…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.

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!

Our History

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. Watch the Spire and the bulletin for details.

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
One of the ways that we can serve others is by working for fairness through legislation. In recent years we have addressed a number of issues by inviting Westminster members to write letter to congress following our worship services. We provide background information, stamps, envelopes, addresses and sample letters. We have worked primarily with bipartisan organizations such as Bread for the World on issues such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and other nutritional programs, and also with Citizens’ Climate Lobby on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. So far we have sent nearly 500 letters to Congress on various topics.

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.

TITLEAUTHOR
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of ColorblindnessMichelle Alexander
Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and RedemptionBryan Stevenson
America’s Original Sin, Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New AmericaJim Wallis
Locked Down, Locked Out, Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do BetterMaya Schenwar
Letters to a Young BrotherHill Harper
Urban Ministry, An IntroductionDr. Ronald Peters
Executing Grace, How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why it’s Killing UsShane Claiborne
The Other Wes Moore, One Name, Two FatesWes Moore
Ferguson and Faith, Sparking Leadership and Awakening CommunityLeah Gunning Francis
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White AmericaMichael Eric Dyson
Ministry for Prisoners and Families, The Way ForwardW Wilson Goode
The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming Politics of Division and FearRev. Dr. William J Barber III
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan HolocaustImmaculee Ilibagiza
The Souls of Black FolkW.E.B. DuBois
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBIDavid Gramm
Rising out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White NationalistEli Saslow
The Common GoodRobert Reich
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless CompassionGregory Boyle
White AwakeDaniel Hill
Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the CafeteriaBeverly Tatum
White FragilityRobin DiAngelo
So You Want to Talk About RaceIjeoma Oluo
Currently reading One Person, No VoteCarol Anderson


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

Connect!

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.

To connect with any of these efforts, contact Barbara Myers or Bobbie Hartman.