To the members and friends of Westport Presbyterian Church,
We mourn the death of our beloved pastor and friend Rev. Scott Myers, and will gather to share our sorrow and to rejoice in his magnificent life. His memorial service will be held on Friday, September 8th at 7 o’clock p.m. at Westport Presbyterian Church, 201 Westport Road, Kansas City, Missouri, 64111. The service will be live-streamed on Facebook and recorded for those who can not be with us in person.
He and his wife Jeanne had recently gone to Colorado for a well-deserved rest, and that is where his life ended peacefully during his sleep on August 26th, 2023.
Reverend Scott, as he preferred to be called, became pastor of the church in November, 1994. The worship services he designed and preached each week were graced by choral and solo music which complimented the scripture passages for the day, enhanced by his collaboration with the music staff. He encouraged Marian Thomas, the organist, to create a monthly noon time free concert series for the community and the children of Willow Woods Child Development Center. In 2005 he won a coveted Lily Endowment Sabbatical grant to study “Arts and Spirituality,” which allowed him to refine his unique style of using visual images to enhance worship services.
He continued the church’s active role in the Westport Community, launching new programs like a computer center for kids, an investment club, a youth chess club, and a peacemaking program for elementary school children called “Peace Quest.” Rev. Scott strongly supported community efforts to force a nearby nightclub which kept on breaking city ordinances to close and worked with police to improve security in the area around the church. While he spearheaded many renovations in the aging buildings, Rev. Scott persuaded Westport Cooperative Services to move their offices to the church, and the church’s kitchen was used to prepare meals for the Meals on Wheels program.
In 2006, he encouraged the formation of the non-profit Westport Center for the Arts so funding to expand artistic offerings could be sought from foundations and arts organizations. It has provided arts programs for children, visual art shows, staged readings and performances of plays, and more recently “Dancing Word,” a combination of recited poetry and modern dance. WCA continues to find creative ways to build community through the arts.
Rev. Scott also provided pastoral care for shut-ins, led Bible study groups and Sunday School classes, and created an authentic Seder which welcomed community participation. He and Marian Thomas created a booklet to encourage the spiritual growth and practice of church members and collaborated on creating powerpoint presentations which used art, photographs, and sculpture from different cultures, eras, and countries to illustrate biblical concepts.
Disaster struck the church on December 29th, 2011, when a fire destroyed all upstairs offices and the contents of the church. Since its founding in 1835, the church has risen from the ashes of three different fires. Rev. Scott with the help of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, good insurance coverage and an experienced lawyer, along with a fine architect, construction company, acoustician and organ builder, kept up the spirits of the congregation as the church was rebuilt. Many community organizations and churches offered space and assistance during the four-and-one-half years it took, and in 2016 the congregation and community returned to 201 Westport Road with great rejoicing!
The fire caused what he called an outburst of creative activity in Rev. Scott, and he began writing plays. Over the next 12 years he wrote 13 of them, six of which were performed at Just Off Broadway Theatre with local actors and actresses. Of “JFK: A Ghostly Evening,” The Kansas City Star critic, Robert Trussell wrote, “The show is buoyed by serious intent and a provocative view of history. Too many playwrights have only theater as a frame of reference. Myers comes at the art form from the real world.”
The Covid 19 pandemic beginning in March, 2020, provided new challenges for the church and congregation, but the services were live-streamed, Emily Davidson and the four paid soloists provided beautiful music without a break, and a new ministry blossomed. Under Rev. Scott’s leadership, Sunday morning showers, clean clothes, and a bountiful breakfast began to be provided for a growing number of unhoused members of the community. During the week, church members and friends prepare fifteen to twenty sack lunches daily for those in need.
In his twenties, Scott Myers had been an activist and community organizer against social injustices and ignorance, and that passion never disappeared. In 2023 he, along with Stan Morgan and a few others, organized #goodtroubleKC, aiming to get the Kansas City Police Department to engage in ongoing dialogue to work for reform of the department. In the week before his death, Rev. Scott led other members of that group in a silent protest at the monthly Board of Police Commissioners meeting at Police Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. He was also a founding member and generous participant in a coalition called Steptoe Lives, focused on commemorating the former African American Penn School and nearby community. His commitment to partnering with Cherith Brook was strong, and he was a longtime leader in the Presbyterian Urban and Immigrant Ministry Network. where he led dialogues on racism in society and church.
We mourn, but we rejoice in a life well lived in service to God and to the community. Rev. Scott’s trust in God was complete and steadfast despite daunting events.
The Session of Westport Presbyterian Church
Memories of Rev. Scott: