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.
Have you been keeping up with the anti-racism uprising taking place across the country and world these past couple of weeks? If you want to support the struggle for justice and equity but are not sure what to do, this list offers several starting points for concrete actions. The following links are from Claire Lampen’s article “How to Support the Struggle Against Police Brutality.” Join others at Westminster in the continual journey to resist racism and end police brutality by taking the next step.
Direct aid for victims’ families:
- George Floyd’s family has started a GoFundMe to cover funeral and burial costs; counseling services; legal fees; and continued care for his children. There’s also a GoFundMe to provide for his 6-year-old daughter, Gianna Floyd, and a GoFundMe to support “peace and healing” for Darnella Frazier, the woman who filmed Floyd’s death.
- Another GoFundMe is raising money for Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, donations to which will similarly fund the family’s legal battle.
- There’s a GoFundMe for Breonna Taylor’s family, to help with legal fees and offer extra support.
- There’s a GoFundMe for David McAtee’s mother and family: McAtee was fatally shot just after midnight on June 1, after police officers and National Guard members fired into a crowd of people who were not taking part in the evening’s protests.
ActBlue has a page that will let you split your donation between 38 community bail funds, or if you’d like to focus your donation directly, here are some options.
- The Bail Project, a nonprofit that aims to mitigate incarceration rates through bail reform.
- The National Bail Fund Network also has a directory of community bail funds to which you can donate, along with a COVID-19 rapid response fund.
- Another list of bail funds is available here, and another list of bail funds by city.
Support for protesters:
- A Gas Mask Fund for black youth activists in Minneapolis is raising money to buy gas masks for demonstrators who’ve faced tear gas during protests.
- The Black Trans Protestors Emergency Fund is raising money for physical resources, bail, and medical care for black, transgender protesters, which will be redistributed to black, trans-led organizations “in the event these funds don’t need to be used.”
- The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which supports racial justice through advocacy, litigation, and education.
- The Legal Rights Center is a non-profit law firm based in Minneapolis, offering legal defense, educational, and advocacy services.
- Black Visions Collective, a black, trans, and queer-led social justice organization and legal fund based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
- The Know Your Rights Camp, an organization founded by Colin Kaepernick that provides education and training in black and brown communities, set up a legal fund for Minneapolis protestors.
- Organizations working against mass-incarceration and police abuse:
- Communities United for Police Reform is an initiative to end discriminatory policing in New York, helping to educate people on their rights and document police abuse.
- Showing Up for Racial Justice works to educate white people about anti-racism and organizes actions to support the fight for racial justice and undermine white supremacy.
- Communities United Against Police Brutality, which operates a crisis hotline where people can report abuse; offers legal, medical, and psychological resource referrals; and engages in political action against police brutality.
- No New Jails NYC aims to keep the city from constructing new jails, and to instead divert funds that currently go toward the police and incarceration toward housing, ending homelessness, mental health, and other community support systems.
The murder of Ahmaud Arbery highlights how white supremacist violence is bolstered by people in positions of power and closely tied to police and the courts. One of the assailants, Gregory McMichael, is a former Glynn County police officer and a former investigator with the local district attorney’s office. Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is advocating 4 ways to take further action in the aftermath of the arrest of the two suspects. Click here to learn more.
April 26, 2020
The Session began their meeting over “Zoom” at 1:00 PM. Ruling Elders Present: Ruthie Buck, Jim Cauthen, Wayne Cilimberg, Hal Collums, Dana Eastman, John Echeverri-Gent, Anne Hedelt, David Heflin, Dan Heuchert, Will Hochstetler, Rebecca McGregor, Mike Moore, Alyce Outlaw, Meredith Powell, Nadine Roddy (Stated Clerk), Candace Spence, Ellen ThomasClarke, Sabra Timmins, Irene Townsend, Ken Young. Teaching Elders Present: Dorothy Piatt, Lynne Clements, Ken Henry. Also present: Barry Parks, Recording Clerk; Megan Sharp, Director of Fine Arts; Sandy Wilcox, Church Administrator.
Key: M/S/C (Moved/ Seconded/Carried)
Action—Westminster Child Care Center. A written request for rent relief from the WCCC Board of Directors was presented by Sandy Wilcox. Nadine Roddy moved to waive the rent for the month of April 2020 and postpone a decision on the following months until the May 17 Stated Meeting of Session. (M/S/C)
Action—Worship at WPC. Hal Collums made the motion that WPC continue the suspension of in-person worship services from May 1 through June 7, 2020. (M/S/C) In lieu of in-person worship during this period, pastors and staff will continue to use video and audio technology to provide a weekly worship experience on Sunday mornings. The Session will re-evaluate the situation at their May 17 Stated Meeting to determine whether it would be advisable to resume in-person worship (in some form) on June 14.
Action—Paying our Hourly Employees. Anne Hedelt moved that we continue compensation for our laid-off hourly employees (nursery workers and Assistant Sexton) from May 1 through June 7, based on the hours that would normally be worked during this time period. (M/S/C)
Action—Rugby Entrance Improvement Project. Wayne Cilimberg moved that the session allocate approximately $5,500 of previously approved funds to pay for additional costs associated with plan/permit revisions and, if necessary, the removal of the stump of the large ash tree that was recently cut down. (M/S/C)
Dorothy Piatt closed the meeting with prayer at 2:23 p.m.
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