Transitional Senior Pastor Announced

At its April meeting, the Westminster Session received the report from the Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers (PCSM) that they have extended an invitation to a candidate for the Transitional Senior Pastor role. The Rev. Dr. Jeff Japinga will begin the role in May 1, balancing his time as he completes his current position.

“The TSP Search Committee is delighted to present Jeff Japinga to Westminster as our Transitional Senior Pastor,” said Brent Hall, chair of the Transitional Search Committee. “Although many in our congregation will know Jeff as a familiar face in the pews, few members realize the depth and variety of his ministry experience. Jeff is a gifted preacher and has significant experience in leading complex organizations through transitional periods. He is excited to lead Westminster through our transitional period and we are excited to have him.”

Hall led the Transitional Search Committee, a sub-committee of the Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers (PCSM), which was responsible for hiring the Transitional Senior Pastor. The Pastor Nominating Committee, which was elected by the congregation, continues the separate process to find Westminster’s next Senior Pastor and Head of Staff.

From 2015 to 2021, Japinga served as the Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, which makes him familiar with Westminster and the community with him. Japinga has previously served as Associate Dean and Professor at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, as well as with the Reformed Church in America. Japinga more recently served as an Interim Minister at House of Prayer Lutheran Church in Richfield, Minnesota, and Transitional Executive Presbyter of John Knox Presbytery in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.

“In my 37 years in ministry serving God’s church, mostly in places of transition, I’ve deepened the skills of asking good questions and listening to diverse perspectives; the commitment to hearing diverse voices, especially including those less heard, and synthesizing words into actions; the practice of doing this collaboratively, as a trusted colleague and companion,” said Japinga. “I will bring all of me in service to this goal: to focus and prepare Westminster Presbyterian Church to welcome its next senior pastor with clarity, with energy, and a renewed commitment to be the church God is calling you to be.”

Japinga has a Bachelor of Science from the Northwestern University in Illinois, a Master of Divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey, and a Doctor of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. The Westminster community will have an opportunity to welcome Jeff to Westminster on Sunday, April 28, and hear him preach on Sunday, May 12.

Adjusted Plan for Transitional Senior Pastor

by Nicole Cueno, Senior Director of Finance and Operations

Members of the Transitional Senior Pastor (TSP) search committee have been hard at work since late summer, to try to have a TSP in place by early 2024. Not surprisingly, it has been difficult to find a candidate who has transitional ministry experience, is familiar with and flourishes in a large, urban church setting, and who is in a life circumstance that would allow them to come to Minnesota, on short notice for a relatively short amount of time.

The TSP search committee developed a list of possible names from across the country and worked their way through it. In the past two months, they interviewed five candidates, and selected two final candidates, neither of whom will be joining Westminster. The TSP search committee is shifting its focus, and while the search is not suspended, they are looking for creative ways and potential options to provide the needed support to cover the areas the clergy, staff, and members have been covering since November 1. One such option is to find a few people who can fill certain aspects of the role in a more part-time capacity, likely drawing from a more local pool of resources and hopefully on a shorter timeline than the continued national search would produce.


With this option in mind, beginning in April, Westminster member and Scholar for Adult Education the Rev. Dr. Matthew Skinner will step into an additional role to support preaching. This will not affect his responsibilities with Adult Education, where he will continue to serve fully and work closely with Margaret. Matt will serve as Preacher-in-Residence, preaching about two times per month through 2024 and will work with clergy and musicians to develop preaching themes for worship.

We continue to receive guidance from church consultant Susan Beaumont and are prioritizing ways to engage the unique opportunities for reflection and growth of this transitional time. The TSP search committee will continue to provide updates on the search and other options as they unfold.

PNC Completes First Phase

The Pastor Nominating Committee has competed a draft of the Ministry Discernment Profile (MDP), one of several documents a church prepares to provide the PCUSA when it advertises an open position. The session is in the process of reviewing this document. To allow the PNC process and the Transitional Senior Pastor process to work in tandem, the PNC may adjust our timing as we work with the Personnel Committee in their plans to identify a Transitional Senior Pastor (read more on this page).

In the meantime, Westminster staff are working with the PNC to update the overview video about Westminster to include interviews with members. We will be placing this video and many of our key documents on the pastor transition webpage for access by candidates.

Please keep the work of the PNC in your prayers as we discern where we see God’s hand at work in bringing to us those who are sensing a calling to Westminster.

