January 14, 2021

Friends and fellow disciples,

My goodness, what an incredible few weeks we have lived through. These are weeks we will be reflecting on for the rest of our lives. What happened? What does it mean? How were we called to be faithful in all of it? I'd encourage you to take a little time to think about these questions.

This is also the time each year I encourage you to find a practice to honor the life and legacy and ministry of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Each year, I read his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," an important letter to white moderate clergy who had encouraged him to slow down and try not to ruffle many feathers. It is a powerful call for justice, for all and without delay.

I want to encourage you to do one more thing: Sign up for our MLK Day Virtual "Teach-In" on Monday. Leaders from our Racial Equity Team will tell you why this work matters, and we'll spend some time in conversation about Dr. King's final speech, "I Have Been to the Mountaintop." Listen to it and join us! We all have work to do to be a part of how Jesus is creating a more just and hopeful world. See below for all the details on our "MLK Day Your Way" event.

Know that I am praying for you. This time is so exhausting. Be kind to yourself and to those around you as we listen for the Spirit. How might you be faithful in these days?

Westminster Weekly Quick Links 

Worship on January 17, Second Sunday After Epiphany
Special thanks to Alex High, Connor Garcia, and Thomas Hill, who helped unpack and move 200 new chairs and 20 very large tables into the Fellowship Hall, and load them onto furniture dollies. 
Join us for “MLK Day Your Way”
Invitation from the Neighborhood Missions Team

As we turn the page on the most exceptional year many of us have likely ever experienced, we give thanks for our health, our friends and family, our church, and all that we have. We invite you to join us on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 18, to reflect on the past year and set a faithful intention for the one ahead.

Because of the pandemic, we won’t be able to follow the MLK Day model of past years, but we’ve come up with an alternative we hope you’ll find engaging. We’ve organized options for Westminster members to perform both virtually and “together/apart." The day will have a two-fold structure:  

  • In the morning, from 10:00-11:30am, members of WPC’s Racial Equity Team will lead a Virtual Teach-In. There will be a brief introduction to share the work they’ve done since August, then we’ll break into smaller groups to discuss Dr. King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, which he gave the day before he was assassinated. We invite you to read the text of the speech or listen to it on YouTube before participating. This teach-in is appropriate for anyone middle school-aged and older. A discussion group for the youth will be facilitated by Melinda Vaughn and Alex Stayer-Brewington. If the day is anything like the discussions the Racial Equity Team has had over the past five months, the time will fly by and leave you feeling thoughtful and empowered to help our community and nation heal.
  • In the afternoon, we invite all ages to participate in Westminster’s book drive with Book Harvest. Book Harvest is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting lifelong literacy and learning. Please donate new or gently used children’s books, and deliver them directly to Book Harvest, 2501 University Drive in Durham (across the street from Q-Shack) on the afternoon of January 18. Or, you may deliver books to the 2021 Dream Big Book Drive at Durham Central Park, between 12:00-4:00pm. Note that Book Harvest cannot accept books of a faith-based nature. They particularly appreciate books with diverse characters and have a wish list that can help you with your donations.
  • Also in the afternoon, you may create cards of encouragement for patients at Duke Hospital (a great project for families), or write letters to persons imprisoned for political dissent. View the address list and sample letters to help you get going. Please provide your own stationery and stamps. Handmade cards for hospital patients should be generic (due to privacy concerns) and may be dropped off in the plastic pick-up/drop-off bin outside the Mission Center. They will be delivered to the hospital by WPC’s own Geoff Vaughn.
  • Interested in participating in a project of your own choosing? We encourage this, as well! Take a photo of your project and email it to westminster@wpcdurham.org so we can share it with our church family. 

Thanks so much for your support and participation in a year that has demanded constant adaptation and flexibility. If you have any questions, please contact Anne Sherman, Elsa Woods, or Amy Hill. We look forward to seeing you virtually on Monday!
Aperture Next Week:  Edible Theology with Kendall Vanderslice, January 20, 7:00-8:15pm

This month we will explore the importance and spiritual blessing of eating, even though we must be apart. From the beginning of creation, God deemed that all creatures needed food to survive, yet gifted us with the ability to enjoy it with all our senses. When the community of faith comes together in sharing meals, whether around a kitchen table or the Communion Table, we believe that Jesus is with us in a very real way. We welcome special guest Kendall Vanderslice, a local baker and theologian, whose delicious bread graced many of our tables as part of the Love Feast.

At Wednesday's Aperture with Kendall, we’ll discuss the importance of food in the narrative arc of the Gospel and how this impacts our eating today, including the ways it can inform our life together in community and as a church. Registrants will receive a simple, adaptable recipe ahead of time to prepare and enjoy a delicious shared food experience if they choose to do so.  
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!
IMPORTANT: Update on Westminster Campus Access for Groups

Following Westminster’s COVID-19 Operating Guidelines, which link the use of our campus to North Carolina state and Durham city health mandates and directives, WPC’s COVID Operations Committee, as of January 8, has suspended the granting of campus access for non-healthcare related groups.

We’re taking this action in support of the Health Directive issued on January 6 by NC’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen. The Directive instructs all of us in the state to stay home except for trips for healthcare, school, work, buying food, or caring for family members. We’ll maintain this suspension of campus until the Directive is no longer in effect.

We recognize this may impact events you’ve been looking forward to and perhaps working on. Our action isn’t taken lightly. But with Dr. Cohen’s directive and over 10,000 cases daily now in NC and growing, it’s an action we must take. As conditions change, we’ll be back with relevant updates. In the meantime, if you have any questions you’d like to discuss, please let us know. 

Thanks for your support and help,
 WPC COVID-19 Operations Committee: Andy Dunk, Kim Garcia, Jim Ketch, Russ Lange, Helen Tharrington, and Chris Tuttle
Read, Reflect, and Discuss: Start Your Week with Meaningful Conversations on Mondays, 9:30-11:30am

You are invited to join the Monday Morning Bible Study group for a new book study in February. Next month this group will read and discuss Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Wilson-Hartgrove, a native of Durham who has presented at a couple of our Aperture programs, shares his story of grappling with white supremacy’s systemic abuses of power as he discovered that his Christianity was the religion of the slaveholder. As one reviewer wrote, this is “a poignant, compelling, and eye-opening journey that recognizes the racism in us, Christian churches today, and the implicit bias of the dominant culture. The blinders come off through stories, history, and creative biblical insight. We are left amazingly hopeful for ourselves and the church…” All are welcome to join in this powerful reckoning with racial injustice. Contact Marietta Wynands for the Zoom link.
2020 Year-End Contribution Statements

By January 22, year-end contribution statements will be emailed/mailed to you, depending on the delivery preference you have on file with WPC. If you need your statement sooner than that for your tax filing, please send a request to finance@wpcdurham.org, and the Finance team will send it to you earlier.