Church in the Round: Small Groups for Lent

This Lent, you’re invited to Church in the Round, a five-week small group experience of conversation and connection starting Sunday, February 26.

Traditionally Lent is a time for self-reflection and tending our spirituality, as individuals and as communities. Church in the Round offers a chance to do this with others—something to add, rather than something to take away. Groups will meet for an hour each week for five weeks, either in person or online. Some groups will meet Sunday mornings at 9:15, others on Wednesday following midday or evening worship, and some at other designated times.

As we hear sermons each Sunday this Lent at Westminster based on the themes found in the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father, who art in heaven…”), Church in the Round will provide space for contemplating that Prayer itself and the role of prayer more generally. A weekly gathering will include a short video, a brief reflection or poem, scripture, and discussion. Church in the Round opens space to slow down and think, to consider new possibilities about prayer, to imagine ways of drawing near to God, and to connect with others in the Westminster community.

We all have questions about prayer. We all pray differently—and sometimes not at all. Most of us would admit that prayer can be confusing or difficult. That means we all have something to learn from one another and from our shared reflections. If you’ve been around Westminster for a while, you may remember Lenten Covenant Groups as occasions for similar kinds of gathering and conversation. Church in the Round is similar, but we’ve designed the opportunities for group learning and contemplation to be more engaging and accessible to a variety of people, in person and online. Don’t miss this chance to tend to your spiritual health this Lent.

Register today for Church in the Round! You can do so on Realm or by emailing Michael Gold at the church office. If you have questions, visit the Adult Education section of Westminster’s website or contact the Rev. Margaret Fox or the Rev. Dr. Matt Skinner. Existing groups will have the opportunity to continue together using the Church in the Round program if they wish.

Enduring Hope Update: Chapel Renovation Project Begins

A generous donor has given $500,000 to the Enduring Hope campaign to fully fund the chapel renovation project. The work began January 9.

“Not only has a donor family stepped forward to fund the project, but the funds are already in the bank,” explained Senior Pastor Tim HartAndersen. “This means we’re ready to begin the project.”

The project will involve removing the existing sheetrock and restoring the walls to their original design. About 15 years ago, sheetrock was added over the interior chapel walls in order to secure cracking plaster.

“The decision to add sheetrock was understood at the time, but it did cover up woodwork details of the original architecture and change the acoustics,” said Hart-Andersen. “After 15 years, it is time to restore the chapel to its original architectural design and acoustic quality.”

The project will also include updating the electrical wiring and lighting in the space to make it more energy efficient, and adding livestreaming capabilities. Cameras will be installed in the back of the chapel and one on the side in the front to capture worship in the space for an online audience. The project is estimated to take about three to four months to complete.

In addition to the chapel renovation project, a 10% biblical tithe of the Enduring Hope campaign will go toward a mission component. Most of the $30 million campaign goal will be used to retire Westminster’s debt. Paying off the debt will enable Westminster to grow and continue to thrive for the next 100 years. Please consider making a financial commitment to support the campaign today by pledging online through Realm.

Westminster to Host Exhibition and Reception for Sharing Our Wisdom

By Angelique Kingsbury, Coordinator, Magnet Center 

This fall, in collaboration with Minneapolis Adult Community Education, Westminster’s Magnet Center offered Sharing Our Wisdom, a 6-week art program for adults 55+ to promote positive wellbeing and socialization. Made possible through a $23,000 Community Wellbeing grant from the Minneapolis Health Department (MHD), the Sharing Our Wisdom program was held at Westminster along with two other sites: Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis and North Market in North Minneapolis.  

Each site had a cohort of 12-15 older adults who would meet regularly with a teaching artist and additional facilitator to share in storytelling, exchanging knowledge, sharing wisdom, and creating an individual art piece representing life lessons they wished to share. The teaching artists used different mediums at each site with North Market painting on canvas, Westminster working with sculpture, and Sabathani doing wood burning.  

On January 21, Westminster will host a free exhibition and reception for the public from 2-4 pm with art from all three sites. The exhibition will include art pieces along with words of wisdom from the participants. The teaching artists will also attend and discuss their work. After the exhibition opens at Westminster, it will travel to other locations in Minneapolis. 

For the second half of the Sharing Our Wisdom program, participants and others who would like to join will meet monthly through May with each gathering focused on work from a well-known artist and a small art project.

All-Church Book Read: Horse

This January, Adult Education will feature the All-Church Book Read when we will read together the novel Horse by Geraldine Brooks. Small group discussions will be held at 9:15am on January 8 and January 29 with a speaker scheduled for January 22. The Rev. Dr. Sarah Henrich will be our guest speaker on January 22. Among her several degrees, Sarah has a Master of Arts degree from the University of St. Thomas and is currently a docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She will speak on how art reflects racism from the time of the 1850s to the present day. On the Sundays of January 8 and 29 we will have discussion groups that will meet in-person and online. Contact Michael Gold if you would like to be added to a group.

