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News - News, June

Update from the Task Force on Campus Use

At its recent meeting, the Task Force on Campus Use agreed Westminster should generally maintain its current building use protocols (staff working remotely as much as possible; no in-person worship; no groups in building) with some modest adjustments:
  • Increase capacity in the sanctuary for Sunday streaming team to 15 people.
  • Allow special services in sanctuary (weddings/funerals only) for up to 25 people.
  • Allow groups up to 25 to meet outside on church property, by reservation, with proper social distancing, masks, using own chairs, no access to building.
The Task Force will meet again on July 16, and may consider protocols for small groups meeting in the building, due to Chester County moving to a Green Phase. We do not recommend in-person Sunday worship due to safety concerns; cleaning demands between services; the limitations of our space to accommodate large groups with physical distancing; and the infrastructure required to invite people into the building (pre-registration to attend; seating instructions; bathroom use; personal safety and hygiene equipment). You can find detailed protocols for current building use here.

Westminster is Sewing Masks

We’ve got you covered!! Westminster is sewing masks to have available for the congregation and our guests, once the church building reopens for in-person gatherings. We also will make this mask supply available to local community partners in need. For detailed directions click here. Questions? Contact Pastor Ann.

WPC Covid-19 Fund

At its recent meeting, the Session of Westminster authorized establishing a “Covid-19 Fund” for the purpose of meeting the needs of individuals impacted by Covid-19.  The initiative for this fund came from WPC members and friends asking for a way to donate funds, over and above their regular church giving, to assist individual households. Several people asked to be able to contribute their government stimulus checks for this purpose. Disbursement of funds will be confidential, and will be authorized by two of the pastors. Funds will be paid to organizations – landlords, utility companies, auto loans, etc. – on behalf of individuals in need. If you would like to donate funds, simply write “Covid-19” on the memo line of a check and send it to Donna Harrison at the church. If you, or someone you know is in need of financial assistance due to Covid-19, please contact one of the pastors.

Spotlight on a WPC Small Business: The Allele Group

Westminster member and Elder, Monica Justice owns The Allele Group. She works with entrepreneurial business owners that have between 10-250 people to help them implement a complete business operating system with proven tools to help them get three things she calls them: Vision, Traction, and Healthy.
  • Vision is about getting the team 100% on the same page with where they are going long term
  • Traction means that they start executing on that vision with focus, discipline and accountability
  • Healthy means that they start working together as a more cohesive and functional team.
Monica welcomes the opportunity to connect with any business owners from our WPC congregation and give them 90 minutes of her time to share more about how she works with clients and see if she might be able to help them during this difficult time. Click here to view Monica's LinkedIn profile or click here to email her.

Stephen Ministry Program

Our Stephen Ministry program continues to offer compassionate assistance during the pandemic. Our trained Stephen Ministers are available to meet via virtual technology or in outdoor, one-on-one, in-person visits (with appropriate safety precautions). During this season of greater uncertainty, stress, isolation, and grief, you may find it helpful to speak and pray with a Stephen Minister. If you are interested in learning more about the Christ-centered care available through Westminster’s Stephen Ministry program, please contact Pastor Ann.

Spotlight on Angels Against Addiction

Imagine you or a loved one just got your life back on track after a battle with addiction. You have a safe place to stay, people there to help you and a job that you look forward to everyday. But then COVID takes that all away. Since the pandemic struck, Angels Against Addiction has collaborated with Steps4Hope and the Phightin’ Frankie Foundation. Since April we have provided $45,000 in emergency grant funding to bridge the gap for 12+ plus recovery homes in Chester and Delaware Counties. Without this funding these homes would be in danger of closing their doors leaving those in early recovery without a safe place and in danger of relapsing. Your donation to Angels Against Addiction can help us to continue to save lives of those in recovery from the disease of addiction. 

Westminster Thrift Shop Update

These past few months have been challenging for everyone, and we hope that you are safe and healthy amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Westminster Thrift Shop Board of Directors, manager, and volunteers have been meeting, sometimes weekly, via Zoom, discussing above all, when we will be able to reopen the Westminster Thrift Shop. At the present time, a subcommittee has been reviewing guidelines of the CDC, Donegal Presbytery, and the state of Pennsylvania, in order for us to provide a safe and healthy environment for our volunteers and customers, upon reopening in September. We ask for your patience in holding your donations until we feel it is safe to donate them. In the meantime, we will provide updates via the church emails. We look forward to seeing everyone when we open in September.

Guys Bible Study Begins!

This group for any guy (high school, college, beyond) is welcome whatever their schedule allows and will explore the Bible using material from BibleProject.com. They meet Tuesday nights via Zoom from 7-8pm. For more info or to get on the distribution list, contact Rich Birkenmaier.

Calling all Small Business Owners

As Pennsylvania reopens, we would like to support your small businesses. Send the name, location and details about your business to Terri Penningtonand we will be sure to highlight it in upcoming emails.

Offering of Letters to Congress

Westminster is participating in a virtual Bread for the World’s Offering of Letters to Congress. This year once again focuses on nutrition, which includes those experiencing hunger in the United States. This has taken on greater urgency with the coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic. The economic fall from the pandemic will cause hunger to become more widespread in the U.S. and worldwide. The number of people experiencing extreme hunger globally could nearly double to 265 million according to the U.N. World Food Program. Make your voice heard by clicking hereand follow the easy instructions to email Congress. Questions? Contact Kim Benfer.

