Refreshing and Beautifying the Memorial Garden

By Mary Hess, Director of Stewardship

Westminster’s Memorial Garden, with its Columbarium and Memorial Wall, has recently been the focus of dedicated attention by a newly re-vitalized Memorial Garden Committee. Members of the Committee are Pat Hammink, Linda Mell, Elaine Dietrich, Fred Dietrich, and Rene Santiago, and several staff. This past summer they met to identify ways to refresh and beautify the space, and to re-introduce the Memorial Garden to Westminster members. Volunteer gardeners including Betty Heefner, John Logue, and Linda Mell have been hard at work. Located on 12th Street, just outside the sanctuary, the garden is open for quiet reflection and prayer every Sunday morning through the fall, from 8:30 am-12:30 pm and by appointment at other times.

The original mission of the Memorial Garden, established out of the 150th Anniversary Campaign, is to “provide a dignified memorial and interment ministry to Westminster members, in the tradition of the old-fashioned church-yard.” The Garden naturally enhances Westminster’s end of life ministry and provides new opportunities for members to remember or inter their loved ones within the embrace of their church home. The Columbarium has 660 niches, where urns containing cremated remains are interred, the niches are sealed with engraved limestone fronts. The Memorial Wall, also made of limestone, offers an opportunity to memorialize loved ones with the engraving of a name.

For more information, please visit the website, or contact Rev. David Tsai Shinn, Associate Pastor of Congregational Care, or Nicole Cueno, Senior Director of Operations, Finance, and Administration.

Highlighting Our Community Partner Grant Recipients – September

African Immigrant Community Services

African Immigrant Community Services (AICS) was incorporated in 2007 to meet the resettlement needs of East African refugees in the Twin Cities area. Its mission is to provide culturally appropriate and integrated services that strengthen the capacity of the East African refugee communities to be increasingly self-sufficient.  AICS currently has the following programs: Refugee Employment & Social Services, Building Healthy Communities, Supporting Somali Elders, and ESL Education. There is a strong emphasis on services to youth, ages 14 to 24, who lack academic and applied skills considered critical for the workplace. For the last 18 months they have been working on a joint initiative with the Minnesota Department of Health addressing COVID-19 through community outreach, education, testing, and vaccination support.

Avenues for Youth

For 25 years Avenues for Youth has supported youth ages 16 to 24 in Hennepin County. Whether a young person needs a place to stay for just one night or more than a year, Avenues empowers youth to find their path out of homelessness. Avenues provides a stable home, builds trusting relationships, and helps youth navigate their education, career, health, and housing goals. There is no one reason why youth experience homelessness. It is intersectional systems of oppression, racism, and poverty that are the root causes of homelessness. Without addressing these systems, homelessness persists. Youth are resilient, inspiring, and the drivers of their own journey. With stability, trust, and youth-centered supports their dreams can become reality. That is the goal of Avenues.

People Incorporated

People Incorporated was founded in 1969 and Presbyterian congregations, including Westminster, were integral to its establishment. Now, People Incorporated is the Twin Cities’ largest community-based provider of mental health services. Its mission is to support mental health and wellness in our community through collaboration and integration of care.  Westminster’s grant to People Incorporated supports Outreach Case Managers to reach people who are unsheltered and in desperate need of respectful and affordable housing. Outreach services are linked and collaborative to best address the complex challenges our unsheltered neighbors face. Staff seek out individuals experiencing homelessness living in encampments, parks, and other locations, and help by providing basic needs, completing housing assessments, and sharing resources for housing and health care both within and outside the People Incorporated system of care.


Tubman’s mission is “to advance opportunities for change so that every person can experience safety, hope, and healing.” For more than 40 years, Tubman has served as the Minnesota’s largest provider of domestic violence services, supplying more than 20 percent of all shelter beds for adults and children experiencing family violence. Annually Tubman supports approximately 25,000 community members that have experienced some form of trauma, including relationship violence, sexual assault, mental health issues, addiction, trafficking, and homelessness. Tubman offers emergency shelter, therapy and counseling, Orders for Protection and other legal help, and programs for affected youth. Tubman helps community members overcome barriers to move from fear to freedom.

To see a complete list of Westminster’s current community partner grant recipients, visit our Community Partners page. Each month we will feature a few of our grant recipients and the work they do for our community.

Coming Together Sunday: Fred de Sam Lazaro

By Alanna Simone Tyler, Associate Pastor for Justice and Mission

Westminster welcomes Fred de Sam Lazaro as our guest for a Joint Social Justice and Adult Education Forum at 9:15 am on Sunday, September 12. Fred is the executive director of the Under-Told Stories Project, an international journalism program based at the University of St. Thomas. He has served the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) NewsHour as a correspondent since 1985 and was a regular contributor and substitute anchor for PBS’ Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. Fred has reported from 70 countries—focusing on stories and issues that are under-reported in the mainstream United States media, with particular emphasis on social innovation and entrepreneurship aimed at alleviating poverty.

In recent months, much of Fred’s reporting has focused on racial justice and equity issues in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd. Learning about Fred’s curiosity and commitment to see and tell stories most people miss will launch us into a program year focused on the themes of creating belonging, pursuing the common good and building Beloved Community.