December Community Partner Grant Recipient Highlights

By Todd Monson

Our Saviour’s Community Services (OSCS), located in the Phillip’s neighborhood in Minneapolis, has two programming components:  an array of housing services and an English Learning Center (ELC).

OSCS operates a 24-7 shelter program with 24 units for single adults. Currently OSCS has 17 shelter residents all of whom have completed housing plans. Through its transitional housing program, OSCS serves up to 10 women who have experienced homelessness and domestic violence. OSCS’s permanent supportive housing program serves more than 100 long-term residents who live with a mental illness, physical disability, or substance use disorder.

Medical respite shelter programs provide a safe place for healing, accessing services, and planning next steps with professionals providing case management and care coordination. The four-month pilot medical respite program OSCS launched in July 2022 proved to be successful and has been extended through June 2023.

The ELC serves more than 150 refugees and 300 immigrant adults annually representing over 25 countries. English, computers, math, and citizenship classes are offered. Beginning in 2020 ELC began providing culturally specific food to some participants facing food insecurity.

OSCS is always looking for volunteers. If you’re interested, visit their website

Enduring Hope Update: Thrivent Loan Paid Off Early

With $16.5 million already committed in the Enduring Hope campaign, in December Westminster will pay off the loan from Thrivent more than a year ahead of schedule. “The early generosity of Westminster members toward the Enduring Hope campaign is very encouraging,” said Senior Pastor Tim Hart-Andersen. “Not only do we have more than half of the $30 million goal committed, but we have also received early cash payments on pledges that allow us to use the money immediately to begin paying off debt, saving the church as much as possible.”

At the start of Enduring Hope, Westminster owed approximately $26.5 million, including interest, as part of the original loan package to fund the new addition to the church completed in 2018. During the Open Doors Open Futures campaign, Westminster agreed to raise funds for 75% of the expansion project and to take out loans for the remaining 25%. The Open Doors Open Futures campaign raised $65 million, and the Enduring Hope campaign will retire Westminster’s debts, securing a strong financial future.

There are two lenders: a 20-year mortgage with the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP), part of the PCUSA commitment to help congregations; and Thrivent Financial. Both lenders offer favorable interest rates and reinvest Westminster’s payments into ministry and mission. Westminster’s goal was to repay the Thrivent loan by January 2024 when a $12 million balloon payment was due. With the money already received through Enduring Hope, Westminster repaid the loan more than a year early.

“Westminster’s short-term debt is gone,” said Hart-Andersen. “Now we owe approximately $16 million on our mortgage with PILP and we are going to work to pay that off early as well.”

In addition to debt retirement, a 10% biblical tithe of the Enduring Hope campaign will go toward a mission component and $500,000 will fund the chapel renovation project. Please consider making a financial commitment to support the campaign today by pledging online through Realm.

Socks, Hats, and Gloves for FEAST Guests

By Susan Gilmore, Westminster’s Hunger Ministry Team  

During the pandemic Westminster’s Hunger Ministry Team has continued to offer a community meal, Friends Eating and Sharing Together (FEAST), the fourth Sunday of the month in partnership with Plymouth Congregational Church. As the holidays approach we want to offer FEAST guests a gift of new socks, hats, and gloves. Our goal is to have 300 items so each guest can pick 2 items of their choice. You are invited to bring your donations to the church beginning Sunday, November 27, and to leave them in the boxes decorated with Christmas wrapping paper, which will be placed next to the 3 Groveland Food Shelf donation boxes. There is one located by the chapel and two near the entrance doors to the church from the parking ramps. We will collect these items through Christmas Sunday, December 25.  

 Most of our guests are men so look for socks and gloves in large or extra-large sizes. Stocking hats are mostly a generic one size fits all. For female guests, most appreciate a large size in both socks and gloves. Cotton, wool, or a wool blend are most requested for socks. Thank you for your donations!

November Community Partner Grant Recipient Highlights

Each month we highlight Westminster’s community partner grant recipients. This November learn more about the Banyan Community and Avenues for Youth.

Banyan Community

By Suzanne Kelley and Kay Thomas

Banyan is deeply rooted in the Phillips neighborhood of south Minneapolis–a community of roughly one hundred blocks. According to Minnesota Compass, a project of Wilder Research, close to 28% of the residents of the neighborhood have incomes below the poverty level. In this context Banyan works to transform lives by developing youth, strengthening families, and creating community. After school programs provide homework support and enrichment activities for students. Banyan is built on relationships of trust, compassion, and celebration. Banyan believes that when youth, family, and community are synchronized, the greatest progress is made in raising educational achievement and reducing poverty. Westminster’s funding helps support the adult education program for parents.

