In light of the recent Coronavirus developments and advice of public health officials, the church is open on a modified operating schedule. See below for information and updates on ways to stay connected at Westminster during this challenging time.
July 9, 2020
The saying goes, if you want to see God laugh, tell God your plans!
Last night the Session of Westminster Church met to evaluate the timing of in-person worship that was scheduled to resume on July 19. Everyone longs to return to the church for worship services. We miss the organ music, the exceptional voices of the choir being lifted to God, praying together as a church family, and coffee hour!
However, given the new directives from Allegheny County and the rising caution from many health officials, the Session voted to delay in-person worship at this time. As cases are surging locally, Session felt that in-person worship jeopardized the safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and surrounding community. Session will continue to monitor the situation over the next two weeks and meet again on Monday, July 27, 2020 to revisit the possibility of in-person worship.
This was an agonizing and heartfelt, but unanimous, vote from the leaders of the congregation. We are grateful for video worship, which will continue every Sunday to fill the void. To date, 14 members had made a reservation for in-person worship and we invite those individuals to join us for the livestream worship.
The virtual service will have a new look this week as we test the livestream service in the sanctuary. The contemporary service will be at 9:00 and the traditional service will be held at 11:00. Watch the livestream services here. The message is Abundance, speaking to God’s overflowing grace and our response in these exceptional times.
As we seek our way through the shifting terrain, we are confident of God’s presence and abiding love for us.
Together on the journey,
Rev. Louise Rogers
June 30, 2020
The Session and staff of Westminster Presbyterian Church take their responsibilities as spiritual leaders very seriously for our congregation and community. Their work and decisions over the past several months have been challenging, complex and always surrounded by prayer.
We know that the Church is not the building nor just one hour together, but we have all missed the vitality of faith, spirit, and ministries experienced when we are together for worship, fellowship, study, and service.
Even though it is impossible to completely eliminate the risks associated with gathering together, it is the responsibility and commitment of the Session, church staff, and all members to reduce the risk in gathering as much as possible. We have always made our decisions out of love and not fear.
The Session has tentatively approved in-person worship to begin July 19:
• Contemporary worship will be held at 9:00 a.m., initially, in the sanctuary.
• Traditional worship will be held at 11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary.
• Both services will be livestreamed.
In order to open effectively, the following guidelines will be put into place:
- The sanctuary will be thoroughly cleaned before and between the two services.
- All attendees should make a reservation.
- Social distancing will be maintained by designated seating.
- Facemasks are required as per the directives of the Governor and Public Health Dept.
- The offering plates will not be passed. Offering plates will be available in the Narthex.
- Hand sanitizer will be available in the Narthex.
- Ushers will dismiss attendees by row at the end of the service.
- If you wish to visit with your friends, please do so outside.
Please stay safe at home and worship via the livestream service if:
• You have been or feel ill.
• You have been exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
• You are not comfortable wearing a mask for the entire service.
Failure of congregants to comply with our guidelines could lead us to close the doors to in-person worship once again with only online worship services available.
The Session will continue to monitor the COVID-19 numbers in our area and will meet on July 8 to confirm if conditions warrant reopening at this time.
Let us move forward as Christ’s disciples “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Grace and peace,
Dr. Bruce Lancaster
I will be away in July. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Rev. Louise Rogers (firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-302-7982)
VISION TASK FORCE
Bruce Lancaster, Head of Staff
Louise Rogers, Associate Pastor
Jason Freyer, Associate Pastor
Chris Hestwood, Director of Music
Natalie Brown, Director of Children’s Ministries
Jan Baumann, Volunteer Coordinator
Kathy Long, WROC Director
Anna Hiner, Communications Manager
Jeannie Schott, Website Manager
Dave Heilman, Stewardship Elder
Jay Galbreath, Property Elder
Sue Castelli, Property Elder
Bonnie Bacik, Communications Elder
Jill Dietrich, Deacon
Ed Sutter, Director of Family Counseling
John DeSimone, WECEP Board
Dan Paul, At-Large Member
Will Hignett, At-Large Member
June 25, 2020
Even though it is impossible to completely eliminate the risks associated with gathering together, it is the responsibility and commitment of the Session, church staff, and all members to reduce the risk in gathering as much as possible. We have always made our decisions out of love for one another and trust that all our members will also decide lovingly for one another.
The church office is now open Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. -4:00 p.m.
We will follow the CDC protocols for our safety and well-being:
• Please sign in/sign out at the church office entrance.
• Masks will be worn in the church hallways and are available at the entrance.
• Hand sanitizer is available.
• Social distancing guidelines will always be observed.
• The offices are cleaned routinely.
