Westminster Presbyterian Church to Open Doors on Inspiring Expansion

Westminster Presbyterian Church will open the doors on an inspiring expansion to its historic building on Nicollet Mall on Sunday, January 14. The expansion is part of Open Doors Open Futures, an initiative to transform Westminster’s telling presence in the city.

The day begins with 10:30 am worship celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., followed by the inauguration of Westminster Hall with a premiere of a commissioned choral work and tours of the building.

“Westminster is a church open to creative new ways to serve and engage the city,” says senior pastor Tim Hart-Andersen. “This new wing gives us the tools to do that: easy access, multi-use space, enhanced technology, inspired green design, and much more.”

The new two-story, 40,000-square-foot wing, designed by James Dayton Design, features open, flexible spaces to serve the changing needs of the congregation and community; cutting-edge environmental design; 300 new underground parking spaces; and significantly improved entrances. New inviting gardens and gathering spaces surround the building and will add considerable green space to downtown Minneapolis. The expansion will also soon house The Harman Center for Child & Family Wellbeing, a new campus and innovative early intervention clinic of St. David’s Center.

January 14 marks the first in a series of inaugural events, which also includes Bold Hope in the North, a January 28th Super Bowl Host Committee-sponsored event supporting Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness; a concert featuring Cantus on March 2; a community open house on March 3; the grand opening of the Harman Center on April 17; an all-church celebration on May 5; and a festival celebrating Palestinian art and culture May 17–19.

A New Building for a Changing Community

The new wing will provide welcoming, flexible spaces to creatively serve the emerging needs of new generations and fulfill long unmet needs for congregational and community celebration spaces. Two new worship services are planned for Westminster Hall: starting February 14, a 6:30 pm Wednesday contemplative service called “The Clearing,” and in September, a 5 pm Sunday service.

Open, youth-friendly places will serve Westminster’s young people as well as youth groups from all over the country who often need a place to connect and stay.

In partnership with Hennepin County Library, Westminster will host an on-site senior community center two days per week to respond to the needs of the downtown seniors dispersed by the recent closures of two senior centers in the area.

The Westminster Counseling Center—which the church has long supported with funding, office space and administrative support—will have offices on the second floor of the new expansion.

The new outdoor areas will reduce the heat island effect and complement the Downtown 2025 Plan through creation of much-needed green space, areas of respite for the public to enjoy, and a skyway connection. Environmental leadership for the project includes:

  • High efficiency building design and mechanical and air filtration;
  • LED lighting, with 95% of the building designed to receive natural light to reduce need for artificial lighting;
  • Green roofs;
  • Permeable pavers to control water flow into storm drains and a system to capture and store rainwater for reuse to irrigate trees and plants and flush toilets;
  • Participation in a community solar garden program to provide 100% of Westminster’s electricity and to offset energy demand.

St. David’s Center will occupy approximately 8,000 square feet of space on the second floor of the new wing, primarily serving children birth to age five who have experienced relational trauma. Services will include an infant team to assess and treat families with children in out-of-home placement, children’s mental health services and pediatric rehabilitative therapies, a clinical training site for graduate students in mental health, and a new home for the Center’s day treatment program for young Somali children diagnosed with autism.

Open Doors Open Futures also provided $8 million for mission projects to support building the Harman Center; affordable housing; college access and leadership training for young adults; urban ministries; peacebuilding in South Sudan; and global ministry partnerships in Cuba, Cameroon, and Palestine.

