Response to Racism
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:1-2
Alabama Pilgrimage: March 2022
Sponsored by Westminster Presbyterian Church and Northwood Presbyterian Church in Silver Spring, the trip will be led by Reverend Larry Hayward (Westminster) and Reverend Maggie Hayward (Northwood). On this trip, we will be exposed to the political, cultural, and even agricultural landscape of the South, which was fundamentally shaped by the institution of slavery and its after-effects; and the way some of the world’s most vibrant and distinctive musical styles impacted the Movement. We will grow together in faith and in knowledge of our nation’s history and present.
The Therefore Committee has met extensively to craft a series of recommendations which have been approved by the Session, including: evaluating and expanding our formation and mission opportunities and personnel procedures; reviewing policies and practices that ensure minority-owned businesses are able to compete for Church business; adding to the church library; and promoting civil rights pilgrimages. The committee also crafted some broader guiding principles to assist their own deliberations and offered to the Session as potentially useful for future Sessions dealing with controversial societal events.
It is fair to say that this effort is but the beginning of an awareness and focus by our congregation. Please join us in these efforts to help Westminster “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” so that we may welcome and support all people and help our society do the same.
In September 2020, following the re-emergence of racism to a greater consciousness on our nation--through new, prominent cases of Black people killed by police officers and by the disproportionately poor outcomes of COVID-19 borne by those of color--the Session created The Therefore Project to lead and evaluate Westminster's past and present as a congregation concerning racial issues.
This special committee of Session and congregation members will discern, consider, and propose changes concerning any aspects of our life as a congregation that would seek to provide constructive movement toward the ideals that every human being is created "in the image of God," and that would seek to respect and perhaps strengthen the diversity of viewpoints and perspectives within the Session or congregation.
In addition, as a church, we continue to encourage and celebrate the many individuals in the congregation who seek to alleviate racial injustice in ways visible and invisible, public and private.
To ensure the Therefore Committee would be as representative as possible and well-established for success, the nominating committee for the Therefore Project - Mary Filicetti, Sue Aland, and Tim Shaw - developed a set of guidelines for its membership search. The Therefore Project nominating team first identified names across categories such as: gender, age, political beliefs, professional background, and, to the extent possible, ethnicity.
The team successfully aimed for equal gender balance and have recruited people from a range of age groups, including two youth, which it thought would be valuable. It also believes members represent both the traditional right and left of the political spectrum, with no one extreme and no one unable to “cross the aisle” as needed. It also put a premium on past or existing Westminster leadership roles.
Obviously, at Westminster there are limited choices for committee members of color, but such representation on the Therefore Project is of utmost importance. Happily, we have two people among the approved names that can provide the valuable perspective of being of color in our society.
Finally, the team identified some individuals with valuable experience and perspectives that, while they are not on the committee, are critical interviewees by the committee. These people include, but are not limited to, Westminster staff and members with law enforcement ties. The Therefore Project will reach well beyond its own membership in these and other ways as it commences its work.
With this background, the initial members of the Therefore Project Committee are:
Whit Ayres (Co-Chair, appointed by Session)
Anne Ledyard (Co-Chair, appointed by Session)
Conrad McIntosh (youth)
Kristina Myers (youth)