Global Partners Celebration

by Westminster’s Cameroon, Cuba, and Palestine Ministry Teams

As Christians around the world celebrate World Communion Sunday on October 1, Westminster will celebrate our special relationships with congregations, church governing bodies, and educational institutions in Cameroon, Cuba, and Palestine. These three global partnerships were established under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen. Covenant documents with each of our Global Partners bind us in special ways now, and with plans to strengthen them in the future. We connect across cultures and circumstances, to learn, grow, and work together in hope toward a just, loving, joyful, peaceful, and sustainable world.

The 10:30am worship service on Sunday, October 1, will include special music from Cuban music ensemble Charanga Tropical, featuring Westminster member Doug Little on flute. After the service all are invited to Westminster Hall for the first of the October programs celebrating Tim Hart-Andersen. We’ll celebrate our partnerships with information tables; an ethnic food tasting from the three partnerships, including items prepared by the Cameroonian team; and a short program featuring partnership highlights, messages from and to our Global Partners, and a special moment with Tim.

A New Program Year Begins on Coming Together Sunday

by Alanna Simone Tyler, Associate Pastor for Justice and Mission and Meghan Gage-Finn, Senior Associate Pastor

Westminster launches the 2023-24 program year September 10, Coming Together Sunday. We will return to two worship services at 8:30 and 10:30am. During the Education Hour at 9:15am, children’s Church School and youth group resume. Adult learning will welcome R.T. Rybak and Gloria Perez, joining Senior Pastor Tim Hart-Andersen in conversation about Minneapolis-based and regional efforts to foster a renewed sense of community. In their respective roles, Rybak and Perez lead organizations committed to leadership development and sustaining thriving communities.

Rybak began serving as President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation in 2016 and he oversees the average annual distribution of more than $80 million in grants. Before assuming his current role, Rybak served as executive director of Generation Next, a coalition of civic, business, and school leaders focused on closing the educational opportunity gap in the Twin Cities. He served as mayor of Minneapolis from 2002 to 2013.

Perez began serving as President and CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFM) in 2020 and oversees transformative investments, close to $50 million, in women, girls and gender-expansive people. Additionally, WFM conducts ongoing research; advocates for public policy; and invests in organizations and leaders to achieve gender and racial justice. Before leading WFM, Perez was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Jeremiah Program, a national nonprofit with a proven, holistic approach for moving families from poverty to prosperity two generations at a time.

At the end of 10:30am worship, everyone will be asked to head outside to Westminster Plaza for a group photo to commemorate the day for the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen, who is retiring at the end of October. Following the photo, come back into the building to pick up your lunch for the All- Church Picnic, catered by Toma Mojo Grill. There will be a variety of delicious options available, including vegetarian and gluten free. The cost is $15/person and $40/family. You are encouraged to register on Realm.

As you enjoy your food, visit with others eating inside or outside the building. There will also be games and activities for young ones provided by Families, Youth, and Children’s ministries.

August Community Partner Highlights

Each month Westminster highlights organizations that are part of the Community Partners program, or local organizations selected as partners for their work to transform social systems, challenge inequalities, and practice love of neighbor for those who are poor, hungry, or homeless. This August we highlight Project for Pride in Living and Our Saviour’s Community Services.

Project for Pride in Living

By Tom Fidler

Project for Pride in Living (PPL) has had a long association with Westminster Presbyterian Church. PPL’s mission is to build hope among individuals and families by providing affordable housing and career readiness services. PPL owns, manages or services over 1500 units of housing in the Twin Cities, and in June 2023 broke ground on a new 46 unit affordable housing building called Shelby Commons in the North Loop. PPL also offers personalized career coaching and works with top-tier employers to offer training to individuals seeking positions such as office specialists and pharmacy technicians. To learn more about PPL or to volunteer, please visit their website.

Our Saviour’s Community Services

By Todd Monson

Our Saviour’s Community Services (OSCS) is located at 2315 Chicago Avenue, in the diverse Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis. Its two major programs are:

  • housing for single adults, including emergency shelter, transitional, and permanent supportive housing; and
  • the English Learning Center (ELC) serves more than 300 refugee and immigrant adults annually offering in English, computer, math, and citizenship classes. The ELC program is in a stage of rapid growth.

