April 23, 2020

Dear friends and fellow disciples,

First, before you do anything else : Scroll to the very bottom of this email to the article titled “Staff Recommendations.”  In previous editions of our staff recommendations, members of our staff have shared wise and winsome resources, poems, music, and prayers. Well, I’ve got something much less theological. If you haven’t already, take 15 minutes to watch an episode of "Some Good News" with John Krasinski. It will make you laugh and cry at the same time. It makes my week better. Watch any episode, or watch them all .  If you only have time for one, watch episode two.

Also, if you haven’t been there before, you have now visited Youtube . We have, as you’ll read below, shifted our worship services to this platform. We hope this transition will be easier to access for everyone. We are grateful for your grace as we keep working through the joys of technology. We are fully into "building the plane as we fly it" territory, aren’t we? But worship matters, church matters, community matters. Taking time to share life, love, and laughter with everyone we can is so incredibly important and all are ways we point to the glory of God’s creation. Maybe my silly video recommendation might be theological after all!

This email is packed with information. Settle in on your couch or porch to read it through, from worship and youth group happenings to financial reports and the MANY ways you can give and help and so much more. Our church is right in the thick of trying to be faithful in these days. That is some good, good news as we seek Christ in our midst. As difficult as it is, I am grateful to be in this with you.

Sunday Worship Services Moving to YouTube  

We are moving our Sunday worship services to Westminster’s YouTube channel . Here’s what you need to know:
  • Go to https://bit.ly/WPCyoutube to reach Westminster’s YouTube channel. The worship services will go live Sundays at 11:00am.
  • We’ll also post a direct link to the service on Westminster’s Facebook page on Sundays at 10:45am. Click the link there for direct access to the day's worship.
  • Hover your mouse over the lower part of the video to bring up the controls. Click the “CC” icon there to turn on closed captioning, if it’s helpful to you.
  • You don’t need a Google or Gmail account to access Westminster’s YouTube channel and watch our videos, but it’s free to create one.
  • If you do have an account, you can comment in the live-chat with your WPC friends as the video is streaming, much like the Facebook Livestream. You can also subscribe to our channel and receive notifications when new videos are loaded there. Help us reach 100 subscribers by April 30!

Thanks for your patience as we continue to work on making our online worship experience the best it can be. A huge thank-you to Tim Vann for all the great work he is doing to assemble, edit and add materials, upload, and post our worship services!  
Worship on Sunday, April 26
Join a NEW or Ongoing Online Bible Study! 

Connect with your Westminster community, and join together online to learn and study God’s Word:

  • NEW Midweek Online Study Group  Interested in joining a NEW small group that meets during the evening? Do you want to connect to others online while exploring some aspect of faith and life? This unprecedented time is an opportunity to take steps toward new patterns of Christian discipleship. What new thing might God be inviting us to begin right now? We aim to begin this four to six week study the week of May 3. If you are interested, please complete this quick surveyContact: Marietta Wynands
  • NEW “Office Hours,” A Pop-Up Bible Study  Cherrie Henry is engaging with this study designed to meet the needs of pastors and congregations during our season of social distancing. Brennan Breed of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Chris Holmes of First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, are teaming up with guest professors to offer an in-depth, unrehearsed five-week study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Contact Cherrie Barton Henry if you’d like to participate with her in this study.

These Westminster groups welcome you to participate in their Zoom gatherings:

  • Monday Morning Bible Study (Mondays, 9:30-11:30am) - Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope During Uncertain Times” We know Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid,” but with everything going on in the world, how is it possible not to be anxious? In this five-week study beginning May 4, author Adam Hamilton explores the worries and fears most of us experience and shares practical steps for overcoming them with the help of Scripture and a bit of faith. The series consists of a DVD and discussion via Zoom. Contact Helen Harrison to be added to this group's listserv.
  • Bible Round Table (Sundays, 9:45am) The Bible Roundtable plans to begin its study of the book of James on April 26. We hope you will sign in and join what is always a friendly, lively interactive discussion. Contact Sam Bryan to receive instructions, link and password to join the group.
  • Sojourners (Sundays at 9:45am) This group continues to work its way through the book, We Make the Road by Walking, by Brian McLaren. Contact Kay Wellemeyer for details.
  • The Present Word Join this group in exploring the theme of justice through the eyes of the prophets. The Present Word is available online, so even if you don’t have a copy of the book, you can still access the materials. Contact Pete McWilliams to join
Please Update Your Contact Information

