Read about - Westminster Presbyterian Church

Read about - Westminster Presbyterian Church

Window on Westminster

Window on Westminster

By Ruth S. Tompkins and Anne H. Gensheimer

Design and editing, Martha S. Burbeck

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Celebrating 50 years of ministry in Ann Arbor

We will tell the next generation

the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord. (Psalm 78:4)

© 2006 by Westminster Presbyterian Church

Printed in the United States of America by Thomson-Shore, Inc.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2006929922

Window on Westminster, The First Twenty-five Years, 1956–1981,

by Ruth S. Tompkins, was published in 1981

Westminster Presbyterian Church

1500 Scio Church Road, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48103


Many thanks to Becky Donally for retyping the first edition

of Windows on Westminster, to Bryce Babcock for the cover

photo of a Westminster stained glass window, and to Thomson-Shore

for printing this book. Thanks also to Barb Koenig,

Jean Swenson, April Wright, and especially Alice Chambers

for their final critical readings of the manuscript.


The First Twenty-Five Years 9

DEDICATION to The First Twenty-Five Years 11

PREFACE to The First Twenty-Five Years 12

1 In the Beginning 15

2 The Sixties and Beyond 25

3 oiling the Bearings 37

4 Christian Education 43

5 Peaks and Valleys 51

6 The Distaff Side 57

7 People and Programs 65

8 Into the Twenty-First Century 81

The Story Continues 85

PROLOGUE to The Story Continues 87

9 Ministerial Leadership 89

10 Christian Education 101

11 Music and Worship 111

12 Building Program, Phase 3 119

13 Missions 129

14 People and Programs 135

15 Into the Next Decades 145

Chronology 147

Charter Members 155

First Session and Board of Deacons 156

Research Sources 157

The First Twenty-Five Years


Ruth S. Tompkins

DEDICATION to The First Twenty-Five Years

To the eighty-seven charter members of Westminster Presbyterian

Church this review is dedicated with gratitude.

Their foresight and vision, coupled with devotion to God,

dedication to purpose, and willingness to sacrifice and achieve

each succeeding goal have provided whatever the present

membership enjoys, accepts and often takes for granted. They

and all members who have made their unique individual contributions

over this twenty-five year period have fashioned

Westminster Presbyterian Church as it is today. They have

been model and inspiration for us, and for those who follow

in the future, in the constant quest for keeping our church vital,

relevant, and always adhering to its true purpose of teaching,

preaching and spreading the Gospel.


PREFACE to The First Twenty-Five Years

For some time this writer has been troubled because there

has been no official historian to maintain a file of pictures,

clippings, brochures and other pertinent materials

which would comprise an historical record and basis for logging

the heritage of Westminster Presbyterian Church. When

thoughts of a possible “birthday present” to celebrate twentyfive

years of our history began to formulate in my mind a couple

of years ago, it became my hope to compile some type of

quarter century record. From scattered church accounts and

disorganized sources of information this review has evolved.

It has been my privilege to be associated with Westminster

for eleven years. If recent events seem to be viewed in

greater detail than those of earlier years, it is because records

of those early events were obtained from paper memories,

whereas participation in or witnessing of more recent toils

and triumphs have provided clearer images.


Theology we have left to the theologians, pure history to

the scholars. Restrictions of time, space, and finances have

prevented inclusion of every individual who may have contributed

to the beginning and early years, as well as the continuing

life of Westminster. Their names are legion!

This book is merely a review – an overview – of some of

the high spots in a twenty-five year chronology. It is an attempt

to capture the flavor of our background, to remind all

of us of our debt to those who provided the groundwork. Perhaps

it will even serve as a helpful foundation for the author

of the golden or centennial milepoints in our history!

Ruth S. Tompkins

Ann Arbor, Michigan



For no other foundation can any one lay

than that which is laid, which is Jesus

Christ. (1 Cor. 3:11)

1 In the Beginning


he year was 1955. President Eisenhower returned from

a Geneva summit conference with Big Four hopes for a

secure peace; civilians were being repatriated after the close

of the Korean conflict; Senate leader Lyndon B. Johnson had

suffered a serious heart attack; an earth satellite was being

designed to be ready for research purposes by 1958; and hurricane

Diane was raking North Carolina. Some of our present

members were not yet born!

But in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1955, the members of the

First Presbyterian Church were feeling the pinch of crowded

conditions engendered by a burgeoning congregation. Thus

the idea for a second Presbyterian church in this city of 50,000

inhabitants began taking form.

After consultation with the Detroit Presbytery’s Board of

Church Extension, a committee headed by George Frisinger

was formed from the Session of the First Presbyterian Church

of Ann Arbor to investigate potential sites for a new church.

As a result of this investigation, a five-acre site at the corner

of Greenview Drive and Scio Church Road, on the city’s expanding

south side, was purchased for $37,500 in July 1955.

At that time the Reverend Mr. Richard H. Miller was sent by

in the beginning—15

16—the first twenty-five years

Rev. Richard Miller,

Westminster’s first

pastor, discusses

Phase 1 building

plans with charter

member George

Frisinger at the Scio

Church Road site.

the Presbytery to start development of the new church.

Several preliminary meetings were held to consider problems

related to the founding of the new church prior to site

development. In December 1955 a newsletter was mailed to

interested Ann Arbor Presbyterians. Upon receipt of the letter,

Mr. and Mrs. William F. Elder made provision for the

original group to hold services and meetings in ground level

storage rooms of the Stadium-Nob Hill apartments, 1860

Stadium Place. At this time also, even before official establishment,

more than $1000 was donated to a building fund,

with Clarence Roth named treasurer of the fund.

The first worship service, attended by forty-nine persons,

was held in the temporary quarters on February 5, 1956. The

altar consisted of a crude pulpit and a table supporting a

wooden cross. The Sunday school was organized March 18,

1956, and soon more storage space was made available to accommodate

the rapidly growing Sunday school classes.

At the August 1956 meeting of the Presbytery Rev. Miller

presented a petition, signed by eighty-seven persons, asking

that the church be organized as Westminster Presbyterian

Church of Ann Arbor. On November 18, 1956, at a ceremony

in the First Presbyterian Church sanctuary, the Presbytery

appointed an organizing committee headed by Harry Rine

DeYoung, minister of the Redford Avenue Presbyterian

Church of Detroit, and including seven representatives of

the Detroit Presbytery. Appreciation was expressed to First

Presbyterian Church for its support and assistance, as it was

many times in the future.

Of the original eighty-seven petitioners, who then became

the charter members of Westminster Presbyterian Church,

thirty-four transferred from First Presbyterian Church of

Ann Arbor, thirty-seven were received by letters from other

churches, five by reaffirmation of faith and eleven by confession

of faith. By the end of the initial year (even with a loss of

in the beginning—17

ten) membership had increased to 107.

Sixteen charter members still remain resident and active

members of Westminster in Ann Arbor. Three of the

original group who retain membership, Macon and Delores

Lewis and Myrtle Porter, now reside elsewhere in the United


Pastor nominating


Elsie Bowen

Hempstead S. Bull

Philip G. Hasell

Dr. Leo A. Knoll

Lawrence Troxell



Joseph R. Akerman

Gwenyth Burrows

Philip H. Gillies

Betty Morrill

Clarence F. Roth

Darrel Shippey

Charles S. Simons

18—the first twenty-five years

On December 16, 1956, a congregational

meeting was called to elect two

committees: one to pursue the search for a

minister to be nominated as pastor, and the

second to function as a building committee.

Clarence F. Roth was asked to serve in

the dual capacity of church treasurer and

building fund treasurer.

The congregation, upon being organized,

immediately elected, ordained and

installed ruling elders and deacons. The

first meeting of the newly constituted

board of elders (Session) was held November

28, 1956, in the temporary quarters.

Terms of one, two or three years for the nine-member

governing body were determined by lot. Members of Session

were also to serve as trustees (as today). Deacons were to be

elected annually to a nine-member board to minister to the

physical and social needs of the congregation.

Joseph R. Akerman was selected as first president of the

Board of Trustees and Session, Hempstead S. Bull was chosen

to serve as stated clerk, and Dr. Leo A. Knoll was designated

to obtain advice as to the procedure for preparing

legal documents for submission to the State of Michigan for

formal incorporation of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Joseph Akerman and Charles S. Simons were named to formulate

suitable bylaws for submission to the congregation.

Bylaws were adopted in January 1957 after several revisions,

and the incorporation papers were received and placed in a

safe deposit box the following month.

The organizing pastor, Rev. Richard H. Miller, was to

serve as moderator. Mr. Miller, a 1952 graduate of Alma College

and a 1955 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary,

was the unanimous choice of the pastoral nominating committee

and on February 17, 1957, his name was presented

at a special congregational meeting. It was agreed to extend

a formal call and the Presbytery of Detroit installed him as

the first minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church at a

ceremony on April 28, 1957.

Four permanent Session committees were named: Christian

Education, Stewardship and Finance, Worship and Sacraments,

and Membership. And to really get things rolling in

an orderly fashion, the selection of a part-time secretary to

serve ten hours a week at a sum of $1.25 to $1.50 per hour

was authorized! Mrs. Peggy Cooper, another charter member,

was awarded this position.

Phase 1

No moss was accumulating under the oxfords and pumps of

these energetic twentieth century pioneers. A building committee

had been constituted as early as December 1956 to

include nine members (later increased to eleven). These included

the minister, a representative of Session, a representative

of the deacons, the church school superintendent, and

seven from the congregation. Joseph Akerman was named

Building Committee chair, Reuben J. Beuerle, treasurer, and

Mrs. Betty Morrill, secretary. Others were Mrs. Mary Martha

Beierwaltes, Kenneth Christiansen, Philip Gillies, Samuel

Porter, Clarence Roth, Darrel Shippey, LeRoy Shreve, plus

Pastor Miller.

The first meeting of the newly organized Building Committee

was held in the “chapel” on Stadium Boulevard on

in the beginning—19

January 7, 1957, with Samuel Porter serving as temporary

chairman. Subcommittees were formed for finance and publicity,

and for building plans.

The committee held eighteen regular and special meetings;

smaller groups visited church sites and buildings, conferred

with architects, met with boards of other churches, and

made one trip to meet with Detroit Presbytery officials. Before

proceeding with a building program, however, they cautiously

waited until official church organization was complete

and the first every-member canvas had been conducted.

During May 1957 a six-page brochure, with Frank Carson’s

cover sketch of the general type of church building desired,

was mailed as part of the first building fund campaign.

Pledges amounted to $21,284 (this in addition to the operating

commitments). On September 29, 1957, the Ann Arbor

firm of James Livingston and Associates was commissioned as

architect for the first building.

Discussion began immediately within the Building Committee

concerning the use or disposition of the barn on the

property. The original site was farmland and the congregation

had been receiving a yearly income from sales of hay and

alfalfa, as well as from rental of the barn to Fox Tent and Awning

for storage. When it was ultimately deemed advisable to

raze the barn to permit construction to commence, another

$15 was added to the building fund from the sale of hay.

Three types of buildings were considered originally:

(1) a permanent structure of traditional form which would

cost $80,000 to $90,000; (2) a temporary 40' × 60' strand

steel structure costing $15,000; (3) a permanent structure of

contemporary functional design using prefabricated panels

and structural components as much as possible. The Building

Committee favored the third alternative as best for a small

group with limited resources.

These plans for the first building, together with sugges-

20—the first twenty-five years

tions for development of the entire acreage on a campus plan,

were presented to the congregation and corporation at the

first annual meeting of Westminster Presbyterian Church on

November 24, 1957. The congregation accepted the third

suggestion, tentative building plans for a first unit, by a vote

of twenty-one to six, with dissenters and others so desiring

invited to present their views and suggestions in writing.

As submitted, Phase 1 was to be constructed of cement,

with a diamond-shaped glass pattern, including some colored

panes, extending to the roof line. The west wall, facing a vesper

garden, would also consist of a similar glass pattern set

into triangular wood frames which would support the roof

beams. On the Greenview side there would be a variable pattern

of colored stone.

The interesting roof shape resulted when it was determined

that ten foot beam spans would cost less than standard

building spans of eight feet with a flat roof. Originally

the structure was planned to be two bays shorter than the

final version, but a timely gift from First Presbyterian Church

made it possible to extend the building.

The west side windows were rebuilt three times and are

not interchangeable. The glass was deliberately laid (on the

west side primarily) so there would be no street view during

worship services and to avoid direct sunlight during services.

The first unit was to be financed by the $21,000 in pledges

received in the May campaign, a $5,000 gift from First Presbyterian

Church, and a $27,000 loan from the National Board

of Church Extension of the denomination. The committee

was directed to get Presbytery officials to request the proper

church agency to earmark the recommended amount of loan

funds: $27,000 for church construction, as well as $5,000 for

possible use as down payment on a manse.

At a special meeting of the congregation in January 1958

(oh, how numerous were those “specially called” meetings in

in the beginning—21

the early years!) authorization of the expenditure of $57,780

was courageously approved, the necessary loan to be secured

by building fund pledges.

Mr. Kenneth Davidson was the lowest bidder of five locally

“carefully screened” contractors, and signed the contract to

construct the building, phase 1 of the total plan. Excavation

– the moment of truth for the fledgling congregation – commenced

January 24, 1958.

Meanwhile, the Presbytery had indicated a desire to finance

immediate purchase of a manse. The trustees were

authorized to seek a suitable manse at a price not to exceed

$24,000 and to negotiate with the Presbytery Committee on

Housing a loan of about $5,000 at 2% interest to finance the

down payment.

Negotiations for property at 1730 Dunmore reached an

impasse when the bid price of $20,500 differed vastly from

the asking price. But the deal was closed for $21,300 and on

May 4, 1958, Westminster Presbyterian Church had a manse

to house the Miller family.

Events surrounding the actual construction of Phase 1 are

sketchy but apparently proceeded without an excess of serious

problems. About this time Mr. William Elder suggested

construction of a two-story building for sake of economy.

The committee felt plans should remain as approved by the

congregation and Presbytery because revisions at that stage

would be costly in terms of building funds, time, and a less

desirable plan. A group met with Mr. Elder, who had offered

to contribute to the expense of a basement, and he subsequently

was sent a letter explaining that necessary funds were

in shortfall and time to change drawings and renegotiate contracts

would substantially complicate and delay the project.

Appreciation for his continued interest was conveyed.

The site had been intended for a southside Ann Arbor

subdivision and, as such, there was a pit containing irriga-

22—the first twenty-five years

tion pumps which would have been the location for the subdivision

waterworks. At one time, after start of construction,

the city threatened to “red-tag” the new church building and

stop construction. This near disaster was averted by selling

the pumps and filling the pit. (It was decided to retain the

blockhouse on the northeast side of the property where it still

remains with a capped water pipe.)

The first worship service within the framework of the

building was conducted at the Easter sunrise service on a

bright and brisk dawn April 6, 1958. The Presby-Twos, an organization

of young married couples, assisted by the Martha

Circle, sponsored the service in the shell of the new church.

In August 1958 the architect and the contractor were notified

that the congregation must use the new structure on

September 7, at the start of the fall season, even if uncompleted.

Ready or not, the Sunday school met for the first time in

the nearly completed building at 9:30 am on September 7,

1958. The regular 11 am worship service first convened in

the new unit on that day also in a chilly atmosphere. “No

glass windows on the west side, plus flapping building paper

and cold autumnal winds were a bit disturbing.” But certainly

the spirits of the worshippers were at a burning peak and

their gratitude to God for his blessings was boundless as they

marked this first milestone in their projected goal.

In the Session minutes that month it was noted the west

wall enclosure was urgently needed to permit heating the

building. Construction was completed in subsequent months.

An up-to-date summary of finances at that time explained that

the cost of the building and chancel furniture was $55,732,

only $732 over the original estimate of $55,000.

Dedication week was scheduled for January 11–18, 1959,

with actual dedication services for the church school at

9:30 am and the formal dedication service at 11 am on Sun-

in the beginning—23

day, January 11. A community open house followed in the

afternoon and a family potluck supper with a service of recognition

and historical review on January 14.

In the Sunday bulletin of May 31, 1959, Joseph Akerman

made this report: “Final payment to the contractor has been

made without borrowing additional funds from the bank.

This speaks well for the generosity of the

In September of

1973 the mortgage

on the original

building, held

by the Board of

National Missions,

was paid in full.

congregation, which should be highly commended

for its splendid display of stewardship

at this time.”

On January 10, 1960, the Building

Committee, which had been constituted

three years previously, was dissolved with

special commendation.

24—the first twenty-five years

Unless the Lord builds the house,

those who build it labor in vain.

