‘Join Us on the Road to Abundance’

An open letter from the Downtown Minneapolis Interfaith Senior Clergy: 

Join Us on the Road to Abundance

During this difficult year of 2020, The Downtown Interfaith Senior Clergy have renewed and invigorated our commitment to the well-being of our beloved city and all who live here. We work to ease suffering and pursue justice. Our group meets regularly to share life’s journey and plan ways to aid our collective communities. All our houses of worship are in the City of Minneapolis. We are friends and neighbors.

We are a diverse group: we are interfaith and vary in our religious practice; we are diverse in race, gender, age, and sexual orientation; and, we disagree on issues facing the public. But we are bound by the ethical imperatives of our traditions to live out the prophetic voice of Jeremiah every day: “To seek the welfare of the city…..for in its prosperity you shall prosper”(29:4-7). In this moment, our neighbors of color are dying in greater numbers due to the pandemic and inequities in our health care system. In addition, we live in a time of reckoning concerning racial injustice, and we stand committed to truth and reconciliation.

Our common mission has allowed us to keep our commitment to one another, despite historical divides. Each of our traditions instructs us to engage in civic responsibility.  Judaism through Torah calls us to pursue justice, to care for the stranger, the widow, the orphan. The Gospel implores us to serve “the least among us.” The Prophet said, “One who spends the night with a full stomach while his neighbor is hungry, has not believed in me. One who spends the night clothed, while his neighbor has no clothes, has not believed in me.” (Mustadrak al-Wasa’il, v.2, pp.78-79)

We are political but not partisan. For us that means we answer the call to bring a moral voice to the steps of the capitol and influence legislation based on the issues that affect people’s lives.  We believe that our ethical report card is determined by how we care for the most vulnerable in our society.

On November 3rd, our country will go to the polls. We invite you to remember both compassion and justice in the voting booth. For we are taught: “If a person sits in their home and says to themselves, ’What have the affairs of society to do with me?  And why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Instead, let my soul dwell in peace.’  If an individual does this, they overthrow the entire world.”(Midrash Tanhuma)

We have a stake in keeping the world balanced by striving for the values all our traditions teach. Join with us, neighbors!

Signed,

Imam Makram Nu’Man El-Amin, Masjid An-Nur

Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman, Temple Israel

Rev. Dr. Tim Hart-Andersen, Westminster Presbyterian Church

Rev. Dr. David Breeden, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis

Rev. Jia Starr Brown, First Covenant Church Minneapolis

Rev. Kevin Kenney, Pastor, Saint Olaf Catholic Church

Rev. Judy Zabel, Senior Minister, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist

Imam Dr. Hamdy El-Sawaf Islamic Community Center of Minnesota/Masjid Al-Imin

Rev. Dr. Laurie Pound Feille, Senior Minister, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Peter Nycklemoe, Central Lutheran Church

Rev. Justin Schroeder, Sr. Co-Minister, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis

Rev. Jen Crow, Sr. Co-Minister, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis

The Very Rev. Paul J. Lebens-Englund, Dean, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis

Rev. Dr. Paula Northwood, Acting Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational Church of Minneapolis

Hearing Soul Registration

 

Hearing Soul
Sign up for our final session. *
Let us know if you'd like to be added to our email list to receive occasional Arts at Westminster e-blasts about other arts-related offerings at Westminster.

MIRF Grantees

Why so many Twin Cities clergy members bicycle religiously

For a growing number of Twin Cities clergy members, biking is part of the ministry. One is a Lutheran pastor who pedals a sleek, speedy, three-wheeled enclosed bike called a velomobile. Another is a bike-commuting Baptist minister who writes blog posts about how churches should encourage cycling. And then there’s the seminary student who thinks using his bike instead of a car makes him more likely to be a good Samaritan.

Read more.