Current volunteer needs include:

  • Preparing meals on-site
  • Tutoring students of all levels and ability – OSCS will provide training

To learn more and to sign up to volunteer, please check out their website.


Palestine Partnerships Trip Highlights and Next Steps

by Kathleen Campbell and Rani Murdoch Zappa, Westminster Members

On August 20, Westminster members who traveled to Palestine in March 2023 will share photos, stories, and major impacts from the weeklong trip.

With members of Christmas Church, we worshipped, cooked, laughed, and enjoyed conversations and Bible study. During a day at Dar al-Kalima University, we were awed by the human and technical resources of the university and charmed by its earnest, friendly students. During outings to Ramallah, we learned about the history and the hardships of present-day Palestine and Palestinians. Explorations in East and West Jerusalem and outside Bethlehem revealed the diversity of landscapes, uneven access to resources, and contradictory narratives that impact the future of this contested region. We hope you will be moved to join our efforts in assuring our Palestinian partners that we stand with them in their fight to survive and thrive.

Please join us at 9:15am on Sunday, August 20, in the Meisel Room to hear our stories, see our photographs, and envision with us new ways to connect with and support these two extraordinary communities who will not give up hope.

Attend a Listening Session

Help Westminster reflect on where we are as a congregation and prepare us to follow where God is leading. As part of the Senior Pastor Transition process, the Ministry and Mission Study Committee wants to hear from you! Listening Sessions will be held each Sunday in August as follows:

  • August 6 | 11:45am-12:45pm | Westminster Hall
  • August 13 | 9:15-10:15am | Meisel Room
  • August 20 | 11:45am-12:45pm | Zoom
  • August 27 | 9:15-10:15am | Zoom
  • September 17 | 9:15-10:15am | Corner Gallery
  • September 17 | 11:45am-12:45pm | Recreation Room

Register for your preferred session on Realm or at a table in Westminster Commons before or after worship. For those who are unable to attend a listening session, there will be other opportunities to share your thoughts. Watch your email for a survey sent to you on Monday, August 7. Also, each Sunday in August after worship, look for ways to record your thoughts in writing or video in Westminster Commons. Thank you for sharing your voice!

Session Approves Gifts to Local Organizations

The Session of Westminster has approved $1.5 million in Enduring Hope Mission Component gifts to be disbursed to six local organizations to support academic achievement and leadership development for Black and Indigenous children and youth. The organizations and gift amounts are:

  • 21st Century Academy at Liberty Community Church, $400,000
  • 30,000 Feet, $200,000
  • Division of Indian Work, $400,000
  • Project Diva International, $80,000
  • MIGIZI, $400,000
  • We Win Institute, $20,000

The nine-member Mission Component Subcommittee that recommended these organizations invited trusted community leaders to describe what our community would look like if it were racially just, identify the root causes of injustice, and offer suggestions of areas where Westminster’s gifts could make a difference. The Subcommittee discerned that gifts directed to upstream efforts would have the greatest impact and met with leaders of organizations focused on closing the achievement gap and providing leadership development for Black and Indigenous youth. “We approached our work with the requisite humility, recognizing that there are already organizations offering effective programming,” explained Mission Component co-chair Elder Vince Thomas.

Mission Component co-chair Elder Jo Beld urged Session and the congregation to view each Enduring Hope gift as an opportunity to establish or expand a long-term, deep relationship. In receiving the recommendations Session members expressed enthusiasm about the prospect of accompanying and learning from committed organizations providing creative, community-based and culturally specific programming.

The Enduring Hope campaign began in the fall with a $30 million goal. In total Session approved disbursing $2.2 million of the campaign gifts to support global, national, and local organizations. Please consider making a financial commitment to support the campaign today by pledging online through Realm.

Engaging the Community at the Loring Park Art Festival

The annual Loring Park Art Festival draws thousands of visitors to Westminster’s neighborhood each July and offers the church an opportunity to bring what typically happens inside our walls, outside to the community. For the third year in a row, Westminster will sponsor a booth at the festival.