(Ps. 127:1)

2 The Sixties and Beyond

As Westminster Presbyterian Church entered the sixties, the

new building (which encompassed sanctuary, fellowship

hall, office and kitchen) was completed and functioning. The

membership was increasing; we had joined the Ann Arbor-

Washtenaw Council of Churches in 1958; and essential needs

were being met.

In January of 1964 Pastor Miller advised the Session he

would be candidating for the position of associate pastor at

the First Presbyterian Church of East Cleveland. He was offered

this position; he accepted, and his letter of resignation

as pastor of Westminster was submitted January 13, 1964.

The reasons cited for this change included his growing interest

in Biblical theology, concern for adult Christian education,

and a need for ministry of the laity. His farewell sermon

was preached on February 2, 1964. A congregational meeting

was called to dissolve the pastoral relationship and the pulpit

was declared vacant on that date. The Millers moved February

4 after eight fruitful years of service in organizing and

establishing a new church. Mr. Miller has since held pastorates

in Philadelphia and Milwaukee, and is now director of a

retirement community in Columbus, Ohio.

the sixties and beyond—25

A pastoral nominating committee consisting of Reuben

Beuerle, chairman, James Avery, Hempstead Bull, Patty Jenkins,

Lloyd MacDonald, Lois March, George Odiorne, and

Helen West was appointed to initiate a search for a new minister.

Dr. Frank Fitt, a retired pastor from Grosse Pointe, Michigan,

announced he would like to donate his services during

the time the committee made its search, allowing his anticipated

salary to be used for expenses of the pastoral committee.

His gracious offer was appreciatively accepted and he

was invited to attend Session meetings, if he desired, as pulpit

supply. A reception and gift were presented in Dr. Fitt’s

honor June 28, 1964. In subsequent years he was welcomed

as vacation supply preacher on numerous occasions and has

continued to be an avid supporter of and contributor to the

church library. Rev. Paul Dotson of the Ecumenical Campus

Center at the University of Michigan filled in during the

summer of 1964.

On July 5, 1964, at a special congregational meeting called

after worship, Reuben Beuerle, chairman of the Pastoral

Nominating Committee, presented the name of the Reverend

Mr. Charles J. Gensheimer as the committee’s choice of

candidate and “Reverend G,” as he was to become known,

was called by unanimous vote to become the second pastor

of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

A native of New York City, Mr. Gensheimer had received

a bachelor of arts degree from Westminster College in Pennsylvania,

and his master of divinity degree from Pittsburgh

Theological Seminary. After four years as assistant pastor

for youth work at Cherry Hill United Presbyterian Church

in Dearborn, Michigan, he was called to the Grace Community

United Presbyterian Church in New Kensington, Pennsylvania,

to serve as pastor. He returned to Dearborn briefly

to claim Miss Anneliese Hoffmann as his bride on June 21,

26—the first twenty-five years

1957. Anne, who had concluded three years at the University

of Michigan, competed her degree work at the University of


After a pastorate of eight years in Pennsylvania, the family,

which then included sons John Mark and Paul David, came

to minister to Westminster Presbyterian Church. Reverend G

assumed the pastorate September 3, 1964, moderated his

first Westminster Session meeting on September 8 in a joint

meeting with the deacons, and was installed November 8,

1964. Dr. Frank Irvine, formerly of Cherry Hill United Presbyterian

Church in Dearborn, gave the charge to the pastor.

On November 22 an open house was held at the manse to

enable the congregation and their new pastor and family to

get acquainted with each other. The arrival of Peter Nathan

completed the family the following year.

Changes . . .

With the coming of a new pastor there was some ship-tightening

to be done, some new directions to be heading, and

naturally some changes to be anticipated. The committee

structure of the Session was introduced, with six original

committees, later increasing to nine. These were comprised

of members of Session and the congregation-at-large, each

meeting monthly with a specific set of duties to carry out.

In the fall of 1965 the church resumed two morning worship

services, which had been discontinued in March 1964.

The dual system was approved for a three-month probationary

period, with one service planned for summer Sundays.

This system continued until 1972.

The church had been on a bicameral system, with a board

of elders and a board of deacons, since it was organized. In

1965 a study of the unicameral system was begun and this

system was implemented in early 1966, so a “single board

might establish the program and set the policy for the total

the sixties and beyond—27

work of the church in our part of the vineyard.” The board

of deacons was abolished and its work transferred to Session


Other changes in these middle years of our first quarter

century included modifications in the bylaws, changing

a quorum at official meetings from 40 to 60 (membership

was growing), and increasing the number of ruling elders by

three for each 150 additional communicant members beyond

300 members.

Committee names and functions changed periodically in

response to the needs of a growing and changing congregation.

As the paid staff increased, the necessity arose for job

descriptions of a more specific nature for hiring guidelines.

The Administration Committee of 1967–68 compiled descriptions

of various positions and began a review system

whereby all paid employees are interviewed by the committee

annually for exchange of recommendations to and from

each staff member. Job descriptions and hiring policies were

again streamlined in the mid-seventies.

The Gensheimers soon indicated their desire to own their

home, rather than live in a church-owned manse. The move

was made immediately to obtain a formal appraisal and sell

the Dunmore Road house. After approval by the Presbytery,

a special congregational meeting in April 1967 approved

the sale of the manse. An offer was received, processed and

closed on June 21, 1967, for $23,900. The equity received

($6,051.65) was to be placed on deposit with the understanding

it could be transferred to a building fund at a later date.

The Gensheimer family purchased a home and moved to

3220 Farmbrook Court in the Georgetown area of Ann Arbor

in June of 1967.

28—the first twenty-five years

Charter members celebrate Westminster’s tenth anniversary. Front row,

left to right: Clarence and Mancelyn Roth, Henricka Beach, Annetta Kivi,

Hempstead Bull, Florence Guenther. Back two rows alternating: Florence

Westrum, Perry Cooper, Peggy Cooper, Mary Rogers, Tom Rogers,

Martha Akerman, Joe Akerman, Eileen Beuerle, Helen Shippey, Reuben

Beuerle, Darrel Shippey, Helen West.

New Building

By mid-1960 the church school registration and attendance

figures, worship attendance, community growth, and projected

size of the congregation all emphasized the increasing

need for a new and larger sanctuary. The Nominating Committee

was asked to name for election in March 1965 a New

Building Study Committee to be composed of two Session

members, two deacons, and four from the congregation, to

report to the Session each month. Those elected were: Lloyd

MacDonald, chairman; Rankin Swan, vice-chairman; Mrs.

Betty Morrill, clerk; Reuben Beuerle, facilities; Perry Cooper,

congregational statistics; Ray Spokes, vital statistics, growth;

Ralph Vogler and Herman Deal, debt retirement program.

This study committee was off and running before that

the sixties and beyond—29

month was out. Chairman MacDonald reported to the congregation

on the findings of the New Building Study Committee

in January 1966 and the committee was commended

for the thoroughness of the building study.

In February 1966 a New Building

New Building


Ralph Vogler,


Helen West,


Joseph Akerman

H. J. Berg

Reuben Beuerle

William Bidelman

Edward Elshout

Lloyd MacDonald

Donald Newell

George Odiorne

Clarence Roth

Ray Spokes

Pat Taylor

Pat Trezise

Marvin VanEyck

Sally Welch

30—the first twenty-five years

Committee with sixteen members plus the

pastor was named to plan, negotiate, and

supervise the financing and construction

of a sanctuary. Ralph Vogler, chairman,

appointed a Campaign Cabinet of nine

members with Marian Elliott as director of

the cabinet and G. Edward Elshout as codirector.

In addition to these, the cabinet

included the pastor as campaign coordinator;

Vogler as advisor; Mrs. Maxine Jones,

secretary; Forrest Becker, Eason Chun,

Herman Deal, Richard Jones and George

Odiorne, with Frederic Phelps as dinner


The cabinet devised a 52-week-a-year,

three-year program of “sacrificial, not pittance”

pledging and adopted as the battle cry “DWT” – a dollar

per week per thousand of annual income as the guideline

for giving. Fifty members of the congregation joined the campaign

staff. It was decided to conduct a new building fund

campaign to raise $115,000 prior to obtaining a mortgage.

Architects were interviewed and in June 1966 the firm of

James Wong of Ann Arbor was agreed upon to create the

design. In September a preliminary sketch met with approval

and details of the November–December fund raising program

were planned.

The one-month fund raising campaign was to be conducted

November 6 to December 4, paid for from a checking

account at the National Bank and Trust in the amount of an

anonymous donation of $1,000 for expenses of conducting

such a campaign.

It was anticipated that the cost of constructing and fitting

the building would be approximately $175,000. It would be

financed in part by accumulation of surpluses (faith) in the

next three years, in part by a three-year pledge program, and

in part by long-term borrowing with the initial indebtedness

in the area of $115,000.

At the annual meeting in January 1967 chairman Ralph

Vogler recommended plans as submitted by the New Building

Committee be approved and that the committee proceed

with plans for construction of Phase 2 consisting of a sanctuary

and additional Christian education space. This was passed

with a commendation to Marian Elliott, Edward Elshout and

Reverend G for all the work and effort they had invested in

the building fund campaign.

In June 1967 the architect was authorized to prepare detailed

drawings which were approved in November. Ralph

Vogler advised the congregation-corporation in a special

meeting in December 1967 that the estimated cost of the

new addition would be $300,000, broken down as follows:

building, $230,000; construction contingencies, $22,000;

architect’s fees, $25,200; chancel furniture pews, Christian

education equipment, kitchen remodeling, parking lot, sidewalks

and landscaping, $22,800. The congregation accepted

this report and in January 1968 received approval from the

Presbytery for a program of $300,000, the mortgage not to

exceed $200,000 at not more than 7% interest. Final plans

and construction specifications were reviewed with the architect

and advertising for construction bids went out.

Bids were to be opened at the church at 4 pm on Valentine’s

Day 1968. Six bids were received, the lowest being

submitted by the Butcher-Willits Company. Meanwhile, the

architects were negotiating to find further adjustments to

the sixties and beyond—31

32—the first twenty-five years

The first shovel-full of earth is about to

be turned at the sanctuary groundbreaking

ceremony on Palm Sunday 1968.

Left to right: Sam Craig, Bart Berg, Edward

Elshout, Marvin VanEyck, Ralph

Vogler and Rev. Gensheimer.

educe the cost, and delicious dinners produced by Reuben

and Eileen Beuerle were being held to augment the building

funds. The youth groups held a spaghetti dinner, the Women’s

Association was working – all were making contributions

to the cause.

In March 1968 the congregation approved execution of

the necessary contracts for a building costing up to $300,000

with a mortgage loan not to exceed $200,000. A vote of thanks

was given to Ralph Vogler and the sub-committee for leadership

through the period of preparation.

By April 1968 letting of contracts had been approved, a

mortgage of $189,000 at 6 ³⁄4% interest had been obtained

through the Ann Arbor Savings and Loan, and the building

brick had been selected. On Palm Sunday, April 7, after worship

(held in the Phase 1 building) the congregation with

great fanfare and ebullient spirits, joyfully trooped outdoors

for the groundbreaking ceremony. The choir anthem was

“We Would Be Building Temples Still Undone.” Phase 2 was


Originally, the Livingston firm had envisioned the building

area, which dropped below a ridge paralleling Greenview

Drive, to encompass a stream running along the north side of

the three-phase campus plan, meandering around the buildings,

and ending in a reflecting pool in the south area of the

property. The first plans for the sanctuary showed a building

set on a slab with no basement. Architect Wong advised

borings on the site to determine subsoil characteristics for

the design of the foundations. These indicated footings must

be fourteen feet below grade. In addition, in the area where

Phase 2 was planned, dumping of excavation materials from

neighborhood construction had been permitted, creating an

immense land fill which required excavation to permit building.

With this deep an excavation required for the footings,

plus elimination of the landfill, a basement seemed logical.

the sixties and beyond—33

God moves in mysterious ways – and thus what might have

been a foolish error (omission of a basement) was prevented.

But the meandering stream was necessarily eliminated.

One major building delay occurred due to a strike by craft

unions, and the “sidewalk engineers,” in their eagerness, felt

the building was taking shape at a snail’s pace. Many lengthy

meetings, painful decisions, and arduous work and planning

sessions contributed toward this fulfillment of a dream.

Building Design

The new sanctuary unit was the second stage in a three-unit

master plan. The bold roof line was to project some fifty

lineal feet above ground level, to stand above all other area

structures, symbolizing a place of Christian worship.

The sanctuary was designed to convey the idea of the gathered

community. There are no barriers between chancel and

pews and the symbols are few and simple: the communion

table, baptismal font, pulpit and Celtic cross. The building is

a two-story structure with activity rooms under the sanctuary

and a connecting link housing Christian education classrooms

and an office. The total area is 11,500 square feet.

In January 1969 Mr. Vogler reported that the committee

had voted to purchase uncushioned pews and chancel furniture

at a cost of $4,759. Members were given the opportunity

to purchase a pew, and do-it-yourself projects flourished (one

being tiling of the basement).

In July the congregation was asked to increase the authorized

limit of $300,000 for capital expenditures for the new

building to $325,000 while remaining within the mortgage

limit. At the same time, a sum of $450 was optimistically set

aside by Session in eager anticipation of not-too-distant dedication


Completion of construction and a building ready for use

and commencement of worship was nearly accomplished by

34—the first twenty-five years

Easter 1969. One summer worship service had been held in

the incompleted new sanctuary (two Sunday services were

still being conducted during the year).

The first marriage performed in the new sanctuary was

that of associate member Bruce (Meilenggaard) Neilson and

Kathleen Whelan on August 2, 1969. The first child of communing

members baptized in the new building was Robin

Maria Armstrong, infant daughter of Robert and Roberta

Armstrong on September 14. Neither family resides in Ann

Arbor currently but the Nielsons returned to have their first

child baptized at Westminster in 1980.


Fifty new hymnals were purchased in honor of the planned

October 12 dedication program with nameplates to be placed

within for those who wished to donate a book ($2.50 each).

The remaining cost was to be taken from the general fund.

A new dedication anthem, “Christ our Cornerstone,” composed

by member Hayden Morgan in collaboration with

Reverend G, was first used on the occasion and inserted in

the hymnals. Twenty-two new members joined the church on

Dedication Sunday, October 12, 1969.

Dedication week was scheduled for October 5–12. A

dedication dinner was held October 10 with an anniversary

dinner continuing as a fall tradition for many years. Having

reached the age of majority it has been billed as a homecoming

dinner in recent years. But in this year of 1981 it will be

celebrated as the twenty-fifth anniversary dinner.

The Reverend Mr. G. Merrill Lenox, Executive Director

of the Washtenaw Council of Churches, preached on Worldwide

Communion Sunday, October 5, and Dr. Robert D.

Swanson, President of Alma College, delivered the sermon

at the October 12 morning services as part of the dedicatory


the sixties and beyond—35

The formal dedication service was at 3:30 in the afternoon

on October 12. Participating were the Reverend Mr. L. Wilson

Kilgore, senior pastor at Cherry Hill United Presbyterian

Church of Dearborn, who gave the sermon; the architect and

contractor; members of the Building Committee; the choir;

and many other area notables. A second dedication anthem,

“How Lovely is This Place,” adapted from Psalm 84, was composed

by Haydn Morgan.

In 1972 the term

“Mortgage and


Fund” was

substituted for

“New Building

and Development

Fund” because of


generated by the

latter name after

the sanctuary

building had been

completed and

was in use.

Late in 1969 another three-year building

fund campaign was mounted, to be

known as the New Building and Development

Fund. Pledges were solicited for

completion of the new sanctuary, modification

of the original structure, and the

landscaping, with a goal of $100,000.

The final report by Ralph Vogler on the

New Building Committee was presented

at the annual meeting in January 1970.

He indicated that all work was essentially

complete on the new structure and recommended

the committee be dismissed, with

any unfinished business to be handled by Session. Any funds

remaining in the building fund would be transferred to the

New Building and Development Fund. Special recognition

of the committee was made with presentation to each of a

copy of The New Testament in Modern English by J. B. Phillips

“in gratitude for untiring service.”

36—the first twenty-five years

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth

. . . but lay up for yourselves treasures

in heaven . . . (Matt. 6:19–20)

3 Oiling the Bearings

As in any household, in a church an area of major concern

is – forever – The Budget. This segment on financial

and financing problems is included to underscore the diligence

and determination of those who guided the early days

and kept the ship afloat, always advancing its progress.

Noted earlier was the immediate need of the initial members

to contribute not only to an operating budget but also

to pledge to a building fund. In addition to sacrificial giving,

through the years the members contributed as much labor as

possible in window washing, painting, blacktopping, even to

mowing the church lawn after the site was occupied (although

neighbors complained “proper mowing” should be arranged

for the next year!). Generous regular gifts from First Presbyterian

Church, and loans from appropriate church boards,

combined with their own giving, enabled our members to

keep forging ahead, albeit on a deficit budget for some time.