In Banyan’s asset-based approach to building community, neighbors connect with and support each other, and parents are empowered to be deeply involved in their children’s education. The educational success of children served by the Banyan speaks to the power of Banyan’s wrap-around support and commitment to walking alongside families from children’s early years through higher education.

Avenues for Youth

By Emily McChesney

Avenues for Youth provides emergency shelter, short-term housing, and support in a safe and nurturing homelike environment to youth experiencing homelessness in Hennepin County. Westminster’s community partner grant is supporting an increase in needs due to the pandemic, as well as supporting onsite medical and mental health care in order to help youth transition positively into adulthood. One of the unique innovative programs Avenues offers is the ConneQT Host Home Program, which provides LGBTQI+ youth, ages 18 to 24, with culturally responsive housing within homes in the community. Avenues has a capital campaign underway for a new building. Current opportunities for Westminster members to get involved include sponsoring a youth for their birthday, being a holiday gift sponsor, or even hosting a youth in your home through the ConneQT program.

Fair Trade Gift Fair 2022

by Alanna Simone Tyler, Associate Pastor for Justice and Mission

Westminster will welcome close to one dozen vendors to sell a variety of sustainably sourced and fairly exchanged goods at the 2022 Fair Trade Gift Fair, Sunday, November 20. At Westminster we articulate our hope for a just world. In a just world, craftspeople and farmers are paid well and are therefore empowered to preserve their traditions and create better lives for their families and their communities. Each fair trade purchase supports livable wages, skills training, and sustainable business development for our siblings around the world.

Zatoun is a participating vendor this year and will again sell their highly sought-after fair trade extra virgin olive oil and za’atar (a blend of wild thyme, sumac and roasted sesame seeds). According to Zatoun, products of the olive tree are the major source of income for more than 100,000 Palestinian families. In producing olive oil, referred to as “peace in a bottle,” Zatoun seeks for the Palestinians who are farmers, press operators, bottlers, carton makers and shippers to have the greatest economic benefit. The proceeds from selling Zatoun products are used to plant more olive trees.

Support the Fair Trade Gift Fair and invite your family and friends to join you. To learn more email

“Enduring Hope:” A New Campaign Begins at Westminster

by Joan Dayton and Pete Cochrane, Campaign Co-chairs

Compelled by God’s call, Westminster’s enduring hope is for a sustainable future for our church, and justice in our city and beyond. That is the bold vision behind a new capital campaign that has begun at Westminster—Enduring Hope. In January Session approved the start of a new campaign and in February we were named Co-Chairs with Alice Mortenson and Jim and Carmen Campbell named Honorary Co-Chairs. For the past six months, many lay leaders have volunteered their time and talents during the planning and quiet phases of the campaign by holding listening sessions, creating communications, and reaching out to potential donors. We are all committed to a successful second campaign to complete the work started 10 years ago with the building expansion project.

At that time, the congregation committed itself to raising most of the building expansion project’s costs upfront through the Open Doors Open Futures campaign – which was done through extraordinary generosity – and the balance in a second campaign. The initial cost included land acquisition, construction, and $8 million for a mission component supporting affordable housing, local and global partners, and young adult leadership development.

With the physical space complete, it is time to focus on securing our financial future. The goal of the Enduring Hope campaign is $30 million, the majority of which will retire the debt. Paying off the debt will enable Westminster to grow and continue to thrive for the next 100 years. Ten percent, or $3 million, of what is raised will go toward mission, and $500,000 will fund renovations to the chapel.

Enduring Hope will pave the way for Westminster’s vibrant future and empower the congregation to continue being a telling presence in the city for generations to come. Please consider making a financial commitment to support the campaign today by pledging online through Realm.

Enduring Hope Campaign Details

Debt and Interest: Being debt free will allow Westminster to live into the future unencumbered and able to respond to emerging needs and opportunities. This campaign will secure a sustainable financial future for the church to grow and continue to thrive for the next 100 years.

Mission Component: A 10% biblical tithe of the campaign is designated for a mission component. A team of lay leaders is actively discerning options for distributing $3 million and at the October meeting Session endorsed the vision statement guiding the team’s discernment, “Because we hope for a just community, Westminster will invest to advance racial and social justice.”

Chapel Improvements: Updating the antiquated electrical system will reduce the chapel’s energy use and be in alignment with Westminster’s commitment to be a sustainable church. Livestream capacity will be installed. The walls will be returned to their original design to restore the beauty of the chapel and enhance the sound quality of the chapel organ, as it was originally intended.

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2023