…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!
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|
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…here are the books we have discussed so far.
|The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness||Michelle Alexander|
|Just Mercy, A Story of Justice and Redemption||Bryan Stevenson|
|America’s Original Sin, Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America||Jim Wallis|
|Locked Down, Locked Out, Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better||Maya Schenwar|
|Letters to a Young Brother||Hill Harper|
|Urban Ministry, An Introduction||Dr. Ronald Peters|
|Executing Grace, How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why it’s Killing Us||Shane Claiborne|
|The Other Wes Moore, One Name, Two Fates||Wes Moore|
|Ferguson and Faith, Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community||Leah Gunning Francis|
|Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America||Michael Eric Dyson|
|Ministry for Prisoners and Families, The Way Forward||W Wilson Goode|
|The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming Politics of Division and Fear||Rev. Dr. William J Barber III|
|Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust||Immaculee Ilibagiza|
|The Souls of Black Folk||W.E.B. DuBois|
|Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI||David Gramm|
|Rising out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist||Eli Saslow|
|The Common Good||Robert Reich|
|Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion||Gregory Boyle|
|White Awake||Daniel Hill|
|Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria||Beverly Tatum|
|White Fragility||Robin DiAngelo|
|Currently reading So You Want to Talk About Race||Ijeoma Oluo|
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.