Third Age Fall 2022 Schedule

Join Third Age once a month in the Meisel Room for an informative forum, followed by a light lunch or watch via Livestream.

September 14 – Imagination In the Third Age

11 am–12:30 pm Westminster Hall

Westminster’s new Associate Pastor for Adult Ministries the Rev. Margaret Fox will introduce herself to Third Age and the Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen will explore Imagination In the Third Age. A light lunch will be offered at noon.

October 19 – FBI Overview & How To Be Safe In Cyber Space

11 am–12:30 pm in the Meisel Room

Come meet FBI Supervisory Special Agent in charge of the Regional Cyber Team. He will provide an overview of the FBI and discuss how to be safe online, delving into phishing scams, and how to protect your identity.

November 9 – Sounds of the 50s, 60s, and 70s

11 am–12:30 pm in the Meisel Room

Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan – these are all musicians and bands that changed the world – and were the background of our lives. Andrea Leap from the MacPhail Center for Music will examine the musical innovations that captured the country’s imagination and changed American popular music.

Register on Realm, for in person and livestream attendance, to ensure enough chairs and food for everyone. Be eco-friendly by bringing your own coffee mug or glass to lunch. For more information or help registering, please contact Rev. Margaret Fox.

Q&A with the Rev. Margaret Fox

We asked the Rev. Margaret Fox, nominee for the Associate Pastor for Adult Ministries at Westminster, a few questions to get to know her better.

The APNC has described your faith story as unique. Would you be willing to share some of it?

I didn’t grow up in the church.  My first exposure to religion came the summer before my senior year of college, when I fell in love with stained glass windows while on a research trip to France. 13th-century Gothic cathedrals tell the stories of scripture in comic-book form–each panel a scene from a biblical story.  I learned to identify the characters through their iconography—Peter’s keys, Moses with horns, the virgin Mary dressed in blue. I was hooked. Back in the states, I started reading scripture, visiting churches, and taking as many religion classes as I could.

It took me some time to realize that this fascination with religion was not just academic interest but a stirring of faith and a call to ministry—and, like Jonah, I responded by running in the opposite direction.  While a first-semester law student (yes, I made it pretty far into the belly of the whale), a classmate who had grown up as a Lutheran pastor’s kid invited me to look around for churches.  We landed at First Presbyterian Church of New Haven, where I found a progressive congregation with strong biblical preaching and a commitment to the community. On the second Sunday of Advent, I was baptized, and became not just a curious onlooker but a member of God’s family. The story I was so interested in became my story, too.  In the context of community, what had been fascination transformed into faith.

At that time, the PCUSA was not yet open to ordaining LGBT ministers, but my pastors encouraged me to hang on. Sure enough, that very summer, the ordination standards changed. Thanks to the hard work and advocacy of churches across the country, including Westminster, the way was now clear for me to enter the process. I finished a joint JD/MDiv, then a hospital chaplain residency in Louisville, Kentucky. A year later, I was ordained, and my career in congregational ministry began.

Westminster’s mission says we are a telling presence in Minneapolis. What excites you about joining in that mission?

I’m not going to lie—your stained glass windows are a big draw! But so are the clear glass walls of the new building—opening the life of the congregation out onto the city, and vice versa. There’s a strong connection, at Westminster, between the story of God and the life of the community, the call to faith and the call to justice, the work of the church and the welfare of the city. It’s thrilling to imagine being at that point of intersection.

The other major draw is the chance to serve as part of a robust and vibrant staff team. I tend to be at my best when I’m part of a group—the Sea Scouts in high school, women’s rugby in college, my diverse, beloved cohort of fellow chaplain residents. My two solo pastorates have given me invaluable experience in very different contexts, but I’m really excited at the prospect of serving as part of such a capable, committed team.  I’m looking forward to collaborating with colleagues and learning from Tim and Meghan’s leadership, and I’ve been a Matt Skinner fan ever since I started listening to the “Working Preacher” podcast.

What ideas do you have for Adult Ministries at Westminster?

Westminster strikes me as incredibly strong on education at points of intersection: faith and social justice; faith and public life; faith and anti-racism; Christian faith and other faiths; faith, music, and the arts. Working alongside my colleagues and the adult education committee, I would look to expand and deepen these interfaith, intercultural, and multi-disciplinary learning opportunities that make Westminster such a rich and vibrant place.

