Westminster Church ” Our Story

Mobile Chapel  Early WPC

The Beginnings...

     The first service of worship for Westminster Presbyterian Church was help on April 24, 1960. A mobile chapel secured for temporary use proved inadequate from the first Sunday and soon a 64-foot parachute was secured from the Air Force for use as a tent chapel during the summer.
     Westminster Presbyterian Church was officially organized on June 25, 1960 with seventy charter members. The charter roll was kept open until October 1, 1960 and eventually included one hundred members.
Groundbreaking ceremonies for the first permanent structure were held on November 27, 1960 and on February 5, 1961 the first regular church service was held. At the time of organization, the church property was located at 1901 Owen Dr.

     The Reverend John P. Stephenson, Jr. was called to be the first Pastor.

WPC Groundbreaking   The Middle Years
      On August 13, 1972 a proposal was agreed upon by the congregation to sell the property to Bordeaux Shopping Center and relocate. On May 6, 1974 the congregation gave approval to purchase land for a new church at 2505 Village Drive. The first worship service was held at the new facility on June 30, 1974.
      On May 19, 1985 a congregational meeting was held to vote on a unicameral form of government. As a result of this meeting, twelve elders were elected on October 14, 1985 and were installed on January 5, 1986.
      The following ministers served as pastors of Westminster Church between 1960 and 1985: John P. Stephenson, Jr., Robert O. Freeman, Charles Davidson, Jack Raymore, and H. Denmark Burnette. The church also had three Interim Pastors: C. Rees Jenkins David C. Hambrick, Jr., and J. Bruce Frye.
      A congregational meeting was held on November 24, 1985 to extend a call to the Reverend Ben West, who preached his first sermon at Westminster on January 5, 1986.

WPC Building 2

      A congregational meeting was held on November 24, 1985 to extend a call to the Reverend Ben West, who preached his first sermon at Westminster on January 5, 1986.
  A 35th Anniversary Celebration was held on October 22, 1995. At this time, a 6,600 sq. ft. addition to our building was dedicated.
     The new facility   included a Fellowship Hall, kitchen, classrooms, a choir room, office space, and a parlor.

Recent History
      After 23 years of faithful service to the congregation of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Rev. Ben West retired. The Session then named Reverend Randal Bremer as Interim Pastor on March 1, 2010, a position he held until September of 2011. The church also displayed its dedication to the youth of the church by ordaining its first Youth Elder on Session.
     The church then welcomed Dr. Michael Armistead as pastor from November of 2011 to December of 2012.
     In August of 2013, Rev. J. Richard McDuffie, Jr. joined the church-family here at Westminter and continues to shepherd our congregation.

      Over the years Westminster has continued to grow in God's grace. The church continues to witness to the community through efforts of many volunteers and its financial contributions. The strong sense of "church family is evident in the care, comfort, and cooperation of God's people as they work and serve together.

Memories of WPC's first year 1960-1961(excerpts taken from 1977 Homecoming Program)     

  •      "Remember the roast? Several youth groups were to help clear the Tigg land to make space for the trailer. Afterwards, a wiener roast was to take place. There was a roast all right¦ a fire jumped from one of the pits (no one was hurt) and burned five acres!
  •  "To accommodate the overflow crowd on the second Sunday, a tent was erected next to the trailer, and an intercom system installed. John Stephenson preached in the trailer, and the congregation in the tent waited patiently but in vain through the service. No one realized the intercom had not been connected!...Thad Mumau remembers when he wished the intercom had not been connected. In fact, he and his friends dreaded leaving the trailer after one service when they realized the intercom had broadcast their adolescent antics as well as the sermon!
  • "Remember May Darling playing the organ pumped by a vacuum cleaner? Bill Mumau remembers hearing the cleaner at times loader than the organ!
  • "A parachute soon replaced the tent, and rain would sometimes fill the chute. Josie Tice remembers a sermon preface, "there's a rain cloud coming, so this will be short!'
  • "Sudden breezes would find Duncan Stanton and Worth Moore chasing the offering all over the field!
  • " If you drove down what was then the two-lane Owen Drive, you might also have to stop for children crossing the road to the Shell gas station. This was a way station providing water and restrooms!
  •       "The church was truly an open church and visitors included birds, and even a snake!
  •      "Claude Darling remembers the SOP for ushering¦ automatically picking up a folding chair on the way down the aisle. He, and many of you, folded and unfolded hundreds of chairs.
  • "During rainshowers, the people grabbed the chairs first¦ and then ran! The surrounding trees, which before had served as Sunday School areas (someone remembers the "Primary Pine), then served as rain shelters.
  • "As one member put it”it was a good time, a fun time, when all joined in with a lot of laughter, sweat, and tears to work at a common goal. To all of you¦ thanks for the memories!     
  • "Stormy times as well as stormy weather brought the early church together. Everyone remembers pitching in during times of joy and sadness. This church has always relied heavily on prayer, and early prayer groups met in individual homes.