Understanding Why Westminster Supports Global Partnerships

by Steve Anderson, Cuba Partnership Ministry Team

Westminster has long-standing partnerships with churches, church governing bodies, and educational institutions in Cameroon, Cuba, and Palestine. Our covenant relationships are built on principles of mutuality as we pray, study, listen, and learn from one another, so that we can grow spiritually in our journey together as siblings in Christ.

Each May we receive the Global Offering to support activities and foster connections with our Global Partners, as identified through prayerful discussions that allow us to work with them in addressing needs found within their distinct local context and reality. In addition to supporting travel exchanges to be together, Westminster has contributed to local educational programs, the community outreach of our partners like providing meals for those in need, and the installation of clean water systems.

Our witness of presence, solidarity, and advocacy, combined with specific financial support, is needed now more than ever as our partners are challenged by civil unrest, conflict, and severe economic hardships. Your generosity through the Global Offering on May 19 is very much appreciated as we work with our global partners to demonstrate God’s love in this world.

On May 5, 12, and 19, look for tables in Westminster Commons staffed by the partnership teams to learn more about who we are and how you can participate!

Westminster Counseling Center Hires Executive Director

by Paul Arbisi, Board President, Westminster Counseling Center

The Board of the Westminster Counseling Center (WCC) is pleased to announce that after a two-year pause, the Counseling Center is starting the process to resume operation and fulfill its mission to be a place of healing for individuals, couples, and families within the Twin Cities community. During the pause in operations, the WCC Board has been hard at work planning a more robust organizational structure and sustainable business model in order for the WCC to provide mental health services to members of the community who may otherwise not have access to those services.

The first step in the relaunch was to hire an Executive Director for the WCC. The Board is excited and pleased to welcome Steve Palmer, MA, LMFT, as the executive director. Steve has worked as a therapist in several settings. For the past decade, Steve has worked at MHealth Fairview as a supervisor and an embedded mental health provider in medical care settings. Importantly, he has first-hand experience with WCC, where he spent several years working as a therapist in his early career. Additionally, Steve has a master’s degree in theology from the University of St. Thomas and brings a profound appreciation for the spiritual dimension when addressing mental health issues. Steve is sensitive to the impact of various traumas on the client’s relationship to self, others, and the transcendent, and excited to connect with partners across our city to discover how we can help serve the needs of our community through spiritually informed, evidence-based mental health care!

The Board anticipates that the Westminster Counseling Center will begin to provide services on a limited basis by early summer with a gradual resumption of full operations by early in 2025. In the meantime, watch the WCC webpage for further announcements. Please reach out to Steve with any questions and to welcome him back to Westminster.

Nature Hike at Camp Ajawah

Saturday, May 11 | 10am-2pm
Camp Ajawah, 21600 Zodiac St NE, Wyoming, Minnesota

If you love walking in the woods and learning about nature, this is your chance to spend a day at Camp Ajawah! This is for people who have never been to Camp Ajawah and for those who are Ajawah veterans.

The Eco-Justice Ministry Team is proud to co-sponsor a nature hike at Camp Ajawah on Saturday, May 11, from 10am to 2pm. Come join the fun and learn to identify wildflowers, learn about geology, glaciers, and watersheds. Lunch will be provided. All ages are welcome.

You are welcome to spend the rest of the day at Ajawah at the conclusion of the nature hike if you wish. Please register to attend through Realm.

Transitional Senior Pastor Announced

At its April meeting, the Westminster Session received the report from the Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers (PCSM) that they have extended an invitation to a candidate for the Transitional Senior Pastor role. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Japinga will begin the role in May 1, balancing his time as he completes his current position.

“The TSP Search Committee is delighted to present Jeff Japinga to Westminster as our Transitional Senior Pastor,” said Brent Hall, chair of the Transitional Search Committee. “Although many in our congregation will know Jeff as a familiar face in the pews, few members realize the depth and variety of his ministry experience. Jeff is a gifted preacher and has significant experience in leading complex organizations through transitional periods. He is excited to lead Westminster through our transitional period and we are excited to have him.”

Hall led the Transitional Search Committee, a sub-committee of the Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers (PCSM), which was responsible for hiring the Transitional Senior Pastor. The Pastor Nominating Committee, which was elected by the congregation, continues the separate process to find Westminster’s next Senior Pastor and Head of Staff.

From 2015 to 2021, Japinga served as the Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, which makes him familiar with Westminster and the community with him. Japinga has previously served as Associate Dean and Professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, as well as with the Reformed Church in America. Japinga more recently served as an Interim Minister at House of Prayer Lutheran Church in Richfield, Minnesota, and Transitional Executive Presbyter of John Knox Presbytery in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.

“In my 37 years in ministry serving God’s church, mostly in places of transition, I’ve deepened the skills of asking good questions and listening to diverse perspectives; the commitment to hearing diverse voices, especially including those less heard, and synthesizing words into actions; the practice of doing this collaboratively, as a trusted colleague and companion,” said Japinga. “I will bring all of me in service to this goal: to focus and prepare Westminster Presbyterian Church to welcome its next senior pastor with clarity, with energy, and a renewed commitment to be the church God is calling you to be.”