At the same time, all of this intersectionality creates a real opportunity.  Because of its many programs and partnerships, people come to Westminster who might otherwise have no reason to set foot in a church. This is a place where my own experience as an adult convert may be of some use. When you come to church without prior exposure, there’s a lot that can feel confusing or even intimidating. What’s happening during the worship service? What does communion mean? Do I believe the “right things” to belong here? How do I pray out loud? How do I pray at all?

In addition to learning about “faith and…”, there’s also a real need for opportunities simply to learn about faith itself. And from conversations I’ve had with people who did grow up in the church, this may be true of cradle Christians as well as newcomers. We’re all lifelong students in the school of faith. My hope for my work at Westminster would be to develop opportunities for people to learn and grow in faith in contexts that are open and nonjudgmental.

Candidate for Associate Pastor for Adult Ministries

By Barbara Brown and Andy Peterson, Co-chairs, Associate Pastor Nominating Committee

In 2005 a college student joined Habitat for Humanity’s bicycle challenge to bike from New Haven, Connecticut, to Seattle, Washington, staying in churches and working on build sites along the way. The group stayed at the YWCA across the street from Westminster.

About 14 years later in 2019, that same college student returned to Westminster, but this time as an ordained teaching elder and a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Board of Pensions. The board met in Minneapolis and toured Westminster’s sanctuary and brand-new addition.

A few weeks ago, that same individual returned as a candidate for Westminster’s open associate pastor position and received a unanimous recommendation from the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee. The committee is pleased to announce the selection of the Rev. Margaret Fox as the nominee for the Associate Pastor for Adult Ministries at Westminster.

With a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, and a Juris Doctorate and Master of Divinity from Yale, the committee easily recognized the Rev. Fox’s academic qualifications, and quickly realized in conversations with her that she was much more than stellar academics.

Committee members described her as warm, approachable, curious, empathetic, and collaborative. In reviewing sermons she has preached and classes she has taught, the committee saw the depth of her faith and the unique way she is able to make the Bible relevant today.

The Rev. Fox currently serves as the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Florida, and was previously a pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Perrysburg, Ohio. She continues her role on the Board of Pensions and has been elected to become chair following the 2022 General Assembly.

Westminster will hold a Congregational Meeting following the 10:30 am Worship on Sunday, May 29, when we will formally introduce the Rev. Margaret Fox and act upon the recommendation of the APNC to call her to Westminster.

Read a Q&A with the Rev. Margaret Fox.

Holy Week and Easter Bulletins

Returning Safely and Keeping the Vulnerable Safe

A Note from Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen about the Latest Wave of Covid Infections

Dear Westminster friends,

As Covid infections rise in our state and across the nation, I want to reiterate that Westminster has protocols in place that are keeping those involved in church activities safe. Our Responsible Building Use Task Force closely monitors local Covid rates and is confident the church’s approach is serving our congregation well. To our knowledge, in 18 months we have not had a single Covid infection resulting from participation in a Westminster activity.

Those who are vaccinated, wearing a mask properly (closely fitting over both mouth and nose), and keeping a distance of at least six feet from others will be safe in worship at Westminster. I encourage you to join us for worship as we all adhere to the safety protocols.

This latest wave of infection is especially hard on our children and their families. We have had to “dial back” plans to have church school in-person in September. Classes will now be held via Zoom. I am aware of and grateful for the tremendous effort by our staff team, teachers, lay leaders, families, and children to make this pivot. I also know that families face anxiety as children return to school this fall. I urge us all to pray that our children will be protected from the pandemic – and to do what we can to keep them safe.

If you have yet done so, please get vaccinated as soon as possible as a tangible sign of our Christian commitment to those most vulnerable in our midst.

See you – safely – in church.

Grace and peace,
Tim Hart-Andersen

Changes to Westminster’s Current Re-opening the Building Allowances

Westminster’s Responsible Building Use Task Force met this week and reviewed the Covid positivity numbers for the Twin Cities area, community transmission data, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After reviewing the data, the task force has decided to return Westminster temporarily to Phase 4 in our re-opening the building plan. This means that:

  • Westminster will no longer offer a mask-optional worship opportunity in Westminster Hall on Sunday mornings.
  • All individuals inside the church building will be required to wear masks, unless they are alone in an office or a room, no matter their vaccination status.

