Greeters are needed in March and April to help visitors feel welcome at Westminster. Please sign up in the Gathering Space or call Carolyn Kelly for more information.
For over a decade, Westminster has been one of the leading participants in the Presbyterian Coffee Project, one of several faith-based partnerships with the Equal Exchange worker-owned cooperative. Coffee, tea, and cocoa served at Westminster, both for fellowship events and to our PACEM guests, is purchased through the program which supports smallholders and women-owned businesses throughout the developing world. Organic and sustainable farming as well as fair trading practices are part of Equal Exchange’s commitment.
We also maintain a monthly ordering club for interested individuals. Participants need not be members of Westminster; friends of the congregation are welcome to participate. For more information, or simply to place an order, please contact Winston Barham at barhawk at gmail dot com. Please spread the word! All items purchased through the project contribute to the PCUSA’s Small Farmer Fund.
As I begin writing this e-News article, it is with a heavy heart. I suppose, with the dawning of a new year, I should be more optimistic and full of vigor in light of the challenges of 2017. But yesterday, after getting word that Peter Ham had passed away, I felt like a balloon rapidly deflating, losing its air, the hiss of escaping breath. So, as I enter into 2017, my feelings are a mixture of gladness and sorrow. After all, in my two pastoral visits to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to visit with Peter and Karen, I discovered a kindred spirit. Peter and I talked about the places we both visited in Alaska, the movies we loved, and music we listened to in our growing up years. On my second visit, I brought my guitar and sang a few songs. Peter told me the music helped him forget where he was. I sang some Kenny Loggins tune while doctors, nurses, family, and technicians filled the small room. We said a prayer together and I left hoping to see Peter again . . . and some day, I will. As I reflect on my all too brief relationship with Peter Ham, the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 come to mind:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
As we embark on this new year, crafting our resolutions and plans, let’s not overlook or forget the contributions of people who have touched our lives. Remember, we are who we are because someone listened, nurtured, and encouraged us to follow our dreams. We can never underestimate how another person’s actions and words shaped and molded us. Peter Ham was one of those guiding lights. But there are others who have also “fought the good fight and finished their race” (see 2 Tim. 4:7). Certainly, Martin Luther King Jr. left a legacy for us to follow. Who gave you the strength to carry on? Who inspired you to love and care for those around you? Who helped you find God? As we enter into this new year, give thanks to God for that special person and be glad. For like the wise words of Ecc. 3 ff. state clearly: “there is a time to weep and time to laugh; a time to mourn and time to dance.” Thank you, Peter. Thank you for giving us your time. Ken
Sunday, December 11—Lessons & Carols, 5:00 p.m.
Come and enjoy a traditional service of Lessons and Carols led by the Choristers and Singers choirs. Readings and carols retell the story of Christ’s birth, with candlelit singing of Silent Night. Following the service gather for a potluck meal and carol singing in the Fellowship Hall.
Sunday, December 18—Caroling, 3:00 p.m.
All are welcome to join in song and share carols with those in our congregation in need of Christmas cheer. Gather in the Fellowship Hall to get directions and song sheets. We will head out in cars to various locations and end up at Jackie Brownfield’s house for one last caroling stop and refreshments.
Saturday, December 24—Christmas Eve Worship Service, 5:00 p.m.
This child friendly service includes a pick-up Christmas pageant and candlelight. Arrive at 4:45 and gather in the Fellowship Hall to find costumes if you want to participate in the pageant. Young and old will enjoy this lively retelling of the Christmas story.
Saturday, December 24—Christmas Eve Worship Service, 8:30 p.m.
8:00 p.m. Organ prelude
8:30 p.m. Share the joy of the season in a communion service with carols and candlelight on this holiest of nights.
Sunday, December 25—Christmas Day Worship, 11:00 a.m.
Gather to celebrate the birth of Christ. Come hear the story and sing carols in morning worship.
Christmas Eve Choir
Join in the fun of being in the choir for Christmas Eve. Adults and youth grade 5 and up are invited to participate in a special choir that sings at the 5:00 p.m. service on December 24. Rehearsals are Sunday, December 18 12:15-1:15 p.m. and Thursday, December 22 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the Choir Room. On the 24th we will gather at 4:00 p.m. before the 5:00 service.
“Communication” and “community” share the same latin root which connotes togetherness and fellowship. The communication we share with one another as a church helps unite us in worship, spirit and purpose. The communication we share publicly as a church about our faith, mission and community life is a part of our ministry here in the Charlottesville area and the world. We share our beliefs about the generous and inclusive love of God, not just by writing our mission statement, but by sharing the way that belief is embodied in our community life together.
For the past four months, I have headed an effort by staff and the administration division to create a new website that was lean, efficient, elegant and simple for visitors to navigate. We looked at best practices by other churches and received several proposals from area web designers. Second, the new website needed to be integrated with our regular communications and newsletters. A community our size has a lot of important things going on at any given point in time, and communicating between divisions or even committees within the same division can be challenging, let alone trying to quickly let the entire community know something is happening in a timely manner. So the website essentially has two parts. The first part is static with important information about our community that members and visitors might need to access. The second part is dynamic and blog driven, giving staff a very easy and powerful way to create new content to support or promote ongoing and seasonal programs.
With so many different platforms to use, from websites to email and social media, and an intergenerational congregation with varying degrees of tech savvy, our communication also must be simple, effective and inclusive. We are upgrading current .pdf formatted newsletter to a much more dynamic weekly e-letter that is organized and easy to skim, but will allow anyone to access all of the detailed information and content staff and westminster members are creating. Of course staff will print versions of the newsletter and continue to mail them to homebound people, or to members who cannot access the internet regularly. And for those who enjoy reading deeper reflections that are occasionally published, we will gather these together for a quarterly “gleanings” print “magazine.”
For those of you who contribute to the newsletter regularly, you can continue to send your articles to Mickie and she will forward them to the appropriate staff person. And we’re all in this together so don’t hesitate to ask questions!
Gratefully serving in Christ,