Inaugural Events

January 14 | 10:30 am – 1:30 pm
Kick off of Open Doors Open Futures Inaugural Events

  • 10:30 am worship celebrating legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with Liberty Church and Grace Trinity Church (Westminster partner churches), participating in worship
  • Guest preacher Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
  • Post-worship celebration: congregation procession to new underground parking garage for a blessing and coffee hour; musical inauguration of Westminster Hall (commissioned setting of Isaiah 43:19: “I am about to do a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?”); building tours

January 28 | 2:00 pm
Bold Hope in the North

  • An official event of the Super Bowl Host Committee to showcase Minnesota’s national leadership in multi-faith dialogue and cooperation and to raise money for the Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness Emergency Rental Assistance Program
  • Spearheaded by the Downtown Senior Interfaith Clergy
  • Music by members of the Steele Family, members of the NFL Players Gospel Choir, and the Alliance and Street Song Choirs (homeless or formerly homeless person and their allies)

March 2 | 7:30 pm
Concert featuring Cantus

  • Free and open to the public

March 3 | 10:30 am–12:30 pm
Community Open House

  • Brief program with church, architect, community leaders, and the Justice Choir
  • Building tours
  • Free and open to the public

April 17 | Timing TBA
The Harman Center Grand Opening

May 17–19
Windows into Palestine: Encountering the Heart of a People Through Art

  • A festival of Palestinian art & culture featuring visual art exhibition by Palestinian artists, music performances and workshops, films, Palestinian cuisine cooking classes, and an authentic spice market

Associate Pastor for Justice & Mission Search

Westminster is seeking an Associate Pastor for Justice and Mission to promote progressive public policy, foster diverse community partnerships, and call community to action. This is a unique position for a passionate and skilled individual looking to make a difference.

In addition to those with traditional experience in ministry, we are open to ordination-ready persons who have extensive mission/life backgrounds. We welcome applicants from church traditions in ‘full communion’ with the Presbyterian Church USA:

Position Details

Position Description | Ministry Information Form | Contact

Associated Links

Faith in Action Ministry Teams | Hope for the World Statement | Open Doors Open Futures | Westminster Town Hall Forum | Westminster Staff

Responding to Recent Hurricanes

This fall, hurricanes have left tracks of destruction in their path. Damage where these storms landed was catastrophic. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and their response teams are being deployed into the affected regions. Visit the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance website to learn more about ways to give and ways to act, as well as read stories about Presbyterians response.

Learn more here: Presbyterian Disaster Relief

Candlelight Vigil for Las Vegas

Plymouth Congregational Church | Wed, Oct 4 | 7:30 pm.

Can We Save the Planet?

Westminster Town Hall Forum

The fall 2017 Town Hall Forum series begins Tuesday, September 19 at noon. Join Carl Pope, former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club, for a discussion about the environment and where we go from here. Learn more.

Carl Pope is the former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club and a veteran leader in the environmental movement. He is now a senior climate advisor to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the principal advisor at Inside Straight Strategies, where he focuses on the links between sustainability and economic development. A graduate of Harvard College, he is the author of three books, including Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, which he co-authored with Michael Bloomberg. He was a founder of the BlueGreen Alliance and America Votes, and he served on the boards of the California League of Conservation Voters, Public Voice, the National Clean Air Coalition, California Common Cause, and Zero Population Growth. He is currently serving on the advisory board of America India Foundation and on the board of directors of Ceres and As You Sow. He writes regularly for Bloomberg View and Huffington Post.

Minnesota’s Own Taizé Cross

The Taizé Community in France is an ecumenical monastic community of more than 100 Brothers from 25 nations. Their primary ministry is to young adults who come by the thousands from all parts of the world to spend a week of worship, Bible study, and fellowship with the Brothers. The Community has developed the well-known songs and prayers of Taizé; simple meditative chants that have spread to worship services in churches around the world.

A group from Minnesota traveled to Taizé in 2001. One member, Rev. Bob Nervig, a retired Lutheran pastor, was a close friend of Brother Eric. Brother Eric mentioned that in the 1980s he’d made two five-foot hand-painted wooden Taizé Crosses and that the second cross had never been used. Discussions followed, and the duplicate Taizé Cross was sold to the Minnesota group, with the stipulation that it be made available for use by all.

St. Paul’s Monastery, Minnehaha Methodist, Luther Seminary, Westminster, and many others were among its early users.

As can happen, most of the members of the original group moved away, going on to other ministries, and the use and knowledge of this cross diminished. The Cross is now housed at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis and is being made available to all.

