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Westminster Presbyterian Church racks up 125 years

Community members invited to join in anniversary celebration


Long before there was a Westminster, there was a Westminster Presbyterian Church.

And for the church’s congregation, 125 years is something to celebrate.

“One hundred and twenty-five is a big deal in Westminster, and that’s why we want to include the community, not just our own church members,” explained Sue Singleton, church member since 1969.

In fact, according to Bob Briggs, church member and former president of the congregation, Westminster Presbyterian Church was organized on Aug. 5, 1892, almost 20 years before the town of Harris became the incorporated town of Westminster.

For 125 years, the church has been a solid influence in the surrounding community. Not only that, but it was also the only church in the Westminster community until 1947.

“I haven’t served in a church as a pastor that’s been more than 50 years old,” said the church’s interim pastor, Mike Motsko. “So to serve in a church with this kind of history and legacy is a wonderful experience.”

Motsko has served as interim pastor at the church since 2015.

The church and its members have a long history of service to the community and supporting and helping the community that has grown up around it, according to congregation president Colleen Paul-Mazzucca, who has been a member of the church since 1963.

In the 1940s, many church members became volunteers for the first fire department in Westminster. Church members also made up a large portion of the District 50 Rescue Unit.

“My dad was on District 50 Rescue Unit,” Paul-Mazzucca said. “They drove the ambulances and would get calls in the middle of the night or during the day and go out and help. One of the days my dad was on duty was his birthday. He came home and told us, ‘I got to deliver a little boy on my birthday.’ They were influential (in the community) that way.”

The church was also among the first in the community welcoming and helping relocate refugees from wars during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The church helped many find housing, employment and schools and was available to help with any other needs the refugees might have such as learning English and adjusting to a new culture.

Westminster Presbyterian Church has partnered with, supported and sponsored many agencies and programs over the years. They have sponsored Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Sea Scouts since 1954. In recent years, they have supported programs such as Head Start, Highland West/South Apartments (low-income), FISH (church-run food bank) and Have a Heart.

“Have a Heart was started because one of our members was on the school board, and she realized there were students in Westminster Public Schools who were homeless,” Singleton said. “She came to our session and asked if she could ask for used clothing to donate to the students.”

“So the church put out a need: we need backpacks, clothes, school supplies, outfits for moms who are going to go back to work,” Paul-Mazzucca added. “And everybody (in the church) starting bringing in clothes.”

“When the community needs something, the church comes to its need,” Paul-Mazzucca pointed out.

“We just share,” said Elizabeth Price, a member of the church since 1954.

Changing with the times

Westminster Presbyterian Church has started branching out into new areas as far as events and the way they interact with the community. Two of their recent events were a car show and a cupcake party for the graduating Head Start children and their parents

Sam Mazzucca, Paul-Mazzucca’s husband, said it’s important to stay relevant.

“With these types of events, we’re trying to get out of our traditional way of thinking and get out into parts of the community we don’t traditionally get into and talk to folks that we may not necessarily get to talk to,” he said.

“These are not traditional Presbyterian events,” Mazzucca added. “By having these different types of events it is a moment for us to learn to do things that get us out into the community in different ways.”

Another upcoming event for the church is their 125th Anniversary Gala. They are inviting the entire community to come and celebrate with them.

“The celebration is to recognize what this congregation has been and done and is doing for the community throughout the years by all the different organizations we’ve sprouted, nurtured and helped create,” said Mazzuca.

Briggs agreed. “We still give a lot to the community, and we believe the gala ought to be community orientated,” he said.


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