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.

Chapel Renovation Project Underway

Thanks to a $500,000 gift to the Enduring Hope campaign, the chapel renovation project is underway. The project began on January 9 and so far has included removing the pews and parts of the organ to storage; erecting scaffolding; and removing the sheetrock. Parts of the project yet to be completed include restoring the walls to their original design and updating the electrical wiring and lighting in the space to make it more energy efficient, as well as adding livestreaming capabilities. The project is set to be completed in April.


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 Presbyterian Church | 2023