Let us move forward as Christ’s disciples “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 2-3)
May 20, 2020
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:6-7
I have kept Paul’s words close to my heart in these uncertain and anxious times. I pray they are words of comfort and strength for you as well.
I am writing after our Session meeting Monday night to share with you the ways Westminster Presbyterian Church will continue its mission of faith, hope, love, and joy as we move into the Yellow Phase of life in the pandemic. These are not easy decisions, and yet with great prayer and hope, we seek to follow Christ’s call to love one another, especially the most vulnerable in our congregation and community.
Yellow Phase Modified Operating Schedule
1. All gatherings of more than 25 are prohibited. Therefore, we will continue to only offer online Worship Services on Sunday morning for the Bridge and Sanctuary worship.
2. The Church Office will operate on a modified reopening schedule:
- The church office will be open Monday - Thursday, 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
- Staff will be in the office on staggered days.
- Where feasible, staff will work from home but available if you call the church at 412-835-6630.
3. The Church Office will be open with strict protocols, following CDC guidelines:
- Visitors must take their temperature before coming to the church and must wear a mask while at the church.
- The doors will remain locked. Please call for an appointment if you need to see someone.
- Upon entering, there will be a sign-in/sign-out sheet for everyone to use, and hand sanitizer will be available.
- No more than two people in an office at one time and social distancing will be observed in the hallways.
- Cleaning of all offices will be done on a weekly basis.
4. Jason, Louise and I will continue to provide pastoral care, but understand that it will be largely through phone calls, emails, text messages, and video conferencing.
5. We continue to provide outreach and support of our missions:
- Our monthly contributions through Outreach are fully funded.
- We had a special offering and gave $6500 to SHIM for their food bank.
- We will have Food Drop Off on Pentecost Sunday for our support of the Food to Go program that feeds children during the summer.
6. We are aware that financial situations have been drastically affected in these difficult days. Your Pledge is a Faith Promise, not a contract. If you need to adjust your pledge, please contact Cindy Bingham x201 so that we can adjust our financial planning for the Church. That being said, we appreciate the generous support we have received. Please continue your support of the church as you can. If you gave through the Offering Plate, you can mail your offering or drop it off at the office. Read more about the different options available for giving. Please be assured that giving online or by text is secure.
7. Children and Youth ministries continue! Soon we will welcome the spring Confirmation Class of high school students.. Youth Sunday is being planned for June 7, 2020. Vacation Bible School is being modified to a virtual at home offering called BOLT. Veritas and JAM youth groups meet weekly with Zoom calls to stay in touch and have fun remotely.
8. Forward in Faith is moving ahead with two major projects: the parking lot paving and steeple repairs. Thank you for your generous contributions that make this possible!
9. Share your needs: These are uncertain days. Let us know your worries and we will pray with you. Let us know if you need help with shopping or prescriptions, etc. Our Deacons and others are willing to serve. Let us know your concerns and we will do our best to respond. We are the body of Christ and God has given us all we need to care for one another in this and every day.
10. Finally, but really first of all, love one another. God has gifted us with an amazing community of faith. We are called to be ready to stand together in love, fighting fear with our confidence and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing that we walk with Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Grace and peace,
Dr. Bruce Lancaster
Interim Senior Pastor
May 7, 2020
While all of us are eager to resume in-person activities, the Session has a sacred responsibility as spiritual leaders of the church to provide for worship, nurture, and service. The well-being and care for our members, our friends, and for all in our community who are hurting is our highest priority.
We will continue to be guided by government and public health directives, and we will follow the phases of Red, Yellow, and Green as we create a plan to be as prepared as possible to reopen. Until that time comes, we will remain closed.
Even as I write those words of the church being closed, I need to remember that I am writing about the facility, the building. The Church is not closed…you are the church wherever you are to carry the good news of Jesus Christ into a hurting world.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help will come the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” - Psalm 121:1-2
Grace and Peace,
Interim Senior Pastor
April 22, 2020
We are living into a new reality. Nothing will ever be as it was. There will be no switch to flip that returns us to life before COVID-19. This is true for our families, our work, and for Westminster Presbyterian Church.
How we are the church, how we do church has changed: recorded worship services, Zoom meetings, Facebook and website communications, and receiving contributions are just a few of the practices that have taken on a new life. We can no longer say “We don’t do that here,” or “We’ve never done it this way.”
We don’t know exactly when, but we know the day is coming when we will reopen. A task force for reopening is being launched to address the pertinent issues as we reopen and thrive as a caring church community in the wake of the coronavirus. The task force will develop policies and guidelines for the programs and usage of the church including worship. Members of the task force will include staff, elders from particular commissions, and representatives from the mental health and public health fields.