Our Tree callers are going strong, contacting WPC folks each week for conversation and comfort. Along the way, we’ve learned we need updated contact information for many of you. Also, if you are giving to the church through your myWPC account , the address we have in myWPC must match the address of your credit card billing statement for your donation to go through. Please take a moment to review and update your information in myWPC. We’d especially love it if you’d update your photo! View instructions for updating your myWPC profile, giving online, and more.  Contact Barb Schmidt
Update on the Easter Offering

Thanks to everyone who gave to our Easter Offering. Your generosity brought in $11,829.51 - double last year’s amount! The funds will be evenly divided and donated to the Durham Nativity School and PC(USA)’s One Great Hour of Sharing fund. 

The three programs supported by One Great Hour of Sharing - Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, and Self-Development of People - all work in different ways to serve individuals and communities in need. From initial disaster response to ongoing community development, their work fits together to provide people with safety, sustenance, and hope. Funding for these programs is especially needed at this time, and we are thankful Westminster will be able to respond so generously. Thank you!
Supporting Westminster’s Community Partners

Our Local Missions Committee has been hard at work checking in with all 21 of Westminster’s community partners to see how they’re doing and what their needs are. The Committee voted unanimously to offer financial support to the following programs:

  • Meals On Wheels - $4,000: MOW has moved from preparing meals themselves to delivering catered frozen meals one time a week. The additional cost for MOW to provide the catered frozen food had cost $8,800 as of last week.  
  • Iglesia Emanuel Food Bank - $1,000: Iglesia Emanuel is receiving more people in need of food assistance, with more needs than they are able to meet as many of their clients lose jobs, are ineligible for government assistance, and in desperate need of emergency food assistance. 
  • Love and Nourish - $2,000: An initiative started by Southern Harvest Hospitality Group in partnership with The Honeysuckle Farm and Unique Places to Save, Love & Nourish is creating family meal packages for the community to purchase that in turn provides free meals for families in crisis. Love and Nourish is working with agencies like Families Moving Forward, Durham Public School Foundation, and End Hunger Durham to connect families in immediate need.  

There are still many other ways our congregation can help. View the listing of some of our other community partners' immediate needs. If you have questions about how you can help, email Kim Tupper or the agency liaison listed in the link.
WPC Youth Group Happenings

  • Tuesdays at 3:30pmZoom check-in, games, and prayer
  • Wednesdays at 3:30pmZoom Bible Study for Middle Schoolers
  • Thursdays at 2:00pmZoom Bible Study for High Schoolers
Also this week, Alex emailed all the youth a worksheet on how to make a "Rule." A Rule is a Christian monastic description of how a Christian community should live. With the abundance of unstructured time we have now, Alex is encouraging the youth to make some commitments to themselves about how they can get closer to the person God created them to be. 

To connect your youth with our Zoom gatherings, games, and studies, please email Alex to receive the links and password.
Westminster School for Young Children Shares Love & Support for the Community  

It has been a month since Westminster School students graced our doors, and it seems like an eternity. In the spirit of togetherness, WSYC would like to share some love with our families and community:

  • If you have a small business that is currently offering services or shipping items, WSYC wants to support you. Click here to respond with your business name, description of your services, and website address. WSYC will share your business info with school families and on its social media.  
  • WSYC is organizing a schoolwide gratitude project to thank the essential personnel bravely putting themselves in harm’s way to keep us all safe. Consider making a card for essential workers in your daily life - postal worker, sanitation collectors, cashiers, delivery drivers, etc. Or, create a sign that says “thank you” and send a photo of your child(ren) or family holding the sign. We have several Westminster members and WSYC parents and friends on the front lines - let’s show our appreciation! Please send photos to Katie Donoway.
  • If you are an Amazon customer, please consider using AmazonSmile and designating Westminster Presbyterian Church as your nonprofit benefactor. When you do, WSYC will receive a donation from the cost of your purchase.

