Monthly Archives: May, 2020

  1. Worship Services : May 24, 2020: “From the Bottoms of Our Feet”

    Sermon by Cherrie Barton Henry | Watch Now

    John 17: 1-11 Acts 1: 6-14

  2. Worship Services : May 17: “What is Being Revealed?”

    Sermon by Chris Tuttle | Watch Now
    Psalm 66: 8-20 | Acts 17: 22-31 

  3. WPC Staff Blog : Why We Need Handel’s Messiah Now by Monica Umstaedt Rossman

    I’ve been thinking about the spring concert we were planning for the first weekend in May which, sadly, is one of the losses we must take in stride due to the pandemic. Two of the pieces from that program were to be choruses from Handel’s Messiah: “Since by Man Came Death” and “Hallelujah.”  Our spring concert is always one of the highlights of our season. We absolutely love having our friends from Westminster’s vibrant community join us in our beautiful and very resonant music room for a delightful, interactive evening of music-making!

    I know our choir would have enjoyed singing these together and performing them for you! But instead of that, I issued a fun challenge to our choir in the form of a couple of YouTube sing-alongs. The link below takes you to a wonderful performance of “Since by Man Came Death,” where singers can follow along on the screen and sing their parts together with some spectacular musicians. You’ll see the many other choruses from Messiah also available (see the sidebar), and I hope you’ll jump to “Hallelujah” and any others you are interested in as well.

    If you own a Messiah score, you may want to use it; but the beauty here is that you don’t need a score.  Simply follow along with the score on your screen. If you have never sung in a choir, consider trying it now. You never know…you may find a fun new hobby during these times of being mostly confined at home.

    Singing along here serves a threefold purpose:  (1) whether or not you are a singer, singing is lots of good fun, with no strings attached, and with no hidden agendas;  (2) exercising your God-given voice is a good thing – it keeps your voice strong, active, and engaged; (3) singing also exercises your brain and helps you realize quite directly the amazing healing power of great music/art. As you sing along (or even as you simply listen), imagine yourself singing with your friends in our choir and with music lovers around the world.

    Some general background information about Handel’s Messiah helps put this delightful exercise in context.  Handel’s musical genius is legendary, of course, but one aspect of his genius bears special attention, in my opinion, given our current crisis: Handel was infinitely flexible and adaptable to circumstance. Ever pragmatic, Handel found ways around any and all musical obstacles.  There is a lesson in that for our times, I believe.

    Here are a few fun facts about Handel’s Messiah. Enjoy!

    • The German/British composer G. F. Handel (b. Halle in 1685; d. London in 1759) wrote Messiah [“the” is not included in the title] in 24 days (August 22-September 14, 1741); while remarkable and somewhat unbelievable, this wasn’t unusual for Handel (or for many other composers—they moved quickly toward specific and often very practical goals).
    • Messiah was first performed in Dublin on April 13, 1742, and received its London premiere one year later.
    • The text is by Charles Jennens and is taken from the King James Bible and Book of Common Prayer.
    • Handel was well-known and much revered in his lifetime. Before Messiah’s composition, he was known primarily as a composer of Italian operas. He had lived in England since 1712 and turned to the writing of English oratorios in the 1730s, mostly in response to a change in musical/theatrical tastes. This is but one example of Handel’s pragmatic flexibility.
    • Messiah is in three parts: The first deals with Isaiah’s prophecies and takes us through Advent and Christmas themes; the second covers Christ’s Passion, ending with the Hallelujah Chorus; and the third covers the Resurrection and Christ’s reign in glory, ending with the powerful Worthy is the Lamb/Amen chorus.
    • Messiah was originally written for modest vocal and instrumental forces, with optional settings for many of the individual pieces. It was originally scored for 2 trumpets, timpani, 2 oboes, 2 violins, a viola, and basso continuo.
    • Handel made many revisions to his score even before Messiah’s premiere. Between 1742 and 1754, he continued to revise and re-compose individual movements, sometimes to suit the requirements of particular singers. This again shows the pragmatic flexibility I was referring to earlier: Handel never met a problem he couldn’t solve.
    • Messiah was first published in 1767, eight years after Handel’s death.
    • After Handel’s death, Messiah was continually adapted for performance on a much larger scale, often with gigantic orchestral and choral forces. While this remains true today, much more emphasis is currently placed on historically informed performance, namely, performances on a much smaller scale and closer to what Handel originally had in mind. There is much for musicologists and performers to argue about, and this will definitely continue!
      The Musick Hall in Fishacre Street, Dublin, where Messiah was first performed.

      The Musick Hall in Fishacre Street, Dublin, where Messiah was first performed. Photo by Pat Gunter

    No matter the details of a Messiah performance, Handel’s amazing work remains one of the most beloved and often performed works of all time. It has inspired millions and continues to have an extremely devoted following. This is unlikely to change. Take heart in the powerful gift of music and allow yourself to be inspired by Handel’s resilience and excellence.

    May God bless and keep each one of you!


  4. Worship Services : May 10, 2020

    Sermon by Alex Stayer-Brewington | Watch Now
    John 14: 1-14 Acts 7: 51-60

  5. News & Articles : Guide for Accessing Westminster’s Social Media Channels


    Here we share information, inspiration, photos, chuckles, and shout-outs. You don’t need a Facebook account to view Westminster’s page, but you do need one to join the conversations, comment, and share our posts.

    Facebook Families Group

    Families at WPC Durham is the church’s Facebook group for families with children and youth still at home. Here our staff shares Westminster’s Christian education activities, learning opportunities, tips for faith formation at home, and much more. It’s also a forum for Westminster families to share resources and ideas and connect outside of Sunday. Families of WPC Durham is administered by Marietta Wynands, our Director of Christian Education.

    A Facebook account is required for you to view posts by group members, join the group, and participate/post within Families of WPC Durham.


    Instagram is a mobile-based social media app that allows users to share photos and videos and engage with others.

    Westminster has two Instagram accounts: @wpcdurham and @wpcdurhamyouth. @wpcdurham is the main Instagram account for Westminster. @wpcdurhamyouth is the Instagram account for our youth ministry.

    Both of these may be viewed on an Internet browser by visiting and entering the account handle you wish to view. But Instagram is designed primarily for use via mobile, so consider installing the app to your mobile device for the best user experience (Note: You may be prompted to create an account). Like Facebook, however, an Instagram account is required if you wish to follow Westminster on Instagram and interact with our posts.


    You can watch our worship services on Westminster’s YouTube channel on Sundays at 11:00am. We share other video content to YouTube as well, including videos activities, story-telling, and resources created by our Director of Christian Education, Marietta Wynands.

    You can reach our channel by visiting to reach Westminster’s YouTube channel. Worship services go live Sundays at 11:00am.

    Hover your mouse over the lower part of the video to bring up the controls. Click the “CC” icon there to turn on closed captioning, if it’s helpful to you.

    YouTube exists within the suite of apps offered by Google. You do not need a Google account to access Westminster’s YouTube channel and watch our videos, but it’s free to create one.

    A Google/Gmail account will give you access to all of Google’s applications, including YouTube. If you have a Google/Gmail account, you can comment in the live-chat with your WPC friends as the video is streaming and you may post in the public comments section below the video. You can also subscribe to Westminster’s channel and receive notifications when new videos are loaded there.