Pastor Nominating Committee Prepares Search Documents

by Nan Etzwiler and Paul Hyde, Pastor Nominating Committee

The Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) is excited to be near the completion of Phase I of the search process – preparation of key documents we will use to attract candidates to the Senior Pastor position. The Job Description and the Ministry and Mission Study are completed, and the Ministry Discernment Profile of Westminster is being polished. Plus, the production of a new video of Westminster is underway! Together these provide to candidates a robust view of Westminster while establishing the deep skills, characteristics, and heart we seek in our new head pastor.

Simultaneously the PNC is ensuring it will be ready to swing into Phase II this month: the candidate solicitation phase. The PNC is already building out a deep bench of contacts and organizations we will proactively contact to help ensure qualified persons are aware of this position – including possible persons who are not actively seeking a new position! This network includes, among others, Presidents of seminaries, professional Presbyterian ministry organizations, and interfaith leaders. As we remain on track in this search, we are excited to see to whom Westminster’s strong partnerships and wide networks will lead us!

Pastor Nominating Committee Work Begins

by Nan Etzwiler and Paul Hyde, Pastor Nominating Committee

Members of the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) began meeting in November and have meetings scheduled to complete the tasks needed to call a new Senior Pastor and Head of Staff to Westminster. The PNC is in the first of three phases of the search, which is to prepare documents needed to announce the open position opening at the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Toward this goal, the committee has recently reviewed the Ministry and Mission Study Report, which presents a terrific summary of who Westminster is and where we might be headed. The PNC has also begun working on the Ministry Discernment Profile, which is an extensive document used within the PC(USA) for pastor searches.

Phase 2 will be to solicit candidates through many avenues in addition to PC(USA) channels, and then review submissions and identify candidates. Phase 3 will be to interview and evaluate thoroughly the candidates and select a person to recommend to the congregation to call.

The separate search for the Transitional Senior Pastor is conducted by the Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers, a committee of the Westminster Session, and there is no update to share at this time.

Finally, the Ministry and Mission Study committee presented their final report during a congregational presentation in December. If you missed the presentation, you can view the video online.

About the Ministry and Mission Study Committee

Ministry and Mission Study Committee members: Gretchen Musicant and Leigh Niebuhr, co-chairs; Emmanuel Ablorh, Phil Asgian, Sean Costigan, Jacque DeBuse, Thomas Halverson, Abby Karels, Karen Kraemer, Bill Kruskop, Rani Murdoch Zappa, Sarah Swindle, Jace Wilde, Elaine Wilson, and Sandy Wolfe Wood

The committee led the congregation through a self-study process to reflect on where we are and where God is leading us. The process included in-person Listening Sessions during the summer (2023) as well as surveys to ensure as many people as possible could participate in the work.

A final report was approved by the Session of Westminster and the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area in October (2023).

Pastor Nominating Committee Elected

by Ed Cunnington, Chair, Succession Planning Team

On November 12 the congregation elected a strong, diverse group to the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC). This committee, together with the Presbytery liaison, Rev. Cader Howard, Senior Pastor at Stillwater Presbyterian Church, has begun the work to find Westminster’s next Senior Pastor and Head of Staff. The PNC co-chairs are Nan Etzwiler and Paul Hyde with Paul Arbisi, Ayuk Ayuk, Tiffany Cooper-Allen, Sean Costigan, Cecily Jones, Terry McEowen, Lucy Snaza, Sue Thomas, Emily Timm, David Wicklund, and Sandy Wolfe-Wood making up the committee.

The Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers (PCSM) continues the search for a Transitional Pastor to fill the role until the PNC completes its search process. It is expected the Transitional Pastor will be in place within the first couple months of 2024.

The Ministry and Mission Study Committee will present the completed study to the congregation in a meeting after 10:30am worship on December 10 in the Meisel Room. This comprehensive study, including feedback from congregants, was required by the Presbytery before forming the PNC. The additional benefits of the study include: an in-depth view of Westminster for the Transitional Pastor; a document to assist in the creation of the position description for the new Head of Staff; a foundation document for the PNC as it begins its work; content for the PNC to incorporate into the Ministry Discernment Profile (MDP), formerly Ministry Information Form (MIF); and an ongoing reference document for the Westminster community.

