December 17, 2020

Dear friends,

Thank you.

It has been a strange season – and not the Advent we’d hoped for – but I am proud of whom we have sought to be in this time (perhaps even sinfully proud!). You have given presents for Share Your Christmas (check out the thank-you note below). You have driven through and brought lights and gathered supplies. You have hung up those lights. You have called your neighbors. You have brought your children in masks to film our Christmas Pageant, then you brought them back to watch three delightful showings in the Courtyard. NOTE: If you haven’t seen the Pageant yet, stop reading and watch it now!

You have continued to put food into cars at Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel on Wednesdays, including a cold and rainy one yesterday. You have continued to give faithfully. You have made pledges for next year – and many have increased their pledges. You have come to worship at Advent Vespers, and it has been a joy to see you. It really has. You have continued to give for the campaign to pay for a beautiful new Fellowship Hall. You will show up and tour that same building and dream. You have discussed books on race; you have advocated for your friends; you have dropped to your knees in prayer.
Like everything this year, Christmas at Westminster will be different, but I think it will still be meaningful for all of us. On Christmas Eve from 2:00-4:00pm, I invite you to come to the Courtyard for a time of individual prayer and reflection. Get a candle, light it from the Advent wreath, pray with one of the pastors, or even just stand in the Courtyard for a few moments of peace and meditation. At 7:00pm, gather at home for a joyful Christmas Eve worship service on YouTube. So many here have been working behind the scenes to create a time of worship that combines and adapts Westminster's beloved Christmas traditions for these together-apart times. Make plans to join us, and invite your family and friends to watch, too!

It is still a strange season – surely not the one I’d hoped for – but I’m grateful it is the one we’ve had. Blessings on your continued preparations. Christ is coming soon.

Peace to you,
Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel, WPC's Christmas Offering Recipient

Iglesia Presbiteriana Emanuel has been selected as the sole recipient of Westminster’s 2020 Christmas Offering. Since the pandemic began, Iglesia Emanuel's food ministry has grown from serving about 60 families a week to more than 450. WPC volunteers serve each week, bagging beans and rice at home and helping on-site at Wednesday's food giveaway. Westminster is honored to be a part of this vital ministry for the Durham community.

You may contribute to the Christmas Offering at any time this month. There are three ways you can give. Click the button below to make an online gift, or text CHRISTMAS and your donation amount to 73256 (standard text message rates may apply). You may also mail a check to the church (make checks payable to WPC with "Christmas Offering" on the memo line). Thanks for your generous support!
SATURDAY: Tour the New Fellowship Hall!

Friends, the day has arrived: the Fellowship Hall is complete, and it's time for the big reveal!

The Fellowship Committee is organizing tours of the new Fellowship Hall on Saturday, December 19, from 9:30am-12:30pm, and on Sunday, January 10, 12:30-5:30pm. The tours will last about 20 minutes, with 10-minute intervals between each time slot. We will limit tour groups to nine people and one tour guide per time slot in keeping with state guidelines for indoor gatherings. Be sure to wear your mask, and stay six feet apart during the tour; hand sanitizer will be available. Also at the tour, you can make a donation to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to help provide national and global relief from the pandemic and the hurricanes and fires that have devastated so many this year. You can also pick up your own WPC branded facemask and a “Do-Love-Walk” sign for your yard. Make plans to come by!
From the Neighborhood Missions Team: Update on “Share Your Christmas”

On the third Sunday of Advent, our congregation wrapped up another successful Share Your Christmas mission! We met at the church, loaded up 8+ carloads of gifts, and delivered them to the Share Your Christmas hub at Northgate Mall. Weeks earlier at the Christ the King and Love Feast Drive-Through events, it was a joy to see those of you who sponsored individuals and to collect your beautiful gifts. So, friends and members of WPC, thank you! Thanks to your generosity of time and resources, 130 of our most vulnerable neighbors will receive Christmas gifts this year. We are grateful for your support!
2020 Year-End Financial Report
by John Messick, Ways & Means Commission Chair

Greetings, Westminster family! I wanted to update you on how the church is doing as we wind down 2020. But first, on behalf of the Commission, I want to extend a grateful thank-you for your support through your financial gifts, leadership, time, and patience in a year that none of us could have foreseen. Though 2020 has been challenging, our church has continued moving forward thanks to the grace of God and the dedication of our church family. Thank you!

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, political environment, and social unrest, Westminster has persevered and accomplished a great deal in 2020. We fully integrated three new staff members to include Cherrie Barton Henry, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care & Mission; Alex Stayer-Brewington, Associate Pastor for Youth & Their Families; and Marietta Wynands, Director of Christian Education. While all three officially joined Westminster in late 2019, their first full year was 2020, and their service is such a blessing to our church community.

We have also learned how to worship together through virtual means, continued the church's business through Zoom meetings, and stayed connected by the work of our wonderful TREE callers. We’ve also completed the construction of our new Fellowship Hall, which will expand our abilities to serve both our congregation and the community. Be sure to sign up for one of the Fellowship Hall tours!

2020 Operating BudgetThrough your generous support, we have received approximately 90% of the pledged 2020 dollars, which has enabled us to meet all our financial obligations, including 100% support of our local missions for this year. We still have about 10% of 2020 pledges remaining, representing approximately $155,000 in the operating budget, so I am asking everyone with outstanding pledges to pay by the end of the year if possible.

2021 Stewardship Campaign: We are behind where we were at this time last year with pledged support for the upcoming year. To date, we have received 212 family pledges totaling just over $910,000, which is 13% below our 2020 financial support. Thanks to those families that have already provided pledges for 2021. For those that have not, please consider making your pledge as soon as possible as these are the funds we depend on to cover our annual operating budget and our local missions efforts.

Capital CampaignWe have collected 91.4% of our three-year Capital Campaign pledges, which ends on March 31, 2021. If you have a remaining balance on your pledge, please consider paying it by the end of this year if feasible for you.

In 2017, the congregation approved a loan for up to $1 million to complement the funds raised by the Capital Campaign to complete the Fellowship Hall. As has been discussed in many updates over the last three years, the intention to retire this debt will come from a second Capital Campaign. There is more to come on this, but I wanted you to know that the formation of our next Capital Campaign is a top 2021 priority for the Ways & Means Commission, which we will be discussing with you over the next few months.

In closing, thank you all for your financial support of our Westminster community in a tough and challenging year. We must remain connected in all aspects that are available to us and never forget that no matter what the challenge is, we are all brothers and sisters bound by the love and grace of Jesus Christ. On behalf of your Ways & Means Commission, thank you again for all you do for our church, and we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.