All of the usual but frequently unanticipated pitfalls and

potholes popped up including such hindrances and roadblocks

as assessments for storm sewer and curbs on Barnard

Road on the north side of the property, which were shared

with the city for six years. Also, improvements to the park-

oiling the bearings—37

ing lot were necessary as was a new roof on the original unit

in 1973. For this latter the congregation voted to authorized

a second mortgage from Ann Arbor Savings and Loan for a

maximum loan of $10,000 at 7% interest, with repayment

over a ten year period. This was signed in 1973, the roof repaired,

and the mortgage paid fully in the late seventies.

An early Westminster Press indicated that the church goal

for 1960 was to be self-supporting; this admirable intent was

repeated annually for several more years thereafter. Although

Westminster had grown from a mission church to a mature

Christian congregation in four years, several years of deficit

financing loomed ahead.

Because no money could be budgeted for property improvement

and beautification, the year 1962 was declared a

“year of emphasis on landscaping.” Individuals were invited to

contribute trees at $10 each, particularly for the back border

area. This met with great success and resulted in the donation

and planting of forty-five Colorado spruce trees.

In 1963, after Phase 1 had been occupied for several years,

a three-year debt retirement program, via special pledges,

was voted and a request made for $3,500 from the Board of

National Missions and $1,500 from First Presbyterian Church

of Ann Arbor for 1964. In 1964 the Stewardship Committee

announced 82 units had pledged $15,200 for the operating

and benevolence program and 52 units had pledged $5,600

for the debt retirement and building fund. Some premature

“chicken counting” may have taken place when the Session

voted in October 1965 that (in view of their $1,500 gift the

previous year) $1,500 from the First Presbyterian Church, if

offered, be accepted with thanks! Also in that year the final

assessment for paving on Greenview Drive was paid with

special funding to avoid a 5% interest rate penalty.

At last the annual report for 1965 was able to state that

the commitment to self-support made the previous autumn

38—the first twenty-five years

was one year ahead of schedule. The National Missions Committee

of the Presbytery and the Westminster congregation

were informed. The pledging campaign progressed to an

over-subscription of the proposed budget, with 103 pledges

for $20,600 to the regular fund, and 78 pledges of $7,700 to

the debt and building fund.

It was a red-letter year. Congratulations were received in

December from Rev. Kenneth Carey, chairman of the National

Missions Committee, on the move to become self-supporting.

At the next annual meeting Joseph Akerman announced that

Westminster had now gone off National Mission support. A

letter from the synod’s Committee on National Missions also

expressed sincere appreciation of our assuming self-support.

First Presbyterian Church sent a greeting with a benevolence

gift of $960, while Dr. Ernest Campbell, senior pastor, wrote,

“We rejoice with you that Westminster is coming on so strong.

More power to you!” Everyone rejoiced, no doubt thankfully,

that the infant church had progressed through childhood and

adolescence to true adulthood and self-sufficiency. Our cup

was “full to overflowing.”

Wish Lists

At no time in our twenty-five years has there been a dearth of

“special funds” or “needed gifts.” Always needed were robes

for junior and handbell choirs, landscaping, furniture, kitchen

equipment, and other welcome, but not priority, items.

When the Session voted in January 1972 to purchase the New

English Bible for the sanctuary pews, 60 to 65 had been sold

to members as gifts or memorials by the next month. The

goal was astutely and forthwith raised to 100.

Many individual gifts have been received with appreciation

through the years. Some still in use include the communion

service (the Knoll family), chancel candlesticks (Doris

Bach), offering plates (many donors in memory of Samuel

oiling the bearings—39

Porter), baptismal urn, appliances for the kitchen and for

building and lawn maintenance, the American and Christian

flags with standards (Mr. and Mrs. Ray Spokes), narthex table

(built by Claude Rebeck), silver tea set (Arnett family), and

several gift pianos which subsequently have joined the great

celestial orchestra. The first piano given in 1958 by Miss Ellen

Bach was transported without charge by the Mayflower

Transit Company. A later instrument was donated by the Ted

Kennedy, Jr., family in 1961, and several gifts made possible

the 1978–79 purchase of a piano currently in St. Andrews

Hall. As recently as 1981 a pewter vase was contributed by

the Martha Circle and friends in memory of Mildred Mac-


No complaints are registered in black type, but it is well to

note that the finance committees, often in concert with property

committees, in addition to struggling with annual budgets,

monthly bill-paying and cash flow, have also wrestled

regularly with matters ranging from bonding, insurance, fees

for building use by outsiders, and workmen’s compensation,

to the purchase of fire extinguishers and a first aid kit.

Hempstead Bull, a charter member, was the first stated

clerk of the Session, and when he rotated off Session in 1960,

he became financial secretary succeeding Henricka Beach.

He relinquished this position in 1977 and was honored for

his twenty-two years of service in both capacities.

Sam and Helen Craig hold a record for the longest volunteer

service as bookkeepers from 1969 to 1977. They

succeeded Hempstead Bull and continue to do the work of

financial secretary.

A system of “counters” was devised in 1967 for both Sunday

services (at that time) as well as special services, with

guidelines for recording and procedures for banking. In the

late seventies the financial and bookkeeping load had become

so heavy it was deemed advisable to hire a professional

40—the first twenty-five years

ookkeeper. Mrs. Ada Childers has, since mid-1978, held

this position, working efficiently with the treasurer and the

Finance Committee.

Benevolence Giving

Worthy of note in recent years has been a change in the

method of benevolence giving. Benevolence funding, traditionally

included in the general budget, had always been a

cause of concern. The hope remained constant that giving

would increase to a “one for two” point when a dollar for

benevolences could be matched to every two dollars committed

to church operations. In the early seventies contributors

seemed to be increasingly desirous of giving to causes in

which they held a particular interest or identification. Giving

was decreasing.

In 1974 the Stewardship Committee under chairman Al

Banning proposed a “Faith Promise” system of giving which

would be a commitment between an individual and God,

with no written pledge for intended annual benevolence

giving being made to the church. This innovative plan was

adopted with the first Sunday of each month designated as

the date on which to contribute to any one of the Sessionapproved

causes worthy of church support. Members could

and still do make suggestions for additions or deletions to the

list which the Stewardship Committee and Session evaluate

annually. An assistant financial secretary maintains records

for this fund simply for the purpose of tax information for


A bold move at its inception, Faith Promise giving has

proven very successful by its flexibility. In addition to contributions

to special funds during the year, total benevolence

contributions to Faith Promise by individuals has increased

yearly, with 1979 exceeding 1978 by 24% and 1980 increasing

another 20% over the previous year.

oiling the bearings—41

After maturity to self-support and a succession of balanced

budgets, Westminster was able to extend its outreach

to make contributions to the New Development Funds of

other new mission churches. Grateful for early assistance

from others, in particular First Presbyterian Church which

was also supporting Calvary Presbyterian Church, Westminster

has been able to direct special offerings to the development

of St. Thomas Presbyterian Church in Shelby Township

and Geneva Church in Canton Township in recent years.

While struggling with a 1961 budget which allocated

$1,100 for utilities (“and a cold winter could send it higher”),

the Finance Committee of 1981 faces a utility bill for gas,

water, electricity and telephone of $12,725 annually (with

prayers for a “mild winter”). The first nebulous budget in

1957–58 uncertainly allotted $4,200 plus rent, pension and

car allowance for pastoral ministry. In 1981 the congregation,

facing the cold facts of inflation, but enthused with the vision

and scope of programming within the church, adopted a budget

of $123,811, exclusive of benevolence giving which was

just under $15,000 in 1980, for the silver anniversary year.

42—the first twenty-five years

Teach me to do thy will, for you are

my God! (Ps. 143:10)

4 Christian Education


oremost in the minds of most committed Christians is the

religious education and training of their children. Member

families of Westminster Presbyterian Church embraced

this concern immediately. A Sunday school program was instituted

March 18, 1956, in the fifth week of the group’s existence

in the apartment location.

Any Christian education program seems almost destined

to an ongoing struggle – for funds, for teachers, for professional

guidance and direction. After the first year of the

Sunday school’s operation, pressure from some of the Stadium-Nob

Hill apartment residents was largely responsible

for cancelling plans for church school classes during the summer

of 1957. But on the whole, the Sunday school classes and

attendance flourished and a six-week teacher training program

began that year, in conjunction with First Presbyterian

Church, as the religious instruction program was begun in


By 1959 there was an enrollment of eighty-five in six classes

and by September 1960 the overload in Sunday school classes

was alleviated by creating a second session concurrent with

church services. By late 1962 over 11% of the membership

christian education—43

44—the first twenty-five years

Adult education class

members ply Professor

Akerman with questions.

Left to right: Helen West,

Joe Akerman, Lois Hoffman,

Jean Willing, Edgar

Westrum, Marian Elliott.

was involved in teaching the congregation’s young people.

A constantly recurring theme through the years, in committee

reports as well as Session and Christian Education

Committee minutes, was the fact that lack of professional

leadership in the field of Christian education was a distinct

handicap to the program. Constantly stressed and reiterated

in annual meetings and budget consideration was the “need

to enlarge our vision.” In January 1967 the Christian Education

Committee urgently recommended to Session that “a

director of Christian education be hired at the earliest possible

time.” This was but the first of many similar pleas. A job

description was drawn up by the Administration Committee

in February in order to pursue this goal. Alas, it was not yet

to be accomplished.

Rev. James Green was hired in 1969–70, with funds donated

by the Women’s Assocation, to assist the pastor on

Sunday. He became known by the congregation as Christian

education counselor for junior and senior high youths, but he

remained only one year.

Finally, at the annual meeting in 1971, five percent of the

reserve for operating contingency was put into the budget for

a program of leadership training and/or staffing, beyond the

amount already budgeted for operation and supplies in the

Christian education department.

For a few years thereafter, youth counselors were employed

– usually University of Michigan students affiliated

with Christian campus organizations – to work with the young

people in fellowships, Junior Club, Junior Day Camp and

Sunday school. Most successful of these was Michael Malone,

a university student whose longer stay, popularity with young

people as well as adults, and earnest intent to enter the ministry,

gave his leadership some authority. After nearly two years

of service to Westminster, during which time he preached

several sermons, Mike entered Gordon-Conwell Seminary in

christian education—45

Massachusetts under the care of the Presbytery of Detroit

with the endorsement of our Session. He successfuly completed

his theological studies and is now pastor of a Presbyterian

Church in America congregation in Virginia.

However, it was not until 1977 that the congregation

agreed to budget $8,000 for a director of Christian education,

with the stipulation that a commitment to hire would not be

made until funds were projected to be available later in the


At last in August 1977 it came to pass: William S. Craven

was hired as the first director of Christian education of Westminster

Presbyterian Church. After a few months, however,

the Christian Education Committee realized the program

was not proceeding in the direction which had been its specifically

established intention. In September 1978 the Session,

Administration and Christian Education Committees

and Mr. Craven agreed to disagree and the church was again

searching for a director of Christian education.

In the spring of 1979 the position was offered to Miss Julie

Chamberlain whose educational background and experience

in teaching, youth and mission work, communicant education

and officer training appeared to qualify her well. Julie

was welcomed at an informal coffee hour in July and officially

at a post-worship reception September 9 and was ensconced

in an office carved out of a corner of St. Andrews Hall. In the

1979 annual report, Julie was characterized as “an enabler in

a ministry that had been heretofore limping along.” In the

two years she has been on the staff, interest in the youth

fellowships and Sunday school programs has soared as she

keeps two and a half jumps ahead of everyone.

Adult Education

A highly successful adult education program has been established.

Through the years, various methods of Christian edu-

46—the first twenty-five years

cation for adults had been attempted, altered, abandoned,

reinstituted in new forms, in an effort to keep abreast of the

changing needs and desires of the congregation. In the midseventies

Sunday morning adult classes gave way to Sunday

evening classes which were well attended. Various Bible and

book study groups had been formed through the years, among

them the Alpha Study Group, the women’s book review (all

wanted to listen, none wanted to review!), and the Strugglers

Bible Study. One of the most successful study groups has

been the Men’s Breakfast Club which has met under various

formats and at varying times but seems unextinguishable for

any prolonged time. After their Wheaties, rolls and coffee

the men listen to speakers on subjects such as books of the

Bible or Biblical themes. (Not to slight their culinary prowess,

this group has provided delectable breakfasts for the Easter

sunrise services, the laymen’s group of west-side churches, as

well as for themselves upon more ambitious occasions.)

For a number of years two sections of Sunday school were

conducted. In March of 1964 the Christian Education Committee

voted to discontinue the 11 am junior class, instruction

to be confined to the 9:30 am period on Sunday, plus

a late afternoon meeting on Wednesdays with a box lunch

before class. This became the forerunner of the Junior Club

as it has existed for a number of years. The current successful

format of fourth through sixth grades meeting after school

from October through April, seems well entrenched. An

awards program for attendance, scholarship and choir attendance

caps the Junior Club program at the year’s final meeting

in April. Junior Day Camp, a summer program, keeps this

age level interested during the school vacation period when

Junior Club is in abeyance.

The first Vacation Bible School was conducted June 22–

July 4, 1959, with an enrollment of thirty-three children. This

has been an annual early summer event, with neighborhood

christian education—47

children invited to participate. Excellent leadership has provided

these little ones with some of their earliest religious



A Westminster Fellowship meeting for junior high youth was

first held on January 26, 1958. An early campout for junior

highs occurred in June 1959 when “spirits were not dampened

in the rain although the popcorn was.” Ruth Stewart

and Virginia Newell were credited with gourmet cooking for

an army on two gas stoves. This was the first of many such

memorable occasions through the years from which our

youth participants record their own unique experiences for

nostalgic recollections of “Remember when . . .?” in a Christian


The youth met Sunday evenings at the manse or in homes

and as numbers increased to justify two groups, a senior high

Westminster fellowship was organized in 1960. The Westminster

Press recorded that “the group could use more members,

especially girls (so say the boys).”

Obtaining adult advisers for the youth groups presented

continuous difficulties but somehow it was always managed.

With Julie Chamberlain at the helm the past two years, the junior

and senior high fellowships have been guided in a highly

successful and varied program of study, fun, service projects,

retreats – always something different to pep up potentially

flagging youthful interest. As some youth members become

older they in turn have assisted in the leadership.

Sunday school

Staffing the church school with teachers is also a never-ending

task as indicated in the September 9, 1971 minutes of the

Christian Education Committee: “The meeting came to a

48—the first twenty-five years

close with Dave Calhoun and John McCrea dashing to the

phone to summon more loyal souls to the task of teaching at


The two-session Sunday school which required double

staffing contributed to the difficulty of obtaining sufficient

teachers for many years. In 1966 the double schedule was

evaluated with the conclusion that “the church school has

and will have problems” but it was felt the double schedule

was successful (there were two morning worship services at

the time) and “we cannot go back to a single schedule.”

Again in 1972, however, the desirability of having dual

morning worship and Sunday school classes was studied

by the Worship and Christian Education Committees with

the resulting establishment, by Session action, of a single

10:15 am Sunday program beginning in October. This presented

no problems and received many favorable comments

upon implementation.

In 1978 the Christian Education Committee led by Jan

Thomas and the Session agreed to attempt a courageous step

with a completely new set-up and time schedule for Sunday

morning. In September, at the beginning of the fall season,

worship was scheduled to start at 10 am with children

through fourth grade attending with their families the first

twenty minutes of the service. The children then were to depart

during the singing of a hymn to their own junior worship

service. Following morning worship, and a fifteen minute fellowship

period, Sunday school classes for adults and children

were to be conducted.

This program, considered highly controversial and experimental

when adopted with considerable apprehension,

has been eminently successful due to careful planning, with

topics and courses of exceptional interest to adults, as well

as dedicated and skilled teachers and leaders. Adults have a

christian education—49

choice of three study courses each of three terms throughout

the year, while children beyond nursery level are taught the

approved curriculum.

In the fall of 1979 a church-wide Scripture memorization

program was implemented. Booklets with Bible verses

suitable for eight age levels were prepared and offered for

memorization and recitation before “hearers” to any who voluntarily

chose to be in the program. This has met a need for

familiarizing all ages with knowledge of Bible passages essential

to a well-informed Christian. Those who succeed in the

memorization program are commended and recognized.

Naming of church rooms by the Christian education department

received much consideration several years ago.

The Heritage Room, Geneva, Psalter, Celtic and Founders

Rooms and John Knox, John Hus, Martin Luther, John Calvin

and John Monteith Rooms, are primarily classrooms and

all are signed with plastic name brackets.

Other activities have complemented the Christian education

programs at various times including the annual churchwide

picnic, women’s weekly Bible study, summer family

night suppers and movies, and numerous other events geared

to ongoing and emerging interests.