In addition, the task force decided to no longer allow the consumption of food or drink inside the building (except for communion in the sanctuary); however, food and drink outside are still permitted, if served according to earlier safety guidelines.

The task force has also paused the plan to move to Phase 5.0 in September. The group determined that based on the data, the safest course of action is to wait until the surrounding community has a less infectious risk level before expanding capacity allowances in the building.

Therefore, the allowances and requirements in Phase 4.0 remain:

  • Allow groups of up to 250 people to gather in the sanctuary with 6-foot social distancing and masks.
  • Allow outdoor gatherings of up to 150, masks optional for fully-vaccinated individuals, provided the number of people is limited to the maximum capacity with 6-foot social distancing, both on-site and at off-site locations.
  • Allow groups of up to 75 people to meet in the building or indoors at off-site locations, provided occupancy is limited to the maximum capacity with 6-foot social distancing and masks.
  • All occupancy limitations may be increased or decreased by the COVID-19 Response Team as circumstances and regulations change.
  • Masks are required in the building.
  • Allow singing with masks on inside the building and mask-optional singing outside.

The task force will meet again in mid-September to review the data and consider any additional changes.

Continuing with Phase 4.5 through August

The Responsible Building Use Task Force met this past week to review the Covid medical information for Minnesota and consider any changes for Westminster’s current status. The task force decided to continue with our current practices in Phase 4.5, which include masks are required in the church building and a 25% capacity limit for inside gatherings. Masks remain optional only during the 10:30 am Sunday service in Westminster Hall and for individuals meeting inside the church in groups of 30 or fewer if all in the group are fully vaccinated.

The task force will meet again in August and, at this point, is planning to move to Phase 5 on September 1. However, that will be determined based on the Covid positivity numbers for the Twin Cities as well as the percentage of individuals getting vaccinated. Phase 5 would increase inside room capacity to 50%, which would be 600 people in the sanctuary and 150 people in Westminster Hall.

In addition, new food protocols will begin in Phase 5. Food service will again include self-service buffets and potluck options with participants asked to use hand sanitizer before handling the service utensils.

Mask Optional Worship Opportunity Begins in July

The Responsible Building Use Task Force met on June 22, 2021, and has agreed to make a few changes to our current Covid protocols, moving us from Phase 4 to Phase 4.5. Task force members have heard from community members that wearing a mask is a barrier for them to return to worship. At the same time, the task force recognizes that not all members of our community are able to be vaccinated, and making masks optional would likely be a barrier for the unvaccinated to worship in person. Therefore, as a compromise, the task force agreed to invite those who are vaccinated to watch and participate in the 10:30 am worship in Westminster Hall without masks. For those attending worship in the sanctuary, masks will still be required. This change will take effect on July 4.

In addition, masks are now optional for individuals meeting inside the church in groups of 30 or fewer if all in the group are fully vaccinated.

More details about Phase 4.5 changes:

  • Up to 75 vaccinated people can worship together, masks optional, in Westminster Hall, beginning July 4, 2021.
  • Masks must be worn elsewhere in the church building.
  • Singing without a mask on will be allowed in Westminster Hall.
  • Social distancing will still be required in Westminster Hall.

Other Covid protocols remain:

  • Pre-registration for worship no longer necessary
  • Social distancing required indoors
  • Masks required inside the sanctuary for worship
  • Singing allowed in the sanctuary with masks on
  • Masks not required outdoors, even when singing
  • Please stay home if you are not feeling well

Westminster to Begin Phase 4 in the Re-opening the Building Plan on June 1

Data in the Twin Cities area indicate that the positivity rate for Covid cases has decreased in the last four weeks and the vaccination rate (for those eligible) is higher than 50%. Therefore, the Responsible Building Use Task Force has decided to enter Phase 4 in Westminster’s Re-opening the Building Plan, beginning June 1. Allowances in Phase 4 include:

  • Allow groups of up to 75 people to meet in the building or indoors at off-site locations, provided occupancy is limited to the maximum capacity with 6-foot social distancing and masks.
  • Allow groups of up to 250 people to gather in the sanctuary with 6-foot social distancing and masks.
  • Allow outdoor gatherings of up to 150 people, provided the number of people is limited to the maximum capacity with 6-foot social distancing, both on-site and at off-site locations.
  • All occupancy limitations may be increased or decreased by the COVID-19 Response Team as circumstances and regulations change.

