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 Gallery Celebrates 20 Years

by Rodney Allen Schwartz, Director, Westminster Gallery and Archive

The Westminster Gallery was created in 2002 and this month we celebrate the 20th anniversary. Over that time, we have curated and installed nearly 120 exhibitions. We have also built a world-class collection of Christian and social justice themed art including paintings, prints, sculptures, carvings, textiles, and much more.

Two exhibitions opened September 18. Voices from the Water features fascinating sea creatures made by feltmaker, Susan J Sperl, and cartoons about water conservation drawn by several high school students from north Minneapolis. I will also offer a Curators’ Choice exhibition that will share my favorite pieces in the Westminster Collection with hints as to why they are included.

A celebratory reception will be held in the Westminster Gallery on Friday, September 23, from 5:30 to 8 pm, with a brief (and fun) program at 6 pm. We will also have coffee and special treats in the Gallery after church on September 25.

(Image: Leafy Sea Dragon, by Susan J Sperl, wet felting, 2016) 

September Community Partner Grant Recipient Highlights

Each month we highlight Westminster’s community partner grant recipients. This September learn more about Tubman, Minnesota African Women’s Association, and Advocates for Human Rights.

By Nancy Berg


For more than four decades, Tubman has provided essential support to people of all ages, genders and cultural backgrounds who face relationship violence, sexual assault, exploitation, homelessness, addiction and mental health challenges. Tubman remains a leader in relationship violence prevention and intervention, responds to calls for help 24-hours a day and operates the largest shelter for survivors in Minnesota. Tubman continues to expand community housing services across the metro and provide legal advocacy and a host of related services that support resilience and independence. Tubman’s volunteers receive in-depth orientation and make a difference in every facet of Tubman’s work—from childcare champions to pro bono legal support. Despite the prolonged uncertainty, pain and loss brought on with the pandemic, and further compounded by systematic racism and inequities, Tubman helps the people they serve continue to live into the motto of their inspiration and namesake, Harriet Tuman, “Keep going.”

Minnesota African Women’s Association

The Minnesota African Women’s Association (MAWA) remains an invaluable resource for local immigrant girls and their families. MAWA offers two primary programs: the African Girls’ Initiative for Leadership and Empowerment (AGILE) and African Women’s Empowerment (AWE). The AGILE program educates young women on critically important topics including attending college, STEM, teen pregnancy prevention, HIV/AIDS education, financial literacy and environmental awareness. The AWE program focuses on job readiness and training.  Melissa Nambangi, a long-time member of Westminster, is MAWA’s founder and executive director and her commitment and passion is contagious. MAWA’s impact is seen and felt in the communities MAWA serves helping young women build confidence and leadership skills, while working with their African cultural experiences and values as they seek solutions in their new culture.

Advocates for Human Rights

by Kay Thomas

The mission of the Advocates for Human Rights (Advocates) is to implement international human rights standards to promote civil society and reinforce the rule of law. Advocates provides pro bono legal assistance to:

  • unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children;
  • people seeking protection from persecution, torture, and trafficking; and
  • persons detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

With other human rights organizations around the world, Advocates promotes procedural and policy changes that respect the rights of all people to live with dignity, justice, equality and peace.

Emerging needs Advocates identified include welcoming and providing legal assistance to Afghan and Ukrainian refugees, continuing to fight for a just immigration system, supporting asylees and immigrants in advocacy at the United Nations, and closing loopholes in sexual assault laws in Minnesota and beyond.

Westminster member Karen Evans serves as president of Advocates’ Board of Directors. Additionally, Westminster members currently serve as Immigration Court Observers. Visit Advocates’ website to learn about the many ways we may serve in support Advocates’ mission.

“Healing Our House Divided” at the Town Hall Forum This Fall

by Tane Danger, Westminster Town Hall Forum, Director

We are not hopelessly divided. The rifts in our politics and culture are surmountable. We can heal our nation and our world, if we choose to do so. These are the messages four intellectually diverse speakers will present this fall at the Westminster Town Hall Forum. All forums are free and open to all, both in-person and via livestream. A musical performance will precede each program and a reception will follow each forum.

Learn more at

Wednesday, October 5 | Noon

Service: The Antidote to Polarization

Jonathan Reckford serves as chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. He will speak to how service can build community across difference.

Tuesday, October 25 | Noon

Mending the Rural-Urban Rift

Lisa Pruitt’s roots in rural America go back five generations. As a legal scholar at the University of California Davis, she studies how rural and urban communities engage the state differently. She will argue against conflating rurality with whiteness, while seeking a more nuanced understanding of rural and working-class whites, especially in the era of Trump.

Tuesday, November 22 | 6 pm

A Conversation with Eric Holder

Eric Holder served as the 82nd and first African American Attorney General of the United States. Since leaving the Obama administration, he has been organizing for voting rights and redistricting. He will speak at the Forum with Senior Pastor the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen about his work and his new book, Our Unfinished March: The Violent Past and Imperiled Future of the Vote–A History, A Crisis, A Plan.

Thursday, December 8 | Noon

Why We Fight: Global Conflict and How to Avert It

Chris Blattman of the University of Chicago is an internationally acclaimed expert on violence and peacebuilding. He will speak about his new bestselling book, Why We Fight, which explains the five reasons why conflict (rarely) blooms into war, and how to interrupt that deadly process.

“On Being” Host Krista Tippett to Speak on Coming Together Sunday

The annual joint Adult Education and Social Justice Forum launches the program year on Coming Together Sunday, September 11, with Peabody Award-winning broadcaster, National Humanities Medalist, and bestselling author Krista Tippett.