It appears that with the vitalizing of courses, the outstanding

leadership of lay and professional people, and the enthusiastic

participation by increasing numbers of our membership,

the peak of effectiveness of the Christian education program

has yet to reveal itself.

50—the first twenty-five years

Be strong and of good courage;

be not frightened, neither be dismayed:

for the Lord your God is with you

wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

5 Peaks and Valleys


o celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Gensheimer

pastorate in 1974, an ad hoc committee was formed with

intent to provide a gift which would accomplish the realization

of every Presbyterian minister’s dream – a visit to Scotland,

cradle of our religious heritage.

The membership was invited, as discreetly as possible, to

participate in a travel fund to permit the pastor to engage in

a short course of study at St. Andrews College in Scotland,

possibly Will Barclay, and to travel with his family in other

areas of interest. At the anniversary dinner in October 1974,

a check and bank passbook with appropriate funds were presented

to an astonished recipient. Because it was a surprise

gift it was necessary to obtain retroactive Session action to approve

a “Minister’s Special Education Fund” and thus avoid

complications with the irs!

A family trip of such magnitude required considerable advance

preparation. Although planning was begun soon after

presentation of the gift, difficulties arose with the scheduling

of the popular summer class at St. Andrews, so it was not until

the summer of 1976 the family embarked on the long-anticipated

trip to Scotland. At the twentieth anniversary dinner in

peaks and valleys—51

Good Scotsman Lloyd MacDonald, surrounded by an ad hoc committee,

presents a check for a trip to Scotland to an astonished pastor in honor of

his ten years of service to Westminster. Left to right: Rev. Gensheimer,

David Calhoun, Herman Deal, Lloyd MacDonald, Allen Schwadron,

Henricka Beach, Lowell Tompkins.

October 1976 the congregation was treated to a slide presentation

of the summer’s travels in Scotland and on the continent,

with the “Five gs” gaily outfitted in their Dress Stewart

tartans, vests, tam-o-shanters and skirt. Several appropriate

pictures were presented to the church as gifts of appreciation,

and have been hung in various parts of the buildings, as their

“thank you” for this remarkable opportunity.

A sign labelling the fellowship room as “St. Andrews Hall”

was created by William Kuhn for the event. It hangs there

today, a reminder of the occasion and the manner in which

the area received its name.

A Few Crises

A crisis is real. A mini-crisis is in the eye of the beholder or

the mind of the assumed participant. Few major crises have

interrupted Westminster’s first twenty-five years.

52—the first twenty-five years

One of the earliest “mini-crises” took place in the mid-sixties

when Reverend G and Reuben Beuerle incurred a mild

scrape with the law. They were enthusiastically erecting signs

at the corner of Stadium Boulevard and Greenview Drive, as

well as Main Street and Scio Church Road, directing wouldbe

worshippers to the church. This proved to be an act of

dubious legality and while the first sign was victim of an accident,

the city requested removal of the second. A handsome

lighted outdoor sign was erected on the east exterior of the

building in 1978. In May 1981 an identifying sign was placed

on the southeast corner of the property at the intersection of

Greenview and Scio Church Road.

In 1967 the Session had voted to destroy the “old loose-leaf

church records” inasmuch as they had been recorded (“and

Rev. Gensheimer

proudly erects a sign

directing visitors to

the church.

peaks and valleys—53

proofread”) in a new Church Record Book. (Session minutes

are now being recorded in Book 4, having filled three and a

half large volumes.) A safe was purchased for temporary storage

of money as well as the record books.

On one fateful Sunday night in 1971 Gil Thrane, from

his home behind the church on Hanover Court, saw questionable

lights burning late in the office. Police, upon investigating,

found a broken basement window and a missing safe.

The missing object was found within a day in a field at Scio

Church and Zeeb Roads, door blown open. Crime did not

pay for these disgusted burglers, however, as they found no

Sunday collection, it having been banked, but only the record

books. These, fortunately, had been protected from overnight

rain damage by the slightly open door. An insurance

claim was filed in connection with the theft and the large safe

was replaced by a smaller donated one. This has been kept

unlocked, with combination tumbler removed along with

temptation, since a locksmith was summoned to open it in

yet another mini-crisis when the records were inadvertently

locked up and no one was able to open the combination. Only

records of no interest to outsiders repose therein nowadays.

On another occasion the gift set of silver tea service disappeared

for some time. Months after replacement by a new

service, the original set was discovered in the small storage

area at the northeast corner of St. Andrews Hall, apparently

having been dumped hastily inside the door by a “borrower.”

Pastor’s Illness

The nearest to a major crisis in the church occurred in summer

1978. Reverend G and Anne were spending a week of

their vacation at a national Suzuki Violin Institute in Ithaca,

New York, with their two youngest sons, Paul and Peter, who

had been students of the instrument for some time.

Late in the evening of Thursday, July 20, telephones of

54—the first twenty-five years

Session members began ringing as Stated Clerk Betty Arnett

was endeavoring to notify each one that the pastor had suffered

a possible heart attack and was hospitalized. The wires

heated up for some time as calls were exchanged to obtain

information and make arrangements for Sunday services.

Inasmuch as Reverend G was a patient in Tompkins

County Hospital in Ithaca, Ruth and Lowell Tompkins immediately

packed a suitcase and moved into 3220 Farmbrook

Court to serve as surrogate parents during the interim until

the situation stabilized and events were under control.

Son John Mark was already home working in preparation

for fall entrance into the University of Michigan. Paul

and Peter were returned to Ann Arbor over the weekend by

other families attending the Institute. Several days of con-

Rev. Gensheimer

conducts worship

in the mid-sixties in

the Phase 1 building.

Organist Florence

Westrum is hidden

behind the Allen


peaks and valleys—55

cern, anxiety and uncertainty ensued until it was determined

a heart attack had indeed occurred. Various arrangements

were necessary to conduct church business since the time of

hospitalization would be indefinite.

The congregation rose to the occasion in admirable fashion,

the committee chairmen and church secretary, Sally Carpenter,

maintained all essential business, Rev. William Baker

of Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor moderated

the next Session meeting, and a letter was carefully prepared

and sent to all Westminster members to dispel rumors and

explain the exact circumstances.

After a few days, the three sons declared their ability to

be independent and manage on their own. Within less than

three weeks Charles and Anne were able to drive back to

Ann Arbor and, after a few additional weeks of rest and recuperation,

Reverend G returned to part-time, then full-time

service. Many newer members of the congregation probably

are not even aware of this crisis and time of anxiety which

had a happy outcome with Reverend G’s full recovery.

56—the first twenty-five years

I delight to do thy will, O my God;

thy law is within my heart. (Ps. 40:8)

6 The Distaff Side


ny saga of church organization and building is replete

with contributions of energy, time, creativity, time, funds

and time by the distaff membership.

Almost from the beginning of Westminster Presbyterian

Church, “Presbyterian Chapel Women’s Association” meetings

were held. So named because they met in the “chapel”

in the Stadium apartments, the women first met to re-bind

hymnals donated by other area churches even before electing


A gathering of sixteen ladies occurred at Mrs. Eloise Frisinger’s

on April 19, 1956. The monthly get-togethers, family

picnics and potlucks continued until, in September, a nominating

committee began to function composed of Mrs. Elna

Simons, Mrs. Mancelyn Roth, and Mrs. Eileen Beuerle. The

first president was Elna Simons, elected in 1957, succeeded

by Hope Morrill in 1958. Nineteen women have accepted

the responsibility for leading the Women’s Association in succeeding


Formal acceptance of the Women’s Association as an organization

was postponed by the Session until they were assured

the organizational plan was in full accordance with General

the distaff side—57

Assembly rules. In April 1957 a draft of the Women’s Association

constitution was presented to the Session. This was approved

and the Women’s Association was formally accepted

as an official organization representing all women of Westminster

Church. In her 1957 fellowship report, Mancelyn

Roth indicated that the Association claimed twenty-nine of

the fifty-two women members of the church.


Concurrent with the start of a Women’s Association came the

study circles. The initial meeting of circle #1 was held the

afternoon of November 7, 1956, with Mrs. Artie Troxell as

the leader. Volunteers filled the principal offices, and pledges

to the Women’s Association were accepted for the following

year. Then, as now, the Association is supported primarily by

annual pledges of women in the circles. In March 1959 this

circle was renamed the Sarah Circle in honor of its chairman

Mrs. Sarah Collins.

Records of circle #2 meetings begin in January 1958. Mrs.

Martha Akerman was the chairman and later that year this

evening group’s name was changed to the Martha Circle in

her honor. (Martha also served the church as flower chairman

for well over ten years.) The two circles met monthly,

ten times a year, with the programs following three study

units set out by the Detroit Presbytery.

In February 1966 a morning group to be known as the

Marian Circle, for its first chairman, was formed with a nucleus

of five: Marian McKenzie, Dorothy McDougall, Diane

Bowlin, Pat Trezise and Helen West. By the second meeting

attendance had grown to eight members.

In the fall of 1970 a morning circle was newly formed for

mothers of small children. Known as the Dorcas Circle, the

younger women met monthly at the church with babysitting

available for their youngsters. This lasted for only a few years

58—the first twenty-five years

as the members either left the city or drifted into the evening

circle when Dad could do the baby-sitting.

In the early years planned activities of the Women’s Association

and circles were listed in the Sunday bulletins under

the heading “Women’s Work.” And, indeed it was. From the

start the women collected Betty Crocker coupons and books

of Holden, Top Value, Gold Bell and Green Trading Stamps

for the purpose of furnishing the kitchen and nursery.

Records of the association and circles contain a running

plea and reminder for coupons, stamps, pledging, and “three

dozen cookies.” Receptions, monthly coffee hours for new

members, parties for the children, Vacation Bible School,

and many other social events were conducted by the women

of the church, always requiring many volunteers for service,

as well as “three dozen cookies.”

Fundraising, too, was an important contribution as women

assisted in the building campaigns and acquisition of essential

needs. Their money raisers ran the gamut from the

Christmas gift sale started in 1959 with proceeds to be applied

to the church debt, a “coffee tasting” which netted $102

for the library, to a “Duds for Dishwasher” fashion show in

1975 when the installation of a kitchen dishwasher was the

major project.


Even with their efforts on behalf of temporal needs of the

struggling church, women’s benevolence contributions were

never overlooked or omitted. In the earlier years assistance to

mission areas through the world were alternated, necessarily,

with contributions toward essential needs of the church. In

1960 a sum of $610 was applied to the church building debt;

in 1962, $825 was donated to a mission project; in 1963-64

the building fund for the new sanctuary was enriched by their

contribution of $1,100; in 1971 snack sets were purchased for

the distaff side—59

wedding and other receptions. These are just a few of many

typical contributions. And so it has continued.

In the decade of the seventies the bi-annual Women’s Association

fall bazaar receipts ranged from over $1,000 to more

than $2,700. This amount usually has been divided 60% for

mission causes and 40% for local church needs. In 1973 the

first Westminster cookbook was produced as a fundraiser (a

new cookbook is in production). In 1975 the dishwasher was

finally installed in the kitchen at thrice its originally projected

cost, a boon to overjoyed Junior Club mothers, the Fellowship

Committee, Men’s Breakfast Club participants and

others involved in the gustatorial side of church life. Other

local recipients of funds from the women have included the

Deacons’ fund, the House by the Side of the Road (women

volunteers at the House have given Mondays the appellation

Presbyterian Day”), basement lighting and improvement,

lighted outdoor sign on the Greenview side, handbells, cases

and robes, as well as many more. “Kitchen showers” by the

ladies periodically replenished some of the supplies in the


Women’s Association meetings were held in individual

homes until April 1958 upon near completion of the first

building. Frequently the Sarah Circle and the Martha Circle

held joint meetings. Women’s Association Board minutes,

which begin in November 1962, indicated preference

for open board meetings every two months (circle members

welcome) with concentration on the circles meeting regularly

each month. Two or three joint meetings yearly were recommended.

A June potluck picnic was an “institution” with the Sarah

Circle. In their records for June 2, 1964, the picnic at Dorothy

MacDougall’s had “a record attendance, loads of food,

and the usual rainy evening.” The next year, on June 1, 1965,

their picnic included the Martha Circle – and sure ’nuf it

60—the first twenty-five years

ained that night! Ultimately all circles combined for a Women’s

Association picnic, held for many years at Nora Cooper’s

Liberty Street residence. Later, this June event was held at

the church, thus foiling the weatherman.

Sewing assignments from the Presbytery were one of the

major projects of the women in the early years. Some circles

preferred to keep fingers busy at meetings. In some years

regular “sewing days” were established. Many, many layettes

for overseas, surgical caps for Korean and other foreign hospitals,

and similar quotas were completed. In addition, there

were aprons to be made for Homemakers in memory of late

member Alice Pettibone, a Homemaker employee, and robes

for junior choir and handbell choir to be fashioned. In recent

years, with many women employed, the sewing quota assignments

have given way to other Presbytery requests for funds

or materials. Individually, women have provided Christmas

gifts annually for wards of the Washtenaw County court; for

residents of foster homes, Whitmore Lake and other convalescent

homes; Ypsilanti State Hospital; for private “project”

families; and for the Washtenaw County Department of Social

Services among others. They have helped at blood banks

and international student dinners and luncheons. Many tons

of clothing and blankets for Church World Service, SAFE

House and Appalachian communities have been packed and

contributed through the years.

From the very beginning our women have occupied places

on the governing boards of Westminster, two women having

been elected as elders on the first Session.

Recent innovations in the life of the Women’s Association

include the annual Lenten retreat begun in March 1975

with Serena Vassady’s all-day program “Milestones on Our

Pilgrimage.” A similar event has been continued each succeeding

Lenten season, with a luncheon followed by worship

and communion. A spring salad luncheon honoring women

the distaff side—61

who have joined Westminster during the preceding year has

long been considered an annual highlight.


The purpose of the Women’s Association as stated in the

Yearbook is as follows:

Seeking to be obedient to God’s call in Jesus Christ we unite . . . to

support the mission of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA, to

help one another to grow in Christian faith and understanding, and to

act in Christian concern in the company of God’s people everywhere.

Women’s Association membership consists of all women of

the local congregation who wish to be involved in the program

of the United Presbyterian Women. All women of the

church are invited to participate in the study, service and

fellowship provided by one of the three circles currently in


Our women participate in the three annual celebrations

of the Ann Arbor Council of Church Women: World Day

of Prayer, World Community Day and May Fellowship Day

(sometimes serving as hostess church), and they provide a

Women’s Association representative as liaison to the Ann Arbor

Council of Church Women United.


In October 1977 the first honorary membership given by our

Association to the Program Agency of United Presbyterian

Women was presented to Henricka Beach, and in 1979 a

second award was given in the name of Mildred Byers, thus

establishing a bi-annual custom of honoring local women for

long years of service to their church, the Association and to


62—the first twenty-five years

So – hundreds of layettes, many hours of volunteer service,

and thousands and thousands of cookies later, our women are

still offering their time, talents and creativity to similar causes

and accepting new challenges as Westminster Presbyterian

Church grows and changes along with the world.

the distaff side—63

64—the first twenty-five years

Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit,

serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)

7 People and Programs


umbers are valuable but often misleading, so membership

statistics will be considered only briefly. From the

original eighty-seven charter members in November 1956,

membership at Westminster had grown to 107, 121 and 146

by the close of the three succeeding years.

The membership grew steadily, rather than by “leaps and

bounds.” The fact that a total of 1,155 communicant members

appears on the rolls during the twenty-five year period,

compared to a mid-1981 membership of 465 does not speak

unfavorably of Westminster. Ann Arbor is a transient town;

often university families are here for study or teaching before

moving on, and such is the case as well with employees of

some engineering and light industrial firms which are prone

to employee transfers. We simply rejoice in the presence and

talents of short term members within our church life and

wish them well as they move on.

On the other hand, sixteen charter members are still resident

and active. Our oldest living member, Miss Florence

Guenther, also a charter member, resides at Hillside Terrace

in Ann Arbor, and celebrated her one hundredth birthday

May 18 of this church anniversary year.

people and programs—65

There are of course many loyal members who have been

active for fifteen or twenty years, although they are not charter.

Baptisms performed during this first quarter century number

seventy-two; thirty-seven infants and children and thirty-five

adults have received this sacrament. The first baptism was

that of Nancy Lynn Miller, daughter of Rev. Richard and Lois

Miller, on June 29, 1956. Marriages which have been solemnized

number 126 while there have been thirty-seven deaths

of communing members. We count our blessings in quality

of service and dedication to God and the well-being of Westminster

rather than in numbers.


Growth was steady and with it ensued a proliferation of organizations

and programs to meet the needs and challenges of a

growing and changing membership and community.