Westminster Bells

The Paccard Bell Foundry, in Annecy, France, will forge a six-bell peal for Westminster. Westminster’s bells – the largest will weigh 9,000 lbs. – will be installed in the new “Rose Tower” in 2020.

The Body of Christ is Global

For many years, Westminster has maintained partnerships with faith communities and nonprofit organizations in Cameroon, Cuba and Palestine. Our partners inspire us as they continue to witness and serve in circumstances of scarcity and conflict.

In Cameroon our primary partners are the Kumba Town Presbyterian Church and AIDSCARE Link—which funds micro-loans to help persons living with HIV/AIDS build small businesses and become financially independent, and provides resources to individuals displaced in the wake of continuing violence. Through our relationship with the National Synod of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba, home-based churches are thriving, lay leaders are being trained and the hurricane damage to the national camp is nearing completion. Our partner congregation in Bethlehem, Christmas Evangelical Lutheran Church, hosted seminarian- Madeline Hart-Andersen- in January 2019 for an internship, and our travelers delivered suitcases of Christian education material.

Gifts to the annual Global Partnership offering support these relationships and travel scholarships for Westminster members to visit our partners. We will receive the offering on Sunday, May 19.

At the end of May Rev. Alanna Simone Tyler will join a group representing the PC(USA) to visit the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. The travelers will see firsthand the work of SSEPP (South Sudan Education and Peacebuilding Project) as well as the ministries of PCUSA mission co-workers and mission partners.

Westminster Wins Improvement Award

The Mpls Downtown Improvement District (DID) announced its 9th annual Greening & Public Realm Award winners, a group decided by an interactive public vote.

The Greening Awards aim to showcase greening efforts by organizations and companies that help beautify the downtown area through enhancing our urban landscape. This summer’s voting turnout was the largest in Greening Awards history, nearly doubling the 2017 voting numbers.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, which last won a greening award in 2012, won two awards this year, claiming top spot in the Small Green Space and Public Realm Improvement categories.

“The emphasis on quality public realm spaces we’re seeing from downtown businesses, organizations and individuals is extraordinary,” Mpls Downtown Improvement District President & CEO Steve Cramer said. “Congratulations to this year’s DID Greening & Public Realm Award winners, and thank you for being shining examples of how added greening helps enhance the vibrancy of everyone’s overall downtown experience.”

Winners will receive a commemorative Greening Award created by Wood from the Hood, a Minneapolis-based company that reclaims discarded trees from urban neighborhoods and creates high-quality wood products. Each award will display the year the award was issued. Winning locations also received a Greening Awards winning logo placed on site.

The Mpls DID accepted public nominations for green spaces throughout August, and finalists were announced on August 28. Voting for finalists remained open through September 14.

The finalists, nominated by the public, were selected by members of the Mpls DID staff based on criteria including overall year-over-year enhancements as well as continued excellence in adding vibrancy to the public realm.

Westminster Hall Named Best New Music Venue

When Westminster Presbyterian Church opened a luxurious expansion to its downtown Minneapolis campus in January, few could have guessed how quickly it would become a go-to venue for classical music.

The vocal group Cantus first performed there in March, with plans to return regularly during the 2018-19 season. “The acoustics are nicely suited for a chamber group like ours,” executive director Joseph Heitz said of the 400-seat Westminster Hall. “We also appreciate the size, which creates a sense of closeness between audience and singers.”

Another group switching to Westminster for the 2018-19 season is Accordo, a chamber ensemble comprised of soloists from the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra. The venue has “a wonderful focused sound that is rich and resonant but not boomy,” said Accordo violinist (and SPCO concertmaster) Steven Copes.

Westminster Presbyterian senior pastor Tim Hart-Andersen is delighted by the hall’s success. “We asked the architect, James Dayton, to design a worship, recital and performance space that would be acoustically superior and highly flexible,” Hart-Andersen recalled. “It has more than exceeded our expectations as a venue for music.”

