November 19, 2020

Dear friends,

“The same and different.”  

That’s the phrase I hear everywhere for how the holidays are going to be this year. For most of us, that aptly descriptive phrase brings with it a mix of grief and relief – Grief that some of our most beloved traditions aren’t going to happen this year, and relief that perhaps something newly creative, simpler, or uniquely meaningful could get birthed this year.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit on tiptoes wondering how it’s all going to play out.
Will "Share Your Christmas," Christmas stockings for Families Moving Forward, and the Christmas Offering garner the same generous response? Will Love Feast, the Christmas Pageant, and Christmas Eve service still manage to warm and enliven our souls despite their "same but different" formats?

Will our mid-week outdoor Advent Vespers, merrily lit courtyard, and opportunity to tour the new Fellowship Hall kindle and spread the light of Christ’s love enough to make us brave to face and even see the beauty of whatever darkness befalls us?

Will we be content, for just one year, to listen to instruments as they play carols while we concentrate on their texts, holding back our singing voices until we are in the safety of our homes?
The same and different.

How’s that going to work? We just don’t know.  But I know that I am happy to be with you, individually and together, as we find out. And I am thankful for the Spirit’s love that does not let us go, even in times like these. The same and different.

And the time is now upon us! It's time to channel our inner Mary ponderings; time to dream as practical as Joseph did; time to keep eyes peeled for pilgrims and Native Americans, for wise men and Herods, shepherds and angel messengers. It's time to gather our God-given sense of adventure for the holidays this year is bringing because here we go!  

Say your prayers. Take notes. We'll talk on the other side.

Courage and faith,
Westminster Weekly Quick Links 
For Sunday, November 22 – Guest Preacher: Rev British Hyrams, NC Central PCM
SUNDAY: Christ the King Festival of Gifts Drive-Through

Traditionally, we have celebrated the last Sunday of the church year with an eye towards the season of Advent, when we prepare our hearts for the coming of our King. On Sunday, you are invited to a Christ the King Festival of Gifts Drive-Through to get into the spirit and pick up all the supplies you’ll need to make each week in Advent special!

Advent Wreaths will play an important role in our Advent worship together, so you’ll receive the basic supplies for your choice of two options: a fresh greenery one or a paper version children will love to color. You’ll also receive a devotional to center you throughout these weeks – one with activities for families and a related version for adults and youth that center on themes of light and darkness. Finally, you won’t want to miss the special set of wooden ornaments. Paint and decorate each one to hang on your tree as keepsakes of a most unique Advent season together/apart.

If your family signed up to fill a stocking for Families Moving Forward, please return the filled stockings at our Christ the King Drive-Through so they can be delivered to FMF in time for its Christmas party for the families. You can also drop off your "Share Your Christmas" gifts (or on December 6 at the Love Feast Drive-Through).

* Can’t make it to Sunday afternoon’s festivities? Arrange for your supplies using this online form.
Let's Light Up the Courtyard for Love Feast & Beyond!
Bring a light string to Sunday's Christ the King Drive-Through

The promise of the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany seasons is that in light and in darkness Christ comes to usIn considering how we could bring a gift of light into a dark time, an idea was born: Let’s share our lights in one place to demonstrate a unique coming together of our households.

We’re asking WPC households to bring a string of holiday lights to the church, the kind you’d use at your own home. If you are a white mini-lights household, bring a string of those. If you’re a multicolored, big-bulb home, bring it on. If you have lights shaped like poinsettias, we want them. The more diversity the better and with the help of our artful stringers, we hope the message will be one of beautiful unity: Many lights shining as ONE against the darkest nights of the year and a great witness to our community!

Bring your light string to Sunday's Christ the King Drive-Through, 3:00-4:30pm. Be sure your light string can be plugged into a standard receptacle and can also receive a standard plug. Use masking tape to tag your light string with your name and cell number so it can be returned to you later.
Our Courtyard of Lights will make its debut at the Love Feast Drive-Through, on Sunday, December 6, 5:00-6:30pm. WPC Youth will be dressed in their traditional Love Feast finery. Small loaves of bread and a Love Feast liturgy for use around the table at home will be given to each carload.

