Your pledge to Westminster supports our pastors who preach the Word of God, lead, teach and empower us to serve Christ. This stimulates us to grow as disciples and share God’s love. In response to the recent pandemic, your support has allowed us to provide regular worship services online and reach new worshippers seeking spiritual guidance during these challenging times. The church continues to welcome visitors and new members, while many church members assist with the worship services. Your generosity will enable us to return to worshipping in a well-maintained and welcoming sanctuary once it is safe to do so.
Archives for 2020
The Alliance for Interfaith Ministries (AIM) is a part of the ministry of Westminster Church as we seek to support important work beyond our church walls that fulfills our mission, sustained by grace, to serve Christ, share God’s love and work for justice in a complex world.
The Alliance for Interfaith Ministries (AIM) was formed by a group of Charlottesville churches years ago to centralize requests for assistance. Westminster’s Pastor Bill Smith was a founding pastor of AIM. Currently, Westminster Church is grateful to have member, Rich Gregory, actively involved as Interim Treasurer and serving on the AIM Board, and to Crystal Steiger-Smith, immediate past Board member.
For the last several years including in 2020 Westminster Church contributed $10,000 annually to AIM’s work.
AIM works with the working poor in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. AIM’s purpose is to provide temporary emergency assistance to families threatened with homelessness, loss of power or fuel, or other temporary financial crises.
AIM has developed a domestic violence fund to help victims of violence get new housing.
AIM and PACEM have started a senior housing fund that helps homeless people older than 55 get permanent housing.
In 2019 AIM served over 1,500 people in Charlottesville and Albemarle County with various needs, primarily housing-connected. AIM “moves mountains for the needy” and finds housing for threatened families within hours. AIM found housing for 30 potentially homeless seniors, and a number of threatened families and children.
AIM advocates with the city, county and UVa for more safe affordable housing. They alerted the community about issues such as the Belmont Apartments where affordable units were threatened with demolition.
Through direct financial assistance, AIM provided funds to pay utility costs preventing evictions and loss of service to approximately 300 households.
AIM advocates for the residents in our community in need by helping them work through the social service network, linking them to appropriate service providers, helping them get a handle on their finances. AIM is a last resort committed community resource and advocate for our neighbors of individuals and families, but it is also usual – before even the pandemic – that AIM is long on needs and short on funds.
For further information contact:
Alliance for Interfaith Ministries (AIM)
1807 Emmet Street North, Suite 6A
Charlottesville, VA 22901
PO Box 7331, Charlottesville, VA 22906
UVA Medical Center Blood Drive
Virginia hospitals are experiencing a severe blood shortage across the state. UVA Health encourages members of the community who are healthy & eligible to contact the American Red Cross to make an appointment to donate at one of their fixed locations.
Charlottesville City Schools Free Lunch Program
Charlottesville City Schools is offering free lunch to students during the coronavirus pandemic. The Charlottesville Area Community Foundation is creating a school-based fund to support their food delivery efforts.
General Ways to Give & Receive Support
Support Cville is the most comprehensive website listing ways for people to give and receive support. Here are a couple specific links through Support Cville:
Donate to COVID-19 Support Funds
- Charlottesville Area Community Foundation
- United Way COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund
- Alliance for Interfaith Ministries
Blue Ridge Area Food Bank
Free Internet Access
COMCAST Xfinity is now offering free hotspots to anyone who needs them for free until approximately May 13, including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi. Once at a hotspot, select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser. AT&T and Charter Communications are also providing free public Wi-Fi, now until approximately May 13.
We are experiencing the beginning of a season of collective mourning — not only for lives lost and livelihoods disrupted, but also for the loss of normalcy. Even those of us who are relatively privileged and healthy during this global pandemic are grieving postponed plans. Some of the plans I’m grieving included The Border Is Here immigration workshop led by UVA students, the dedication of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, an opportunity to care for the earth around us through a joint cleanup day with student environmental groups, and our ministry of hospitality with students during Open Study Hours at Common Grounds.
While these plans have been postponed, we can still practice compassion now. In addition to observing physical distancing policies to slow the spread of the virus and help “flatten the curve,” we at Westminster have been asking how we can be in solidarity with the most vulnerable people in our community during this global health crisis — how we can help “flatten the curve” of economic and other suffering.
The Benevolence committee has continued meeting remotely so that Westminster can continue our vital support for nonprofit organizations during a challenging time. We will share updates on our community partners in the coming weeks. In this edition of the e-newsletter, you’ll find a list of local resources and ways to (give and receive) help during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to supporting the church, several members of the Westminster community have decided to contribute part or all of our anticipated government stimulus checks to relief efforts. I invite you to consider what safe way(s) you might practice social solidarity with our neighbors during this time. Let’s “flatten the curve” together in whatever ways we can.
Finally, please pray for the university students among us who have experienced dislocation and disruption. I have been reaching out personally and through group messages on behalf of Westminster to offer pastoral support and will continue to do so. UVA’s administration is aware of our community’s presence and will share with us through United Ministries at UVA any opportunities to be of service that may arise. In addition, 20/30 CreW has made our Wednesday Wind-Down event weekly so that graduate students and young professionals have the opportunity to provide mutual support more frequently through Zoom conversations.
I trust that better days are ahead and that God is at work in the meantime, inviting us into partnership in healing.