Rev. Elizabeth Downing Heller, first woman pastor at Westminster, dies

The 92-year-old was an art lover who amassed an outsized collection of religious works that now fill the walls of her church.

Inside Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she was the first woman ordained as clergy, the Rev. Elizabeth Downing Heller was known informally as the mother of God.

A child, looking at her silver hair and regal presence, blurted out “Are you the mother of God?” explained the Rev. Timothy Hart-Andersen, the church’s senior pastor. The nickname stuck, he said, and she would tolerate it with a smile.

Heller, an art lover who amassed an outsized collection of religious works that now fill the walls of her church, died on July 27. She was 92. Read More.

Heller’s memorial service will be held Saturday, August 24 from 2-3 pm at Westminster.


Staff Updates, August 2019

We welcome Matt Lewellyn-Otten to our staff as Director of Youth Ministries! Matt holds a Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He was raised in the Presbyterian Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and has served churches large and small directing youth ministries.

Matt will begin his time on staff on August 19, with a welcome event for youth and families on Wednesday the 21st, followed by the annual youth trip to the State Fair on Sunday the 25th!


In August, we will also welcome Westminster member Sonja Mortenson Dzieckciowski (Dee-Cow-Ski) as Director of Children’s Ministries, a half-time position. Sonja comes with more than a decade as a youth leader in Westminster’s Senior High Youth Ministries, and she has served as a Director of a Presbyterian summer camp. In her professional life, she earned a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and taught 1st and 2nd grades for 13 years. Sonja will support our Sunday School Teachers and Church School Program, lead Children’s Church, help coordinate aspects of Wednesday evening programming, and work with a strong FYC staff team for many of the other keystones of this ministry area.


Youth Choir Director Ryan LaBoy shared the news this week of his resignation to pursue other professional opportunities. We give thanks for his leadership with our youth and wish him well in his new endeavors. There will be a chance to thank Ryan on Thursday, August 29th at 5 pm. Choirs will continue this fall, and Amanda Weber will communicate staff plans soon.



Sunday Farmers Market

St. David’s Center to Become On-Site Community Partner

After a two-year discernment process, the Session of Elders and Board of Trustees voted to approve St. David’s Center for Child & Family Development as the on-site, direct service mission partner in the new wing of Westminster.