During the weeks of the annual Stewardship Campaign, we highlight a number of the missions and programs that exemplify Westminster’s Christian influence on the world around us. As heart-warming as those achievements are, we should also reflect on the necessity, if not importance, of expenditures to maintain the physical base where we gather in worship, participate in classes of spiritual formation, organize support of our many outreach ministries and join together in fellowship.
We have a valuable resource in our buildings and grounds which we have received through the grace and generosity of those who have preceded us in this place. We are the caretakers of it for those who follow us.
- Utilities are expensive even though we install high efficiency equipment whenever we replace and despite implementing “smart” thermostats with set-back temperatures when spaces are not in use.
- Our buildings are sizable and deserve diligent though frugal care. We perform a considerable amount of maintenance with our staff rather than relying upon more costly outside contractors.
- Printing worship bulletins, maintaining website communication and other technology for an active congregation, and providing supplies and support materials for many programs and events enables us to more fully experience the church’s spiritual gifts to us.
Thank you for recognizing the importance of these administrative costs which are necessary to enable the programs and missions we hold so dear. Your financial stewardship of these is appreciated!
“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,
Walter Brueggemann, an Old Testament scholar and theologian who recently spoke and preached at Westminster, once said that “the church meets to imagine what our lives can be like if the gospel were true.” As members of a congregation which prides itself on being “progressive” and “transformed,” it is easy to envision that we are setting the world on fire, which happens to be our stewardship theme this year. However, it is difficult at times to reconcile the minutiae of coordinating communion preparation and servers and the logistics of organizing the Easter breakfast, banners, pew rack maintenance, and flower arrangements with the joyful celebration of God’s promise to our world. But in that tenuous space between logistics and celebration lies committee work.
We like to joke about the Presbyterian affinity for complex organizational models, but in fact much of God’s work can be found in the details. Will new visitors feel welcomed by our congregation? Our membership subcommittee has organized greeters, flyers, buttons, and personal notes. Will our musically-inclined members find a place in the choir? Our adult and children’s choirs are complemented by the Singers choir and the newly-formed Life-Long Song class. Will our monthly communion services truly be a sacrament of personal transformation? As volunteers carefully dice bread and pour juice into tiny cups they transform hours of manual labor into moments of intense joy within our corporate worship.
What you see and feel in worship each Sunday are slivers of Christ’s light. Whether it is a commissioned anthem for the choir, a baby baptized, an artistic banner, a candlelight prayer vigil for refugees, a sermon that evokes both a chuckle and a tear, or a child’s pleasure in his own “worship bag,” the worship and music committee hopes to magnify those slivers of God’s transformative power. While much of God’s work takes place on Monday mornings in the Lounge or Thursday nights in the choir room, on the organ bench in the sanctuary or perched behind the sound system in the balcony, the manifestation of these “duties” move from behind the scenes into the forefront of God’s arena–our humanity made holy each Sunday as we worship and make music together.
Chair, Worship and Music Division