted followers of Jesus who share his love for many future generations.


- the Building Improvement Team


Council News


Profession of Faith - One of the most joyous occasions that takes place within the church family occurred at the August Council meeting. Council members met with Paul and Rachael De Korte to hear Paul’s testimony pertaining to his profession of faith. Paul shared stories of growing up at West Leonard and provided thoughtful responses to the questions asked of him concerning his Christian journey. After Paul and Rachael left the meeting, a motion was made to affirm Paul’s profession and accept him into full membership at West Leonard Church. A public profession of faith is being planned for a date to be determined.


New Greeting Plan - A motion was made and approved at our meeting whereby all West Leonard members will have the opportunity to greet at the Sunday morning services. Some of the reasons cited were the recent change from six elders to five, that it would allow visitors to connect with more members and that it provides members an opportunity to greet those they might not normally speak with. The Bible has many examples of hospitality. Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in. (Matthew 25:35 NIV) 


Members will greet in the same location where elders are currently greeting-- between the glass doors at the bottom of the stairs. This location has several advantages. Visitors who have a nursery or elevator need can quickly be directed to each, along with directions to the restrooms or the coat rack. Elders will continue to greet at the doors leading into the sanctuary. This change is slated to go into effect Sunday, October 3, with a two-month schedule signup available soon. The need would likely be only once or twice per year and would be for 20-25 minutes of time, from 9:15-9:40.  

Coffee Fellowship is set to resume downstairs on October 3, COVID dependent.


Dan Wisneski, Clerk of Council






80+ Birthday

September 26       Sally Driesens (88)



September 14       Arie & Beth Veenje (48)

September 16       Rich & Sue Vander Meer (44)

September 27       Steve & Lou Anne Davis (41)



September 26       Jan Feliciano



September 28       Pablo & Jan Feliciano



Tales from the ‘Hood


Find New Roads


Hi, everybody!! I hope you had a great summer!! I know I did. My grandma said that many of you went on vacations for the first time in quite a while. I don’t really know what those are about, but my dear friend Chapo, the loving pit bull next door to me, went away for a week, and I missed him like crazy! He went camping (whatever that is), swam in a river and came home kind of bedraggled-looking. But I love him anyway. ♡ And then a couple of human grandchildren showed up at my house for a week. They were super fun and gave me and the cat (seriously?) a LOT of attention. J


So . . . some of you have mentioned to my grandma how you are looking forward to reading about my summer adventures. I have so much to tell about that I made a list. But I’m pretty sure that my allotted space in this newsletter will not be nearly enough, so you might be reading about them next month as well.


I’ll start with this:  A potbellied pig and a beagle were walking down the middle of the street. I know, it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but this truly happened! And this pair knew exactly where to turn to go to their home. This is beyond doubt one of the strangest incidents that anyone has ever seen in our neighborhood!


But essentially my patrol route this summer became quite an obstacle course! There were people with noisy trucks digging holes everywhere, other trucks pouring cement (I dearly wanted to put my paw print in the section in front of my house; this was okay with the guys in vests but was soundly squashed by you-know-who), my back alley was obstructed with a couple of men with tools and other stuff to be able to put siding on Chapo’s garage, and yet more people, trucks and trailers were on the corner to take care of a house after a fire. The fire was actually this spring and quite scary. I was barking like mad one morning (more than my normal), so much that grandma ran to look out the window to find the street filled with smoke! She literally threw on some clothes and “ran” outside and stood with a neighbor across the street as they prayed together, especially for the people trying to put out the fire. We heard that the mom and dad were not at home, and the kiddos were hiding in the garage. Never heard if their two dogs were rescued.


But once we figured out how to navigate the obstacle course and caught our breath and learned to slow down, we saw some pretty amazing sites: a cardinal singing his heart out, doves cooing at each other above the noise of the street, monarch butterflies hanging out in bushes, mother ducks at the pond teaching their new broods how to swim (I learned to count to 8 as we watched each duckling get into the water), a turtle (new creature for me to see) sitting on a rock in the sun, a swarm of dragonflies who grandma said were mating (no clue what this is) in the air and us getting caught in the rain more than once. (There’s nothing to compare with the smell of a wet dog! I think it should be a new air freshener scent.) Then, of course, there were the bugs! I found lightning bugs to be kind of frightening. Spiders are curious and leggy and sometimes have the boldness to show up in my house. “Sorry, spider. Bad decision!” We found the body of a very large hawk moth and grandma decided to save it for some reason. (She said that our Amanda loved insects.) But there was one bug in particular that interested me. It was on its back on the sidewalk and kicking for all it was worth. Grandma said she was pretty sure it was a cicada. Now, when I lay on my back, I’m either rolling or scratching in the grass or am expectant of a tummy rub. But it turns out this odd creature just needed to be turned over so it could go on its way. Grandma did that, and it seemed happier than a bird with a French fry. However, I thought it might be a good snack but I was informed that it was very crunchy and would need ketchup so I better forget about such an idea. Now ants usually do not interest me except when they are hoarding a discarded piece of pizza. The pizza was good but the ants were pretty tickly, that is until my mouth was pried open and the pizza – ants and all – was promptly smashed into the plastic bag that goes with me on patrol. But my very favorite bug is this thing with long wings and big eyes (I was told it was green). that actually hopped! So I jumped, it hopped, and we kept playing that fun game for a while. Turns out it had been chomping on one of our porch plants but it turns out that is okay because it is such a cool creature!


But for grandma the most important part of our summer patrol was meeting people. She had at first said that we would borrow the motto from a Chevy ad to “find new roads” this summer. However, this proved kind of stressful, as expanding my parameters meant either going up hills (not especially easy for either of us) or walking on busy streets (makes me skittish). So we decided that we could “find new roads” by patrolling our regular routes at different times of the day, because then different people would be around, and this worked quite well. My favorite time to go was when people were having parties in their yards. We were invited to some of these events, and I was eagerly in favor of participating, but grandma is not a fan of beer and – as you all know – I make a pest of myself around food. But man, those ribs smelled good!! Of course, though, she still chatted it up with those folks for a little bit while I was understandably drooling.


I’m out of space, and there are many more summer experiences to share about meeting people and an important point I need to make about that. As you know, I am not allowed at worship services and rightly so. But I do know that Pastor Matthew said that loving people and interacting with our neighbors is “Jesus work,” and to “Never undersell the value of a conversation with a stranger.” So hold that thought and stay tuned!!


Until next time, I will persevere in pounding the pavement on patrol.

 ♡ Nova