Senior Pastor Tim Hart-Andersen Announces Retirement from Westminster Presbyterian Church

Westminster Presbyterian Church on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis announced today that the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen will retire on October 31 from his role as senior pastor after nearly 25 years of ministry in Minneapolis.

In a letter to the congregation, Hart-Andersen wrote that the decision was not easy. “I recently turned 70 and sense that I am being called to move into the next chapter in my life. The same is now true for Westminster. I give thanks to God for the call extended to me by Westminster in the summer of 1999 to serve this historic Minneapolis congregation. This coming fall I will have begun my 25th year here. What a joy it has been!”

During his time at Westminster, Hart-Andersen has led the congregation through key moments for the nation and the City of Minneapolis. As senior pastor and head of staff of one of the nation’s largest Presbyterian churches, Hart-Andersen has preached regularly in worship, led the work of a dynamic staff, and provided strategic leadership as the congregation thought creatively about the future. Hart-Andersen has also served as moderator of the Westminster Town Hall Forum, an organization launched from the church in 1980 to invite guest speakers to engage the public in reflection and dialogue on the key issues of our day from an ethical perspective. The Forum also airs on Minnesota Public Radio.

Under Hart-Andersen’s leadership, in 2012 Westminster purchased the property next to the church and expanded the 19th century building with a new wing that opens onto Nicollet Mall and Marquette Avenue. The facility is a model of environmental sustainability, with an ecological design that added green spaces downtown. The expansion was funded through loans and a successful $65 million Open Doors Open Futures campaign. The congregation is currently in the middle a $30 million Enduring Hope campaign to retire debt and support the community. Both campaigns have included mission components, through which Westminster is investing $11 million in affordable housing in Minneapolis and in programs shared with partners to further racial and social justice and leadership development in the local community and beyond.

During his time at Westminster, Hart-Andersen has remained passionate about the church’s mission to engage in the life of the city and in transforming lives and systems in pursuit of the love and justice of Jesus Christ. “Westminster’s telling presence in the city is strong and healthy. The future is wide open for this historic downtown congregation,” Hart-Andersen said. “The congregation is blessed with wonderful leadership, outstanding facilities, a terrific location, and high visibility in the Twin Cities.”

Hart-Andersen is also an active member of the wider community, serving on the Macalester College Board of Trustees, the Downtown Council of Minneapolis, and as a member of the Downtown Minneapolis Interfaith Senior Clergy group. He is a founding Board Member of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians and one of the initiators of the NEXT Church movement. He currently serves as the chair of the board of Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico, and as a board member at his alma mater McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

Born in Kansas and raised in Chicago, Hart-Andersen earned his undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University, master’s degrees from University of Texas, Austin, and McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, and his doctorate in ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary.

About Westminster Presbyterian Church

An engaged, urban partner sharing the good news with a world in need of God’s peace, love, and justice, Westminster has been a telling presence in the city since 1857. With stirring worship services, beautiful traditions, and a progressive church culture, Westminster is a home for people of all ages and backgrounds to deepen their faith and make a difference in the world.

As an active and influential member of the city, Westminster collaborates with other faith, business, and social service partners to help make our community a place where justice flourishes, love is shared, and people are valued. Westminster is one of more than 10,000 similar congregations spread across the United States that, together, make up the Presbyterian Church (USA).

First Set of Distributions from Campaign’s Mission Component

As part of the Enduring Hope Campaign, the Mission Component team has been meeting regularly in pursuit of this vision: “Because we hope for a just community, Westminster will invest to advance racial and social justice.” Under the leadership of Elders Jo Beld and Vince Thomas, this team is discerning how to invest a portion of gifts raised for the capital campaign.

They recommended, and Session approved, the first set of distributions; $300,000 to five long-time Westminster global partners:

  • Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church (Palestine): $25,000
  • Dar al-Kalima University (Palestine): $25,000
  • Iglesia Presbiteriana – Reformada El Redentor Versalles (Cuba): $25,000
  • Clean Water Systems (Cuba): $25,000
  • Seminario Evangélico de Teología (Cuba): $200,000

Altogether, the Mission Component team will propose a total of $3 million in disbursements to partners working to advance racial and social justice in a variety of contexts.

Two-thirds will support Minneapolis-based partners, which are yet to be finalized. The remaining one-third (including this first distribution of $300,000) will support denominational and local and global partners who have had long-standing relationships with Westminster.

Prayer and the Cross in the Westminster Gallery

by Rodney Allen Schwartz, Director, Westminster Gallery and Archive

The Westminster Gallery exhibition for Lent and Easter features two local artists, Georgette Sosin and James Quentin Young. Each died in recent years and their works are featured in the Westminster Collection with significant gifts from them or their families.

Georgette Sosin was a Jewish woman with a keen interest in language and prayer. She studied the Aramaic translation of the Lord’s Prayer and created two series of paintings based on those words in a stunning cosmic style. The first series was painted in a multi-day workshop, one canvas a day. The second series was painted in a more leisurely manner in her studio. These, and a triptych on the Kaddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead), were a gift from her family.

James Quentin Young had a career as a teacher and began to make art from found objects as he neared retirement. Westminster has mounted several exhibitions of his art over the years, acquiring pieces both as purchases and gifts from the artist and his wife, Joyce. A large gift of art several years ago ensured that Westminster now has the largest collection of his art. While much of his creative output was crosses, we also have paintings and sketches from his time studying at Macalester College in St. Paul and the University of the Americas in Mexico City in the 1960s.

This exhibition brings together these representations of Prayer and the Cross and offers a space for contemplation as we journey through Lent on the way to Holy Week and Easter. The exhibition closes April 16.

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!

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2023