A Letter from the Downtown Clergy

We hold our community in prayer following the killing of George Floyd. Through our witness, let us speak out against systemic racism and share the good news of God’s love for all. We are working alongside our interfaith partner congregations to serve and respond to those most vulnerable. For anyone who would like to offer resources to community partners who are coordinating clean-up efforts and supporting justice ministries in the city, you may do so through the Minneapolis Interfaith Relief Fund (MIRF).

 

Statement on the Killing of George Floyd from the Senior Clergy of the Downtown Minneapolis Interfaith Congregations:

We condemn in the strongest possible terms the May 25 killing by a police officer of an unarmed African American man in Minneapolis.

As leaders of faith traditions that include Judaism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Humanism, we affirm our common conviction that all life is sacred and that every human being is our neighbor, worthy to be loved. Not killed.  

Our hearts break, going out to the family and to those in our community who continue to bear the historical brunt of racially-motivated oppression that too often leads to violence and even death. In a press conference, Mayor Jacob Frey phrased it well: “Being black in America should not be a death sentence.” We all say amen!

We call for a swift response by city officials and Minneapolis law enforcement leaders, and a deeper addressing of the systemic issues that led to this and similar killings. We say “enough and more than enough!” Law enforcement must interact with all our neighbors in all our neighborhoods fairly and equally. 

Might we finally learn from this most recent tragic incident? We must. We are all called to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Signed, 

Imam Makram Nu’Man El-Amin, Masjid An-Nur
Rev. Dr. David Breeden, First Unitarian Society
Rev. Dr. Dan Collison, First Covenant Church
Rev. Jen Crow, First Universalist Church
Rev. Dr. Laurie Feille, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
The Rev. Al Gallmon, Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church
Imam Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf Islamic Community Center of Minnesota/Masjid Al-Amin
Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen, Westminster Presbyterian Church
Father Kevin Kenney, St. Olaf Roman Catholic Church
The Very Reverend Paul Lebens-Englund, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral
Rev. Dr. Paula Northwood, Plymouth Congregational Church
Pastor Peter Nycklemoe, Central Lutheran Church
Rev. Judy Zabel, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church
Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, Temple Israel
Father Kevin Kenney, St. Olaf Roman Catholic Church

We’re Having A Greater Impact

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s new “Stay Safe MN” order allows groups of 10 or less to gather starting Monday with proper social distancing. That includes meeting for religious purposes. While some are ready to worship side-by-side again, that may continue to be on hold. But many religious leaders have found faith defies physical spaces.

Church Bells Offer Reminder of Community

“The sound of our bells and bells across the cities will remind our citizens and most who are isolated in homes that we are one community,” Westminster pastor Tim Hart-Andersen said. “We’ve lost that sense of community but we can hear sounds that our neighbors hear.”

Message Regarding Coronavirus

The Session of Westminster has decided that our church will only offer livestreamed worship services at 10:30 am and 5 pm Sunday until further notice. In addition, we will livestream Wednesday Lenten worship at noon and 6 pm. The congregation will gather virtually at these times, not in person.
The Session’s decision reflects the desire of Westminster’s leaders to join the broader community in efforts to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. To that end, all other activities at Westminster on Sundays and Wednesdays will also be suspended.
We encourage you to join the online congregation at those times on Sunday to praise God and pray for guidance and healing through these challenging days. We will continue to be the church; we will simply have to do that differently for a while.
 
The Session encourages all committees and small groups, including Lenten Covenant Groups, to meet virtually, using available technology. Please contact Meghan Gage-Finn  if you need assistance.
Our staff team, pastors, and lay leaders are working on plans to extend Westminster’s ministry in creative ways through these days – in education, pastoral care, and service. Please check the website for updated information.
If you have a particular need to contact a pastor please email David Shinn. If you have any questions about the above information, please email either Meghan Gage-Finn or Tim Hart-Andersen.
Let us hold in prayer the entire human family, especially those who are ill, those working to care for individuals who are sick, and those working to develop tests and a vaccine for Covid-19.
We will trust in the providence of God to see us all through this time, and not give in to fear.

Westminster Joins Community Solar Garden

Westminster recently entered into a 25-year contract that requires Xcel to acquire electricity in an amount similar to what Westminster uses each year from a community solar garden run by ReneSola Power. A community solar garden contains solar panels that convert the sun’s rays into electrical energy. The advantage of a solar garden is that it allows the cost of solar panels to be distributed among the community of subscribers so they can be built less expensively than by individual subscribers on their own. Another advantage is the size of a solar garden.

Westminster’s city block is not large enough to provide all of Westminster’s electrical needs. In addition, portions of the block are shaded by neighboring buildings. Westminster consumes 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. It takes an area of more than nine city blocks of solar panels to generate Westminster’s electrical needs. ReneSola Power’s solar garden is 20 acres in size and is located near St. Cloud. The area had been farmland, growing a monoculture of corn. The farmer still owns the land, but leases it to ReneSola Power, which planted the land around the solar panels with native habitat for pollinators.

By subscribing to a community solar garden, Westminster is supporting solar development in Minnesota. Westminster will pay a flat rate for its electricity over the next 25 years and will save an estimated $1 million over that time as fossil fuel based utility rates continue to rise.

Subscribing to a solar garden can be more difficult for individuals because the average homeowner moves every seven years. The most environmentally friendly kilowatt hour is the one you don’t use! Energy efficiency and smart energy use can make a big impact. Check out Xcel’s Windsource or Renewable Connect programs for clean energy options.

An unusual model of church ministry

Each Monday morning, workers at Westminster Presbyterian Church cover up the religious imagery inside a few Sunday school classrooms to create a more welcoming space for their weekday occupants — young children of diverse faiths receiving group therapy.

An entire section of this landmark church building in downtown Minneapolis now houses a child health and development facility. Walk the hallways and you’ll find children getting speech therapy, physical therapy, mental health assessments and participating in an autism treatment program for East African youngsters.

While many churches house or operate child care centers, this type of partnership between Westminster and St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development is rare. Westminster spent more than $2 million to construct a beautiful addition for a nonprofit tenant during a recent renovation, and the diverse staff at each facility say it has been a mutually beneficial arrangement.

“We’re involved in a lot of community work but we’ve never done that work on site,” said the Rev. Tim Hart-Andersen, senior pastor at Westminster. “There’s something about having a mission partner working alongside us that is a wonderful experience. You see the difference the church is making right on site.”

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