January 1, 2021

Dear friends and fellow disciples,

Happy New Year!

I can't remember a year I was more ready to say that than this one.

2020 has been difficult beyond what any of us could have imagined this time last year. I remember very clearly that 48-hour period in March when we felt things accelerate. We called a Session meeting and decided to close Westminster's campus through the end of March. Since then, the pandemic has spiraled out of control, wrapped up in our nation's painful politics and a continued reckoning with racism, as suffering accumulates around us. We have also felt it in our own lives as we sought to make decisions wisely, for our safety and the safety of those around us. Minor decisions about seeing a friend or going to the store feel exhausting. It has been a difficult, difficult year.

We turn the page to 2021 in a space "in-between." In-between the rollout of a vaccine and the knowledge that things will not go immediately "back to normal." In-between one presidential administration and another. In-between deep hope in what is to come and the sense that it will be a difficult time until we get there. In-between the end of the holidays and the tremendous pressure on our health care system, that will inevitably grow. In-between the warmth of our homes and the despair of those who cannot pay their rent.

But we must cling to the good news that our faith is made for "in-between" times. God's people have been called, throughout their history, to listen and to trust. They were called to listen and trust through the exodus and exile when their cities were torn down and rebuilt. A small band of people was called to follow this carpenter's son, born in a manger, through Galilee's hillsides, into the walls of the city of Jerusalem, to the cross and the empty tomb. Even in the most difficult of times, God never left them alone.

As 2021 begins, I want you to join me in clinging to this same hope in the "in-between," to listen and trust and know that we are all being equipped to serve in this broken and beautiful world. Take great comfort in knowing that YOU – yes, you! – have been given gifts to share in the life, love, and hope that STILL exists in this world. You are called to listen and to trust, to share what you have, to call a friend who is alone, to bag up rice and beans, to find ways to step forward in faith. You can do this. We can do this. God is holding us all, even in the in-between, and that is good, good news.

I am genuinely excited to see what 2021 has in store for us, friends. God has work for us to do. Know that I'm praying for you through it all.

Hope and peace to you,
December 23 Vespers
Christmas Eve worship at home
Thank-you note from Rebound
Westminster Weekly Quick Links 

Worship on January 3, Second Sunday of Christmas & First Communion of the New Year
NEXT SUNDAY: Tour the New Fellowship Hall!

We're excited the Fellowship Hall is complete and ready to show our church community! We're offering another round of tours on Sunday, January 10, from 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 a face covering, 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 and pick up your own WPC-branded facemask and a “Do-Love-Walk” sign for your yard.
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 that meets via Zoom for a couple of upcoming book discussions. On January 11 and 25, the group will reflect on The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, a story that “reveals the traditions and turmoil of ancient womanhood” through the voice of Dinah, the daughter of the four wives of Jacob. The story “combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction; a new view of biblical women’s society.” Please contact Marietta Wynands to receive the Zoom link.
(Note: No class on January 18, Martin Luther King Day.)
Men’s Book Group:  New Study Begins This Month

Come on “out” without leaving the comfort of your home and join this men’s book discussion group! Beginning this month, this group will begin working its way through Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. In March, they'll pause and read, The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross by Jon Meacham before returning to finish Caste. Newcomers and “drop-ins” are always welcome! To learn more, connect with Rev. Chris or Mark Hill. Contact Marietta for the Zoom link.
Aperture in January:  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 January’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.  
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. Over the course of the workshop, you will 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.   

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.
Explore the Gift of the Lord’s Supper with Your Family
Sunday, January 31, 9:45am

In this Z-Event for families with children in grades 1-4, we’ll talk about what Communion is all about, encouraging the whole family to respond in gratitude for this very special gift from God. Contact Marietta to receive 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.