Following Fred’s presentation, Tim Hart-Andersen will moderate a brief time of questions and answers from those gathered in the sanctuary and online.

Westminster’s Response to Crisis in Afghanistan

A Note from Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen about Westminster’s Response to Crisis in Afghanistan

Dear friends,

Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman of Temple Israel Minneapolis contacted me yesterday asking if Westminster could help Temple Israel in sponsoring an Afghan family fleeing Kabul. The individuals have been threatened by the Taliban for their work in support of women’s rights. They have been granted emergency entrance by the U.S. for humanitarian reasons.

I affirmed our willingness to partner with our Jewish siblings in hosting the family—together Temple and Westminster are responding to God’s mandate to provide resources for and offer kindness to refugees. Temple’s invitation aligns well with the Session’s approval of the recommendation from its Sanctuary Discernment Task Force to provide assistance to refugees and asylum seekers. Our support will include assisting with rent and other living expenses.

We will send more information in coming days when we receive it.

Let us be in prayer for the people of Afghanistan and all those supporting them in this time of crisis, especially American diplomates, aid workers, and troops. I offer this prayer from my friend Laurie Krauss, Director of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance:

God of Compassion, God of Peace, God of Justice:
You, O God, are the One who
sees the forgotten
speaks with the Voice of the silenced
remembers and redeems those who are lost and without hope.
Hear our prayer for the people of Afghanistan, those fleeing for refuge, those left behind, those who cannot find a way out.
(Read the full prayer online.)

Thank you for your prayers and support.  See you in church, online or in person.

Grace and peace,
Tim Hart-Andersen
Senior Pastor

How Might Christianity be Good for Democracy?

By Matt Skinner, Scholar for Adult Education

In our fractured nation, many Christian congregations find themselves confused about how their faith compels them to participate in political processes and the responsibilities of good citizenship. Churches understand themselves as called to seek the welfare of the nation, but it’s easy to find different churches disagreeing about what that should look like. All the while, a sense of urgency grips many. In this program we will consider how the Christian church’s scriptures, symbols, values, and history influence how we think about democracy, its vitality, the influence of religious groups, and our obligations as followers of Jesus. We will turn to the Bible and other readings and ask how they set the stage for conversations about how we can move forward, promoting love and justice in a changing world. I will lead the sessions, providing plenty of space for discussion about how we engage these vital topics. This program will be held Monday nights, 7-8:30 pm, from September 20 through October 25. You can participate in person in the Recreation Room, or online simultaneously via Zoom.

Visit the Adult Education section of the website to learn more and register online to attend through Realm.

“The Art of Belonging” Opens in the Westminster Gallery

By Dr. Rodney Allen Schwartz, Director, Westminster Gallery and Archive

The Westminster Gallery announces the rehanging of art in multiple areas of the Westminster building and a new exhibition titled The Art of Belonging. This exhibition features art from the collection and art made by Westminster members which considers the many ways that art demonstrates how we come together in community as a congregation, a city, and the across the world. The exhibition further addresses how we belong to the earth and all the ways we might take care of each other. The exhibition runs through Thanksgiving.

During the many months while the building was closed to members and the public, access to the galleries was not possible. We created a temporary Window Gallery in Westminster Hall that made exhibiting selections from the collection available for viewing from the Nicollet side of the building. The Hall is now coming back into regular use and the Window Gallery has been dismantled. I hope you had a chance to see this unique way of showing our art; it was just like the old Dayton’s Christmas display windows but without the automatons.

Art based on trees now fills the Garden Room and the exhibition, Belonging to a Global Community, is now installed in the Meisel Room. You will also find old favorites and new surprises hanging on walls throughout the building. Be sure to explore the building to see what you might find.

“New Old Adventure” Becomes “Third Age”

Three years ago, a group of committed lay leaders formed a group to minister with and to older adults in our community. They formed a committee to plan monthly programs and chose the name New Old Adventure (NOA), which was meant to illustrate how differently people live their older years now than in earlier times. Although the name and NOA served the purpose for our first few years, the committee decided a new name would better communicate an expanded purpose for a broader group of people. The group voted and agreed on the name “Third Age,” which is simpler to understand and eliminates the word “old,” which some felt had negative connotations.

What is the Third Age? If life is made of three ages, the first age is youth, the second age is that period of time when career and family occupy most of one’s time and energy. Following that is the Third Age when there are often fewer commitments and more flexibility in personal schedules. This is the period of life that will be our focus—to create programs for Westminster’s Third Age to thrive spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually. We recognize that it is critical for people at this point in life to stay engaged, have social contacts, and a sense of purpose and hope to design programming to facilitate that.

Third Age’s Monthly Forums This Fall:

September 15: What Is Life’s Third Age?

October 13: What Is Life’s Third Age?

November 10: Grief and the Holidays

December 8: Christmas Carols: Learning and Singing!

Monthly Third Age forums are generally held from 11 am-1 pm and take place in person at Westminster, but will also be available online through Zoom.