Almost from its inception Westminster has been fortunate

to have a maturing music program. Charter member Florence

Westrum directed the first choir of seven members on

November 25, 1956, which sang from music loaned by First

Presbyterian Church.

Mr. and Mrs. William Elder donated the first electronic

organ in December 1957. After two loaned instruments,

pledges from nineteen families made possible the purchase

of an Allen demonstrator electronic organ for $3,900. This

instrument served the congregation in both buildings for approximately

twenty years until installation of the new Schantz

pipe organ in October 1980. Florence Westrum has served

faithfully as organist, as well as the original choir director, for

the entire twenty-five years.

The choir increased to a membership of ten in its second

season and to fifteen in 1959. Early rehearsals were

66—the first twenty-five years

The Chancel Choir rehearses,

with accompaniment by Florence

Westrum. Left to right: Florence

Westrum, Ralph Vogler, Leone

Thrane, Jacqueline Kutkuhn, Dick

and Kathy Trim, Margo Gill, Bob

Piatt, Gordon Kennedy.

people and programs—67

held frequently at the home of Martha Akerman or Florence

Westrum. In June 1967 Jeanne Merlanti was appointed choir

director and Mrs. Westrum was commended by the Session

for her past services in a dual capacity and appreciation was

extended that she would continue as organist.

The Worship Committee continued to explore the cost of

recruiting a director of music. During and after Mrs. Merlanti’s

1975–76 leave of absence, a succession of University of

Michigan music students served including Mark Webb and

Tom Britanyak. Current Director of Music Robert T. Allen,

a University of Michigan doctoral candidate, was engaged in

August 1977, and under his excellent tutelage the choir has

expanded its repertoire to include a Fauré requiem, a Bach

cantata, selections from Mendelssohn’s Elijah and other demanding

productions. Membership in the chancel choir has

remained in the 25-30 range in recent times.

Accoustical problems continued to plague the choir for a

number of years after they were installed in the south transept

of the new sanctuary. Finally the choir was relocated to

the north front of the new sanctuary on February 8, 1976,

celebrating the occasion with special music. Spring 1981 saw

the addition of carpeted risers for the choir just in time for

Palm Sunday, improving vision as well as sound.

In March 1975 the Worship Committee voted to establish

a special fund to accumulate gifts for the purchase of a

new pipe organ at such time replacement of the sometimesailing

electronic instrument would be necessary. A special

committee was organized to “encourage, coordinate and administer”

memorial gifts, this group to be a sub-committee

of the Finance Committee. Several years of intense research

by Fayola Ash and committee members, along with a threeyear

pledging campaign, a matching gift donation and other

contributions, resulted in congregational approval in January

1979 of a contract with the Schantz Organ Company of

68—the first twenty-five years

Orrville, Ohio, for construction of a pipe organ of sixteen or

seventeen ranks and console. A year later an additional one

and a half ranks were approved.

Parish Assistant John Mecouch (also teacher, preacher

and choir soloist) and Music Director Robert Allen were

deeply involved in this project, as were Clifford Morris of

the Property Committee and the pastor. Actual installation

involved only about a week of the organ company’s presence

beginning October 27, 1980. Numerous Westminster

members were on hand to watch the progress and to have

an actual part in carrying the eleven hundred pipes into the

sanctuary. On Sunday, November 2, the new instrument was

played publicly for the first time, and an all-church orchestra

premiered on this occasion. It was an auspicious and exciting

day marking yet another milepost in our growth.

The dedication recital on November 30, 1980 was presented

by Dr. Marilyn Mason, Ann Arbor’s internationally

known organ expert, who had been helpful in planning and

consultations from the beginning. Three succeeding dedicatory

recitals were performed early in 1981 by Donald Renz,

another consultant, Florence Westrum and Fayola Ash. The

final concert in the dedicatory series took place on a May

Sunday evening when combined choirs of Westminster and

of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church plus soloists and instrumentalists

presented a festival service performing the J. S.

Bach Cantata #29. The beautiful eighteen and a half rank

instrument, costing approximately $74,000, is a tremendous

asset to our music ministry and will be a source of great enjoyment

in future years.

There has been a Junior Choir almost every year and at

times there have been a Handbell Choir, Girls’ Ensemble, a

folk guitar group and a church orchestra. We have been fortunate

to have many able vocalists and instrumentalists who

have added musical enjoyment to our services.

people and programs—69

Audio aids, installed in several front pews for the benefit

of hearing-impaired worshippers, have been helpful. Early

in 1981 a public address system was installed in the sanctuary

through the generosity of several private donors. Not

only does this system aid in amplification when necessary, especially

children’s voices, but makes possible the taping of

services for use by shut-ins. Cassettes of all services are now

available to those who are unable to attend worship.

The 1975 Girls’ Ensemble added to our musical praise. Front row, left

to right: Larry Sonntag (director), Melia Arnett, Debbie Buck, Florence

Westrum. Middle row: Nancy Teppo, Ann Bolhouse, Kathy Buck. Top

row: Carol Thrane, Barb Sonntag.

70—the first twenty-five years


Any library, obviously, must begin with “a book.” By 1960

enough books had been donated to start formation of a Westminster

library. It was noted that Elder Jack McAllister had

spent much time and effort cataloging about 150 good books.

Session minutes recorded: “Over fifty books have been borrowed

by thirty-seven people. These figures do not include

those who don’t record their actions. But Westminster is an

honest church – all books are accounted for at year’s end.”

The annual report for 1962 announced current possession

of 180 volumes and a search was underway for a qualified

person to assume duties and responsibilites of caring for the

library. The Women’s Association engaged in a marketing research

project (coffee-tasting, no less!) for a Ph.D. candidate,

earning $102 for the library in 1970. Slowly it was growing to

300 books, shelves would be needed, and a library room was


Apparently there was a lapse in library activity, as Women’s

Association minutes in early 1970 announced “re-establishment”

of the church library under the leadership of

Mildred Byers. With Kathy Powell serving as first chairman

of a new Library Committee, the “give-a-book” project met

with sterling success. The Christian Education minutes of

January 1971 stated: “The library has an excellent selection

of books. What is needed now is readers.” There were then

1,000 books on the shelves.

In January 1974 Mrs. Byers produced and circulated

a booklet, Your Church Library, filled with facts on our library’s

background, its use guidelines, liberal policies and

helpful information. She prepares for the congregation seasonally

several timely reading lists, frequently accompanied

by appropriate handmade bookmarks.

Study chairmen of circles and Women’s Association are

in constant contact with the librarian as an unfailing source

people and programs—71

of assistance. Volunteers staff the desk on Sunday mornings,

although Mrs. Byers is at work in the library several days a

week; other volunteers assist with typing, cataloging and acquiring

new books. The church library, considered one of the

finest in Ann Arbor, now contains slightly fewer than 4,000

volumes reaching to the ceiling on three sides and beginning

to cover windows on the fourth! Available are instructional,

fun, educational and inspirational tomes, as well as thirteen

or fourteen translations of the Bible. There are also two book

display racks in the narthex readied for appropriate occasions

and a continuous series of delightful “not to be missed” decorating

themes in the restful Big Little Library at the southeast

corner of the original building.

Stained glass windows

Someone once voiced the opinion that a sanctuary did not

seem complete without a pipe organ and stained glass windows.

Inclusion of stained glass windows in the original plans

for the new sanctuary was considered cost prohibitive, but

the yearning to have them persisted in the minds of several

people, particularly Wilbur Elliott, in the ensuing years.

Finally in the late seventies a quiet investigation was made

of potential artists, costs and designs. A few prospective donors

were surveyed, with opportunity to participate in such a

project offered via the church newsletter to any who wished

to do so. No full scale public campaign was mounted as the

drive for pledges to the pipe organ fund was underway.

When the installation of stained glass windows in the

sanctuary seemed within reach, the selected artist, Richard A.

Marks of Tecumseh, and his studio began implementation of

the chosen design. Verses from John 15:5 – “I am the vine,

you are the branches . . . for apart from me you can do nothing”

– were chosen as the theme – a particularly suitable one

72—the first twenty-five years

for the long, narrow shape of the windows.

Beginning with a symbol of the Trinity at the apex of the

window above the chancel, the branch and vine theme continues

down and around the side windows of the sanctuary,

incorporating in each several Christian symbols. With Mr.

and Mrs. Marks in attendance, the stained glass windows

were “dedicated to the glory of God, and in memory of loved

ones of the donors” on December 16, 1979. The windows not

only reduce outside glare and give warmth and beauty to the

sanctuary, but their symbols are a constant reminder of various

facets of our faith. A plaque on the south transcept wall

records names of the donors for all time.

Couples’ Club

The Couples’ Club was formed in September 1957 as “Presby-Twos”

and has been known variously as Merry Mates and

Mariners. The purpose is to have a varied program of monthly

gatherings for fun, fellowship, information and service. And

also evident, eating is not a minor part!

The first January event was an ice-skating party at the

University of Michigan rink; twenty-five years later, having

progressed from participants to spectators, the schedule includes

attendance at a University of Michigan hockey game.

Although organized primarily for young couples, singles

are welcomed, and some events such as a popular June weekend

campout include entire families.

Men’s Breakfast Club

The Men’s Breakfast Club has existed for many years, study

having precedence over eating as the main purpose. Meeting

in various formats, usually in a weekly series at 6:45 am, men

of the congregation hear speakers on topics such as books of

the Bible or biblical themes. They have raised funds to assist

other groups in purchasing a refrigerator, carpeting the stage

people and programs—73

in St. Andrews Hall, and other projects. They meet with laymen

of westside churches for special breakfasts several times

a year and are noted for producing exceptional Easter sunrise

breakfasts for Westminster.


In mid-1957 the need for communication within the congregation

engendered a monthly newsletter. Elders Ted Gibson

and Helen West were commended for their work on the first

issue of Westminster Press which, in subsequent years, became

The Church Mouse. After the arrival of Reverend G in

1964, he shouldered the task of producing a monthly newsletter

of several pages. In January 1973 Ruth Tompkins assumed

editorship, increasing publication to a semi-monthly,

legal-sized news sheet featuring a calender. This is mailed

to the membership and to many other interested individuals.

Indicative of years of inflation, the the cost of mailing The

Church Mouse on a bulk permit has increased from 1.4 cents

per piece in 1969 to 3.9 cents per piece in 1981.


Boy Scout Troop #33 of the Portage Trails Council was started

with church sponsorship and chartered to Westminster in

February 1968. The first Court of Honor was held in April

and several of our young men achieved the rank of Eagle

Scout. This sponsorship continued until the mid-seventies.

Although not church-sponsored, a Girl Scout troop was also

permitted to meet in the building for several years under

leadership of a member of the congregation.

Although not a direct function of the church, the Chaing

Mai Mission Board was established in 1974 to provide capital

support for Payap College, the only Christian liberal arts

institution in Thailand. Westminster members Douglas and

74—the first twenty-five years

Jean Sherman, who lived two years in Thailand, were guiding

lights behind the program. The board includes the Shermans,

Pastor Gensheimer, Dwight Bornemeier and Lowell Tompkins

from Westminster. This group’s efforts have resulted in

substantial federal grants from aid in addition to ongoing

private support, and the board oversees the construction of

buildings for this Christian college in Thailand. Chiang Mai

Mission Board is one of the recipients in our program of

Faith Promise giving.

The first church membership directory was published in

June 1957. An attempt is made to update this list annually so

current information is available to all members. A pictorial

directory made its initial appearance in mid-1976. This was

valuable in enabling placement of familiar faces with not-sofamiliar

names and vice versa. A second pictorial directory

was produced in early 1981.

A programmatic calender was devised in 1978 listing regularly

scheduled and special major events in the life of the church

from September through June. This is an endeavor to aid

members in their own planning and anticipation of church

events. The calender subsequently has been made available

each fall, an aid to “priority” planning.

At various times a districting or zoning system has been attempted

with the local membership divided into zones in

Ann Arbor. One elder or deacon would be responsible for

each zone and available for assistance to residents therein. It

was also an attempt to promote closer fellowship and service

within the smaller group. After investment of a great amount

of effort and time, these programs have usually become ineffective

due to the constant movement of members in and

out of zones and the city. With a bylaw revision reinstating a

people and programs—75

oard of deacons in 1978 however, Session committees were

reduced to eight as the deacons assumed some of the transferred

committee responsibilities for physical needs of the

membership. This “second round” has found the deacons filling

a long-needed function in servicing our membership in

personal ways.

Each year, with new members coming on to the Session and

Board of Deacons, officers reexamine the “Goals Study” for

the church, renewing and reemphasizing what the goals

should be.

One year there may be emphasis on evangelism, another

year on teaching, another on calling. Such was the era of the

late sixties when Harmon O. Johnson and his “Ever-Ready

Callers” made visits with the pastor and during the summer

while the pastor was vacationing.

Annual updating of the church rolls, a procedure directed

by the Presbyterian Book of Order, is occasionally neglected.

But an attempt is made to keep rolls accurate and reflective

of an active membership.

This review incorporates only a partial account of groups and

programs not mentioned elsewhere. It is an attempt, however

minimal, to cover a broad spectrum of the total ministry of

Westminster. It is an effort to point up the fact that Westminster

Presbyterian Church committees are trying constantly to

be cognizant of changing needs and challenges and endeavoring

to address them within the Christian framework. And

perhaps it will invoke a little nostalgia in the process!

Pillars Among Many

With the original intent being not to emphasize particular

names and people, the story of the first twenty-five years

of Westminster Presbyterian Church is indeed incomplete

76—the first twenty-five years

Charter member

Henricka Beach

served Westminster

in many capacities,

including in the

church library.

without mention of two charter members whose presence in

many areas is deeply entwined with our history. Both came

from First Presbyterian Church to help found the new mission


After a long and illustrious career as a teacher and business

woman, charter member Henricka B. Beach was appointed

the first financial secretary of the church in early

1957 and there was never a time she was not serving her

church. (She was 68 when she joined.) She was financial secretary

for three years, served on the Session from 1961 to

1964, and was treasurer of the Sarah Circle from its inception

until 1977. President of the Ann Arbor Church Women

United in 1959–60, she was simultaneously third president

of our Women’s Association. In 1969, nearing her eightieth

people and programs—77

irthday, she chaired the Association spring luncheon featuring

a fashion show program!

A great lover of music and possessor of keen intellect, her

attendance at concerts in Hill Auditorium and at numerous

lectures and conferences about town was frequently noted.

An avid world traveler, Henricka not only traveled enthusiastically

on every continent but shared her trips with others,

speaking before many groups and displaying her souvenirs to

children of the Sunday school and others.

She was awarded the first honorary membership by our

Women’s Association in 1977 as she was also inducted as a

committee chairman. In 1979, at the age of ninety-one, she

persuaded authorities to permit her to travel to China, one

of the few areas yet unexplored by her. (Even this trip was

shared as she made follow-up speaking appearances.) On August

14, 1980, after a few days of “not feeling well” Henricka,

still holding a position of church service at age ninety-two

(to say nothing of her community volunteer work), quietly

slipped away to her maker. Unfortunately, she missed by a

few months the twenty-fifth anniversary of the church she

loved, but her presence in all of our history and her strong

example will be forever remembered.

Hempstead S. Bull, retired professor of engineering, another

charter member, was elected to the first Session, of which

he became stated clerk. Noted in his Session minutes of

October 6, 1957: “After a brief special meeting to admit new

members, the meeting then adjourned. The usual prayers

were unfortunately omitted.” This omission obviously was

forgiven by the Lord, as our entire church life has been greatly


In 1960, when Mr. Bull rotated off the Session, he succeeded

Miss Beach as financial secretary, a post in which

he served for seventeen years. Upon relinquishing this ser-

78—the first twenty-five years

Hempstead Bull

was stated clerk of

the original Session

and served for

seventeen years as

financial secretary.

He is pictured here

with his wife Marie.

vice and long membership on committees such as Pastoral

Nominating and Finance, he was honored after worship with

a special coffee hour reception and gift of appreciation for

twenty-two years of dedicated service. We rejoice that he is

still to be seen in the second or third pew in the sanctuary

every Sunday, a loyal and faithful servant during our entire


One other charter member, as noted earlier, is still serving on

the staff. Florence Westrum, first choir director and organist,

has continued as organist for the entire twenty-five years. A

former president of the Women’s Association, she has graciously

provided accompaniment for many special services,

hymn sings and programs during this period.

Again, we reiterate what was indicated in the preface: Space

restrictions simply do not allow mention of every individual

who has served enduringly for many years. They, as well as

many loyal leaders of today, will find their names left to future


people and programs—79

80—the first twenty-five years

Choose this day whom you will serve,

. . . but as for me and my house, we will

serve the Lord. (Joshua 25:15)

8 Into the Twenty-First Century


ow, in 1981, as we enter our second quarter century, we

have endured organizational pangs, completed two

buildings, achieved beautification of our sanctuary with a

splendid pipe organ and stained glass windows, and are endeavoring

constantly to teach the word of God and spread

the gospel.

