Our Story
 

 

In 2006, Westminster was named one of the PCUSA Multicultural Church contest winners.  This summary is adapted from that story.

Early History

Westminster was founded in 1898, with members from its sister churches; Bethany Presbyterian Church and Old First Presbyterian Church. As families moved into the suburbs in the 1950s, it began to shrink. Since the 1970’s, Westminster has been an educational center by providing classrooms and a children’s gym for several daycare programs within its educational facility.

1980s

In the mid-eighties, under the leadership of former pastor Rev. Dana Livesay, Westminster reentered the community through church-based community organizing.  On October 18, 1987 Rev. Dana Livesay presented to Westminster's session an "a to g" list of possible alternatives, with dissolving at one end of the spectrum, merging as the middle ground, and intentionally reaching out to the racially changing Wilbur community at the opposite end. These possible alternatives were in response to the realities of declining membership and dwindling resources due primarily to the aftermath of suburban flight. It was a major awakening and challenge to Westminster, a Presbyterian church in the city, that things could not remain the way that they were. Yet, even at the "risk" of losing more members, Westminster chose to embrace its community by being open to radically changing the racial-ethnic composition of its congregational and pastoral leadership.

1990s

Experimental and innovative ministries and clustering ministry models such as; "The Shared Ministry Experiment," led by Rev. Patti Daley, Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, and Rev. John Nelson, and the Trenton Presbyterian Cluster of Churches' Trenton Youth Ministry, also enabled Westminster to see a new vision for the congregation in the Trenton Wilbur Community. Westminster realized that in order to clearly reveal our commitment to ministering to our diverse community, we would have to call a racial-ethnic pastor. Rev. Jacqueline Lewis became the first racial-ethnic pastor, followed by Rev. Karen Hernández-Granzen who was installed in 1995 and continues to be our pastor.

With the help of presbytery, our congregation began a mission study process. The findings of this study led us in 1996 to adopt a Mission Statement that included "becoming a multiracial, multicultural, and intergenerational worshipping congregation", which "embraces traditional and contemporary styles of worship". In 1998, our centennial anniversary year, the various events, celebrations, and the publication of our Centennial History Book also helped Westminster come to terms with its past, present, and future.

2000s

In November 2000, Westminster became the first official Radical Redirection Ministry of the Presbytery of New Brunswick.

In May of 2004, as we began yet another mission study process, we thanked God and rejoiced as we evaluated the positive outcomes of our 2000 goals and objectives. As stated in our newly revised Mission and Vision Statements, we are no longer "'becoming a multiracial, multicultural, and intergenerational worshipping congregation"'. Westminster Presbyterian Church, led by the Holy Spirit, is in the "continuing process" of being transformed into a multiracial, multicultural, and multigenerational congregation: "A House of Prayer and Praise for People of All Nations". This mission is inspired by Genesis' affirmation that we are all created equally in God's image, Pentecost's declaration that the Body of Christ is called to be united by the Holy Spirit in the midst of its rich diversity, and Revelation's images of the City of God where all tribes, nations, peoples, and languages will worship God. We again affirm that it is not an easy call and not without its challenges; but our learning is that this is where God continues to challenge us as Presbyterians who believe that Presbyterians are called to "abide in"' and "seek the welfare of the city."