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 Bells

The Paccard Bell Foundry, in Annecy, France, will forge a six-bell peal for Westminster. Westminster’s bells – the largest will weigh 9,000 lbs. – will be installed in the new “Rose Tower” in 2020.

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.”

Read More.

Why so many Twin Cities clergy members bicycle religiously

For a growing number of Twin Cities clergy members, biking is part of the ministry. One is a Lutheran pastor who pedals a sleek, speedy, three-wheeled enclosed bike called a velomobile. Another is a bike-commuting Baptist minister who writes blog posts about how churches should encourage cycling. And then there’s the seminary student who thinks using his bike instead of a car makes him more likely to be a good Samaritan.

Read more.

The Body of Christ is Global

For many years, Westminster has maintained partnerships with faith communities and nonprofit organizations in Cameroon, Cuba and Palestine. Our partners inspire us as they continue to witness and serve in circumstances of scarcity and conflict.

In Cameroon our primary partners are the Kumba Town Presbyterian Church and AIDSCARE Link—which funds micro-loans to help persons living with HIV/AIDS build small businesses and become financially independent, and provides resources to individuals displaced in the wake of continuing violence. Through our relationship with the National Synod of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba, home-based churches are thriving, lay leaders are being trained and the hurricane damage to the national camp is nearing completion. Our partner congregation in Bethlehem, Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church, hosted seminarian- Madeline Hart-Andersen- in January 2019 for an internship, and our travelers delivered suitcases of Christian education material.

Gifts to the annual Global Partnership offering support these relationships and travel scholarships for Westminster members to visit our partners. We will receive the offering on Sunday, May 19.

At the end of May Rev. Alanna Simone Tyler will join a group representing the PC(USA) to visit the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. The travelers will see firsthand the work of SSEPP (South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project) as well as the ministries of PCUSA mission co-workers and mission partners.

Westminster Wins Improvement Award

The Mpls Downtown Improvement District (DID) announced its 9th annual Greening & Public Realm Award winners, a group decided by an interactive public vote.

The Greening Awards aim to showcase greening efforts by organizations and companies that help beautify the downtown area through enhancing our urban landscape. This summer’s voting turnout was the largest in Greening Awards history, nearly doubling the 2017 voting numbers.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, which last won a greening award in 2012, won two awards this year, claiming top spot in the Small Green Space and Public Realm Improvement categories.

“The emphasis on quality public realm spaces we’re seeing from downtown businesses, organizations and individuals is extraordinary,” Mpls Downtown Improvement District President & CEO Steve Cramer said. “Congratulations to this year’s DID Greening & Public Realm Award winners, and thank you for being shining examples of how added greening helps enhance the vibrancy of everyone’s overall downtown experience.”

Winners will receive a commemorative Greening Award created by Wood from the Hood, a Minneapolis-based company that reclaims discarded trees from urban neighborhoods and creates high-quality wood products. Each award will display the year the award was issued. Winning locations also received a Greening Awards winning logo placed on site.

The Mpls DID accepted public nominations for green spaces throughout August, and finalists were announced on August 28. Voting for finalists remained open through September 14.

The finalists, nominated by the public, were selected by members of the Mpls DID staff based on criteria including overall year-over-year enhancements as well as continued excellence in adding vibrancy to the public realm.

Racial Justice Survey

Westminster’s Racial Justice Work Group (RJWG) began meeting in January 2017 in face of the sharp rise in overt racism nationally and here at home. After a year of thoughtful discussion and soul-searching, we believe that Westminster must pledge to take actions that respect each of our stories yet gives all a voice in policymaking. We must build strong relationships with our community neighbors and work vigorously to dismantle public policies that persist in oppressing and prohibiting our brothers and sisters of color from achieving equality of opportunity in life.

To build these strong relationships, we are motivated by our faith in the beloved community envisioned by Jesus.

