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Our History

On June 30, 1901 a commission from Atlanta Presbytery organized Westminster Presbyterian Church to serve the rapidly growing Northeast section of the city. The Rev. Charles R. Nisbet was installed as the first pastor on September 9, 1901.

While meeting in a borrowed space in the Jackson Hill Baptist Church, the young congregation purchased property at the corner of Forrest Avenue and North Boulevard and began construction of its first building. The brick and stone building was completed in mid 1902.


The Westminster congregation used this facility until it was destroyed by the Great Atlanta Fire of May 21, 1917. The fire consumed nearly 3,400 buildings and left 10,000 people homeless including nearly 75% of the Westminster congregation. The very next Sunday, worship services were held in a tent erected on the ruins.


First services in the new building a few blocks north at the corner of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon Avenue were held on April 1, 1922. Seating capacity was enlarged to 700 in 1936 during the ministry of Rev. Peter Marshall. Dr Marshall served through September of 1937 and was succeeded by Rev. Ferguson Wood who remained until 1946. During Dr. Wood's pastorate, each member of the congregation serving in the armed services was prayed for by name during the mid-week prayer service.

Reverend Fulton C. Lytle was installed as Westminster's pastor in October of 1946 and served until January 1949. He was succeeded by Rev. John R. Richardson who served until March 1967.

Under Dr. Richardson's leadership, Camp Westminster was founded in the summer of 1954. In 1963, the church moved to its present Sheridan Road location, with the first service in the new sanctuary on Easter Sunday, April 14, 1963. In the next few years the church was able to add to the property with the aquisition of two houses just west of the church building.

Also under Dr. Richardson's leadership, Westminster began a World Missions program in 1951. It was not until 1966 however, that the first missions conference was held.

Dr. Richardson was succeeded by Rev. James Patterson who served until 1972. Dr Richardson returned as interim pastor, and was serving in that capacity when the Convocation of Sessions was held at Westminster in May 1973. The Convocation of Sessions led to the founding of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Two months later in July 1, 1973, Westminster voted unanimously to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church in the United States. The church, however, remained independent until voting to join the PCA in June 1985 and being received by North Georgia Presbytery on July 20th.


Rev. Sam S. Cappell served as senior pastor from 1974 to 1978 and was succeeded by Dr. John M. Montgomery. It was under Dr. Montgomery's leadership that Westminster joined the PCA. He served as senior pastor from 1979 to 1991. Dr. Oliver J. Claassen served as senior pastor from 1992 to 1998.

Rev. Charles Frost came to Westminster from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida in 1999. Under his leadership a major renovation program was undertaken. In addition, the steeple chimes, which had not sounded for over two decades, were repaired. The pipe organ, moved to this building from the previous building, was also renovated and enlarged.

Rev. Aaron Messner currently serves the body of Westminster leading in reverent and joyful worship of our triune God through the ordinary means of grace (Reading and Preaching of God's Word, Prayer, Sacraments of Baptism & the Lord's Supper).

Westminster continues to review its past and look to the future. At the time of the 75th anniversary it was noted: 

"As each 25th year anniversary has been observed at Westminster, it has been stated that it is a church that has always stood firm on the Bible, as the infallible Word of God."