We are thrilled to share that Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (won-dih-MAWG-nee-you) has accepted the call to become Westminster's Director of Choral Ministries.
In this role, Tesfa will direct the Westminster Choir and participate in worship planning, with particular focus on developing new worship in the soon-to-be-built Strong Hall. He also is charged with creating new vocal ensembles and fostering relationships with arts organizations in the Twin Cities and beyond.
“Tesfa is a visionary and a unique combination of talent, gentle charisma, and out-of-the-box thinking,” says Melanie Ohnstad, Minister of Music and the Arts at Westminster. “He is all about building community through music and drawing the circle wider. He seeks to give people a direct experience with the transformational power of music making. And importantly, he says he feels most fully himself when at church. We are thrilled to have him as a member of our community.”
Tesfa is well known for his work as manager of the Choral Works Initiative at American Public Media. In that role he engaged singers, composers, conductors and listeners in an online community for the 24/7 choral stream. Concurrently, he was Director of Music at Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis. He also has served as assistant artistic director at VocalEssence and director of choral activities at Freedom High School in Orlando, FL, where he was named Orange County Public School Teacher of the Year in 2013. Wondemagegnehu is in high demand as a clinician and guest conductor across the U.S. and abroad. He earned dual Master of Music degrees at Florida State University in vocal performance and choral conducting, studying with the esteemed André Thomas.
In response to his appointment Tesfa says, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with this incredible downtown church. Westminster has such special synergy. I’m excited about getting more of the community singing and bringing new people to Westminster through music, both in the current space and the spaces that are being built.”
Tesfa will begin his work at Westminster in mid-August.
Photo by Nate Ryan, courtesy of Minnesota Public RadioRead More
An engaged, urban partner sharing the good news with a world in need of God’s peace, love, and justice, Westminster has been a telling presence in the city since 1857.
With stirring worship services, beautiful traditions, and a progressive church culture, Westminster is a home for people of all ages and backgrounds to deepen their faith and make a difference in the world. The church offers ministries in adult, children, and youth education; music and the arts; and social justice, with a highly engaged congregation welcoming and caring deeply for all people within and beyond its walls.
As an active and influential member of the city, Westminster collaborates with other faith, business, and social service partners to make our community a place where justice flourishes, love is shared, and people are valued.
Westminster also houses the Westminster Gallery and Westminster Counseling Center, sponsors the Westminster Town Hall Forum, and supports Boy Scout Troop 33, Hmong Troop 100, and Camp Ajawah north of the Twin Cities.
In response to the grace of God through Jesus Christ, Westminster's mission is to:
Inspired by the opportunity of Creative Time, our regular midweek worship is on the way this summer. Rather than coming together at Westminster, we will offer summer neighborhood gatherings each Wednesday in June, in 7 locations around the metro area. Groups will meet at 7 pm in Edina, Plymouth, South Minneapolis, St. Paul, Kenwood/Lowry, and Downtown Minneapolis. A Centering Prayer group will meet in Shoreview. A list of meeting times and locations is available here.
Beginning Sunday, May 29, until Labor Day, we move to one worship service at 10 am.
There are many events planned over the summer to give families and children time to enjoy time together in many locations around the Twin Cities and beyond. Learn more here.
This June, Westminster will read The Children Act by Ian McEwan and gather for small group conversations about the book. Some groups will meet right after the 10:00 am service on Sundays, or you can form your own group by a lake or on someone's deck! Read more here.
Middle School Mission Trip: June 27–July 1
Our middle schoolers will travel to Duluth and Grand Marais, the northern reaches of the state, blending service with learning, while exploring the unique historic/environmental context of the area. The theme of our spiritual programming and service will be centered upon caring for God’s creation.
High School Mission Trip: July 16–24
Our high schoolers will travel to New Orleans to partner with Project Homecoming, a local service agency started by the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program. We will help rehab homes, meet and hear from homeowners who were there when Katrina hit, and explore New Orleans. This is a joint mission trip with House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul.
The Westminster Gallery exhibits and collects religious and secular art representing diverse ethnic and cultural traditions. We feature art from the Westminster collection, private collections, and from regional and nationally known artists who demonstrate the connection between art and how it informs our faith. The church has a long history of collecting and incorporating art into both worship and daily life. The Westminster Gallery opened in 2002.
At Westminster, we believe that art matters because it provides a communication tool between an artist or designer and the diverse audience that encounters the art. This encounter likely will generate thought, stimulate conversation, or evoke emotion.
The summer exhibition, All You Need Is Love, features art made by Westminster members.
The theme comes from John Lennon's, All You Need is Love. In a time of political and social unrest, and as we enter a contentious election season, an exhibition of art depicting love seems to be an appropriate statement from Westminster to the community around us.
The Westminster Gallery features approximately six exhibitions each year. The exhibitions during Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter are based on those themes, but vary substantially from year to year. A summer exhibition generally features art created by Westminster members and friends, and is curated around a particular theme. The other exhibitions focus on a single artist, a biblical theme, or may be inspired by current events. The work of other artists is frequently exhibited in the Great Hall, and the public spaces of the building are filled with original art from the collection.
Westminster member, Martha Spencer Rogers, began collecting crèches in LaPaz, Bolivia, in the mid-1960s. In 2004 and 2007 she gifted more than 180 crèches and custom display cases to the Westminster Collection. This magnificent collection has inspired children and adults alike by presenting the nativity story in multi-cultural and multi-ethnic representations of the holy family. Every visitor can find an infant Jesus that could be from their region of the world. The collection is on permanent view on Westminster’s second floor and the lower level.Read More
With Open Doors Open Futures, Westminster will:
Increase its mission support for local and global needs through $7 million of new investments in affordable and supportive housing in downtown Minneapolis; faith development, college accessibility, and leadership training for young adults; local partnerships that revitalize urban ministries and provide compassionate counseling; and, support for peace building and educational efforts in South Sudan, and global ministry partnerships in Cuba, Cameroon, and Palestine.
Expand its historic building with an inspiring new wing that opens onto Nicollet Mall and Marquette Avenue. The new wing will improve access and add flexible spaces for worship, youth, and congregational and community gatherings. In addition, 25% of the building is reserved for an on-site, direct service community partner. The building will demonstrate environmental leadership with ecological, responsible design.
Develop welcoming green space and two plazas surrounding the church and new wing. This critically needed green space and community plazas will provide inspiring places for connection and respite for city residents, workers and visitors at the nexus point at the southern end of Nicollet Mall. Importantly, this project complements Minneapolis’ ambitious Downtown 2025 Plan.
Currently the unoccupied eight-story office building on the site is being taken down. Click here to view both a live action and time-lapse camera view. Or, click here to view a slideshow of the project to date. Following demolition an underground parking structure will be added in advance of the wing’s construction. The project is slated to take approximately two years to complete.Read More