Spotlight on North Star & COVID-19

North Star guides Chester County’s single working parents with dependent children who are at risk of homelessness toward stability and financial independence. They help families remain in clean, safe affordable housing as they work to secure their future through a structured program of financial assistance, mentoring, and support services. During the COVID-19 Pandemic they did NOT close, they continued having monthly budget meetings and included a separate meeting with families to conduct wellness checks, address layoffs, unemployment benefits, stimulus payments and tax refunds. At last count, 9 of their 27 parents had been laid off. The others have been working the front lines at low paying jobs, and have been providing needed services that would be considered essential.
North Star’s expenses are significantly higher this year than last. One year ago they were
supporting 14 families per month and now they are helping on average 24 families a month. Last month they provided rental assistance to 26 families and next month 27 families. They also decided to not pursue their normal practice of gradually decreasing rental assistance during the pandemic. All families are receiving the same or more during this trying time. 
As they move forward in the re-opening process, they anticipate the support for these families will be on an even greater scale than before as the full effects of the pandemic continue to be felt. Any support provided will be used to continue this important work with both existing and new participants. Click here to learn more and make a donation

Join Us in the 21-Day Challenge

Amos 5:24 24
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.
Members and Friends of Westminster Presbyterian Church,
Our hearts are heavy as we watch the overwhelming anger, hatred and violence that have become a near constant scourge in our communities, our nation and the world. We lament and grieve the racism that continues to pervade our society, and what seems to be a growing disregard for some human lives. Our sighs are too deep for words, and yet we recognize our silence is unacceptable and unfaithful.
The events of last week, and the voice of God’s Spirit on Pentecost, have led us as Westminster’s teaching staff to a new commitment. We have each promised to participate in what is called the 21-Day Race Equity Challenge. We hope you will join us. Please watch this video to learn what this is about, why we are doing this, and why we are inviting you journey with us.

Campus Use Message from Pastor Don & Task Force

As you may have read in my message of May 26, we’ve formed a Task Force of uniquely skilled church members to accomplish one goal: develop a detailed plan for Session to follow, when the time is right, to bring everyone back to our building, and keep everyone safe in the process. We share the desire to be together again, but we also understand how serious this virus can be. Any plan to gather must first be attentive to the safety of our congregation, many of whom may be at higher risk.
The task force has met and is reviewing the guidelines available from the CDC, Donegal Presbytery, and the state of Pennsylvania, as well as real-life experiences of other churches, school systems, and hospitals, which have also begun such planning. There are still more questions than answers surrounding Covid-19, and a myriad of issues must be examined and addressed to have a workable and safe plan to return. These issues include: 
  • physical space and capacity limitations due to distancing requirements
  • building access limitations and restrictions
  • facility preparedness and cleaning accommodations
  • safety and security measures for members and staff at increased risk of infection
Our region is currently in the state-designated “red zone”, but when we’ve moved to yellow, that status will still not allow for us to gather safely. Even when moved to green, it’s important to know that does not mean everything is “back to normal.” We may have to consider doing many things differently. We need to provide an environment where our congregation can be safe and feel comfortable in worship together. It may not be possible to open everything at once. A phased approach may be considered to meet these needs. 
Given the issues we must address, the task force believes it is unlikely we will be able to re-open the building for in-person worship before the end of the summer.
The task force will meet regularly to continue reviewing all available information as we develop plans to bring us back together. We will keep you informed of our progress. We welcome any comments, and we covet your prayers for our work. 
In the interim, let us all continue to “be the church” and bring the Gospel’s message of love, hope and joy to all. Let us continue to seek ways to help people in need and support those whose life circumstances make this pandemic especially difficult. Let us continue to worship, pray, study, ZOOM, email, call, and do all the things we can, right now, to be the salt and light of the world. And when we can all do so safely, we will gather in-person again to celebrate and worship together.
May God continue to bless Westminster’s ministry during this challenging season.

Meet Our Task Force

Last Tuesday, Westminster’s Session endorsed the following members of a Task Group formed to assess and make recommendations on the use of Westminster’s campus during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Task Group has its first meeting this evening.
While we look forward to the day when we will be back together, we do not know when that day will be, or what it will look like when the time comes. We are not only governed by the civil authorities on these matters, but are also under the authority of Donegal Presbytery, which has established guidelines for congregational opening. The group below, along with Church Administrator Gerry McShane and me as head of staff, will work to provide the Session with recommendations for safety protocols related to any ministries on Westminster’s campus. Please keep the group in prayer.
  • Steve Brown; MA in Public Administration in Health Services; Retired hospital and healthcare systems CEO. Current Westminster Trustee; member for 2 years.
  • Karen Finley, BSN RN; Retired nurse and case manager from Chester County Hospital. Current Westminster Deacon; member for 45 years.
  • Scott Lockledge, Ph.D., scientist and entrepreneur in global companies; CEO and co-founder of two nanotechnology start-up enterprises; experience crafting and advising on science policy in Congress and the White House. Current Westminster Elder; member for 12 years.
  • Jim Scanlon, Ph.D., superintendent of the West Chester Area School District since 2009; previously teacher, principal, superintendent; member for 2 years.
  • Steve Simonson, M.D. Senior VP and Chief Medical Officer for Windtree Therapeutics, a biotech company developing therapies for respiratory disease; member for 23 years.
  • Barb Sivek, COO; CHIME Foundation – which provides strategic leadership for five major healthcare industry supported foundations. Resting Westminster elder; member for 38 years.
So, for the present time, let me remind you, the CHURCH is NOT CLOSED! While our building may not be open, you and I know the church is being the church – in worship, in prayer, in fellowship, in pastoral care, in study, in mission and ministry. Friends, let us all continue to “BE THE CHURCH” – until that time comes when it is safe for us to gather!