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A Journey of Faith
The Westminster Colony was founded in September of 1872 when the Reverend Lemuel Peterson Webber obtained about 6,500 acres of land on which he dreamed of building a temperance colony for Presbyterians. The colony was named Westminster in honor of Reverend Webber's admiration for the Westminster Assembly of 1642, which prescribed the basic concepts of the Presbyterian Church.
Reverend Webber issued and distributed a prospectus, in which he invited those with like ideas in religion, and morals to locate in the colony. Preparations began for the establishment of a Presbyterian church and a public school.
The first sermon was delivered in April, 1871, in the home of John Y. Anderson, the first man to respond to the call and make his home in Westminster. The First Presbyterian Church of Westminster was organized on September 15, 1872, with seventeen charter members.
The first church building was erected in 1879 and was destroyed by fire in 1915. A new sanctuary was built on the same location. (Olive and Plaza Streets).
The church was interested in missionary outreach and undertook a Japanese Mission in 1905. On May 18, 1930, the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church was organized after becoming self-sufficient.
During the 1920's, the church experienced much progress. A Parish Hall was built in 1924 and a building was purchased and moved adjacent to the church building to provide Sunday School classrooms.
In 1950, ten acres of land at Cedarwood and Westminster Avenue was purchased allowing the construction of a new church plant. All of the present buildings, with the exception of the sanctuary, were constructed during the ministry of Rev. Kenneth R. Boyd. (1948-1963). Boyd Fellowship Hall was completed first and the two educational buildings followed. In 1966, the sanctuary was completed under the pastorate of Rev. Jay M. Campbell.
Rev. Frederic L. Bearss joined the staff as assistant pastor in 1965. He became associate pastor in 1969 and served in that capacity until 1995. Rev. Kenneth C. Harper served the church as Senior Pastor, 1982 - 1994. Dr. John Furman accepted the call as Senior Pastor in 1996.
In thinking back to the founding pastor, Rev. Webber, current pastor John Furman says:
"Rev. Webber had a vision for a congregation and a city, "to promote God's glory and the good of many souls. Rev. Webber's dream lives on in the lives of every person who has both a love for the Lord and a love for the lost." Pastor John shares his own mission of the future this way: "A great commitment to the Great Commandment ('Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind') and the Great Commission ('Go make disciples of all nations')."
Footnote: The book titled "Westminster Colony, California 1869-1879" was written by Ivana Bollman and selected the Outstanding Thesis of the year 1982-1983 by the History Department of California State University, Long Beach. It was also selected as the best thesis of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences for its "demonstrated scholarly level of literacy, quality, style and "ycontent3", the appropriateness and sophistication of the research design and the contribution it has made . . . ." to the field of history.
Library of Congress Catalogue No. 83-82983
ISBN 0-943480-56-6, FRIIS-PIONEER PRESS, Santa Ana, California 1983