Next up for Westminster Hall is the Source Song Festival (Aug. 5-11) for a week of concerts and masterclasses devoted to the classical art song. “The space is visually stunning and acoustically excellent, ideal for song recitals,” said Source artistic director Mark Bilyeu.

By Terry Blain

Star Tribune article in full.

Westminster Prayer Tags

Passersby Write Prayer Tags of Hope

WCCO Jeff Wagner \ Minneapolis, MN

Twin Cities church is going beyond its walls to help get prayers heard, and hopefully answered.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, along the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, started a prayer railing this spring. Passersby write messages on tags and then hang them for others to see. The simple gesture is touching people in a way they never expected.

“We pray that you will teach us to love one another well,” Sherrod Colbert said, reading one tag. “And I pray for justice for all.”

The sounds of the city flow with force, but if you stop and listen with your eyes, it’s amazing what you can hear. Prayers from other people, written on a whim, left hanging with hope.

“Praying for better days,” Sarabe Singleton said, of her prayer. “Hopefully it gets around. I know there are people out there that are going through the same thing as me.”

The railing outside Westminster Presbyterian Church has become shoulder to lean on, a spot where thoughts and prayers can be shared with others time after time.

“I’m feeling a peace come over me as I’m writing this,” Narissa Antoine said. “My husband is really sick. He has to have two major surgeries, actually. … It really just gives me hope that I’m not alone, that people will read this and think about me when they read it.”

Her feelings are exactly what Rev. Sarah Brower and Rev. Meghan Gage-Finn envisioned when they started the prayer tags in the spring.

“I think there’s such a need for connection, yearning for belonging, a need to be heard and to be known,” Gage-Finn said.

A thousand tags were ordered.

Some prayers are personal, others meant for those struggling. Recently homeless, Colbert wrote his on June 9.

“It says, ‘I pray for the rains of God’s salvation to visit us and bless us here in Minnesota,’” Colbert said. “Today I got an answer. I’m not gonna be homeless. Tomorrow I’m going to sign a lease to get back in an apartment.”

It’s an answer he feels came from a higher power.

“I know that it has good, man,” he said. “I can tell you that’s so true, because the people of this household of faith here, they’re genuine people.”

Those very people will even bring the tags inside the church to pray on them.

“I think we do hope that as people walk by or walk away after having written one that they trust that God hears their prayers and that we are hearing them,” Brouwer said. “We’re excited to see where this goes. We are certainly being led by this endeavor.”

One that has a following, growing stronger and stronger each day.

“I wouldn’t stop it for nothing in the world,” Colbert said.

Magnet Senior Center

Seniors can visit the Magnet Senior Center four mornings per week (an expansion from the current two): Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 am to noon at Westminster Presbyterian Church, in the Heller Commons; and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 am to noon at Minneapolis Central Library at 300 Nicollet Mall. Individuals over the age of 50 and of all faiths are welcome at both locations.

The Magnet Senior Center offers older adults a place to gather for coffee, conversation, and cultural and educational events. An advisory board comprised of library staff, church members and seniors has formed to plan programs, ranging from chair yoga and healthy diets to board game competitions and book discussions. The program is drop-in; no reservations are required.

The Minneapolis Central Library opened the Magnet Senior Center in July 2017 in response to the closing of the Skyway Senior Center last March. Due to budget constraints, the center was open only two mornings a week for two and half hours. A Westminster member and frequent Skyway Center attendee approached church leaders about the need for seniors to have more options for a place to go for social support and learning. “By combining and leveraging our resources, both the Library and Westminster can better serve the seniors in our community,” said Dillon Young, service manager at Minneapolis Central Library. Rev. David Tsai Shinn, added, “The Library has wonderful programming expertise but has space and budget limitations. Westminster can provide financial support, meeting space our building, and free parking.”

We invite all seniors to stop by the center at either location.

Questions? Contact Magnet Senior Center Coordinator, Angelique Kingsbury.