Peace and Justice at Westminster
…for he has appointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. - Luke 4:18
If these words of Jesus make your heart beat faster, we invite you to be part of our work for peace and justice at Westminster.
Latest News & Events
Congregations of many denominations extend the peace of Christ with a blessing during their service. “The peace of Christ be with you (and also with you).” It is a blessing offered and a blessing returned in kind. The peace of Christ is part of what our faith offers to us. Extending the peace of Christ is part of an active, engaged faith – a witness to what it means for us to be building the household of God.
On World Communion Sunday, we celebrate that Christ’s peace extends throughout all creation. We celebrate that we are all together at the table, in God’s house. Though many of us will be together in worship only virtually this year, we celebrate that we are offered what we need to continue the work of building the household of God with active peacemakers here at home and around the world.
We take action by offering a blessing of our own. Through our participation in the Peace & Global Witness Offering, our church is extending Christ’s peace throughout our community, regional efforts in our mid councils, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency for its ministries of education and partnership with active peacemakers all around the world.
The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. --Luke 4:18-19
On October 4, we gathered for a time of praying and singing, remembrance, and commitment to action. We explored how the scripture above relates to racism as we are experiencing it today, and how it calls us to change. Hear these words as a call to commitment to racial justice.
Find out how you can get engaged. Make a promise to do one new thing to end racism. Sign up for monthly emails that will include anti-racism action ideas for the next year:
In this time of racial unrest, it is important for people of faith to know what we are called to be and where we are called to stand. We need to learn how to talk to one another and to those outside our faith community. Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, through the McClure Lecture Series and World Mission Initiative promises to give us tools to engage in truthful conversation on how our understanding of race influences our mission in the world.
Read more here and access the link to register for free.
- Wednesdays, October 21 & 28
- 7:30 p.m.
|Faith Witness eNewsletters|
|October 19, 2020 -- Unconscious or Implicit Bias|
Who We Are
We are Westminster members who are longing to see the end of hunger, homelessness, racism, unfairness in incarceration, economic inequality and the deteriorating environment, and who want to learn to see all people as our brothers and sisters. We are artists, accountants, physicians, teachers, businesspeople, young, old, working and retired, new to Westminster and “long-timers”. And we are searching together for ways to help make these changes…see below for ways to connect!
Peace and Justice has been part of Westminster since 1965 when our founding pastor, Dr. John Galbreath, marched in Selma during the struggle for civil rights. In 1983 Ruth Rylander led our congregation in joining over 4,500 other Presbyterian churches in the PC(USA) Commitment to Peacemaking. In those days the focus was primarily on international peacemaking, but recently we have begun to include social justice issues such as hunger, economic inequality, racism, incarceration, and environmental concerns. In order to reflect this broadening focus, in 2015 we changed our name to Peace and Justice.
Our Ongoing Work
Every July for the last 10 years Peace and Justice has sponsored a multi-Sunday series focusing on a wide range of social justice issues, The series is held in July at 9:45 a.m. in the Galbreath Chapel.
This summer’s topic is Welcoming the Stranger: A Look at Immigration in the U.S. Visit the Westminster Seminars page to view/hear past discussions.
|2019 -- Caring for Creation: Faith, Science & Change|
|2018 -- Bringing Good News to the Poor: Poverty in the USA|
|2017 -- Many Faiths Doing Justice: Social Justice in other religious traditions: Catholicism, Judaism, Islam|
|2016 -- Thirsting for Justice: Israel/Palestine, Refugees, Hunger and Public Policy, Criminal Justice|
|2015 -- Who is My Neighbor: Discussions on Racism|
|2014 -- Creation Care: Our Footprints in Eden|
|2013 -- Pittsburgh Peacemakers: The Courage to Act (PIIN, Violence against Women, Gun Violence)|
|2012 -- Speaking the Truth in Love: Civil Conversations in an Age of Rancor|
|2011 -- Justice for the Poor (Sojourners DVD and study guide)|
|2010 -- Jimmy Carter’s book We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land|
Watch for upcoming Letter Offerings on nutrition (April 26) and immigration (September/October).
On alternate Mondays a small group of Westminster members travels together to Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church, in the city’s Hill District, to meet with a group of their members. Growing out of a February 2016 Faith, Race, Justice and Mass Incarceration workshop at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary developed along with three inner city churches, this little community of black and white Christians has been meeting since May 2016 to share concerns and discuss issues of racial and economic justice. Because all of us care deeply about these issues but none of us are experts, we have been reading and learning together from a range of authors…below are the books we have discussed so far.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, the group is currently meeting online via Zoom, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Mondays. Contact Bob Dilly for the Zoom link and codes to join the next meeting.
|Currently reading How to Be an Antiracist||Ibram Kendi|
|One Person, No Vote||Carol Anderson|
|So You Want to Talk About Race||Ijeoma Oluo|
|White Fragility||Robin DiAngelo|
|Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria||Beverly Tatum|
|White Awake||Daniel Hill|
|Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion||Gregory Boyle|
|The Common Good||Robert Reich|
|Rising out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist||Eli Saslow|
|Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI||David Gramm|
|The Souls of Black Folk||W.E.B. DuBois|
|Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust||Immaculee Ilibagiza|
|The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming Politics of Division and Fear||Rev. Dr. William J Barber III|
|Ministry for Prisoners and Families, The Way Forward||W Wilson Goode|
|Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America||Michael Eric Dyson|
|Ferguson and Faith, Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community||Leah Gunning Francis|
|The Other Wes Moore, One Name, Two Fates||Wes Moore|
|Executing Grace, How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why it’s Killing Us||Shane Claiborne|
|Urban Ministry, An Introduction||Dr. Ronald Peters|
|Letters to a Young Brother||Hill Harper|
|Locked Down, Locked Out, Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better||Maya Schenwar|
|America’s Original Sin, Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America||Jim Wallis|
|Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption||Bryan Stevenson|
|The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness||Michelle Alexander|
At least as important as what we are learning is what we are becoming…a community of people who care for one another…we are learning about each others’ life experiences, fears, challenges, and hopes for the future. We are not colorblind…we are exploring the ways in which race affects all of these.
If you have an interest or a concern in this area you are welcome to join in. We typically ride together in Westminster’s van.
On the first Sunday in October we celebrate both World Communion Sunday and receive the PC(USA) Peace and Global Witness Offering We celebrate both by preparing communion breads from all around the world. The offering funds are used to provide honoraria for the Summer Discussion Series
Meetings: We meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Come for the church family dinner and stay for our meeting! Watch for information in the Spire and bulletin about meeting spaces and upcoming projects.
Letter Offerings: Volunteer to staff an information table, help with stamping and addressing envelopes, research topics, help with publicity.
Ride the van to Grace: Every other Monday night we meet in Westminster’s South lot at 5:40 and ride together to our Grace Book Club.