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.

 

FreeWriters

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.

Pride Month Program with Presbyterian Historical Society

By Tim Hoogland, Westminster member 

At the 1974 General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., a young pastor raised in Minnesota stood on the Assembly floor holding a hand-written sign that read, “Is anyone else out there gay?” 

On June 22 at 6pm, Westminster will host a presentation by the Presbyterian Historical Society that explores the Minnesota connections to the 40-year struggle for the full inclusion of LGBTQ+ Presbyterians in the leadership and ministry of the PC(USA). As a historian and a Westminster member serving on the PHS Board, I will share archival collections that focus on the role of that pastor – Rev. David Sindt — in organizing some of the earliest advocacy for changes in the Book of Order. 

Sindt grew up in the North Presbyterian Church in North St. Paul. He received his Master of Divinity in 1966 from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and was ordained by the Presbytery of St. Paul in 1965. In 1971, Sindt began to identify as an openly gay man and started worshipping at Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church, where he was called to serve as an assistant pastor and establish an outreach program to the local gay community in Chicago. This was believed to be the first call ever issued to an openly gay man by a Presbyterian congregation.   

The program will pick up the story of how the rejection of this call initiated Sindt’s organizing efforts within the church. Executive Director Nancy Taylor will share the new vision for the role of PHS in the church and moderate a panel discussion with people who participated in different aspects of this struggle. Tickets are free and available online. 

June Community Partner Highlights

The Advocates for Human Rights

by Kay Thomas

The Advocates for Human Rights was founded to implement international human rights standards, promote civil society, and reinforce the rule of law. They do this by providing pro bono legal assistance to people seeking protection from persecution, torture, and trafficking; people being detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. They are actively engaged in advocacy work with other human rights organizations around the world recommending procedural and policy changes that respect the rights of all people to live life with dignity, justice, equality and peace. Learn more about the organization and how you might become involved.

Restorative Justice Community Action

by Tom Fidler

Restorative Justice Community Action (RJCA) provides a community-based alternative to criminal prosecution with the mission of “fostering individual growth while strengthening communities through restorative justice practices.” With a restorative and race equity lens, RJCA leverages the voice of community to transform the criminal legal system and works to eliminate racial disparities. The indigenous roots of restorative justice focus on transformation of people, relationships, and community. In honoring these roots, RJCA humanizes conflict and supports the community in finding shared solutions. Please check out their website to learn more and to get involved.

Civil Rights Learning Experience

At the end of April, 13 people from Westminster embarked on a Civil Rights Learning Experience. Each day, they shared about their experiences through words and pictures. Read more about their trip (pdf).

On Sunday, June 11, at 9:15am in the Meisel Room, they will share reflections about their experience. It will also be available on Livestream.

Mission of Civil Rights Learning Experience

We will travel to Alabama to learn about the important role of the Black church in the civil rights movement. We will meet with theologians, visit and worship in Black churches, learn from pastors and lay leaders who provided leadership, and see the many ways that churches provided support for civil rights leaders. Drawing on our experience, we will challenge ourselves to imagine how the church today can build on that inspiring legacy.

Charge from the congregation

We charge you to return as witnesses to the racial trauma deeply embedded in our nation’s history, and to the hope that comes from seeing the courage of those working to change the American story. We need you to help us understand who we are as nation, and who we might become – and how our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to pursue justice.

 

 

Visit to Bethlehem: Our Hearts and Minds Were Opened

by Kathleen Campbell and Rani Murdoch Zappa, Westminster members

Sometimes travel opens our eyes wide, and we gasp. Sometimes travel breaks our hearts. Always, travel changes us. In late March, six members of Westminster’s Palestine Partnership Ministry Team and Associate Pastor Alanna Simone Tyler spent a week in Bethlehem and experienced those reactions. We were warmed by our time with two welcoming communities: the pastor and congregation of Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, and faculty and students of Dar al-Kalima University. We traveled to sign the 5-year relationship covenants we renewed last year and to explore how we could deepen our relationships.

We began to understand what Palestinians experience day-to-day. What is it like to live under Israeli occupation? How do our Christian brothers and sisters, now a tiny minority, survive emotionally, economically, and spiritually? What is their source of hope as they continue to make Palestine their home?

One moment we were preparing cabbage rolls (“Malfouf”) with women of the church, participating in a lively bible study, or learning about the university’s sophisticated design programs. The next moment we were traveling through checkpoints, experiencing the ominous separation wall, witnessing the breathtaking beauty of Palestine now marred by massive illegal Israeli settlements, and listening to a young Palestinian who is mourning the deaths of 25 friends and acquaintances killed in recent months.

These two resilient Bethlehem communities seek our active friendship. It sustains them. And their friendship will sustain us. We are eager to share stories from the Bethlehem partnership trip later this year. Come hear our stories. They may change you.

Second Set of Distributions from Mission Component

The Mission Component team of the Enduring Hope campaign continues to discern sharing gifts from the capital campaign. The team recently recommended the second set of distributions: $200,000 to the Westminster Counseling Center and $200,000 to Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center in Abiquiu, New Mexico. Session approved the recommendation during their February meeting.

The gift to the Westminster Counseling Center will support the implementation of the recommendations of the Westminster Counseling Center Taskforce. Westminster’s gift to Ghost Ranch will help the center advance racial and social justice in its mission, vision, community partnerships, and programming.

The first set of gifts were recommended and approved in November, providing $275,000 to four long-time Westminster global partners: Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church (Palestine); Dar al-Kalima University (Palestine); Iglesia Presbiteriana – Reformada El-Redentor/Versalles (Cuba); and Seminario Evangélico de Teología (Cuba). Session also approved $25,000 for Westminster’s clean water ministry in Cuba.

The Mission Component team is discerning opportunities to give $1.5 million, to support Twin Cities organizations and initiatives focused on closing the achievement gap and leadership development for Indigenous and African American children and youth.

May Community Partner Highlights

Tubman

By Nancy Berg

Everyone deserves to feel safe. For more than 45 years, Tubman has been dedicated to promoting opportunities for change so that every individual can experience safety, hope, and healing. They provide essential services to people experiencing relationship violence, sexual assault, exploitation, homelessness, addiction, mental health challenges, and other forms of trauma. Their services include safety planning, a 24/7 crisis and resource helpline, shelter, housing, legal services (including Orders for Protection and attorney representation), mental and chemical health services, youth outreach, violence prevention education, support groups, job readiness, financial education, community education, and professional training for service providers.

Violence and its impact are urgent public health challenges facing people of all ages and backgrounds.  When communities come together to care for one another and to learn about ways to help prevent violence and trauma, we will all be closer to having stronger communities.  By supporting Tubman, Westminster is helping create peaceful communities as Tubman moves individuals from fear to freedom. Please check out their website to learn more and get involved!

Avenues for Youth

By Tom Fidler

Westminster Presbyterian Church has provided a grant in 2023 to Avenues for Youth to support their mission of providing transitional shelter for homeless youth ages 16-24 in Hennepin County. Avenues for Youth also has a program for young families that provides rent subsidies for up to 2 years and works with them to obtain and maintain employment.  Avenues for Youth will be a presenter at the Westminster Social Justice Forum.   Also, Avenues for Youth has a growing number of corporate and faith-based partners.  Please check out their website to learn more about how to get involved.

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2024