Westminster Presbyterian Church is starting the second phase of a capital campaign designed to raise a half-million dollars. About half that amount has been raised, and the church is now going public to raise the rest. If you’re not a churchgoer (and fewer people are these days), you could easily assume that Sunday is the most active day of the week at Westminster. You would be wrong. Serving God and His People Our building was built with a beautiful steeple pointing toward the heavens, while we seek to serve God and His people here on Earth Westminster has a long history of opening its doors to the Albany community. As a long- time member, even I was not aware of the heavy use this 88-year-old building on State Street hosts. In a typical year, we estimate that some 5,000 people enter our doors on days other than Sunday for public events. Westminster was one of the founders of the FOCUS Churches of Albany – six covenant churches united in a common calling to respond to our neighbor’s needs in the city and beyond, as God’s servant people in a broken and hurting world. The FOCUS Breakfast Program in the Westminster assembly hall serves an estimated 18,000 meals/year to 11,000 people, many of them homeless or in shelters. Our guests call it the “Breakfast Club.” Many neighbors serve as volunteers for this program. Albany Area Housing Opportunities, which provides affordable housing to help maintain diversity in the Center Square Neighborhood, was born at Westminster. Its sanctuary is host to dozens of musical events every year. (That’s in addition to Sunday services, always open to all.) Community groups such as the Center Square Neighborhood Association and Save the Pine Bush use the building on a regular basis. Westminster hosts a variety of support groups, arts groups, music students, exercise classes, and dancers both young and old. EBA is one of our newer tenants. Last year the Albany County Land Bank held its public hearing at Westminster. People travel long distances to attend events like African Family Nights and a variety of public meetings. The church believes that our proximity to the Capital is in itself a ministry, and it opens its doors as a staging area for a number of statewide advocacy groups who arrive by bus from New York City and other cities. All of these events, programs, and services are free to the public as a matter of church policy. In order to serve as we feel called in our community, we must invest in our building so we can continue in a safe and practical way. Half of the Capital Campaign money will be used to restore and upgrade the spaces most used by the public — the assembly hall, the meeting rooms, bathrooms, etc. We will ensure that all spaces are easily accessible to those with disabilities. We have plans to turn the small chapel into a multi-purpose space that will provide an alternative to the large hall or the more formal Welles Room. Our Beautiful Steeple Points to the Heavens and Needs Some “TLC” But that’s just a small part of how this building serves the community. The Capital Campaign will also enable Westminster to restore its severely deteriorated steeple, with work scheduled to begin this spring. Imagine the Center Square skyline without the Westminster steeple set against the imposing government buildings. Woven Together in Broad Diversity and Radical Hospitality Westminster’s motto is, “Woven together in broad diversity and radical hospitality.” That does not just happen once a week. While church membership may be down in urban areas, Westminster remains an important resource for our Albany community. To learn more about Westminster and the Capital Campaign, visit www.wpcalbany.org email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call the church office at (518) 436-8544. Donations can be made online at www.wpcalbany.org/give or sent to 85 Chestnut St., Albany, N.Y. 12210, with checks payable to Westminster Presbyterian Church (“Capital Campaign” in the memo line.) Tom McPheeters is a long-time member of Westminster and is currently a ruling
elder. He has lived in Albany for half his life.