Our lights will shine through Epiphany on January 6. Special thanks to Sara Kelley and Stacey Smith for organizing the light display. All are invited to come and view our witness of light, so invite your friends and neighbors!
Share Your Blessings, Share Your Christmas

For 45 years, "Share Your Christmas" has provided holiday gifts to some of our most vulnerable Durham neighbors. This program is coordinated by the Durham County Department of Social Services and Triangle Nonprofit and Volunteer Leadership Center. This year Westminster has committed to serving 129 people. Click the button below to view the names, ages, and wish list items, and to sign up to be a gift-giver. Recommended spending is $65 minimum per individual. 

Bring your gift to Sunday’s Christ the King Drive-Through, 3:00-4:30pm, or the Love Feast Drive-Through on Sunday, December 6, 5:00-6:30pm. If you'd like to help with sorting and/or delivering gifts, please contact Amy Stanfield.
Help Needed for Struggling Durham Nativity School Students & Families
Update from Carolyn Davidson
Durham Nativity School (DNS) has been a Westminster community partner for many years, with numerous WPC members attending their fundraising events and doing volunteer work like tutoring. The school has been changing the lives of at-risk middle school boys and their families for 20 years.

Durham Nativity School recently made the move to in-person classes on an alternating schedule four days per week. Not all students have chosen to attend in person. There is a great deal of fear of Covid-19 among the school's family population due to its impact on black and brown people. The school is paying for the technology to stream classes to students at home, many of whom must be at home to care for younger siblings. The teachers are very stretched with hybrid lesson planning.

Fear in the Durham Nativity School community is elevated as several have lost close relatives, including a father, due to Covid-19. There is great concern about layoffs for the parents who work in service industries and restaurants. The school's social worker and part-time assistant are working many long hours to help students and their families, providing funds for utility bills and groceries. The school's staff is on high alert for this vulnerable community, even at a time when its cleaning expenses have skyrocketed.

Durham Nativity School is requesting the donation of grocery store gift cards to help families buy food and retail gift cards so the families can experience some joy this holiday season. Anything the Westminster family can do to help would be very greatly appreciated. Gift cards can be mailed to: Durham Nativity School, Attention: Kim Glenn, PO Box 3537, Durham, NC 27702.
Advent Vesper Services
Wednesdays at 5:00pm in December

Westminster will offer outdoor Advent Vesper services at 5:00pm on December 2, 9, 16, and 23. There will be instrumental music, readings, and prayers, along with the lighting of the Advent wreath and the warmth of a firepit. 

Attendance will be limited in number to 35 individuals, and online registration is required. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the service to allow time for the necessary health screenings. Face coverings are required, and physical distancing will be observed. Services will be held weather permitting. Should service be canceled due to inclement weather, the church will notify you via the email address you provide when you register. 

So that as many as possible can have the chance to participate, we encourage everyone to sign up for just one Vespers service per person/family. Thank you!
Annual Christmas Pageant Under the Stars

Our beloved Children’s Christmas Pageant takes on a new look this year! Our children will tell the traditional nativity story through drama, narration, music, and even art. These offerings will be stitched together into one joy-filled video that will be premiered under the stars in Westminster’s Courtyard. Showings will have limited seatings in accordance with CDC protocols for outdoor gatherings, and all attendees must wear face coverings and observe physical distancing. Sign up is a must, so don’t delay
Showing Sunday, December 13 – Arrive at 7:15pm for a 7:30pm show
Online Premiere: 7:30pm on Youtube – no sign-up required!
Stewardship 2021: Thank you!
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We're grateful to all who have promised to support Westminster in 2021 by submitting a pledge.
Your commitment of financial pledges is critical to Westminster’s mission and ministry and to the future of this church. If you haven't already, there's still time to send in your 2021 Stewardship pledge – just click one of the easy options below.
THANK YOU for all the ways you support WPC!