Mark your calendars for the two-day event on Saturday, July 29, from 10am to 6pm, and Sunday, July 30, from 10am to 5pm. Westminster’s booth will feature music, art, and story time for kids. Former Artist-in-Residence Joe Davis will perform at Westminster’s booth each day at noon, followed at 1pm by a piano and cello duet by Assistant Director of Music Kenneth Vigne and Organist and Ensemble Director Joe Trucano. At 2pm each day, Westminster will offer bluegrass music from our bluegrass worship musicians. Former Artist-in-Residence Kat Parent will lead a community art project and we are also arranging activities for kids with the assistance of Families, Youth, and Children.

In addition to music, art, and kids activities, Westminster members help to staff an information table, answering questions about the church and inviting people to visit. Last year we gave away blessing stones painted by Westminster member Susan Dray and stickers featuring photos of Westminster taken by member Tom Northenscold.

If you plan to attend the art festival, stop by Westminster’s booth to say, “Hello!” The booth will be next to the Loring Park Arts Center building and near the festival’s Information booth.

July Community Partner Highlight

YWCA Minneapolis

By Sue Perkins

The YWCA Minneapolis has been a long-time partner of Westminster. I am amazed at what an all-encompassing organization it is and how important it is to individuals, families, and our entire community. Just some of its assets:

Leadership/Empowerment of Women – An all-woman board of directors and strong policy and practice advocacy.

Family Programming – Childcare with an anti-bias curriculum, teacher training, and youth development programming.

Racial Justice – “It’s Time to Talk”/” It’s Time to Act” forums on race, partnering with like-minded organizations and internal commitments to equity and inclusion.

For more information and to sign up for newsletters, visit their website.



By Emily McChesney

FreeWriters continues to increase the number of incarcerated persons’ writing opportunities to improve mental health, reduce recidivism, and inspire hope. The program has expanded beyond Hennepin to Ramsey, Wright, and Anoka county jails. They’ve expanded community partnerships; added additional writing instructors, and started a community post-incarceration writing class. All told, they offer nearly 50 writing classes a month and one was recently attended by Congressman Phillips. Finally, in April the FreeWriters team presented at the Social Justice Forum. Those who attended were able to hear the founder’s inspiring story and experience free writing themselves. Learn more online.

Celebrating 5 Years of the St. David’s and Westminster Partnership

by Maureen Walsh, Chief Advancement and Strategy Officer, St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development

When Westminster expanded its historic building through the Open Doors Open Futures campaign, 25% of the building was reserved for an on-site community partner. Through a thorough discernment process, St. David’s Center was selected for its vision to create the region’s first multidisciplinary, culturally responsive early intervention center for children with global delays in development. Named in memory of respected clinical leader at St. David’s Center and statewide infant and early childhood consultant Scott Harman, The Harman Center for Child & Family Wellbeing opened in March 2018.

The Harman Center provides children’s mental health assessment and parent-child therapy, early childhood day treatment for children who have experienced trauma and early adversity, day treatment for young East African children diagnosed with autism, speech and occupational therapy, and a parenting support group for East African families. So much has been accomplished in the Center’s first five years. More than 700 children have gained the skills and confidence they need to thrive in kindergarten, and their families are better equipped to care for them. St. David’s Center has built a talented and diverse team, hosts graduate interns learning how to treat trauma and autism in young children, and is seen as an integral community collaborator working in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools, Hennepin County, and a host of nonprofit partners surrounding their families.

On Tuesday, July 11, from 5-7pm, we will gather for a special anniversary event in Westminster Hall, with guided tours through the Center. Mark your calendars and let’s celebrate what we have accomplished together!

(Originally published in the June 2023 Westminster News.)

Pastor Transition: June Update

by Barbara Brown, Succession Planning Team Member

The Succession Planning Team (STP) is working with lay leaders, staff, and the congregation in preparation for the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen’s retirement in October. We have met with the leadership at the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area to review the advised procedures often used when calling a new Senior Pastor.

Additionally, we have hired a consultant to work with the Ministry and Mission Study Committee, led by Gretchen Musicant and Leigh Niebuhr, as they plan Listening Sessions with the congregation. These sessions will be part of a self-study process to help the congregation reflect on where we are and prepare us to follow where God is leading. Watch for details about upcoming Listening Sessions.

Finally, we are forming a Celebration Committee to plan events celebrating Tim’s nearly 25 years of service at Westminster and his 40 years in ministry. Stay up to date on all of these events and opportunities on the Westminster website.

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2023