In addition to moving to Phase 4, the task force updated the overall Re-opening the Building Plan and phasing requirements, which included addressing specific topics related to re-opening the building:

Mask Requirement

As a church in Minneapolis, those inside our building will be asked to continue wearing a mask, per the city ordinance. This includes those who are vaccinated and those who are not vaccinated. In addition, we encourage those who feel comfortable to continue wearing a mask outdoors at Westminster. However, it is no longer required outdoors except when singing.

Pre-registration No Longer Required

Beginning in June, pre-registration and check-in for worship and other events will no longer be required. However, those attending worship and events in person at Westminster are asked to self-monitor before coming to the church, which means staying home if you are sick. In addition, staff and volunteers will monitor the number of people attending events to ensure attendance remains within the occupancy allowances for Phase 4.

Singing

Beginning with the 10:30 am Worship on May 30, we will begin a phased return to congregational singing, masked and distanced. On May 30 and June 6, we will invite the congregation to join in singing the final hymn. This will allow us to ease back into singing. We expect by mid-June that we will invite the congregation to sing at other points of the service as well. Outdoor worship, beginning with Bluegrass Evening Prayer on June 2, we will invite masked singing through the entire service, and will continue to evaluate this process week to week as we follow Covid positivity and vaccination rates.

Food

Preparing and serving food is now allowed at Westminster. Food can be prepared on the premises, plated, and served to individuals, or food can be brought in and served as individual servings (such as boxed meals or individually-wrapped snacks). Buffet-style service is still not allowed.

Vaccinations

Westminster clergy, staff, and lay leaders strongly encourage anyone coming to Westminster to be vaccinated. If you are able to be vaccinated, doing so provides a way for us to care for each other and our community. For staff and volunteers serving children 12 and younger as well as vulnerable adults, vaccinations are required. A full FDA approval vaccination will be required for Westminster personnel as well.

Care for One Another

As more people begin to attend events and worship again, there will be a range of emotions. Please be patient with one another and remember one person may be feeling excitement while someone else might be feeling anxiety.

Next Steps

The task force will meet again in late June to determine if any additional allowances will be considered and to continue addressing questions related to fall programming. At this point, we expect Westminster to remain in Phase 4 through the summer and possibly move to Phase 5 in September. However, that will be determined by the task force, based on the Covid positivity numbers for the Twin Cities as well as the percentage of individuals getting vaccinated.

This summer will bring more outdoor events to Westminster, including weekly Bluegrass Evening Prayer on Wednesdays in June and July. Please read the Friday emails and Westminster News, follow Westminster on social media, and visit the calendar to find out the latest on upcoming worship and events.

Update from Worship and the Arts

By Amanda Weber, Director of Worship and the Arts

The past two years have been an interim period for the music program at Westminster, following the retirement of Dr. Melanie Ohnstad, the former Minister of Music and the Arts. After engaging in an arts visioning process in 2019 and being stretched by the challenges of 2020, we are moving forward in restructuring Westminster’s music staff to best serve the needs of the congregation and community.

As a part of this restructuring, we have closed Mark Kieffer’s position as the Handbell Director; we extend our gratitude to Mark for many years of dedicated music-making. We are delighted to transition our Interim Organist, Kenneth Vigne into a permanent .5FTE position. As Associate Director of Music, Kenny will share in service playing and further Westminster’s arts engagement, both within the congregation and out into the community.

We will proceed in launching a search for a .75FTE Organist/Ensemble Director, who will collaborate together with Kenny in playing for worship, direct the Handbell Ensemble, and direct the Choristers (grades 4-6). Brad Ollmann will continue with the remaining Children’s ensembles as our Director of Early Childhood Music. I will look forward to adding Youth Music to my position, and my title will change to Director of Worship and the Arts.

I am grateful for a wonderful Organist search team, which includes representatives from both FYC and the Handbell Ensemble. Our search process is launching this week with the hopes of hiring a candidate for an August 1 start date. The shifts in our staffing structure aim to create a more cohesive team that will work together to build an arts program that is creative, inclusive, and accessible for all.

© Westminster Presbyterian Church | 2022