Looking Back On 2021
Hear a brief word from your Pastors and Intern,
as they share a few highlights of this past year.
This past year was extraordinary in many ways–extraordinary challenges, extraordinary gifts, and extraordinary accomplishments. Through the continued challenges presented by an ongoing pandemic, Westwood has been blessed with skilled leaders and a talented, courageous staff who share their gifts with our congregation and surrounding community. As a result, we were able to make solid financial decisions, maintain our momentum, and keep WECC open. With the support of our congregation, we have been able to continue growing our ministries and fulfilling our key missions.
Specific accomplishments from 2021 include:
Prayer of Good Courage Affirmation & Rise Early Childcare Development
Securing Grants and receiving gifts to maintain a stable financial picture
Development of Pastoral Transition Proposal & Communication Plan
Support of Racial Justice & Equity Work
On behalf of the Council, I am thankful to be involved in the meaningful work at Westwood and honored to be serving our Westwood community. Thank you to Westwood staff and each member of our congregation for your vital contributions to our thriving ministries.
+Laura Ramsborg, Council President
Scott and his family have been members of Westwood for over 10 years. Both of their kids (Cameron 11; Gabe 8) have been baptized at Westwood and grew up in the Westwood Childcare system. Like all families with kids at this age, Scott and his wife, Sally, stay busy driving from one activity to another. Scott has been involved in St. Louis Park most recently with 4 years of volunteer service at the SLP Fire Department and has coached 15 different youth teams in the past 6 years.
Deb, her husband Mark, and their family have been members at Westwood for 34 years. She currently is the lead for “Westwood Made” for the Holiday Fair. In the past, she has been involved with handbells and the youth program.
Mark and his wife Betsy, have been members at Westwood for 20+ years. They were married at Westwood and their two daughters, Sophie and Emma were also baptized here. Mark and Betsy both volunteer in Westwood’s Youth Education programs. Sophie was confirmed in 2021 and Emma is in 8th grade confirmation.
Re-Elected for Year 2
Luke Hoffman, Brenda Knutson, and Lindsay Melander
Finishing their Term on Council
Lanica Klein, Kurt Koubal, and Shelby Straus
At-Large Council Member
My family and I have been members for about 3 ½ years as Westwood just felt like the right community for us and we felt naturally welcome. You’ll find us in the front row of the early service and at family activities.
I work at Target HQ (i.e., my basement) in Finance. Outside of work you’ll find me cooking up a storm, in the garden wishing I could grow even more of my own food to cook, or out on bike trails around the city.
As I reflect on the past 22 months it has brought so much growth for me as a person. Enduring what this pandemic has wrought, however, has left me wanting to find new challenges and outlets to make a difference. Being a member of the council and this amazing community fits perfectly for me to grow even more as a member of this congregation.
At-Large Council Member
I’ve been a member at Westwood for 18 years. I can mostly be found following my 3 boys around to their youth activities!
I work in the medical device field in clinical research at Becton Dickinson. I also help coach the soccer teams for the boys and act as a chauffeur for their activities. I enjoy running and baking!
I want to serve on Council because I love Westwood! We got married here, baptized all three boys here, were here 6 days a week for many years between the kids learning at WECC and church, and overall, it's a very important community for all of us. I believe in and value this community. I look forward to being a part of the church leadership during this time of change opportunity.
Church Council Secretary
My husband and I searched for a church home for several years, planting roots here at Westwood in the fall of 2018. We couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful for Westwood’s vibrant, caring community; for the friendships, we’ve made, and for the many ways, our faith has been challenged and strengthened by Westwood’s array of ministries and offerings.
It would be an honor to give back to the church by serving on the Church Council. Recently retired, I find that I have the capacity and desire to lend a hand where I can. Serving on the council would give me a chance to do just that. Prior to retirement, I spent over 20 years in the field of education and nonprofit leadership. Thank you for your consideration.
We thank the outgoing Council members for their faithful commitment these past years
David Frank & Dan Aune (At-Large)
LaDonna Reynolds (Secretary)
I joined the choir in person this fall. Phillip, Gavin, and long-time members of the choir welcomed me to their community. Singing in a choir again after a ten-year break is like coming home. “Music has a way of piercing into the deepest parts of the soul.” Singing with others is such an emotional lift. Even though spaced and masked singing lifts my spirit and helps me stay positive in our ever-changing world. A lesson I’ve learned from the Pandemic is to do what you love and contribute what you can. I highly recommend it.
Total Gifts Given
faith giving for pledgers and non pledgers
given to the General Operating Fund
Westwood’s Racial Equity Team continues to build on anti-racism education, events, and sustaining engagement. The team has community relationships with CLNE, the MPLS Synod’s Racial Justice Liaison Team, and Adath Synagogue’s Racial Justice Team.
Luminary Walk for Equity, February 2021
Stand Together for Racial Justice, April 2021
JUSTmove Performance, Antiracism Education Through the Arts, July 2021
Westwood anti-racism resources, family education, and zoom movie nights throughout the pandemic.
All Westwood Staff have taken the Intercultural Development Inventory, are working on Intercultural Development Plans, and meet monthly for racial healing discussions.
Created a staff racial equity liaison position- including training as an IDI Qualified Administrator.
In June we held our first annual Pride Parade and resource fair! Local authors and organizations from the LBGTQIA+ community helped to make the first annual Pride Event a great success!
