Windows into Palestine

Festival of Palestinian Art & Culture
Comes to Minneapolis May 17–19

 Windows into Palestine kicks off with Palestinian soccer star Honey Thaljieh as the featured speaker at the Westminster Town Hall Forum

Visit for the full schedule of events

A three-day Windows into Palestine festival will celebrate the art and culture of Palestine May 17–19. All events are free and open to the public and take place in the recently renovated Westminster Presbyterian Church. Free, on-site parking is available throughout the festival.

Windows into Palestine kicks off with Palestinian soccer star Honey Thaljieh as the keynote speaker at the Westminster Town Hall Forum May 17. The festival continues with an exhibition of visual art by Palestinian artists; musical performances and workshops; films and discussions with filmmakers; Palestinian chef showcase, cuisine and cooking classes; a spice market; and an Iftar dinner.

“The festival provides a rare opportunity to learn more about the culture of a society that is often misrepresented in today’s world,” said Beth Nelson Chase, executive director of Bright Stars of Bethlehem. “Through exploration of the art, culture, and food of Palestine, we learn the hopeful story of people who have lived for more than 2,000 years in the Holy Land and who continue to thrive in the midst of occupation and political and religious challenge.”

Featured artists in the festival include the internationally acclaimed Georges Lammam Ensemble, filmmakers Baha’ Abu Shannab and Raghab Mukarker (whose I Love Bethlehem will have its U.S. premiere at the festival), and actor Munir Nassar. Chefs Sameh Wadi (World Street Kitchen) and Bassem Hazboun (Bethlehem) will headline a chef showcase.

The festival is presented by Bethlehem Lutheran Church Foundation, Bright Stars of Bethlehem, Christmas Lutheran Church of Bethlehem, and Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Town Hall Forum

Nadine Burke Harris
Tuesday, April 10 | noon
Healing the Effects of Childhood Adversity and Trauma

Nadine Burke Harris is a pediatrician and advocate for children’s health. She is the founder of the Center for Youth Wellness, which researches the impact of adverse childhood experiences on long-term health, behavior, and learning. She has shared her findings at the Mayo Clinic, American Academy of Pediatrics, Google Zeitgeist, and Dreamforce. An advisor to the Too Small to Fail initiative, which promotes the importance of early brain and language development in children, she is the author of the new book The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. She is the recipient of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s Humanism in Medicine Award and the Heinz Award for the Human Condition.

This event is co-sponsored by Washburn Center for Children. Music precedes the forum at 11:30 am, and a public reception and book-signing follow.

For information, contact Susan McKenna (612.332.3421) or visit

Magnet Senior Center

Seniors can visit the Magnet Senior Center four mornings per week (an expansion from the current two): Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 am to noon at Westminster Presbyterian Church, in the Heller Commons; and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to noon at Minneapolis Central Library at 300 Nicollet Mall. Individuals over the age of 50 and of all faiths are welcome at both locations.

The Magnet Senior Center offers older adults a place to gather for coffee, conversation, and cultural and educational events. An advisory board comprised of library staff, church members and seniors has formed to plan programs, ranging from chair yoga and healthy diets to board game competitions and book discussions. The program is drop-in; no reservations are required.

The Minneapolis Central Library opened the Magnet Senior Center in July 2017 in response to the closing of the Skyway Senior Center last March. Due to budget constraints, the center was open only two mornings a week for two and half hours. A Westminster member and frequent Skyway Center attendee approached church leaders about the need for seniors to have more options for a place to go for social support and learning. “By combining and leveraging our resources, both the Library and Westminster can better serve the seniors in our community,” said Dillon Young, service manager at Minneapolis Central Library. Rev. David Shinn, added, “The Library has wonderful programming expertise but has space and budget limitations. Westminster can provide financial support, meeting space our building, and free parking.”

We invite all seniors to stop by the center at either location.

Questions? Contact Magnet Senior Center Coordinator, Angelique Kingsbury.

Report on successful, interfaith Bold Hope event

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey kicked off a celebratory and moving interfaith gathering to benefit the Emergency Rental Assistance Program of Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness.

Westminster 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

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

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: or 612.332.3421. Click for PDF with Cross information and reservation form.

Great River Landing receives $14.1 million in tax credit financing

GRL is the fourth development from the Housing 150 collaboration among Westminster Presbyterian Church, Plymouth Congregational Church and Beacon, created in honor of the congregations’ sesquicentennial anniversaries.

St. David’s Center to Become On-Site Community Partner

After a two-year discernment process, the Session of Elders and Board of Trustees voted to approve St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development as the on-site, direct service mission partner in the new wing of Westminster.