What challenges will we face and conquer as we complete

this century and enter the twenty-first? What accomplishments

will we be able to celebrate on our fiftieth birthday in

the year 2006?

Traditions have been established through these years

which have become an integral part of our church life. The

children’s family night Christmas program; the Thanksgiving

Eve bread exchange, established in 1973, whereby each

family exchanges with another a loaf of homemade bread

so “breaking bread together” can be observed on Thanksgiving

Day; Easter sunrise services – joyous whether greeted

by sunny dawn or ice-laden treachery; and numerous similar

occasions which create a feeling of community and love and

continuity, abide with us.

We look back only briefly with pride, rejoicing and humble

into the twenty-first century—81

gratitude. Our appreciation never wavers for those laypersons

from First Presbyterian Church who sacrificed so much

of their time to get Westminster started: George Frisinger,

Harmon Johnson, Clarence Roth, George Bowler, Cornelius

Mulder, Dick Enberg, Glen Alt, Lloyd Kempe, Franklin Everett

and others, as well as our own early members.

Our attention and energies must now be directed forward.

“Every church must have more of a future than a past.” There

will be new adventures in stewardship. With one building

over twenty years old, and the worship building over ten

years old, maintenance problems unquestionably will need

to be addressed. Membership nearing 500 indicates physical

expansion. Within a decade there will undoubtedly be another

building program.

Buildings and numbers do not make a church, of course.

Emergence of the music program to maturity, revitalization

of the Christian education department, and other enhancements

in the program have contributed to the spirit of enthusiastic

participation of more and more who are eager to

hear God’s word and wish to become part of his work. This

undoubtedly will lead to additional growth which in turn will

necessitate more than a glance toward Phase 3.

Any study of records confirms this first quarter century

has not been easy. Countless hours of meetings, actual years

of planning, financial adversity and sacrifice and volumes of

rhetoric have been ingredients. It is difficult when we view

our lovely surroundings, to appreciate the diligence which

has brought us to this stage of our development. We are

touched and blessed by God’s abiding love and guidance

through these years.

Whatever frustrations may have been in their paths, the

charter members and those who followed never lost sight of

their goal: to build a house of God. And so it will be for count-

82—the first twenty-five years

less further friends and fellow Christians who follow. Whatever

we erect, whatever deeds we perform, whatever we may

accomplish, will transcend brick and mortar, glass and steel,

and will stand as a lasting symbol of the love of God. And

of our love for God. In all will shine the living witness of a

congregation of caring people, electrified with desire to serve

and glorify him, ever faithful in loving service, work and deed

to their supreme example Jesus Christ.

Rev. Gensheimer leads the congregation in worship in 1980.

into the twenty-first century—83

The Story Continues


Anne H. Gensheimer

Everything that was written in the past was

written to teach us, so that . . . we might

have hope. (Romans 15:4)

PROLOGUE to The Story Continues

The year is 2006 and Westminster is celebrating its fiftieth

anniversary. It is fitting to look back and offer a word of

gratitude to all who have worked so hard to make Westminster

a house of God, proclaiming the word of Jesus Christ. To

remember the past is to see that we are here today by the

grace of God. The strength we draw from the past will propel

us into the future as the next generation takes up the gauntlet

of our ministry.

In 1981 when Ruth Tompkins wrote Window on Westminster,

The First Twenty-Five Years, she raised the questions,

“What challenges will we face and conquer as we complete

this century and enter the twenty-first? What accomplishments

will we be able to celebrate on our fiftieth birthday

in the year 2006?” This continuation of the story of our history

from 1981 to 2006 seeks to answer those questions as we

bring to a close fifty years of ministry.

Ruth correctly predicted the need for an additional building,

Phase 3, which was constructed in 1990. The growing

congregation needed more room. Our worship, Christian

education and mission programs expanded. Our ministerial


leadership increased to meet the needs of the congregation

and the community.

In 1999 we paused to state clearly the mission of Westminster.

The result was a mission statement:

Our mission is to be a caring community of Christians

devoted in joyful worship and service to Jesus Christ

witnessing to all people the good news of God’s saving grace

sharing faithfully the abundant blessings God has given us.

The vision from this statement challenged us to sustain mission

support, increase youth ministry, foster small groups and

expand worship styles.

What follows is an overview of the last twenty-five years,

picking up the story where Ruth Tompkins left off. It is impossible

to include all that has happened or to include all

those saints of the church who have contributed so richly to

the life of the church. We are forever in their debt for their

hard work and dedication.

The question is again raised, what will the next fifty years

bring? We cannot foretell the future, but we can trust that

Westminster will continue to serve our Lord and Savior and

to be a witness to his love in our little corner of the world.

Anne H. Gensheimer

Ann Arbor, Michigan



How beautiful are the feet of those

who bring good news! (Romans 10:15 )

9 Ministerial Leadership


n 1981 when Ruth Tompkins wrote Window on Westminster,

the history of Westminster’s first twenty-five years,

little did the congregation know the dramatic changes soon

to occur. In January 1983 Rev. Charles J. Gensheimer was

diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) and curtailed his ministry

while undergoing treatment. The congregation rallied during

his illness. Committees functioned and pulpit speakers were

recruited including Cliff Anderson, Jerry Brown, Julie Chamberlain,

Rev. William Ferry, Rev. Carl Geider, Dave Klimek,

Rev. David Krehbiel, Dale Leslie, Rev. Donald Lester, Rev.

John Mecouch, Doug Sherman, Vern Terpstra, Tom Trevethan

and Rev. Larry Woodruff. When Pastor Gensheimer

died on Sunday morning August 14, 1983 at the age of 55,

he had been the pastor of Westminster church for nineteen

years – from 1964 to 1983. The congregation mourned his

loss with messages of tribute and condolence. The numerous

lives he touched bore witness to his caring and compassionate

ministry. The death of Rev. Gensheimer in 1983 set in

motion a new chapter in the Westminster story.

The congregation quickly mobilized to begin the process

of calling a new pastor. In October 1983 the Administration

ministerial leadership—89

The Rev. Richard Miller was

Westminster’s first pastor.

90—the story continues

Committee recommended hiring

Rev. Richard A. Dempsey as the

interim pastor and Rev. William

Lutz as pastoral assistant. Rev.

Dempsey had served churches

in Illinois, New York and Michigan

as well as several other interim

pastorates before coming

to Westminster. Rev. Lutz, a retired

Methodist minister living in

Ann Arbor, covered the visitation

needs of the congregation.

At a congregational meeting

on October 23, 1983, the Pastoral

Nominating Committee (PNC) was elected. The committee

included Al Banning and Elsie Claypool (co-chairs), Jerry

Brown, Doris Thrane, Jeff Ash, Helen Deal, Barbara Dick,

William Kuhn and Douglas Sherman. The PNC’s first order of

business was to prepare the Church Information Form. The

Church Information Form was approved by the Session on

December 11 and by the Ministerial Relations Committee of

Detroit Presbytery on January 12, 1984. The first set of dossiers

was received for review in early February. The PNC met

for ten months. They read 150 candidate dossiers, met 37

times, made 42 reference calls, listened to 20 sermon tapes,

traveled 4,980 miles and visited with candidates at their home

churches and in Ann Arbor on ten weekends.

The Pastoral Nominating Committee made its report to

the congregation on Sunday, September 9, 1984, recommending

that Rev. Stephen A. Murray be extended the call

to become Westminster’s senior pastor. Rev. Murray was

a 1973 graduate of the University of Nebraska and a 1978

graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield,

Illinois. He came to Westminster from the Kishwaukee Com-

munity Presbyterian Church of Stillman Valley, Illinois. With

him came his wife Diane and sons Daniel (4) and Peter (18

months). A daughter Ellen was born in 1986. The service of

installation for Rev. Murray was held on November 4, 1984.

On October 30, 1994, an anniversary commemoration

was held to honor the Murrays for ten years of service to

Westminster. At the Sunday morning service, Stephen and

Diane each took a turn at the pulpit with words of thoughtful

reflection about their ten years with Westminster. Members

and friends gathered for a celebration dinner in the evening.

The Murrays were presented with a scrapbook, maps and

travel information, along with a check for $6,640 with the

suggestion that the money be used for a “dream” trip. The

spirit of caring and appreciation was very much in evidence

during the whole day.

Douglas Sherman was hired as pastoral assistant in 1988.

He shared pastoral duties at Westminster as part of his theological

and ministerial training at Ashland Theological Seminary.

After completing seminary, he became an ordained

minister in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. In 1994 he

stepped down as pastoral assistant

in anticipation of the hiring

of a full-time associate pastor.

In November 1993 the search

had begun in earnest for a full-time

associate pastor. The congregation

elected a Pastoral Nominating

Committee including Nancy

Lindsay (chair), Gordon Beeman,

Jan Werner, David Wright, Diane

Murray, John Franklin and Jon

Huegli. The congregation waited

with anticipation through 1994

and into 1995 for the committee

Charles Gensheimer was

installed as second pastor

of Westminster Church in

November 1964.

ministerial leadership—91

to complete its work. On May 21,

1995, the congregation voted to

approve the call of Melissa Anne

May as associate pastor. She graduated

from the University of Alabama

and Princeton Theological

Seminary and served an internship

at First Presbyterian Church

in Athens, Alabama, before coming

to Westminster. A special service

of ordination and installation

The Rev. Stephen Murray for Rev. May was held on October

8, 1995.

was pastor 1984–1995.

In November 1995, Rev. Murray announced that he had

accepted a call to Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Ames,

Iowa, effective December 15, 1995. The congregation officially

accepted his resignation on November 12, 1995. At a

farewell dinner, the Murrays were presented with a watercolor

painting of Westminster Church. The Murrays expressed

their gratitude for eleven years of ministry and for the monetary

gift given them in 1994 for ten years of service at Westminster.

The congregation wished them godspeed as they left

for Ames, Iowa.

On March 1, 1996, the Administration Committee recommended

to the Session that Rev. Kenneth D. Lister be hired

as interim senior pastor. Rev. Lister had served churches in

Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania before coming to Westminster.

He lived in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, with his wife,


A Mission Self Study Committee was formed in preparation

for calling a senior pastor. Members of the committee

included Dwight Bornemeier, Gary Claypool, Jon Huegli,

Margaret Klammer and Joan Piatt. Surveys were distributed

to the congregation for their input. The results of the survey

92—the story continues

were presented to the Session in May 1996 and approved by

the Presbytery of Detroit on June 11, 1996.

On June 17, 1996, the Pastoral Nominating Committee

(PNC) was elected by the congregation. Members included

Nancy Mason and Bill Sharp (co-chairs) Josie Babcock, Larry

Beach, Greta Buck, Margaret Fairchild, Bill Furtwangler,

Vern Terpstra and Fred Tower. The PNC held its first meeting

on July 25, 1996. The process of finding a pastor included

reviewing 90 Pastor Information Forms, conducting 17

phone interviews, listening to 8 sermon tapes, hearing two

candidates preach at a neutral pulpit, visiting two candidates

in their home churches and interviewing two candidates at

Westminster. These steps resulted in the firm conviction that

Rev. David Paul Lenz was the right person for Westminster.

Pastor Lenz preached his candidating sermon on April 27,

1997. The congregation voted to issue him a call with a starting

date of June 30, 1997.

The congregation warmly welcomed Pastor David Lenz,

his wife, Cynthia, and sons Michael (9), James (7) and Jonathan

(19 months). Pastor Lenz was born in Marshall, Minnesota,

graduated from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota,

and completed his master of divinity

degree at Princeton Theological

Seminary. He served as

senior pastor at Bethel Presbyterian

Church in Waterloo, Iowa,

before coming to Westminster.

On June 29, 1997, a recognition

brunch was held for Interim

Senior Pastor Ken Lister and his

wife Marilyn as we bid them a

fond farewell. Rev. Lister served

from March 1996 to June 1997.

On May 15, 1998, the congre-

The Rev. David Lenz was

called in 1997. He moved

to Minneapolis in 2002.

ministerial leadership—93

gation received a letter from Associate Pastor Melissa Anne

May, announcing her resignation effective July 2, 1998. Rev.

May accepted a position with Samaritan Counseling Center

in Toledo with the intent of pursuing a Ph.D. program. Before

beginning her position in Toledo, Melissa Anne married

Jim Rogers, a member of Westminster. It brought to fulfillment

a misprint at the time of Melissa Anne’s ordination and

installation service which read “we promise to pair her fairly”

instead of “we promise to pay her fairly.” Melissa Anne’s resignation

was accepted with a feeling of loss and regret. Her

ministry to Westminster and its members and friends had

been greatly appreciated. Melissa Anne and Jim live down

the street from the church on Greenview Drive and are the

proud parents of two boys, Charlie and Luke.

At the July 19, 1998, worship service, Rev. Lawrence

Woodruff began serving as Westminster’s parish associate.

Larry was pastor emeritus of the First Presbyterian Church

of Ypsilanti where he had served for thirty-four years. No

stranger to Westminster, he had been personally acquainted

with each of the four pastors in Westminster’s history. Larry

and his wife, Louise, lived in Ypsilanti and had three grown


At a special meeting of the congregation on September 12,

1999, an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee (APNC) was

elected by the congregation. Members included Gary Claypool

and Joanne Pearsall (co-chairs), Betsy Cambridge, Doug

Franklin, Bob Piatt, Peter Quiroz and Jan Werner. On July 9,

2000, the committee, having completed its search, presented

the name of Rev. Terri I. Gast as candidate for the position

of associate pastor. Terri had been ordained as a Presbyterian

Church (USA) minister on June 29, 1997, and was a graduate

of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

Our time with Terri was short. A letter of resignation was received

from Terri and the congregation dissolved her pastoral

94—the story continues

services effective January 10, 2002. Subsequently Terri was

commissioned as a chaplain and first lieutenant in the US Air

Force stationed at Laughlin Air Force Base near Del Rio,

Texas. We wished Terri godspeed and thanked her for her

eighteen months of ministry to Westminster. In 2005 news

was received that Terri was serving as a chaplain in South

Korea, close to the North Korean border.

On October 2, 2002, a letter was sent to the congregation

from Pastor Lenz announcing that he had accepted a call

to become pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield,

Minnesota. The congregation was saddened at the news of

his departure. During his five years here, David and Cynthia

had become an integral part of Westminster, David as pastor

and Cynthia as choir director of the Celebration Singers. A

farewell party was held for Pastor Lenz and his family on November

1 where they were bid a fond farewell. Their last day

at Westminster was Sunday, November 3, 2002. Throughout

his time at Westminster, David’s ministry greatly nurtured

our commitment to Jesus Christ.

With the departure of David Lenz in November of 2002,

the session hired Rev. Kenneth Kaibel to serve as interim pastor

effective January 21, 2003. Ken had previously served as

installed pastor of several churches, held three other interim

positions and served as a chaplain in the US Army Reserves.

This last activity was to have an immediate effect on the congregation.

Ken was called into active duty in March 2003 to

be stationed at an airfield in Uzbekistan. He was surprised, as

were the congregation and his wife Sharon, that he was called

up at the age of 54, but he had to report for duty as ordered.

Because Ken remained as the official interim pastor for the

duration of his one year contract, his replacement would be

a “temporary supply pastor,” and referred to by the congregation

as our “interim interim.” Sharon Flynn was hired to fill

the role of staff administrator until a temporary supply pastor

ministerial leadership—95

was in place. Larry Woodruff served as pulpit supply after the

departure of Rev. Kaibel.

On May 20, 2003, the Interim Pastor Task Force recommended

to Session the hiring of Rev. Loren Scribner to fill

the role of temporary supply pastor effective June 8, 2003.

Pastor Scribner and his wife Sharon had moved back to

Michigan after his retirement from his position as chaplain

and associate professor of religion at Schreiner University in

Kerrville, Texas. Before that he had served churches in Sturgis

and Westland in Michigan, and in Kouts, Indiana. Loren

served as temporary supply until the arrival of the new pastor.

A farewell reception was held on Sunday, January 4, 2004, for

Loren and Sharon where they were honored with gifts made

in their name to the Heifer Project, complete with the arrival

of a “cow.”

On August 20, 2003, Rev. Larry Woodruff announced

his retirement from the position of parish associate, effective

October 31, 2003. He and his wife, Louise, planned to

move to Cincinnati where Larry had spent his early years. On

November 2 the congregation gathered to honor Larry and

Louise for their five years of service to Westminster Church.