+15% from 2020
Worship Attendance (in-person)
Worship Attendance (livestream)
-2 due to weather
private + during worship
We've had a number of visitors in worship every week, served the Community Meal again beginning in the fall, and had the joy of many in-person gatherings and classes. There was a large group on the annual Sailing Trip, and our music groups all back offering their gifts in worship! For so many things, we are grateful, and appreciate even more the gift of community that we share at Westwood!
WECC continues to be blessed with strong enrollment, a dedicated staff, and committed families. Despite the ongoing uncertainties of the pandemic and an increase in workforce issues, WECC remains dedicated to high-quality standards and seeks opportunities for faithful reflection, innovation, and community service. This past year, we safely hosted a number of outdoor gatherings including a winter luminary walk, spring Teddy Bear Picnic, summer pizza party, fall Halloween parade, and many nature walks! We also successfully renewed our MN 4-Star Parent Aware rating, updated our Nature Explorer certification, and actively engaged in our national NAEYC accreditation review. In 2022 we will be increasing our enrollment to 86 children and once it is safe, we look forward to inviting guests into our beautiful and inspiring spaces. Thank you for continuing to keep the WECC in your prayers and supporting the work we do in His name.
Kristin, Craig, Jonah, and Emilie
Four years ago, we made the decision that Westwood would be the perfect preschool for our youngest child, Emilie. We saw groups of happy families gathered together at Wednesday Community Meals. We witnessed joyful reunions and plans for playdates being made on Sunday mornings. We felt the fellowship between families and the faith growing within each child. So when Emilie began her time at WECC during the height of pandemic precautions, we assumed our experience would be different from what had originally drawn us here. Yet the support, strength and love we have found within this beautiful community has been extraordinary. We are so thankful for Emilie’s devoted teachers and the rest of the incredible WECC staff. Thanks to their compassion, dedication and strength, Emilie has had tremendous growth, and our family has a renewed connection with Westwood as a whole.
2021 saw Westwood continue to support our partners despite an ongoing pandemic. Many thanks to the Westwood Community Partnership team for their guidance and to all of you for the ways you continue to work for the thriving of our world through this congregation’s efforts.
Here are some highlights from 2021:
The name of this ministry area was changed from “Outreach” to “Community Partnerships” to better emphasize our working alongside others in our community, locally and globally. Partnerships include Wayside House, Tanzania, STEP, Minneapolis Area Synod and Redeemer Lutheran Church.
Cause of the Month
Westwood met its budget by donating $165,000 to our Community Partners locally and globally. In addition, another $40,000 plus was given away through the Cause of the Month program.
Westwood started a new partnership with Every Meal that focuses on supporting food-insecure students at local schools by providing food over the weekends. Westwood has committed to supporting Aquila Elementary School (32 students) and Park Spanish Immersion (15 students).
Rise Early Learning Center
Rise Early Learning Center continues its strong development with a full board, a completed Theory of Change model, Architectural designs for the learning center, and has now secured over $515,000 in receipts and funding commitments from individuals, congregations, and foundations outside of Westwood.
2021 gifted us the opportunity to spend time with others in shared spaces, conversations around a table, service projects standing side by side, devotions shared in groups of friends, laughter and joy that masks couldn’t hide. Fellowship amongst circle groups, caring ministry groups, Bible studies, home visits and the like offered us a chance to exhale a long held breath we often didn’t realize we were holding.
participants gathering monthly in
Circle & Bible Studies
homebound members receiving visits, calls, mail, and goody bags
Quilters, Prayer Shawl, and Caring Response participants who share acts of love that gift messages of comfort & hope
phone calls, visits, coffee talks,
shared laughter & prayer
Music + Worship
After more than a year filled with Zoom rehearsals and virtual choir recording projects, all of our singing and ringing ensembles were delighted to return to in-person music-making. In-person worship at the ROC, outdoors under the Tent, and in the Sanctuary were highlights of the year. From building our courtyard Ebenezer to lighting memorial candles, we were fortunate to once again experience many familiar and new rituals of worship together.
We are SO grateful for the many servant hearts that supported our worship as greeters and ushers, audio-visual technicians, and sanctuary adornment—we could not have returned to in-person worship with each of you!
Cantemus, our choir for youth, currently has over a dozen members. They’ve led us in worship and have cultivated a close-knit community with their weekly rehearsals.
The Westwood Children’s Choir led us in worship on Thanksgiving and throughout Advent with close to twenty participants!
Thanks, in part to the support of the Westwood Foundation, we had many talented brass and string players join us each and every month of the year.
Children, Youth & Family Ministry
Westwood kids are a big part of our community! We are thankful for their leadership in worship as readers, singers, actors, helpers, and creators. Last summer, we had weekly Wednesday Night Block Parties under the big tent. Families worshiped, ate ice cream, shared their pets at our ‘state fair barn’, toured a firetruck, showed off dance moves with JUSTmove, won Olympic medals, celebrated Pride, played yard games, and used up 4 jumbo boxes of chalk + 3 big bottles of bubbles! Whew! Feels good to build faith & community at Westwood!
kids read or acted in gospel storytellings, prayers, and in the Christmas program
kids and over 40 families enjoyed Wednesday Night Block Parties all summer long
themed Block Party nights, minus 1 due to bad weather
2021 gave us the thrill of being together, in person, once again! From Block Parties, and bonfires, to in person Parent/Student Learning, an indoor Confirmation service, middle school activities under the tent and everything in between! We reveled in the chance to be together once again! Westwood U resumed in a modified way; twenty-one students participated in the Reverse Advent Calendar Elective providing hundreds of pounds of food for STEP. Others used their time and talent to make cookies for homebound, birthday kits for STEP and learned many new things about being a part of a faith community along the way!