Thank you for joining together to support our school, families, community, and all essential personnel. 
WPC Families & Faith Formation at Home

Check out this week's Family Faith at Home from Marietta. It's packed with a whole new set of family activities, resources, and links to Marietta's Zoom storytelling session, as we mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and seek peace during this at-home season.

Marietta sends Family Faith at Home to WPC families each week. Be sure to email Marietta if you haven't received yours, so we can get you on the list. And, have you joined our Families of WPC Durham Facebook group ? Join today to catch all the great photos and good stuff your WPC friends are sharing and awesome resources Marietta is posting. This group is open to all WPC members all ages.
Westminster’s First Quarter Financial Report
By Dave Pottenger, Chair, Ways & Means Commission  

With the ongoing uncertainties of the current crisis, the Ways & Means Commission felt it important to update the congregation on our current financial condition.

Through the end of the first quarter, WPC’s operating results are quite favorable. We are normally blessed with an early year surge of giving, and that trend has continued this year. For this we are deeply grateful! At the same time Westminster’s staff has kept a close eye on spending needs and have been successful in bringing them in just under the first quarter’s budgeted amount, putting us in a strong financial position at the conclusion of the first quarter.

The challenges of the current health and economic environment will likely be with us for an indeterminable time, so we will continue to monitor church revenues and expenses closely. Your generosity makes a huge difference, and we are extraordinarily grateful for your continued support.

Westminster qualified for funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, and we completed our application on the first day of the process. We are pleased to report that we received our allocated funds on April 22. This program will help tremendously with maintaining staff and pay levels for both the church and the preschool .

Our new Fellowship Hall continues to emerge from the site. Seeing such rapid progress has proven to be inspiring. We are on pace to have it completed and open in the fall of 2020. Costs have continued to align with original estimates. Our cash balances, created through your capital campaign gifts, have been the source of our building payments to date. The good news is your continuing generosity has allowed us to maintain a cash balance one to two months longer than anticipated. We will, however, begin to tap into our borrowing capacity in May. This is all part of the original vision of the project. We will continue to update you on this in the months ahead.

In conclusion, Westminster, like virtually every other entity right now, faces a near-term financial future with more uncertainty than usual. We have faced these types of environments before, and do so now comforted by the knowledge that the Spirit continues to move this church to be generous with its collective resources. Thank you for your ongoing support, grace, and patience.
Finance Team Working Hard During Quarantine

While the church property is closed and the staff is working from home, there is some “essential” work being done by the finance team. Jerre Graham, our Finance Assistant, continues to go into the church office twice a week to check the mail, pick up any packages that have been delivered, deposit checks received, and process the online contributions coming in from myWPC and from text giving. 
Sharon Morgan, our Business Manager, is able to work remotely for most of her job. She visits campus once a week (on a different day than Jerre) to cut checks, process payroll, and handle any paperwork that’s come in. She also (safely) meets with vendors who need to be on campus, such as our pest control company. 
Questions about your pledges, offering, or giving during quarantine? Please email Sharon , and she’ll be happy to help.
Recommendations from WPC Staff
Things we’re listening to, reading, and doing during quarantine

Check out " Some Good News" with John Krasinski," 1 5-minute videos meant to offer us a few bright spots. You’ll get to see some wonderful people doing kind things and enjoy some laughs. Famous people show up, too! Chris Tuttle and Joye Hodges Douthart are big fans. Joye's favorite is episode four, "Prom 2020. "

What brings you comfort during these days? Email your suggestions to us, and we’ll share them in our weekly e-news and on social media.
Progress is moving right along on our new Fellowship Hall, with the interiors really beginning to take shape. Pray for the day to come soon when we can gather and enjoy time together here.
Westminster’s campus is closed through May 17. If you have questions about any of our ministries, please email the church office , and we will be in touch. Thank you.