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Our History

FOUNDING

1890s

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Small Beginnings

The story of Westminster Presbyterian Church may be traced back to 1893 when the United Presbyterian Church of North America sent the Reverend James Welch to establish a church in Olympia. He succeeded in his mission. On December 2, 1893, the First United Presbyterian Church of Olympia was organized at a meeting held in a rented room, No. 508 - 4th Street of Hale Block.  Seventeen people formed the congregation.

Image: Hale Block, 1914; Washington State Historical Society

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Our First Building

Construction began in 1895 on a permanent church building with the Reverend William Hays as pastor. The new wooden structure was dedicated on January 5, 1896.  It was located on the southwest corner of Jefferson and Fourth Streets.

Image: First church building

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GROWING

1920s - 1930s

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The Little Brick Church

Membership in the church fluctuated during the next thirty years, but the congregation remained dedicated to the goal of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. By the middle of the 1920s, the First United Presbyterian Church of Olympia needed a new home. The old church building was sold. Under the leadership of the Reverend William Spalding, a new United Presbyterian Church was constructed on the northwest corner of Lybarger Street and Fourth Avenue. This “little brick church on the eastside” was dedicated on October 5, 1930. 

Image: "Little Brick Church" photographed 1961; Washington State Historical Society

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Building a Congregation

Through the 1930s and early 1940s the congregation of the church was small in size, but strong in faith.  When the Reverend Gordon Jackson became pastor of the United Presbyterian Church in 1943, he was given the power to either close down the tiny Olympian church or to keep it open and expand the congregation. Full of enthusiasm, the Reverend Jackson decided to build up the congregation. 

Image: Rev. Gordon Jackson, c.1970; Pittsburgh Theological Seminary 1970 Annual Catalog

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CHANGING

1940s - 1980s

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Midcentury Leadership

The First United Presbyterian Church of Olympia during the ministry of the Reverend Jackson (1943-1949) ceased to be a mission church financially supported by the denomination. Its name was also changed to Westminster United Presbyterian Church. 

  • 1949 - 1951 | Rev. Franklin Harper; much work was accomplished in organizing and consolidating earlier gains.

  • 1952 - 1957 | Rev. Malcolm Alexander; his ministry saw increased attendance

  • 1958 - 1982 | Rev. Charles Loyer; skillfully led the church for the next twenty-three years. He was assisted from 1971 to 1981 by the Reverend Jack Finney, who served as first Assistant Pastor, then Associate Pastor.

  • 1982 - 1983 | Rev. Ray Woods; Interim Pastor

  • 1983 - 2001 | Rev. Dr. Dwight Whipple; capably filled the position of senior pastor and was efficiently aided by two Assistant/Associate Pastors: the Reverend Tim Dolan (1981-1990) and the Reverend Tammy Leiter Stampfli (1992-2001).

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A New Name & Building

In the early 1980s the Olympia church was renamed Westminster Presbyterian Church. Beginning in 1985, WPC embarked upon the major task of moving to another site in Olympia. The old church was sold to the Salvation Army and a new building constructed at Boulevard and 18th Street. On October 25, 1990, the new church building was joyfully dedicated.

OPEN & AFFIRMING

1990s - present

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Open & Affirming

The Reverend Jim Jensen (Interim Pastor) and the Reverend Melody Young (Interim Associate Pastor) served as church leaders during the transition of 2001-2003. The Reverend Dr. David Kegley served as Pastor/Head of Staff from 2003-2016. The Reverend Christine T. Long joined in 2005 as Associate Pastor; she departed in 2017 to serve in other denominational roles. Under their leadership, the new Fellowship Hall was added in 2008-2009 amid the Great Recession, and WPC became an “Open and Affirming” congregation. The Reverend Dr. Martha Page Greene stepped into an interim pastor role from late 2016 through mid-2019.

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Today

In the summer of 2019, Pastor Therin Fenner was installed as Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church. In the church’s most recent history, we have opened Hope Village (2019), celebrated ten years of the community garden (Garden of Weedin’), expanded Sunshine Preschool, and otherwise lived into the energy, warmth, and inclusion embedded in the congregational DNA.