We bid them a fond farewell with many thanks for their caring


On December 29, 2002, a Pastor Nominating Committee

(PNC) was elected by the congregation to fill the position of senior

pastor and head of staff. Elected to the committee were

David Hammond (chair), Josie Babcock, Cindy Harvey, Mike

Klein, Bill Kuhn, Emily Nease, Katherine Simpson, Marcy

Teppo and Jim Whitman. After reading 132 Pastor Information

Forms (PIFs), conducting seven telephone interviews

and two on-site visits, the committee enthusiastically recommended

that Rev. Stephen Carl be called to serve as senior

pastor and head of staff. On October 19, 2003, the congrega-

96—the story continues

tion voted to extend a call to Rev.

Carl effective January 5, 2004.

Rev. Carl was enrolled at Argosy

University in Sarasota, Florida,

where he was working on a

doctor of education degree in

pastoral community counseling.

He had received his bachelor of

arts degree from the University

of Tulsa, and in 1985, a master of

divinity degree from Princeton

Theological Seminary. Between

1985 and 2003, he served churches

in Texas, Arkansas, Colorado,

Following a succession

of interims, Westminster

welcomed Stephen Carl as

senior pastor in 2004.

and Florida. His wife, Karen, was also ordained as a Presbyterian

minister, as were a number of members of both of

their extended families. They arrived with three young boys,

Aiden (5), Trevor (3), and Bryce (2 months). Hannah (13),

Stephen’s daughter from his first marriage, joined them the

following year. Stephen quickly settled into the life of Westminster,

bringing an enthusiasm for ministry to the congregation.

In September 2004 Rev. Ila Mayes was hired as parish

associate. Rev. Mayes was a retired pastor with a degree in

social work from the University of Michigan and a master

of divinity degree from Austin Theological Seminary. Pastor

Mayes served churches in Texas before retirement and was a

parish associate at First Presbyterian Church in Wichita Falls.

She and her husband, Forrest, had returned to Michigan a

few years before from Texas. The illness of her husband and

the cold northern winters persuaded them to return to Texas,

ending her ministry at Westminster in April 2005. We missed

her joyful, outgoing spirit.

ministerial leadership—97

With the arrival of Stephen Carl as senior pastor and head

of staff, the time was right to find an associate pastor. On

June 13, 2004, the congregation elected an Associate Pastor

Nominating Committee (APNC). Members of the committee

were Teri Leonard and David Wright (co-chairs), Jeff Buck,

Alison Collicott, Ron Fairchild, Anne Gensheimer, David

Gross, Zach Hamilton and Marilyn Sleder. One year later,

June 5, 2005, the committee presented Catherine King as a

candidate for the position of associate pastor of discipleship

ministries with a starting date of June 8. Cathi earned an undergraduate

degree from the University of Michigan and a

master of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary

/ Ecumenical Theological Seminary. She was ordained

and installed at Westminster on August 29, 2005. Pastor King,

her husband, Andy, son, Alex (13) and daughter, Courtney

(9), live in Plymouth, Michigan. The congregation warmly

welcomed Rev. King into the life of Westminster Church.

Across the years two young people from Westminster

Church have entered the ministry of the Presbyterian Church

(USA): Erin Colleen Sharp in 2002 and Skye Murray in 2005.

98—the story continues

Pastoral Leadership at westminster 1956–


1956–1964 Rev. Richard H. Miller, Pastor

1964–1983 Rev. Charles J. Gensheimer, Pastor

1983–1984 Rev. Richard Dempsey, Interim Pastor

1984–1995 Rev. Stephen A. Murray, Pastor

1995–1998 Rev. Melissa Ann May, Associate Pastor

1996–1997 Rev. Kenneth Lister, Interim Pastor

1997–2002 Rev. David P. Lenz, Pastor

1998–2003 Rev. Lawrence Woodruff, Parish Associate

2000–2001 Rev. Terri I. Gast, Associate Pastor

2003–2004 Rev. Kenneth Kaibel, Interim Pastor

2003–2004 Rev. Loren Scribner, Temporary Supply Pastor

2004– Rev. Stephen R. Carl, Pastor

2004–2005 Rev. Ila L. Mayes, Parish Associate

2005– Rev. Catherine King, Associate Pastor

ministerial leadership—99

100—the story continues

Train up a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.

(Proverbs 22:6)

10 Christian Education


n 1987, after serving for 8 years as director of Christian

education, Julie Chamberlain left to begin preparation for

her long-held desire to work in the mission field. A farewell

was held for Julie on Sunday, August 30, 1987, at which the

congregation expressed its gratitude for her years of service.

Julie eventually joined Latin American Missions in San Jose,

Costa Rica, serving with the Spanish Language Institute. In

recent years she has become the director of the institute.

Westminster continues to support her as a part of our mission

emphasis program.

Following Julie’s departure, a staff search committee was

formed including Dennis Michalak (chair), Barbara Krause,

Gary Claypool, Annette Pearson, Betty Bornemeier, Randy

Greschaw and Pastor Murray. The committee recommended

hiring two new staff members: (1) a minister of Christian

growth, a full-time staff member, preferably ordained, serving

the church’s ministries of education, discipleship, family life

and youth; and (2) a youth minister, a part-time staff member

serving the church’s youth. A Church Information Form was

prepared and announcements of the position opening were

made in various publications.

christian education—101

While the staff search committee was at work, Barb Dick,

Judith Wencel and Phyllis Cant were hired to serve until a

new minister of Christian growth arrived.

In September 1988 Carolyn Kutsko was hired as one-year

interim director of Christian growth. Carolyn had recently

graduated from Gordon College in Massachusetts majoring

in Christian education, youth ministry and biblical studies.

The Session planned to form a new committee to find a

permanent director of Christian growth for the fall of 1989.

However, in December 1988 the search committee affirmed

the present staff and dropped plans to establish a new committee.

Carolyn Kutsco remained as director of Christian

growth until August of 1991 when her husband was accepted

at Harvard as a Ph.D. candidate, necessitating a move to Boston.

A staff search committee was formed to find a new director

of Christian growth. However, due to an income shortfall,

the session voted to delay the filling of the position until the

end of 1991.

By February 1992 the need to replace the director of

Christian growth was becoming acute so the staff search

committee resumed its efforts to find a part-time temporary

Christian education director. In April 1992 Lydia Brown was

hired. Lydia was a graduate of Hope College with a master’s

degree from the University of Michigan. She had been director

of Christian education at Grace Episcopal Church in Holland,

Michigan, and a “teacher educator” at St. Clare of Assisi

church in Ann Arbor. In January 1993 her half-time position

at Westminster was changed from temporary to permanent.

Lydia introduced a new concept for teaching Sunday school

known as Worship Centers. In Worship Centers, learning

takes place through a worship model, rather than through

a classroom model. The children sing, pray and hear God’s

word using story material and liturgical presentations. The

102—the story continues

teachers were trained and instruction materials were prepared

by staff and volunteers for the new program.

In June 1994 Lydia Brown resigned as director of Christian

growth to pursue ordination in the Episcopal Church.

In the interim, Jill Fairchild was hired to serve as Worship

Center coordinator.

In August 1994 the director of Christian growth and

youth minister were combined into one position and Linda

Tyler Brown was hired to fill the position. Jill Fairchild continued

to serve as Worship Center coordinator. With the arrival

of Rev. Melissa Anne May in 1995, the configuration of

the Christian education program was further revised. Linda

Tyler Brown served as director of children’s ministries, and

Pastor May assumed leadership of the youth ministry.

In March 1996, due to health reasons, Linda Tyler Brown

resigned as director of children’s ministries. Eileen Helm was

hired as interim director of children’s ministries and she and

Jill Fairchild became co-directors of children’s ministries.

Ready, set, go! Children at Westminster’s 2003 children’s Easter party

prepare to hunt for candy on the lawn.

christian education—103

In June 2000 a Vacation Bible School program known as

Marketplace 29 AD was inaugurated. A Jewish village at the

time of Christ provided the backdrop for the program’s activities.

A host of volunteers gave much time and many talents

to make the program a success.

On June 30, 2000, Jill Fairchild retired as director of Worship

Centers having served for six years in this capacity. Eileen

Helm continued as director of children’s ministries and

interim director of Worship Centers. In March 2001 Eileen

Helm was named full-time director of children’s ministries

which included all programs for children, infants through

fifth grade.

In December 2001, Westminster’s children’s ministries

began sponsoring Prison Fellowship’s Project Angel Tree.

Gifts and Bibles were presented to children of incarcerated

parents at a cookie-decorating party. The gifts were given in

the name of the incarcerated parent.

Adult volunteers play key roles in Marketplace 29 AD. Left to right: Martha

Honeycutt, Megan Polich, Ted Sleder, Loren Scribner, Jerry Brown,

Steve Cant, Joel Michalak.

104—the story continues

Youth Ministry

In October 1988 Ed Aluk was hired to fill the position of

youth director and served until his resignation was accepted

in April 1989. By August of 1989 Joann Erbes was hired as

part-time youth director. During Joann’s time, the youth programs

were divided into two groups: Chapter 1 for grades 6–8,

and Chapter 2 for grades 9–12. In June 1993 Joann Erbes left

her position in order to return to teaching. Doug Fletcher, a

student at Spring Arbor College, was hired as interim youth

director and served until July 1994.

With her arrival in 1995, Associate Pastor Melissa Anne

May assumed responsibility for the church’s youth programs.

In 1996 the two youth groups were renamed the Alphas

(grades 6–8) and the Omegas (grades 9–12). That year the

Omegas participated in a two-week mission trip to repair and

restore houses for members of the Navajo nation on their

reservation near Gallup, New Mexico. Fourteen youths and

five adults made their way to New Mexico. In 1997 the youth

groups participated in retreats at SpringHill Camp in Evart,

Michigan, the Howell Nature Center and the Montreat Conference

Center in North Carolina.

With the departure in 1998 of Pastor May, Megan Zechman

was named interim youth minister. Megan and her

husband Craig came to Westminster from Lancaster, Pennsylvania,

where both were active in youth work. Megan’s

initial appointment was for one year; in June 1999 she was

named the full-time director of youth and young adult ministries.

In July 2000 twenty-six young people and adults traveled

to Washington, DC, to work in three soup kitchens and

to attend DC/LA, a conference designed by Youth for Christ.

Following a maternity leave in 2001, Megan submitted her

resignation effective April 24, 2002.

Soon after Megan Zechman announced her resignation,

christian education—105

Westminster teens sort food they collected for Food Gatherers, a local

food rescue and distribution program to alleviate hunger. Left to right:

Kristina Little, Tracie Whelan, Catherine Nease, Elizabeth Tidd, Chris

Reymann, Nate Polich.

Mark DeVries was enlisted as youth ministry consultant.

Mark came to Westminster for five visits in 2002. At his recommendation

the youth staff was reconfigured into three

part-time positions: youth ministry coordinator, minister to

junior high youth and their families, and minister to senior

high youth and their families. Lori Kilian was named youth

ministry coordinator; Steve Cant became youth minister to

junior high youth; and in 2003, Seth Hildebrand was hired as

youth minister to senior high youth. This team served until

2004 when all three left their positions for various reasons.

In 2004 Paula Michalak was hired as interim administrative

coordinator for youth ministry and interim minister to junior

high youth, and Rachel Smallish was hired as interim minister

to senior high youth. It was anticipated that with the

hiring of an associate pastor, the configuration of the youth

program would be reconsidered.

106—the story continues

In July 2000, a

youth mission

team traveled to

Washington, DC

to work in soup

kitchens and to

attend the Youth

for Christ DC/LA


christian education—107

Adult Ministries

The spiritual growth of adults has always been emphasized in

Sunday morning and Wednesday evening classes, Bible studies

and small group ministries.

In 1985 the first Sunday evening adult Bible study groups

were formed. These groups met in members’ homes or at the

church twice a month. Bible discussion prayer and fellowship

nurtured caring relationships among group members. Groups

were formed in 1997, in 2000 for Lenten Bible studies, and

again in 2006. Some groups have met for a short, specified

time, while others have continued for years.

The church library, under the able leadership of Bill Reid,

provided resources for Christian education and for the congregation

as a whole. Following Bill Reid’s resignation due to

illness, Don Faber became our library administrator.

In the fall of 1987 an ambitious program called “Wednesday

Night Live!” was instituted. The goal was to consolidate

various church activities into a Wednesday evening program.

During the three-hour time period the offerings included

adult classes, Junior Club for grades three through six, a program

for four-year-old to second grade children, rehearsals

of various choirs including adult, children’s and bell choirs,

and dinner offered at a nominal charge. Wednesday Night

Live! soon became a popular mid-week event for both children

and adults. An outgrowth of Wednesday Night Live! was

the annual Advent Dinner and Ash Wednesday dinners. The

spirited singing of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” became

an anticipated event at the Advent Dinner.

In order or to more effectively coordinate the adult ministries

program, the Session created the position of interim

coordinator of adult ministries in 2002. Sharon Flynn was

named to the position, which she held until 2005.

108—the story continues

An Advent devotional booklet was first produced in 1996.

For each day of Advent, a member of the Westminster family

has written an Advent reflection and a prayer. These daily

Advent devotions helped prepare the congregation for the

coming celebration of the birth of Christ.

christian education—109

110—the story continues

I will praise you, O Lord . . . I will sing of

you among the peoples. (Ps. 57:9)

11 Music and Worship


irginia Smith became the choir director with the

departure of Robert T. Allen in September 1981. At the

time there were two pressing concerns: the purchase of new

choir robes and of new hymnals. A choir robe committee was

formed headed by Dick Trim. The committee chose rust colored

robes priced at $66.20 each for a total cost of $2,254. To

raise funds, an appeal was made to the congregation and an

ice cream social was held in June 1982. The new robes were

first worn during the choir presentation of a cantata in December

1982. In August 1984 Virginia Smith left as choir director

to take a position as soloist with another church choir.

The hymnal selection committee met sporadically until

May of 1984 when it was decided to table the hymnal selection

until the arrival of a new minister. In 1986 the committee

chose the hymnal currently in use, The Hymnal for Worship

and Celebration. An additional hymnbook, Renew! Songs &

Hymns for Blended Worship was purchased in 2001 for use

in the blended worship service.

Michael Pavelich began as music director on November 4,

1984, coincident with the arrival of Stephen Murray as the

new minister. In addition to regular Sunday services, Michael

music and worship—111

led the choir in the performance of a number of special concerts.

An acutely-felt need was a piano for the sanctuary. In

April of 1987 the session gave the Memorial and Special Gifts

Committee the go-ahead to raise funds for a grand piano. Using

gifts given in memory of Rev. Charles J. Gensheimer as

a base, the committee raised additional funds bringing the

total to $11,906. In October 1988 a Yamaha grand piano was

purchased from King’s Keyboard House in Ann Arbor.

In June 1989 Michael Pavelich, wife Kari, and one-yearold

Alexander moved to Norway, Kari’s homeland. A grateful

congregation bid them a fond farewell.

Linda Venable-Boehk was hired as music director in

August 1989. Linda formed a youth choir and orchestra to

provide music for worship services along with the chancel

choir. She resigned in December 1992 due to changing family


A music director search committee was formed which

included Harry Ahrens, Janice Ahrens, Mary Jo Clapsadle,

Carol Franklin, Margaret Klammer, Ken Merte, Tim Rogne,

B. J. Shade and Bill Sharp. In July 1993 Carroll Hart was

hired as minister of music along with Sue Lawson as choir accompanist.

Carroll Hart had been the choir director at Westside

Methodist Church in Ann Arbor for twenty years and

was a music teacher in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. In June

1995 Sue Lawson left as accompanist and Shawn McDonald

was hired as her replacement.

With Carroll’s arrival, the choir grew dramatically in size

and the need for additional choir robes became critical. Since

the current robes were becoming frayed, it was decided to

raise funds for new choir robes. A choir robe committee

headed by Donna Sharp selected a robe style and with $8,000

in hand, fifty-five blue choir robes were purchased.

Florence Westrum continued as church organist, a po-

112—the story continues

The chancel choir in 1996 poses proudly in new robes. Shawn McDonald is in the back row, far left; next to him is Carroll Hart.

music and worship—113

sition she had held since the church’s beginnings in 1956.

Following her retirement, Shawn McDonald accepted the

position of church organist. Florence was named organist

emerita, and on March 9, 1997, a reception was held to honor

her for her many years of service.

As the music program continued to grow and thrive, a new

position of director of music for blended worship was created

in 1999. Cynthia Lenz was hired to fill the part-time position.

She organized and directed a praise choir, the Celebration

Singers, which led the singing and offered music ministry for

the blended worship services. With the Lenzes’ departure

in 2002, Shawn McDonald was named director of music for

celebration worship in addition to his role as church organist.

His ability as organist/accompanist as well as tenor soloist

has made him a valuable asset to the music program. Melanie

Hamilton and Barb Huegli Greschaw were enlisted to lead

the congregational singing at the blended worship service.