“Few people in America today are as well-positioned as Tippett to offer insight on the state of American culture, spirituality, and our life together,” said Tim Hart-Andersen, senior pastor. “For many years she has combined thoughtful journalism with theologically trained inquiry in profound conversations and writing about the human condition.”

Tippett speaks at 9:15 am in the sanctuary reflecting on Remaking the World Together. The hourlong forum presents an opportunity for conversation with one of America’s leading thinkers on the future of our life together.

The National Public Radio (NPR) journalist has been on sabbatical working on a new book about moral imagination and the human challenges and promise of this young century. The topic connects to Westminster’s theme this year, The Year of Imagination.

“Our city and nation, not to mention the Christian Church, have lost an animating imagination that might give us hope,” said Hart-Andersen. “In our worship at Westminster this year, we will explore the importance of imagination – theological, moral, prophetic, faithful, sacred – to nurture our life together through these challenging times. The conversation with Krista Tippett will help open this season at Westminster.”

Tippett grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, attended Brown University, and became a journalist and diplomat in Cold War Berlin. She then lived in Spain and England before seeking a Master of Divinity at Yale University. In 2003 she launched Speaking of Faith – later called On Being – as a weekly NPR show. In 2014, President Obama awarded Krista the National Humanities Medal.

Tippett is also a best-selling author, having written three books Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living; Einstein’s God; and Speaking of Faith, a memoir of religion in our time.

Highlighting Our Community Partner Grant Recipients – August

Each month we highlight Westminster’s community partner grant recipients. This August learn more about Better Futures and Project for Pride in Living.

Better Futures

by Todd Monson

Better Futures serves men returning from incarceration by providing physical and mental health support, skills building, transitional jobs, and job placement. Most of the men Better Futures serves are low-income and African American. Better Futures helps the men successfully re-enter society and gain employment to support their families and the community.

Better Futures will use the grant from Westminster to expand on-site food service so that every man receives hot meals daily. Pre-cooked meals provided by Appetite for Change are warmed onsite.

Better Futures recently won a 2021 Minnesota Environmental Initiative Award for diverting reusable materials from landfills as part of its building deconstruction business.

Project for Pride in Living

by Tracy Godfrey

Project for Pride in Living (PPL) builds the hope, assets, and self-reliance of individuals and families who have lower incomes by providing transformative affordable housing and career readiness services.

Begun 50 years ago to create affordable housing and revitalize central Minneapolis, PPL has grown to become a robust multi-service agency serving more than 8,000 low-income people annually. PPL is one of the top providers of affordable housing in Minneapolis, as well as offering career pathways programs, education, advocacy, and support to help empower people in the workforce.

PPL offers a variety of ways to get involved. Current volunteer needs include serving as a Mentor in PPL’s Scholars program through the school year, volunteering in PPL’s Access Program as a Career Readiness volunteer, or the Ready for Success program as a Personal Shopper volunteer. Those considering a longer-term commitment to a nonprofit might check out positions with the AmeriCorps Community Technology Empowerment Project (CTEP) or internship positions at PPL. To learn more about PPL and how to get involved, visit their website.

Westminster at the Loring Park Art Festival

For the second year in a row, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis will sponsor a booth at the annual Loring Park Art Festival, held July 30 from 10 am to 6 pm and July 31 from 10 am to 5 pm. For the first time last year, Westminster sponsored a booth at the neighborhood art fair as an opportunity to take the church’s telling presence into our local community. The Westminster booth includes information about ministry areas at Westminster and scheduled performances throughout the two-day event.

This year, Westminster’s most recent Artist-in-Residence Katherine Parent will lead a community art project at the booth, which will join the current Westminster Gallery exhibition in August. In addition, last year’s Artist-in-Residence Joe Davis will perform at the booth at Noon on Sunday, July 31.

Here is the complete booth performance and activity schedule:

Saturday, July 30

  • 10 am – Community Art Project with Katherine Parent
  • Noon – Westminster’s bluegrass worship band
  • 1 pm – Westminster’s bluegrass worship band
  • 4 pm – Piano solo: Kenny Vigne

Sunday, July 31

  • 10 am – Community Art Project with Katherine Parent
  • Noon – Spoken Word Artist Joe Davis
  • 2 pm – Cello and Piano Duet: Joe Trucano and Kenny Vigne
  • 3:15 pm – Minnesota Mandolin Group

If you plan to attend the art festival, use this map (pdf) to find Westminster’s booth (labeled S4 near Info).

Westminster’s Bells in Concert with the Minnesota Orchestra

By Amanda Weber, Director of Worship and the Arts

On Saturday, July 16, the Minnesota Orchestra will celebrate the International Day of Music with four stages in and around Orchestra Hall, featuring free performances by 20 different artists. The day will culminate in an outdoor evening concert on Peavey Plaza at 8:30 pm, where the full orchestra will perform the Great Gate of Kiev in a nod to Ukraine – the final movement of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. This piece will feature the bells of five downtown churches, all ringing together. We will hear bells from Central Lutheran Church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, the Basilica of St. Mary, and St. Olaf Catholic Church, in addition to our own. When Westminster included a peal of bells in the design of the Open Doors Open Futures campaign, it was a strategic way to ring out our telling presence in the city, whether in times of celebration, solidarity, distress, or remembrance.

Don’t miss this significant moment, coordinated in large part by the organization City of Bells, in which the downtown community can unite just as we once hoped and envisioned.

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2023