Westminster Presbyterian celebrates 50 years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 12, 2008

NATCHEZ — Westminster Presbyterian Church is going to use its 50-year Jubilee celebration to reflect on half a century worth of memories.

Memories like when the church was first charted in 1957, services took place in the National Guard Armory on Liberty Road.

Billie Bunch, chairwoman of the Jubilee celebration committee, laughed as she remembered how one time the National Guardsmen needed to use the building, so the congregation had to move out to bleachers in a field.

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“We were eaten up by the love bugs and everybody had to run to their cars,” she said with a chuckle.

Westminster has come a long way since then.

The MacNeil family, which now resides in Elms Court, donated property to the church on Fatherland Road, Bunch said.

In the early 80s, Bunch said the church brought in a sanctuary that formerly belonged to the Greenwood Presbyterian Church in Cannonsburg.

“The building was just there and had been alone and empty for a number of years,” she said.

So the Presbytery bought the sanctuary for Westminster and the church paid for its removal and reestablishment.

“It’s quite a beautiful sanctuary,” Bunch said.

The church’s old sanctuary was converted into a fellowship hall.

It’s these accomplishments, stories and memories that will be celebrated today and Sunday.

The church has invited all congregation members both present and past to enjoy the events.

The committee, while being comprised of several original charter members, has managed to contact a few others.

“We have called and written to and stood over backwards to get the original people here,” she said.

Bunch said the original list of charter members contains between 80 and 90 names.

Bunch said only eight or nine members are still living and in the area.

Registration will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Shortly after, the memories portion of the schedule will take place.

“We’ll go into the sanctuary and sing hymns and talk about things that happened when the first church was organized,” Bunch said.

Bunch, an original charter member herself, has plenty of memories to share, like how her three children were all baptized in the National Guard Armory.

The celebration will be a family reunion of sorts.

“We call ourselves the Family of God’s People,” she said, as that’s what the first minister of Westminster coined the congregation.

“It’s a small enough group that we all feel really close to each other,” Bunch said.

Dinner will follow at 5:30 and then an organ recital will follow that at 7.

David Pettit, a renowned musician from Oklahoma, will be the organist.

Sunday a regular morning service will take place at 11 a.m. and a fellowship luncheon will follow.