Westminster Presbyterian Church 

3990 West 74th Avenue, Westminster, Colorado  80030

(303) 429-8508

Welcome all
Praise God
Care for the world.


About Us


Westminster Presbyterian Church has a long historical history. In the 1890’s, a prominent New Yorker, Henry Mayhem, visualized the concept of a university atop Crown Point, the highest point in what was then Arapahoe County (it became Adams County in 1902), in the village of DeSpain Junction, which later became Harris Park.

 

Some 10 miles south, in the valley below, the “Mile High City,” Denver, Colorado, was beginning to grow around the Platte River and Cherry Creek. Mayhem had a vision of a college that would rival its sisters in the East. Seeking financial help from the Presbytery of Denver and even from Maxey Tabor, son of Horace Tabor, the “Princeton of the West” was conceived and named Westminster University. He had also purchased some surrounding land hoping people from “back East” would be encouraged to come, teach, and settle. He soon had a red sandstone “castle-like” structure built on that “hill.” After initially only admitting men, the school struggled for several years during World War I, and became co-ed in 1907. The University closed its doors in 1917, although University School of Law and School of Medicine still held classes there for several years. In the meantime, the people, mostly Presbyterians, and many of whom were members of the faculty at Westminster University, met on August 14, 1892, in a school building near the University to sign a charter establishing the University Presbyterian Church of the Denver Presbytery. This marked the beginning of the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

 

From the Session “Minutes of the organization” dated Aug. 14, 1892:

 

“On Sabbath, January 3, 1892, Divine Services were begun in the Harris Park School house by Rev. H. S. Beavis. There services continued without interruption each Sabbath, and on Aug. 14th the committee of Home Missions of the Presbytery of Denver organized this “University Presbyterian Church of Westminster,” Rev. T. M. Hopkins D.D., President of the Board of Westminster University, preaching the sermon.”

 

Twenty-six candidates were received into membership by the Rev. H. S. Beavis. Trustees, elders and a clerk of the congregation were ordained and installed.

 

NOTE: There was not a town of Westminster, as such, in 1892. From research done by Linda Graybeal, president of Westminster Historical Society and teacher at Belleview Schools (Pillar of Fire), a plan of the land identified as Westminster that surrounded “Westminster University,” owned by Denver Presbytery, could have been as much as 120 acres.

 

According to Mrs. Graybeal, the Harris Park area was completely separate from what they were calling the Westminster area before the turn of the century. It is believed that the "naming" of the area was more of a political and financial ploy than geographical. The idea was to try to get people – especially those back East - interested in buying into this area to make it successful. Once people got here, their illusions were sadly dashed. A beautiful view doesn't make up for long, muddy, often impassable trips up a steep hill (steeper than even now). However, some settlers were "trapped" here because they had spent what money they had to come out here and had none with which to return. The Pillar of Fire purchased the property of 45 acres on January 31,1920. Since the city fathers had officially changed the town’s name (from Harris) to Westminster when it incorporated in 1911, the Pillar of Fire Board chose not to continue to use the name “Westminster” as it is a Presbyterian heritage word.

 

Belleview Christian School (at Pillar of Fire), a parochial school serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, continues to serve the community. The Pillar of Fire Campus of 83 acres is located between 83rd-88th - Lowell to Federal Blvd., in an un-annexed area of the City of Westminster. Their property includes farmland, educational buildings, private homes and cemetery. That stately red sandstone castle-structure has become a landmark of the area and is a namesake for the City of Westminster. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. “Westminster University” is engraved on the bricks on the SE corner of the building. It serves as the offices for the school and for the longest running religious radio station in the country. Many times during the year, the building is open to the public.

 

The first building/sanctuary for this new congregation of University Presbyterian Church was located at about 80th & Bradburn. When the “new” city of Westminster grew in population down toward the original village of Harris Park, near the railroad, the congregation, in the early 1920s, had a “VISION” for the whole community – to build a church/community center. People of the community were asked to donate to the fund. The community center was never realized but the new church was built in 1925 at 74th & Bradburn (razed in 1981). This new Community Presbyterian Church was built to serve the whole village of Westminster for worship, for a meeting place for social gatherings, a meeting place for local clubs and organizations and for weddings.

 

It was the only church for the community until 1947. For the next fifteen years, Westminster was a growing suburb with new housing developments bringing many young families with children to this growing community; so consequently more churches were built and their memberships swelled.

 

In 1953 Westminster had a population of about 1700 people; in 1954 our church membership was 270. As the town grew in population, so did our church membership when it reached nearly 1200 members in 1965. This era challenged the congregation to provide adequate meeting space in the buildings and a larger sanctuary to serve the growing church community.

 

The new/present sanctuary was dedicated in 1957, Gillespie Hall, the educational building, in 1961 and “Building to Serve” addition in 1987. As Westminster became a much larger city with its major growth to the north and west, this area’s demographic was changed, resulting in major changes in school and church growth. The city’s boundaries grew by annexing land to be developed further north and presently (2014) the population is now 120,000.

 

More than 50 members (or regular attendees) were recognized as ‘History Makers’ in Westminster’s centennial history book titled, “Westminster - The first 100 Years,” edited by Kimberly Field & Kelly Korden Anon. Many others have been and are educators, civic leaders and volunteers in city and community organizations. Before 1953, the church was served by short-term pastors. The first permanent pastor, the Rev. Lester Nickless, was installed in 1953, followed by the Rev. Ed Thwaites (1980), and the Revs. John Piper (1995) and Annie Piper (2000). The Rev. Dr. Jack Cabaness was installed on March 7, 2010, as the fourth pastorate in the church’s 54 year history. He resigned in August of 2014.

 

The Westminster Presbyterian Church is now considered the Historical Church of Westminster located in Historic South Westminster, the area that was the city’s and the church’s original beginning. In 2014, there are ten members who have been members for over 60 years. Several are still actively involved.

 

Our congregation exhibits a special enthusiasm for ministry as a result of the change in demographics in this neighborhood and city’s growth to the north. Many present members come from that growth to the north and west and from nearby suburbs. Members are dedicated to serving the community in mission for Have a Heart, Community Dinners, FISH Food Pantry, Highland West/South Apartments, Zimbabwe Project, and an active Presbyterian Women group and others.

 

The church continues its strong programs of national and international mission as well. Every program – from music, to worship, to education, to mission – reflects the congregation’s desire to address current needs and engage in ministry in the present day. The rich traditions and heritage of this church inform and inspire all current programs and are a source of deep pride and encouragement for the congregation today.

 

A complete history of the church, “A Friendly Place To Be Near God,” (1892-2007) is available in the church office.