We need to be flexible in how we support one another as we live through the coming weeks, as we make plans to reopen, and as we work together after we reopen. I see this as an opportunity for us to grow in new areas, to expand our ministries, and to serve Christ in creative ways!
Grace and Peace,
Interim Senior Pastor
April 8, 2020
We continue to keep the church doors closed through April 30. These are difficult words to write. Yet, if we are honest in our answer to Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be healed,” then we are doing what we need to do in the midst of this pandemic.
But waiting is not easy, and like the psalmist, we cry, “How long, O Lord...”
That is why I appreciate Thomas Merton’s prayer: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so….though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. In Jesus, Amen.”
Let us remember that the steadfast love of God is the foundation of our faith, our hope, and our love for one another. I am firmly convinced that with that foundation, your commitment, faith, support, and prayers will see us through our waiting for the time the church doors reopen!
Grace and peace,
Interim Senior Pastor
March 25, 2020
We are being forced to distance ourselves socially in these days, yet at the same time we are being reminded to embrace our humanity: To take care of people over profit; where the weak share the strength of the strong; the old are supported by the young; where pain and sorrow and despair find compassion, joy, and hope.
Our church members have proven their strength in difficult times this past year, and I am strengthened knowing that we keep each other in our prayers. We know that we will come out of this, trusting God’s steadfast love.
We have decided that the church campus will continue to be closed through Easter Sunday. We will continue to offer virtual worship – socially distant but spiritually connected. Please continue to monitor the website for updates and messages.
Grace and peace,
Interim Senior Pastor
A Message of Hope
March 24, 2020
In these uncertain and rapidly changing times, here at Westminster Church we continue to care and minister together by gathering for virtual worship and loving our neighbors through creative connections as we trust our God.
Our youth are now able to meet through Zoom meetings and the Deacons, along with others, are contacting our members to offer support. Reaching out to the wider community is happening as we partner with SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Movement) on a food drive. Yes, the church is moving forward and you are invited to join us!
-- Louise Rogers, Associate Pastor for Congregational Care
Sunday, March 22, 2020
March 20, 2020
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Sunday, March 22 Worship
On Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. you can worship with your Westminster family by watching our 25-minute worship service. Please visit the church YouTube page here. This week Jason Freyer will be leading music and Bruce Lancaster and Louise Rogers will be offering the message and prayers.
Short videos of inspiration featuring our pastors and staff will encourage us in our faith during this time. Subscribe to the church YouTube channel so you won't miss anything!
Friday emails will continue to keep you updated with the latest church news. Please send your prayer concerns and joys to Louise Rogers. Personal visits are not allowed at this time but pastors are still connecting in other ways.
Lenten Devotional 2020
As we continue in the season of Lent, enjoy a special Lenten Devotional 2020 which was written by members of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Access the devotional from the church website.
Care Calls will be happening next week. The Deacons and others from the congregation will be reaching out to all members of the congregation. Contact Louise Rogers if you would like to help make calls!
Church ScheduleChurch is closed which includes all worship services, activities, and meetings for the next two weeks. You can call 412-835-6630 to contact a pastor or speak to someone in the church office.
GivingPlease keep your giving current so that our church remains financially healthy.
• Mail your check payable to Westminster Presbyterian Church
• Give online at www.westminster-church.org/give
• Contact Cindy Bingham, church business manager, at 412-835-6630x201
Schedule Updates and Closures
March 16, 2020
These are turbulent times, but as Louise reminded us yesterday, our trust is in God who loves us and is faithful to us always. Even with the disruptions of our routines, we will move through these days together, living out what it means to be Westminster Presbyterian Church: A Caring Community of Faith.
In light of the recent Coronavirus developments and advice of public health officials, we have decided to close the church campus beginning tomorrow, March 17, through Tuesday, March 31.
This means that all activities and meetings at Westminster, including WROC programs, are canceled during this time, and the church office will be closed.
If you need to contact a pastor or staff member, please call the church office and connect with them through their voice mail or you may email them. Pastors are always available through the on-call system which you can utilize by calling 412-835-6630.
Blessings of Peace and Comfort,
March 15, 2020
We are living in unusual times!
From NASCAR to the National Symphony, events are being cancelled. And now Pennsylvania public schools along with colleges and Universities are closing. We are in a challenging time.
As Christians, we need to stay rooted and grounded. We need to be the ones who resist panic and fear. We need to be prayerful and be reading our Bibles. We need to be the ones who are kind, patient, generous, and hopeful.
This Sunday morning we recorded a worship service from Westminster Church. You will find an uplifting message, beautiful music along with prayers and updates about our life together. Together we will be strong in the Lord’s spirit!