The hand-painted wooden Cross is large—59” tall, 52” wide, and 3” deep—but also fairly light as it is not solid wood. It can stand by itself, or be hung on a wall, or laid flat on the floor.

The Cross can be used in a variety of situations, from a full Sunday morning worship service, to a traditional Taizé Morning or Evening Prayer, to Praying around the Cross, to a simple service made up of a short period of silence, a few songs, a Bible reading, and intercessions.

If you would like to welcome Minnesota’s Taizé Cross to your church or community, contact Dr. Rodney Allen Schwartz at Westminster:  rschwartz@wpc-mpls.org or 612.332.3421. Click for PDF with Cross information and reservation form.

Sustainability Conference

The Transition US National Gathering takes place July 27-31, 2017 at Macalester College. The conference will focus on bringing people from different communities together to share new ideas around sustainable living.

There will be a keynote address on Friday, July 28, and two days of workshops. Eco-Justice will pay conference fees.

Anyone interested should contact Sandy Wolfe Wood, Chair, Eco-Justice Ministry Team.

Justice Choir

Tesfa Wondemagegnehu and Westminster Church are starting a Justice Choir

By Pamela Espeland, MINNPOST, 6-9-17

There’s a new choir in town. Anyone can join. The Justice Choir will have its first rehearsal Saturday morning (June 10) at Westminster Presbyterian Church, followed by its debut performance. It’s already booked for another sing on July 18 at the Wolfe Park Pavilion in St. Louis Park.

Begun and led by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu (won-dih-MAWG-nee-you), the Justice Choir, Twin Cities chapter will sing songs about peace, freedom, courage, love, resilience, human rights and taking a stand. The songs are from the “Justice Choir Songbook,” a collection of 42 mostly new, some repurposed protest songs for the issues of our time. Commissioned by Westminster Church, it will soon be available as a free download for anyone, anywhere who wants to use it: other choirs, congregations, families, schools, communities.

Learn more.

Blessed Ramadan Project

Now, more than ever, it is time to speak up. Join the Minnesota Council of Churches in showing respect for our Muslim neighbors as we wish them a #BlessedRamadan. Ramadan is the month of the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. The annual observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is performed to learn compassion, self-restraint, and generosity.

From neighborhood hate crimes to legislative discrimination, we see negativity directed against Muslims in many ways. But that is not who we are in Minnesota. We are a welcoming, caring, respectful community. As a sign of community solidarity, you are invited to extend a sign of goodwill by placing a sign on your lawn reading, To Our Muslim Neighbors: Blessed Ramadan. Ramadan begins this year at sunset on Friday, May 26, and lasts until Sunday, June 24.

We will have signs at a table in the Heller Commons. Many of you may still have your signs from last year to re-use, or you can find the artwork for the signs at BlessedRamadan.org; the files can be downloaded and sent to a local printer near you.

On May 26, place a sign in your lawn and invite your neighbors to do the same. We will find places around the church to put them. I heard from so many Muslims last year how powerful it was for them to see these signs throughout the community. Let’s show our Muslim friends that they are welcome and respected here.

The Minnesota Council of Churches, in partnership with the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, is also excited to announce a series of open house Iftars at area mosques, called Taking Heart. The Iftar is the dinner eaten at the end of a day of fasting during Ramadan. Taking Heart was started in 2005 to bring Christians and Muslims together to get to know each other over a meal and conversation. It is designed for regular people of different faiths to interact with each other. It is NOT an academic discussion or a theological debate—just people talking over a meal at Iftar time.

You can see which Mosques are inviting community members to Iftar dinners and register at the Minnesota Council of Churches‘ website.

We Shall Overcome

“When we sing today ‘We Shall Overcome,’ I want you to think about the Hmong community, about the Somali, the black community … the LGBT.”

These are the words of Tesfa, Westminster’s director of choral ministries, shared with a crowd on Martin Luther King Day. “When we think about it in 2017, the ‘we’ is a lot bigger, and it needs to be a lot bigger.” Read the full story