Japinga has a Bachelor of Science from the Northwestern University in Illinois, a Master of Divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey, and a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. The Westminster community will have an opportunity to welcome Jeff to Westminster on Sunday, April 28, and hear him preach on Sunday, May 12.

Spectacular Native American Poetry Readings

By Wendy Brown-Báez, Artist-in-Residence

Join us for this rare event with Heid E. Erdrich, Marcie R. Rendon, and Louise K. Waakaa’igan. I am familiar with the power and eloquence of their work and awed at their generosity and dedication to Native creatives and to the literary community of the Twin Cities and beyond. Heid E. Erdrich is the inaugural poet laureate of Minneapolis and Marcie R. Rendon is included in Oprah’s list of 31 Indigenous authors to read.

Heid E. Erdrich is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. Her seven books of poetry include Little Big Bully, winner of the 2022 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. This book is described by Amy Gerstler as “a force of nature: renowned Native poet Heid E. Erdrich applies her rich inventive voice and fierce wit to the deforming effects of harassment and oppression.” She has also received many fellowships and awards and won the MN Book Award twice.

Marcie R. Rendon, an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation, is a prolific author, poet, and playwright. She is the author of an award-winning murder mystery series and another book of poetry is forthcoming this summer. In a quote from MPR news, Marcie says despite all that has happened over the years, she believes Indigenous people are more resilient than they are traumatized. She weaves her accumulated wisdom into poetry that will move your spirit. Marcie also teaches creative writing with women who are incarcerated, and she and Diego Vazquez received a 2017 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship for their work.

You will simply be stunned by the beautiful poetry of Louise K. Waakaa’igan, whose chapbook This is Where won the Willow Books Chapbook Award: A Report from the Inside. Louise is the recipient of the 2017 PEN America Prison Writing Awards Poetry Prize for her poem, “This Is Where,” and won f irst place in Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop’s Broadside Competition in 2016 for her poem “Within.” Louise has transformed herself inside and out after years of incarceration. Louise is enrolled at Odaawaa Zaaga ‘iganiing (Lac Courte Orielles Reservation) in northern Wisconsin.

I am over the moon to host this reading as Artist-in-Residence and look forward to seeing you there. The reading starts at 7pm on Friday, April 19 followed by a reception and book signing with Birchbark Books. Please register on Realm.

Westminster to Perform Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem

By Amanda Weber, Director of Worship and the Arts

As we transition from Lent to Holy Week this year, I invite you to a very special musical offering to hear Ein deutsches Requiem by Johannes Brahms, presented by the Westminster Choir in collaboration with a chamber orchestra. A part of the Westminster Performing Arts Series, this masterwork will be performed in Westminster Hall on Friday, March 22, at 7pm and Saturday, March 23, at 2pm. Tickets are available through Realm for the Friday performance and the Saturday afternoon performance.

Mounting a large work of this nature on Palm Sunday weekend revives a long-ago Westminster tradition, and the Brahms Requiem, more specifically, has been performed at Westminster in the past. Even still, this Romantic work from the mid19th century holds new meaning for us today, ever relevant in a world that is reeling with grief from pandemic losses, death from racialized violence, global turmoil and war, and increasing climate disasters.

While Ein deutsches Requiem translates to ‘A German Requiem,’ Brahms was famously quoted as calling the piece “a human Requiem,” departing from the traditional, Latin Requiem Mass for the Dead to focus, instead, on comforting those who are left behind. Brahms, himself, compiled the libretto—scriptural passages from 11 different biblical and apocryphal books. “Blessed are those who mourn” is the text that opens this 7-movement work, while “Blessed are the dead” does not appear until the very end. Between, Brahms takes us on a journey through every emotion grief might touch, with notable appearances by baritone and soprano soloists, to be performed by Paul Max Tipton and Sarah Brailey.

To learn more about the Brahms Requiem, visit our lecture and open rehearsal on Friday, March 8, from 5-7:30pm. The event will begin in the Meisel Room at 5pm with snacks and the lecture before continuing in the Choir Room for the open rehearsal.

“Parti” Shares the Westminster Story

By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications

Among the celebrations this fall in honor of the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen’s ministry at Westminster, a new piece of art was installed in Westminster Commons. But this little piece of art has a lot to say about who Westminster is today.

Parti is located inside the Nicollet Mall entrance outside Westminster Hall and it was the vision of the late Jim Dayton, lead architect for Westminster’s addition in 2018 and longtime Westminster member. “Parti” is an architectural term for the central organizing concept behind an architect’s design. For Dayton, the concept behind the design of Westminster’s addition was a cross formed out of the open spaces that extend out into the city.

Architect Rob Hunter was part of Dayton’s team for the Westminster project and continues to work for JDD Studio (formerly Jim Dayton Designs). Hunter explained how Parti has meaning, both architecturally and theologically.