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

To foster the kind of racial reconciliation that is consistent with the teachings of Jesus, we must be an active and listening presence in our community. We hope many of you will want to join in. To move forward, the RJWG has some questions we’d like you to answer. Your responses will help us gain a sense of what types of programs/activities might appeal to you. We want to hear from church members of all ages and in all life stages so we can offer programs and activities that will most engage and motivate our congregation in this important ministry.

Please answer the questions honestly and as candidly as possible. There are no right answers; we want genuine feelings and opinions.

Westminster Hall Named Best New Music Venue

When Westminster Presbyterian Church opened a luxurious expansion to its downtown Minneapolis campus in January, few could have guessed how quickly it would become a go-to venue for classical music.

The vocal group Cantus first performed there in March, with plans to return regularly during the 2018-19 season. “The acoustics are nicely suited for a chamber group like ours,” executive director Joseph Heitz said of the 400-seat Westminster Hall. “We also appreciate the size, which creates a sense of closeness between audience and singers.”

Another group switching to Westminster for the 2018-19 season is Accordo, a chamber ensemble comprised of soloists from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra. The venue has “a wonderful focused sound that is rich and resonant but not boomy,” said Accordo violinist (and SPCO concertmaster) Steven Copes.

Westminster Presbyterian senior pastor Tim Hart-Andersen is delighted by the hall’s success. “We asked the architect, James Dayton, to design a worship, recital and performance space that would be acoustically superior and highly flexible,” Hart-Andersen recalled. “It has more than exceeded our expectations as a venue for music.”

Next up for Westminster Hall is the Source Song Festival (Aug. 5-11) for a week of concerts and masterclasses devoted to the classical art song. “The space is visually stunning and acoustically excellent, ideal for song recitals,” said Source artistic director Mark Bilyeu.

By Terry Blain

Star Tribune article in full.

Westminster Prayer Tags

Passersby Write Prayer Tags of Hope

WCCO Jeff Wagner \ Minneapolis, MN

Twin Cities church is going beyond its walls to help get prayers heard, and hopefully answered.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, along the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, started a prayer railing this spring. Passersby write messages on tags and then hang them for others to see. The simple gesture is touching people in a way they never expected.

“We pray that you will teach us to love one another well,” Sherrod Colbert said, reading one tag. “And I pray for justice for all.”

The sounds of the city flow with force, but if you stop and listen with your eyes, it’s amazing what you can hear. Prayers from other people, written on a whim, left hanging with hope.

“Praying for better days,” Sarabe Singleton said, of her prayer. “Hopefully it gets around. I know there are people out there that are going through the same thing as me.”

The railing outside Westminster Presbyterian Church has become shoulder to lean on, a spot where thoughts and prayers can be shared with others time after time.

“I’m feeling a peace come over me as I’m writing this,” Narissa Antoine said. “My husband is really sick. He has to have two major surgeries, actually. … It really just gives me hope that I’m not alone, that people will read this and think about me when they read it.”

Her feelings are exactly what Rev. Sarah Brower and Rev. Meghan Gage-Finn envisioned when they started the prayer tags in the spring.

“I think there’s such a need for connection, yearning for belonging, a need to be heard and to be known,” Gage-Finn said.

A thousand tags were ordered.

Some prayers are personal, others meant for those struggling. Recently homeless, Colbert wrote his on June 9.

“It says, ‘I pray for the rains of God’s salvation to visit us and bless us here in Minnesota,’” Colbert said. “Today I got an answer. I’m not gonna be homeless. Tomorrow I’m going to sign a lease to get back in an apartment.”

It’s an answer he feels came from a higher power.

“I know that it has good, man,” he said. “I can tell you that’s so true, because the people of this household of faith here, they’re genuine people.”

Those very people will even bring the tags inside the church to pray on them.

“I think we do hope that as people walk by or walk away after having written one that they trust that God hears their prayers and that we are hearing them,” Brouwer said. “We’re excited to see where this goes. We are certainly being led by this endeavor.”

One that has a following, growing stronger and stronger each day.

“I wouldn’t stop it for nothing in the world,” Colbert said.