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Pastor's Corner


Grace and peace to you Westminster friends!

We have a jam-packed Sunday this week. I hope to see you for the festivities.

  • Blended service: 10:30am (only)

  • Congregational meeting at beginning of service to elect new elders:

    • Cheryl Lugenbill (Class of 2025/Family)

    • Terri Crall (Class of 2025/Children’s)

    • Nancy MacMorris-Adix (Class of 2025/Nominating)

    • Luanne Barnes (Class of 2025/Youth)

    • Katie Nelson (Class of 2025/Outreach)

  • Retirement recognition of Cheryl Lugenbill.

  • Reader’s theater for the Woman at the Well (John 4)

  • Ordination/installation of elders

  • Donations for the Center for Hope & Safety

  • A fun, new congregational poll (available online and paper copies)

  • Some hymns, some contemporary songs – there is something for everyone!

All areas of the sanctuary are available for social distancing.

As we near what is (hopefully) the peak of this omicron surge, I am mindful that a number of our church members, friends and family have experienced covid this past week and are quarantining and recovering. We are praying for each of you. These are the times when we must root down into that sacred spirit of life and lean a little bit less on our own capabilities; that universal stream of living water will carry us through if we can rest in its warm currents. Let each of us cling to those ancient virtues of grace and forbearance so that grumbling, complaining, and negativity are unable to get a foothold in our community.

  • If you can offer a kind word instead of a harsh one – this is the time to do it.

  • If you can offer appreciation for someone whose job requires them to work in-person - this is the time to do it.

  • If you can articulate what is right and good around you, rather than what is wrong and unpleasant – this is the time to do it.

  • If you can offer rest, respite or refuge to a tired friend – this is the time to do it. 

Ever onward,

Pastor Kelly

Here is the quote of the week not just for children but perhaps to lift the souls of the adults as well. 


“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”

― William Martin, The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents


Grace and peace to you friends –

Last week in worship, I asked you to share your engagement with the first two words of our mission statement “creatively sharing.” Music, choir, fine arts, children’s ministry, and housing outreach were mentioned as places that tap into the innovative and creative spirit at Westminster. I definitely have witnessed this. These three areas - music and the arts, children/youth/families, and immigrants/low-income/housing are constitutive elements of Westminster’s call in the world. What does it mean to approach music, families, and homelessness with a spirit of curiosity and love during these unprecedented times? As Westminster embodies her mission and considers how to strategically plan for the year ahead where do you see creativity at work around us? In the coming weeks, we will continue with “…Christ’s love…” and then take a look at “…we welcome...”

Ever onward,

Pastor Kelly



Welcome to 2022!  Or as the Roman god Janus (after which we named our month ‘January’) has depicted with his face simultaneously looking both backwards and forwards, it is a time of thresholds, doors, and new beginnings.

Over the holidays, the members of Westminster received a letter from myself and the Session about a portion of what we have worked on over the past year together. We utilized a professional consultant to gather quite a large amount of information about Westminster stretching back 3-5 years and then consolidate the findings. Session has received that report and will be considering the recommendations in the months to come. Throughout these conversations as well as throughout all of 2021, I have listened closely to the heart of this congregation and I want to share with you a bit of what I have heard. For many members, friends, and guests, Westminster has been a place of:

  • Meaningful and lasting friendships

  • Spiritual nurture and mutual sharing

  • Music and art opportunities

  • Concrete, integrated service to the city of Salem

  • Modern, vibrant educational opportunities that stretch and challenge


That’s just to name a few. I have also heard a desire to:

  • focus more of our attention on cultivating ministry to families,

  • fostering more community partnerships,

  • developing a wide and welcoming presence

  • tackling some of the current questions of the day in our culture.

A couple places of loss and pain that’s I’ve heard are:

  • The loss of connections due to Covid

  • The strain of learning to thrive in a post-covid world

  • Saying goodbye to a beloved pastor

  • Worry about being ‘left behind’


I want to assure you that all of these are completely normal. Change often comes our way on its own terms and does not stop to ask us if we are ready. (If only!) The past few years have brought both challenges and opportunities for Westminster. In our collective life, we practice “mutual concern, active support, and lifting up one another in prayer”- a description of the ministry of Presbyterian members to one another (G.1.0304). We do not practice these qualities only with those that we like or who are similar to us – our bubble, our tribe, or our friends. The beauty of the faith community is that we seek to be disciplined enough to practice these traits in all of our work together. Likewise, we treat gossip, rumors, inuendo, intimidation, or menacing actions as detrimental to the health and unity of the church.  I write this as gently as possible only because there are some signs that these things are taking place in some corners of the congregation.


God is the center of our existence together. As we will read in John 1:1 on Sunday in worship, “In the beginning was the Word.”  This word ‘beginning’ can mean at the starting point of a chronological timeline but more importantly it means “origin, source of action, or first principle.”  Essentially, our focal point. We will also celebrate Baptism of the Lord Sunday and revisit our baptismal covenants which are grounded in God and connected to one another.


Our mission: “Creatively sharing Christ’s love, we welcome, we serve, we grow.”


Ever onward,

Pastor Kelly


“For nothing is fixed,

forever and forever and forever,

it is not fixed;

the earth is always shifting,

the light is always changing,

the sea does not cease to grind down rock.

Generations do not cease to be born,

and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.

The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us.

The moment we cease to hold each other,

The moment we break faith with one another,

The sea engulfs us and the light goes out."

           -Nothing Personal by James Baldwin


Pastor Kelly

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