January 21, 2021

Friends and fellow disciples,

What a week it has been! We've all watched the news a lot and the pageantry and performance of the inauguration, the speeches and the songs, and that amazing poem by Amanda Gorman, America's new youth poet laureate.

But the pandemic remains, this illness that stalks us. We continue to pray for those who are sick, for those who care for them, and for the family and friends of the more than 400,000 Americans and more worldwide, who have died. This grief will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

Yet hope comes in the form of our care for each other, our extraordinary medical professionals, and in the form of a vaccine. I am so happy to see pictures or hear of friends and some of you who have already been vaccinated. This is wonderful!

But I've also noticed something else, something resembling jealousy or resentment. It's less when healthcare workers receive their vaccines and more when I hear of others in the next phase. The vaccine distribution process has felt haphazard and inaccessible to many of us. Websites crash, phones go unanswered, calls unreturned, and people sit in lines for hours. We ask, "how can they get something I can't yet?" "How can I – or my mother or grandfather – find my way into this system?"

I want to invite us all into prayer for the vaccine through this blessing, written by my dear friend, the Rev. Becca Messman, a pastor in northern Virginia. I'd like to invite us all to pray it, whether we have been vaccinated or not. Some of us may receive the vaccine for a long time, I expect, but let us be genuinely pleased for each other when we do. Every time anyone is vaccinated, that is good news for them and their families, and it is good news for us, too. We won't get out of this pandemic until we have reached a level of vaccination across all of our communities. We must be in this together.

So join me in praying this blessing for those who are receiving their vaccines and for us all.

Peace to you,
Chris
Westminster Weekly Quick Links 

Worship on January 24, Third Sunday After Epiphany
Bread and Pray, Any Day: A Breadmaking Workshop with Kendall Vanderslice Friday, January 29, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Learn the basics of breadmaking while looking at the spiritual parallels woven into the process too. Learn how to bake bread as a form of prayer. Registrants will receive a recipe or, if they choose, a kit with all the ingredients so they can prepare along with Kendall.   
This workshop is open to any who are interested, so invite a friend!

Kendall Vanderslice is a baker and writer living in Durham. A graduate of Duke Divinity School, she is the author of We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God.
NEW CommUNITY Groups Beginning Soon!
Sign up deadline is February 1

We’re excited to announce our Winter and Spring CommUNITY Group offerings! Join one today to connect with others in the Westminster congregation through fellowship, learning, and support. Nurture and strengthen your faith as you develop relationships with others. For our Winter/Spring groups, we are offering some facilitated options along with our Connection Groups that meet mostly for fellowship. Groups meet in person or online at least once a month from February through May. Select a group from the options below:
Sharing Our Stories: Reflecting Together on Race
Saturday or Sunday afternoons (Day and time TBD)
Facilitated by Eileen McAvoy & Linda Barnett
This CommUNITY Group will tap into the power of story. Participants will reflect on their own experiences with race and share stories with one another and begin to discern where God might be leading us next. These 90-minute gatherings will be guided by these prompts:  
  • How did we become aware of/ learn about race?
  • Impactful stories of race in our lives - positive or negative.
  • Our stories & the Christian message - the intersection of our faith and our stories. 
  • What have we learned and how do we feel called to go forward?
Come with your own experiences and learn from others!

Setting a Table for All  
1st Sundays, 6:00-7:30pm with a Shared Meal
Facilitated by Rev. Cherrie Barton Henry
Christian hospitality is important, but why? What does it look like for us together and individually in today's world? What are its challenges and joys? Let's together dig in deeper into this ancient spiritual practice to see how it can deepen our faith and make our world a place of true communion. Each gathering will include a shared meal and conversation. These monthly gatherings will take place over Zoom with the potential of meeting in person for the May gathering.  
Faithful Families: Creating Sacred Moments at Home, A Group for Parents & Grandparents
Second Sundays, 9:45 - 10:45am 
Facilitated by Marietta Wynands
Want to create sacred moments for your family without adding “one more thing”? Wishing you could help your children or grandchildren on their spiritual journey but unclear where to start? During these Sunday morning sessions while many children are in Zoom Church School, we will discuss four themes that are woven into the book, Faithful Families, by Traci Smith. 

Connection Groups for Fellowship & Faithful Connection
Limited to three households, these groups meet mostly for fellowship and support. They may meet in a variety of ways and locations whether in person at a park, on a trail, in a backyard, or online. (In-person gatherings must observe COVID-19 health guidelines.) Each group is self-organized; resources and a suggested format will be offered.
WSYC Director Announces Retirement

After nearly 35 years preschool director Kathy Stickley is retiring from Westminster School for Young Children. Read Kathy’s retirement announcement.

A Durham native, Kathy received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education from UNC-Greensboro. She began her teaching career with Durham Public Schools. In 1986, she joined the staff of WSYC and taught pre-K classes until transitioning into school leadership in 2000.

Kathy and her husband, Gary, have two grown sons who are both “graduates” of Westminster School for Young Children. Her first grandchild, Callum, was born last October.

Please join us in thanking and wishing Kathy many blessings in the next adventure of her life. You may mail a card to her at the church’s address. Watch for information on the ways we'll celebrate Kathy later this spring!