Ministry and Mission Study Completed

by Ed Cunnington, Chair, Succession Planning Team

The Succession Planning Team (SPT) extends its sincere appreciation for the outstanding efforts of the Ministry and Mission Study committee (MMS) and the Celebration Committee. The MMS committee completed an in-depth document that covered Westminster’s beginning, its growth and what the congregation sees as God’s intention for the church into the future. While this document will be extremely helpful for the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) and the Transitional Pastor, it also will be a source for suggested actions on the part of the Session and an educational and interesting read for the congregation. The Session approved the MMS during its meeting on October 19 and the report was then reviewed by the Commission on Ministry at the Presbytery. The Presbytery subsequently gave approval for the congregation to form a PNC.

The Celebration Committee shepherded many events that recognized Tim Hart-Andersen’s leadership and imprint on the congregation and its work in local and global missions. The Celebration Committee’s efforts culminated with a wonderful event on Tim’s last Sunday, October 29.

The Congregation Nominating Committee (CNC) is busy generating a slate of candidates for the PNC, which will be presented to the congregation for election on November 12.

Finally, the Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers (PCSM) subcommittee continues to search for a Transitional Pastor. They are in a candidate review process that will result in a suggestion to the Session to hire the Transitional Pastor, who will assume duties in early 2024.

Transition Updates for October

by Rocky Rockenstein, Succession Planning Team member

Here are updates on the Senior Pastor succession process from the key committees involved in this effort:

Celebration of Tim’s Ministry: Many events and tributes are planned for October. See a complete list online.

Ministry & Mission Study: Thank you to those who took the time to give input to the Ministry and Mission Study Committee. The Session reviewed an outline of our final report at their September meeting and will receive a draft report in October. Once approved, the report will be forwarded to the Presbytery for review and made available to the congregation.

Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC): The Congregational Nominating Committee is developing qualities and characteristics for PNC nominees to assure wide representation from the congregation. The Committee has also begun compiling a list of potential nominees and looks forward to presenting its slate to the congregation in November. If you would like to suggest someone for consideration for the PNC, please complete the online form.

Transitional Pastor Search: The search for a Transitional Senior Pastor is in full swing! After consultation with local and national church leaders, the Personnel Committee for Staff and Ministers contacted 27 individuals about the position. We asked if they were interested or if they knew anyone who might be interested. We posted an online position notice on Christian Century magazine’s website and uploaded the description to the PCUSA Church Leadership Connection website. From the contact list, a candidate list will be developed, and interviews will follow.

October Events at Westminster: Celebrating the ministry of the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen 

World Communion Sunday & Global Partners Celebration

Sunday, October 1 | 10:30am | Sanctuary and Westminster Hall 
Charanga Tropical offers music during worship and a celebration of our global partnerships, featuring food, music, and a special presentation follows in Westminster Hall

Bluegrass Sunday Worship

Sunday, October 8 | 10:30am | Sanctuary 
Featuring Monroe Crossing offering The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass by Carol Barnett 

Enduring Hope Celebration

Sunday, October 15 | 11:30am | Westminster Hall 
Following worship, celebrate the progress of the Enduring Hope campaign and the strong future of Westminster 

Cantus Sunday and Congregational Meeting

Sunday, October 22 | 10:30am | Sanctuary 
Worship with Cantus and special bagpipes music, then a Congregational Meeting and shortbread at Coffee Hour 

Wednesday Ta‍izé Worship and Reception

Wednesday, October 25 | 6pm | Westminster Hall 
Dancer Eve Schulte and the Westminster Choir will join Wednesday worship and a special reception will follow 

Reformation Sunday & Farewell Celebration

Sunday, October 29 | 10:30am | Sanctuary and Westminster Hall 
The Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen’s final Sunday will include a brass quintet in worship and a reception event in Westminster Hall following worship 

Thank you to the Celebrations Committee for planning and organizing these events along with other ways to honor and celebrate Tim’s ministry at Westminster:  

Working committee members: Jock Donaldson, Cathie Fischer (co-chair), Kathy Fisher, Meghan Gage-Finn, Sarah Hall, Betty Heefner, Joan Hyde, David Koehler, Janet Leick (co-chair), Megan MacFarlane, Terry McEowen, Marcia Morine, Maggie Mukete, Wendy Ott, Nathan Petersen-Kindem, and Janice Teliczan. Advisory committee members: Barbara Brown, Carmen Campbell, Joan Dayton, Alice Mortenson, and Nancy Ulvestad. 

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2024