A Brief Look Back — to God be the Glory!

After several years of increasing liberalism in the mainline Presbyterian Church, a number of ordained layman sensed the call of God to start a new church in Butler that would be committed to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.  After much prayer, in July 1975, a vision of what was to become Westminster Presbyterian Church in America was born when open church services were started at the Salvation Army Citadel Chapel on Sunday evenings.  Vernon Cumberland was the first speaker.  Later services of the provisional church were held in the gym of the Salvation Army facility.  On September 30, 1975 a steering committee met to discuss possible locations for the church.  It was determined to negotiate with the YWCA for the use of their facility.  A worship service was held on September 25, 1975 at 7:30pm in the Salvation Army Gymnasium with 180 people present.  Ballots were distributed and the Rev. Stuart Perrin was called to be the first pastor.

The first morning worship service and Sunday School were held at the YWCA on Sunday, October 12, 1975.  On Sunday, October 26, 1975 the name “Westminster” was chosen.  On Sunday, December 14, 1975 the congregation voted to purchase the church building and house at 420 North Main Street.   A formal commissioning service constituting Westminster Presbyterian Church in America was held on December 28, 1975.  On February 26, 1976, the first worship services were held at 420 North Main Street with the opening hymn being  “To God Be the Glory.”

On June 26, 1977, Rev. Daniel Perrin was ordained and installed as assistant pastor.  In 1978, he was called by the congregation to be the Associate Pastor, a position he held until the summer of 1982 when he left for ministry in New England.  On Sunday, March 13, 1983, the first section of the Christian Education building was dedicated.  Rev. Stuart Perrin announced his retirement as of Easter Sunday 1983.

A pulpit committee was formed and Dr. Warren W. West was called as the pastor.  He began ministry at Westminster on May 1, 1983 and concluded with honorable retirement in June 1989 and moved to Maryland.  During his time, Westminster experienced significant growth.

On Sunday, July 16, 1989, Dr. John Grauley began his ministry in Butler and one week later workmen began to raze the former sanctuary in the third phase of the Westminster building program which was completed and dedicated in 1990.  Dr. Grauley concluded his ministry in the winter of 1996.

Assistant Pastor Dan Kerley served the church until March 1997 when Rev. Jim Smith was called to become the next pastor.  In the summer of 1999, J.D. Funyak was called by the Session as Assistant Pastor and ordained by the Presbytery.  J.D. was later called by the Presbytery to plant a new church in the Cranberry area.  This fledging church plant merged with an older established congregation to form Covenant Community Presbyterian Church n America located in Wexford, PA.

In January 2003, Rev. Jim Smith announced his resignation as pastor and a pulpit committee was formed in March.  After several months of searching, the congregation called Dr. H. Curtis McDaniel, as its fifth pastor on July 13, 2003 and he was installed on November 9, 2003 with Dr. Charles McGowan, former PCA Moderator and pastor from Nashville, TN as guest preacher for the installation ceremony.  In January 2004, new strategic plans for ministry were unfolded to the congregation building a spirit of excitement and anticipation at Westminster. Dr. McDaniel resigned in 2008.

At that point, the Session of Westminster led the decision to opt for a team approach to ministry calling two pastors in 2009: Shepherding Pastor, Dan Ledford and Executive Pastor, Walt Coppersmith.  Shortly thereafter, a team ministry approach was also begun utilizing the giftedness of our congregation to serve in the areas of Worship, Outreach, Nurture, Discipleship, Education and Resources.  The Session also changed the non-ordained staffing of the church to better align its efforts with its renewed mission.  

We are currently (August 2014) in a time of transition with the resignation of Walt Coppersmith.  We trust in the sovereignty of God and seek to honor and glorify Him as we move forward in Christ centered ministry.