Did you know that in some congregations people needed to pay to rent pews for their families to worship? You couldn’t sit in any spot other than the one you paid for. This issue was one of the reasons Westminster was founded. Believing pews should be free and people should be able to sit anywhere in the sanctuary, 63 members of the First Presbyterian Church of West Chester left that congregation and helped charter Westminster Presbyterian Church on May 26, 1892.
After meeting in several local buildings, the groundbreaking for the original chapel was held on October 16, 1893, at the old location of a prominent local newspaper. Westminster soon outgrew this first space, and a new sanctuary was added in 1900. For more than 100 years the church ministered in downtown West Chester. As years passed, with the increase of automobiles and a rapidly expanding suburban population, limited building space and parking hampered further growth of the church.
The congregation, struggling with an aging building and limited space, received a generous donation of farm land from Mr. and Mrs. James K. Robinson, and voted to move to a new location outside the borough. The congregation built a new facility with three buildings, and moved to the present location in December 1993. The pipe organ, and the stained-glass windows in the narthex and west side of the sanctuary were brought from the old building. Like longstanding members, the organ and windows remind us of our great heritage, while new windows on the east side of the sanctuary and newer members remind us always to look to the future.
From 1994-2007 the congregation grew at a rapid pace, which only slowed when the economic downturn in 2008 diminished population growth in the county. A fourth building was added in 1999, completing the beautiful facility we have today. In over 125 years, Westminster has only had seven head pastors: B. Canfield Jones, Alexander Esler, Charles R. Williamson, William Henry Dilts, Robert B. Boell, Robert D. Young, and Donald D. Lincoln. The leadership team and members of the congregation celebrate the opportunities of our life together as we seek to minister in the Lord's name, fulfilling our mission ”Knowing Christ, Making Christ Known” in this new location.
Read more about Westminster history and heritage with our 125th anniversary book, Celebrate "Knowing Christ, Making Christ Known" 1892-2017. Additional information is available in our Archives from our church historians.