Westminster celebrates 50 years

Published 12:08 am Sunday, March 2, 2008

On Dec. 31, 1957, the Presbytery of Mississippi approved a charter requesting organization of Westminster Presbyterian Church. Ninety-five citizens of Natchez signed this charter and became the first congregation of Westminster. The church is planning a 50-year jubilee during the weekend of April 12-13.

Westminster was chartered as an outreach church of First Presbyterian Church in order to accommodate the growing numbers of new families with young children. Many of these families had moved to Natchez because of International Paper and were living in the newly-developed suburbs of Natchez during the 1950s. The church has always had a close alliance with First Presbyterian Church and has continued its membership with the Presbyterian Church (USA). As its letterhead has always stated, Westminster is “A Family of God’s People.” During these 50 years, Westminster has been a close-knit, warm, family-oriented congregation. Since the 1950s, children have been baptized, confirmed and married at Westminster. Today, there are still eight charter members who are active in Westminster’s congregation. In fact, its membership has now seen grandchildren and great-grandchildren baptized and married within the church.

Over the years, Westminster has given generously to the Natchez community, supporting the Natchez Children’s Home, the Salvation Army in Natchez, the Red Cross, Pleasant Acres Day School, The Food Pantry, the Stewpot, the Guardian Shelter and many more community-wide charities. Globally, Westminster has supported numerous missionaries in countries such as Brazil, Belize, and Austria.

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The congregation of Westminster first met at the National Guard Armory on Liberty Road. After property was generously donated by the McNeil Family, the church built an Education Building on the Fatherland Road site where it remains today. In 1981, a historic Presbyterian Church building that had been vacant for many years was moved to the church property for a sanctuary. This federal-style building was saved and historically restored by the members of Westminster who felt that the sanctuary would help preserve the long and unique history of Presbyterians in the Natchez area. This restoration offers a beautiful addition to the historical churches located in Natchez.

We invite everyone who has had ties with Westminster during its 50 years to attend our celebration. We are also in the process of locating children and grandchildren of former members who are no longer living in Natchez. If you have any information about former members or their children please contact: Mrs. Wallace Willard at our Church Office, 601-442-2254, Mrs. Eugene Murray, 601-445-4584, or Mrs. Sidney Bunch, 601-446-8835 bkbunch@bellsouth.net.

Billie Bunch is a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church.