Highlighting Our Community Partner Grant Recipients – July


Westminster Presbyterian Church has been in partnership with Accord (formerly called Community Involvement Program) for its entire 50-year history when it was founded by Westminster members. Accord provides services to people living with disabilities and its mission is to help those who live with disabilities live their greatest lives. Accord is focused on incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion into their programs focused on life skills, employment, supportive housing, and mental health assistance. A current grant from Westminster Church helps Accord invest in the technology that allows staff to work remotely with their clients as everyone emerges from the Covid pandemic.

Project for Pride in Living

Project for Pride in Living (PPL) is an equitable and inclusive organization whose mission is to build the hope, assets, and self-reliance of individuals and families who have lower incomes by providing transformative affordable housing and employment readiness services. Their strategic approach is rooted in the belief that housing stability and career readiness are fundamental to economic well-being and social mobility. PPL creates and manages affordable housing serving individuals and families who have heightened barriers to housing stability, such as a history of homelessness. Support services to help residents advance toward self-reliance are trauma-informed and culturally responsive. PPL also has career readiness programs that provide innovative, employer-driven job training. Two PPL alternative high schools prepare young people for adulthood. A wide array of workshops and coaching is available to help PPL residents and participants increase income and build assets.

Urban Homeworks

Believing home is more than housing, the mission of Urban Homeworks (UHW) is to perpetuate the love of Jesus Christ through innovative community development. UHW builds and renovates properties to create safe, affordable, dignified homes for rental and homeownership for individuals with low wealth. UHW keeps families in their neighborhoods and invests in strengthening communities around the Twin Cities. Their “People Oriented Development model” supports neighbors developing networks and learning advocacy and leadership skills. UHW uses an anti-racist lens with equitable housing as a platform to build a more just community. More than half of UHW’s renters and homeowners identify as Black, Indigenous, or other Persons of Color.

To see a complete list of Westminster’s current community partner grant recipients, visit our Community Partners page. Each month we will feature a few of our grant recipients and the work they do for our community.

2021 Meisel Scholars

by Meghan Gage-Finn, Executive Associate Pastor

The Meisel Scholar Program, in honor of Donald and Ellie Meisel, was established over 30 years ago to further young people’s learning outside the classroom setting through internship and travel experiences, while furthering the mission of the church. Even as “the classroom setting” has shifted for students during Covid, their desire to pursue a focused time of vocational development has in no way lessened. This year more than ever, applicants to the program have researched and persevered to create meaningful opportunities for 2021. The Meisel Committee is pleased to introduce to you four Scholars for this summer.

Lauren Caugh has an internship with the Denver Botanic Gardens where she will work on water policy research and drought awareness. Laura Lee Moffett will serve as Lauren’s mentor.

Ethan Jungyull Kim-Shinn attends Quest University in Squamish, British Columbia, and this summer he will work with a professor conducting sacred land research at two sites in Canada. Ethan will pursue ethnographic fieldwork and academic reflection on ancient philosophy. Sandy Wolfe Wood will be a mentor for Ethan.

Mae Niebuhr is a student athlete at the University of the Puget Sound and will be serving as an intern with the Borgen Project, working on foreign policy related to poverty reduction. Ed Cunnington will serve as her mentor.

Michael Thomas, a student athlete at the College of Wooster, will spend a second summer working on civic engagement with the Seattle City Club. He says he is excited about SCC’s housing coalition and other efforts to promote civic health and engagement. Pete Cochrane will mentor Michael this summer.

In talking with each of these students as they prepare to lead and learn as Meisel Scholars, I marvel at the ways their summer experiences will bear witness to the church’s hope for the world. The four scholars were commissioned during worship on Sunday, June 13, and may we hold them and their mentors in our prayers this summer.


New Westminster Organist and Ensemble Director

Westminster welcomes Joseph Trucano as our new Organist and Ensemble Director. Joe holds organ performance degrees from Concordia College (Moorhead, Minnesota) and Eastman School of Music (Rochester, New York), and comes to us most recently from Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Shoreview, Minnesota, where he has served as the Director of Music & Worship since 2016. In addition to his organ expertise, Joe is an accomplished cellist and the Founder and Artistic Director of Skål Chamber Collective, a cross-genre chamber music group that performs works from Classical to Pop and Indie Rock. Joe’s long-time work as a church musician has been complemented by five years working as an Associate Producer for MPR’s Pipedreams in close collaboration with Host and Senior Executive Producer Michael Barone. He brings a wealth of knowledge about repertoire and a passion for diverse music that is sure to continue and deepen Westminster’s commitment to arts and worship.

Joe will join Director of Worship and the Arts Amanda Weber and Associate Director of Music Kenneth Vigne in a collaborative music staffing model, using music as a tool to create meaningful worship, build diverse community, and respond in creative ways to the world around us. In addition to serving as the organist for the 10:30 am Sunday worship service, Joe will direct Westminster’s Handbell Choir and the Choristers Choir (grades 4-6). Joe begins this position on August 2, with his first Sunday in worship on August 15.

When he is not playing the organ, you can find Joe running along the Mississippi River, spending time with his dog (Norman) and two cats (Walter & Roy), or getting sushi with his fiancé Tanner. Welcome, Joe!

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2021