Hart-Andersen sees the theology of the building in 1887 as “come to us,” whereas the new expansion says something different. “This is a different statement to the city about who we are theologically and what we want to do with the city in terms of engaging them in a transparent, open way,” Hart-Andersen said. “A piece of art that says so much more about who we are as a people and what we’ve done together.”

Watch a video online of Hunter explaining more about Parti and the story behind it.

Deepening Our Understanding of the Unfolding Conflict in Gaza

Westminster’s Social Justice Ministry Team and the Palestine Partnership Ministry Team are jointly hosting well-informed guests who will help us deepen our understanding of the war in Gaza. Our Social Justice Forum guests will speak in-person in the Meisel Room and via Livestream.

Root Causes of the War in Gaza

Sunday, January 28 | 9:15am

Westminster will welcome Linda Edens, Vice-Chair of Bright Stars of Bethlehem, the United States-based organization supporting Dar al Kalima University in Bethlehem, one of Westminster’s global partners. Edens will discuss the root causes of the war in Gaza as well as provide an update on what is happening on the ground.

Gaza in Context: Past, Present, and Possible Future

Sunday, February 4 | 9:15am

Westminster will welcome Nathan Stock, who works as a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute (MEI). Prior to joining MEI, Stock led Carter Center efforts to facilitate the reunification of the Palestinian political system and to assert Palestinian sovereignty via international fora. His presentation will include a brief historical review of Gaza in the 20th century, including the Occupation and Israeli control. He will discuss Palestinian politics and the rise of Hamas in Gaza, and then reflect on the current status.

Please watch Westminster communication channels for more information about the February 11 speaker.  Check in with the Palestine Partnership table in Westminster Commons following worship on Sundays.

Learn more about supporting the Presbyterian Church (USA) Disaster Assistance efforts to respond to the needs of Palestinians living in Gaza.

Send a note to elected representatives calling for a ceasefire.

Welcoming the Rev. Dr. Jerry L. Cannon for King Holiday

Liberty Community Church and Westminster welcome the Rev. Dr. Jerry L. Cannon for our joint celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. In November 2022 the Board of Pensions (BOP) of the Presbyterian Church (USA)appointed him to serve as Vice President of Ministry Innovation. In this role Dr. Cannon, a lifelong Presbyterian, provides leadership for the BOP dues incentive programs to support churches and ministries. He is especially committed to connecting those serving in small congregations and nontraditional ministry settings to BOP benefits.

Dr. Cannon brings to BOP best practices from more than 30 years of ministry. Before his current role, he led innovative worship, faith community formation, and community service as Pastor and Head of Staff of C.N. Jenkins Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He guided the congregation to notice the surrounding community’s gifts and needs and to ask, ‘How am I in relationship with my neighbor?’

Dr. Cannon earned a Bachelor of Science from Virginia State University and a Master of Divinity from Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary, the only historically African American seminary among the 12 theological schools of the Presbyterian Church (USA). He earned a Doctor of Ministry from the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He is married to the Rev. Veronica Obey Cannon, and they are the parents offour adult children.

As one who has held on to the joy of his call and is gratified by mentoring and coaching church leaders, Dr.Cannon will encourage Liberty and Westminster to consider opportunities to expand ministry in our respective contexts.

MLK Weekend Events

Saturday, January 13 | 9am

Workshop with Dr. Cannon | Liberty Community Church’s Northside Healing Space

Sunday, January 14 | 8:30am

Worship with Dr. Cannon | Westminster Hall and Livestream

Sunday, January 14 | 9:15am

Joint Forum with the Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri and the Rev. Dr. Curtiss DeYoung, Minnesota Council of Churches

Westminster Hall and Livestream

Sunday, January 14 | 10:30am

Worship with Dr. Cannon | Sanctuary and Livestream

Enduring Hope: Debt Reduction Update

by Kelsey Crouch-Dodson, Director of Stewardship and Nicole Cueno, Senior Director of Finance and Operations

This fall Westminster announced the successful completion of the Enduring Hope campaign. Together, Westminster celebrated the culmination of a decade-long project in which the church raised $93 million to fulfill a bold vision: create a sustainable future so Westminster continues to thrive for the next 100 years.

Thanks to the generosity of the Westminster congregation, the church was able to make two significant payments toward our final remaining loan with Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP).

On the last Sunday before his retirement, Senior Pastor Tim Hart-Andersen presented a $5 million check to PILP CEO and President Jim Rissler. In December, the church was able to make another significant paydown of more than $2 million on our PILP loan. It is a testament to the strength of this congregation that we have been able to pay down over 80% of the original debt taken on during the capital campaign!

Thanks to the ongoing generosity and payments on Enduring Hope and Open Doors, Open Futures pledges, we will continue to be able to paydown our loan and remain committed to the planned gift schedule that is part of the mission component of the two campaigns. Together, we are creating a sustainable future for the church and supporting the critical work of our mission partners.

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2024