Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.
The mission of the Westminster Town Hall Forum is to engage the public in reflection and dialogue on the key issues of our day from an ethical perspective.
In 1980, Westminster Presbyterian Church members Paul and Diane Neimann, launched the Westminster Town Hall Forum. Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, was the first speaker, and the Reverend Donald Meisel moderated. Since then, more than 250 speakers have addressed Forum audiences, including, among others, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, Thomas Friedman, Cornel West, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, David McCullough, Marcus Borg, Marian Wright Edelman, Barbara Brown Taylor, David Brooks, Salman Rushdie, Gwen Ifill, and Bryan Stevenson.
The Town Hall Forum is guided by a volunteer advisory board that is comprised equally of Westminster Church members and at-large community leaders. The Advisory Board meets five times a year and provides support, oversight, and guidance in the areas of policy, community relations, development, and programming. The Forum is led and managed by a paid director. The members of the 2020-2021 board are Megan Dayton, chairperson; Richard Olson; Luther Ranheim; Ruben Vazquez; Sally Waterman; Paul Wilson, treasurer; Sandy Wolfe Wood; Tim Hart-Andersen; and Melanie McCall, interim director.
From day one, the Forum’s primary collaboration has been with Minnesota Public Radio. Forums are always aired at noon on MPR News Presents, 91.1 FM in the Twin Cities. Noon forums are broadcast live, and evening forums are recorded for later broadcast, usually within a day or two of the event.
Because of the generosity of its donors, the Forum has maintained its commitment to offer programs that are free and open to all. The Forum receives 85% of its funding from individual donors and 15% from co-sponsors. Although Westminster Presbyterian Church provides generous in-kind support, it provides no operating funds from its annual budget. The Town Hall Forum is a community resource funded entirely by the community.
The Town Hall Forum welcomes community involvement and support. Over the years, Forum events have been co-sponsored by businesses, nonprofits, faith communities, and educational institutions, including Hennepin County Library, United Theological Seminary, the YWCA of Minneapolis, The Nature Conservancy, and MinnPost, to name just a few. Individuals or organizations interested in co-sponsoring a forum should contact the Forum director at firstname.lastname@example.org.