Handbell Choirs

Deborah Rebeck Ash served as handbell choir director from

1975 to 1994. Over the years she expanded the number of

handbell choirs to include children through adults. Additional

bells and equipment have been purchased as the choirs

have grown. In December 1994 Debbie requested a leave of

absence to pursue a doctorate degree in flute performance at

the University of Michigan and suggested Michelle Borton as

her replacement. The Session agreed.

Deborah Ash writes about handbells at Westminster:

Bell ringing at Westminster began in 1967 with a two-octave set of

Schulmerich handbells. Directors include Jeanne Merlanti, 1967–

1973; Debra Thrane, 1973–1975; Deborah Rebeck Ash, 1975–1994;

Michelle Borton, 1995 to the present. Our set of bells expanded to

three octaves in 1985 and four octaves in 1994. In addition, we added

a two octave set of choir chimes. Currently, four bell choirs serve our

114—the story continues

The Westminster Chimes handbell choir gathers outside with director

Debbie Ash. Front row, left to right: Debbie Ash, Skye Murray. Second

row, left to right: Andy Bennett, Meghan Sharp, Sarah Palmer, Katie

Fairchild, Amy Weir, Jim Bennett, Jennifer Carson, Alisha Dick.

church: Westminster Chimes, grades 6–12, since 1967; Joyful Noise,

grades 1–5, since 1984; Alleluia Ringers (formerly Praise Ringers),

adults, since 1984; Kingdom Ringers, toddlers on melody bells led by

Kim Hughes and Greta Buck, since 2003. These choirs ring praises

regularly during services throughout the year. Our church also has a

memorial carillon made by Schulmerich, which is a realistic sounding

digital audio tape that penetrates the neighborhood with grace and


Bell choir outreach has included ringing for the Kiwanis Club, for

many area retirement and convalescent homes, the VA Hospital, the

Washtenaw Historical Society at Clements Library, the Ann Arbor

Women’s City Club, and other churches. We have appeared in

two Ann Arbor News articles. Bell traditions include Joyful Noise’s

exuberant processional, smaller bell ensembles for special events,

and yearly t-shirts designed by bell choir members. One industrious

young man, Jim Bennett, even donned a suit and played a solo

with two octaves of bells. Westminster composers Allen Borton, Bill

Reid and Deborah Rebeck Ash have written original music as well

music and worship—115

as arrangements for our choirs. In fifty years, over three hundred

members have proclaimed God’s glory through handbell ringing at

Westminster and in the community. Now that’s a lot of bell praise!

Sacred Dance

In 1997 Sandy Jones began a sacred dance choir of young

women in grades six through twelve called Word in Motion.

In 2004 a second group was formed called Leap of Faith

which included adult women of the church. During the first

half of 2004 Beca and Angela Torres-Kutkuhn directed the

Word in Motion until Sandy’s return later in the year. In

2005 as the dance choirs grew, Stepping Stones was formed

for girls in grades six through eight. The dance choirs add a

unique dimension to the worship experience with the beauty

of the sacred dance.

Good News at 6:00

In September 2002 the Session approved a new contemporary

worship service, “Good News at 6:00 pm,” to be held on

the second Sunday of each month. It includes praise songs,

prayers, Bible readings, sermons and lively contemporary

music. Casual dress is encouraged.

116—the story continues

Carroll Hart directs

the chancel choir,

children’s choir,

Celebration Singers

and instrumentalists

during Westminster’s

December 2003 Music

Festival Sunday.

music and worship—117

118—the story continues

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us

go to the house of the Lord.” (Ps. 122:1)

12 Building Program, Phase 3

With contributions from James Thomson,

Building Committee Chair

Building the Future

In January 1986 the Session, meeting as the Committee of

the Future, began to look at the space needs of the church.

Every bit of space was being utilized for Sunday school, including

hallways and offices. The needs identified included

additional Sunday school rooms, additional seating in the

sanctuary, a larger entry, a larger fellowship hall, a memorial

garden, a larger library, and improved office space. In July

1986 James Wong was retained as architect to develop conceptual

designs. One called for a 16,500 square foot addition

to the north of the sanctuary that would provide 140 additional

seats in the sanctuary and a reorientation of the altar to

the south end. Total cost of the project was projected at $1.5

million. An alternative concept called for a 12,000 square foot

addition to the south with forty additional sanctuary seats and

a projected cost of $1.1 million. These concepts were presented

to the congregation on October 5, 1986.

After much discussion it was determined that more con-

building program, phase 3—119

gregational input was needed. Dr. Jon Swanson was retained

to conduct a feasibility study to explore the church’s readiness

for a building campaign, assess the availability of funds,

and identify leadership for a campaign. Dr. Swanson’s report

of December 1986 indicated insufficient consensus among

the congregation about the nature of the need for additional

space and the readiness of the members to support a campaign.

In February 1987 the congregation met in fifteen

Growth Groups to examine the ideas that had evolved from

the architect’s presentations and the feasibility study. The

consensus of the Growth Groups indicated that the top priorities

were space for Christian education and fellowship with

increased support for mission being identified as an equally

important priority. In April 1987 two worship services were

resumed to accommodate increasing attendance, relieving

the seating pressures experienced with the single service.

Facility and Finance Committees

Following the Growth Group process, two committees were

formed to further the building expansion, the Facilities Committee

and the Finance Committee. The Facilities Committee

consisted of Al Banning, Betty Bornemeier, Robert

Cant, Barbara Dick, Rik Haugen, Ron Renfer, Bill Sharp, Jan

Thomas and Bill Werner. The Finance Committee included

Gary Claypool, Carol Smallish, Fred Swope, Anne Gensheimer

and Dave Hammond. Jim Thomson, Chairman of

the Building Committee, coordinated the work of the two


In March 1988 the Building Facilities Committee prepared

a building requirement statement for the architect

outlining in detail the facility needs. The statement was distributed

and the congregation was invited to offer comments

and suggestions.

120—the story continues

The committee then met with architect James Wong to

define the requirements for the building. Several revisions

were made by Wong in consultation with the committee.

On January 8, 1989, the congregation voted to proceed

with a fund-raising campaign for building expansion. The

architect presented a preliminary plan with variations, depending

upon the amount of money raised. The plan was to

construct an addition of 14,000 square feet with an approximate

cost of $1.2 million. The primary goal was to increase

Christian education, fellowship and office space and to construct

a memorial garden. No further mention was made of

enlarging the sanctuary. The congregation approved expenditures

from the Westminster Development Fund for architect’s

fees and for hiring a fund-raising consultant.

Building God’s Family

In January 1989 Peter McCleod of Resource Services, Inc.,

was hired to conduct a capital campaign. By February 1989

the campaign was launched with a goal of $700,000 in threeyear


The campaign was titled “Building God’s Family” with

the theme of “Not Equal Gifts but Equal Sacrifice.” A steering

committee was formed including Tom and Jan Thomas,

campaign directors; Dwight and Betty Bornemeier, spiritual

emphasis directors; Jeff Flynn and Janis Grieger, promotion

directors; George and Kathryn Foltz, coordinators; Bob and

Joan Piatt, banquet directors; Anne Gensheimer, hostess director;

Gary and Elsie Claypool, advance commitment directors;

Larry and Jackie Beach, commitment directors; and

Randy and Cindy Greschaw, follow-up directors.

The campaign included home visits, brochures and newsletters,

advance commitment desserts, a banquet at Weber’s

Inn on April 16, commitment visitations following the ban-

building program, phase 3—121

quet – all concluding with a celebration on Sunday, April 30,

1989, when it was announced joyfully that gifts and pledges

totaled $701,000. The goal had been reached. By June the

total had climbed to $780,934.

The congregation releases balloons, marking the groundbreaking for the

fellowship hall and classroom wing.

122—the story continues

Building Commences

On May 21, 1989, the congregation authorized the Building

Committee to proceed to develop architectural plans based

on a $1.2 million budget; submit a site plan to the city for approval;

take bids from contractors; obtain approval from the

Presbytery of Detroit for construction and borrowing; and

spend up to $54,000 from the Westminster Development

Fund for architectural and other fees.

On September 5, 1989, the Ann Arbor city council approved

the site plans after resolving a neighbor’s complaint

about the new parking lot and a proposed curb cut onto Barnard


At a congregational meeting on February 28, 1990, the

congregation voted unanimously to proceed with the building

addition. Approval was given to hire J. C. Beal Construction

as the building contractor; to borrow up to $600,000 via a

twenty-year mortgage and up to $750,000 via a line of credit

for as much as three years to finance construction; and spend

up to $1,310,000 from that point forward on the building


The groundbreaking ceremony was held on Sunday,

April 22, 1990 on the lawn north of the sanctuary following

the morning worship service. The congregation stood on lines

painted in the soggy grass forming the outline of the new

building. Jim Thomson and Gary Claypool from the Building

Committee turned over the first shovels of dirt. They

were followed by Jim Wong, architect of the old and new

structures, and Fred Beal, president of J. C. Beal Construction.

Jennifer Swope, representing the children of the church,

turned over a healthy chunk of sod. As a grand finale, each

person released a helium balloon while singing “Come Sing,

O Church, In Joy.”

On May 13 the excavation for the foundation began. The

basement walls were soon taking shape, and by late summer

building program, phase 3—123

the concrete beams for the main floor were in place. The

walls, roof trusses, windows and the roof itself were up and

the structure enclosed by late fall. Jim Thomson, Jim Wong

and George Beal communicated daily in order to deal with

such issues as the adequacy of the sewer slope to Scio Church

Road, removal of more earth to the east of the building, and

numerous specification changes required by city inspectors.

In September 1990 the congregation decided to replace the

roof on the original building (now the children’s center) and

on the sanctuary and office building. This work was completed

in November, the funds coming from reserves for capital


Over the winter Jim Thomson was assisted by several

members of the Building Committee on specific projects. Peter

Murray arranged for the kitchen equipment, Jan Thomas

and Ginny Klimek selected the carpeting and furniture, and

Anne Renfer and Carolyn Kutsko selected the furniture for

the children’s center. Bill Werner and Jim Thomson worked

with Jim Wong to specify the final configuration for the library.

Spring rains brought water into the basement of the

new building in spite of the extra water-handling precautions

provided in the design. The problem finally was corrected by

reinstalling the foundation drainage, adding several catch basins

on the west side, and installing gutters and several down

spout extensions. The fellowship hall was used for the first

time on June 16, 1991. Demolition of the interior of the old

fellowship hall began in June. Sunday school was held in the

new building on September 8 and in the children’s center by

November 1991. Work on the site and the memorial garden

continued until the fall of 1992. The final cost of the project,

including the memorial garden, was $1,543,493. In November

1991 a $600,000 mortgage was obtained from First of

America Bank.

The dedication service for the new unit was held on Sun-

124—the story continues

day, October 27, 1991.

Special guests included

Rev. Edward Gehres,

Jr., Executive Presbyter,

who brought greetings

from the Presbytery

of Detroit, and guest

speaker Rev. Eric Snyder

from First Presbyterian

Church of Grand

Haven, Michigan. Also

in attendance were Jim

Dennis, representing

the architectural firm

of James P. Wong Associates,

and general

contractor George Beal

of J. C. Beal Construction.

Dedication weekend

events included a

potluck dinner, an open house and a reception following the

dedication service. Jim Thomson was thanked for his tireless

work as Building Committee chairman. He and his wife Mary

Lynn were given a pair of onyx bookends and a night at a bedand-breakfast

inn as tokens of appreciation.

Memorial Garden

Three key players in the phase 3 building

project are honored for their labors.

Left to right, Jim Dennis (representing

architect James Wong), Jim Thomson

(building committee chairman) and

George Beal (general contractor).

As part of the building program, Howard Deardorff of Deardorff

Design Resources, Inc. was hired in early 1990 to design

the memorial garden and to develop a unified walkway

and landscape plan for the entire site. The plan was approved

and Jim Dennis was hired to prepare the detailed specifications

for the memorial garden and to serve as the contractor

for the construction of the walls and walkways. The brick

building program, phase 3—125

Stephen Murray speaks at dedication ceremonies for the Rev. Charles J.

Gensheimer Memorial Garden, October 11, 1992. Left to right: Helen

Shippey, Betty Lou Bornemeier, Jeanne Sherman, Anne Gensheimer, Bill

Reid, George Foltz, Stephen Murray, John Schuon.

work and sidewalks were completed by the fall of 1991. Rik

Haugen designed the planting layout and John Eisenbeiser

completed the plant installation in the spring of 1992. Cliff

Morris arranged for the erection of the cross. On October 11,

1992, the memorial garden was dedicated and named “The

Reverend Charles J. Gensheimer Memorial Garden.” Completion

of this project represented the fulfillment of a decadeold

dream for a memorial garden. The original discussions

about possible building plans were prompted by the desire to

locate a site for a memorial garden. By 2006, forty-one interments

had taken place.

Purchase of 1520 Scio Church Road property

The property on 1520 Scio Church Road, located to the immediate

west of our church property, was listed for sale in

October 1999. It was immediately purchased by five member

families to give the congregation time to evaluate whether

126—the story continues

the church should acquire the property. In August 2000 the

Session recommended the purchase of the property, on the

grounds that it would enhance options for future growth. At a

special meeting of the congregation on October 22, 2000 the

congregation approved the purchase. The closing date was

February 12, 2001, with a purchase price of $277,900. Following

the closing, the church continued to offer the property

for rent. When Stephen Carl was called to Westminster

Church in 2004, he and his family occupied the house until

they purchased a home on Greenview Drive in 2005. Following

the Katrina and Rita hurricane disasters in 2005 that left

so many homeless, the Session voted to invite a hurricanedisplaced

family to occupy the then vacant house. A Housing

Task Force was formed and in December 2005 a family of six

moved into the house.

building program, phase 3—127

128—the story continues

Go into all the world and preach

the good news . . .” (Mark 16:15)

13 Missions

Mission Trips

Beginning in 1995, missions took on an increasingly important

role in the life of the church. Not only did mission support

increase monetarily, but mission trips for both youth and

adults proliferated.

The first annual youth mission trip was held in August

1995. A group of teens, accompanied by adult leaders, spent

a week in Ravenswood, West Virginia, working on housing

projects for the Appalachian Landing Camp.

The next year, in 1996, under the leadership of Pastor

May, a youth mission trip was taken to Gallup, New Mexico.

The team worked for two weeks on housing projects on the

Manuelito Chapter Navajo Reservation.

In 1998, the first intergenerational mission team went

to Reynosa, Mexico, under the guidance of Ministerio De

Fe (Faith Ministries). About $29,400 was raised for the trip

through fundraisers and direct congregational support. That

same year a team of eight youths and adults participated in

a work camp in Sharon, Pennsylvania, providing home repair

and painting services to elderly and low-income residents.


130—the story continues

In 1998, thirty

adults and fifteen

youths built homes

during a mission trip

to Reynosa, Mexico.

In 1999, three members of the Westminster congregation

took part in a medical mission trip to Mulukuku, Nicaragua,

sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Galveston,

Texas. That same year members of the congregation joined

forces with three other Ann Arbor churches to build a Habitat

for Humanity house.

On May 23, 1999 a Visioning Task Force presented its

report to the congregation. It listed among its goals “to sustain

the momentum of mission support and participation as a

priority for the congregation.”

As a result of the Visioning statement, mission activity increased

substantially. In 2000, three mission trips involved

73 members and 16 friends who touched well over a thousand

lives in three countries. In June, mission trip workers

traveled to Mulukuku, Nicaragua to give medical care to the

poor. In July, the youth traveled to Washington, DC to serve

in soup kitchens. And in August, mission trip workers built

two homes in Reynosa, Mexico. That same year a goal was set

that Westminster would tithe 10% of its budget for mission

causes by the year 2002.

In 2001 fifteen people traveled to Guatemala to learn

about Presbyterian mission work there. The Alpha youths

worked on home repairs in McDowell County, West Virginia,

and the Omegas spent two days painting and two days leading

a Vacation Bible School in Pyramid Lake, Nevada.

In 2002 intergenerational mission teams traveled to Denver,

Colorado, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The groups

worked with organizations that serve inner city populations,

such as day care centers, food and clothing distribution centers,

soup kitchens and housing cleanup and improvement


Mission trips numbered four in 2003: (1) a Group Workcamp

in West Branch, Michigan; (2) a Presbyterian Disaster

Assistance program in Ladysmith, Wisconsin; (3) a trip to


132—the story continues

A friendship mission

trip to Japan in 2003 was

led by Christian Zebley,

a PC (USA) missionary

supported by Westminster

Church. Left to

right: Louise Woodruff,

Sarah Smallish, Suzie

McRoberts, Roger Vance,

Phoebe Vance, Keith

Geiselman (pastor of Ypsilanti

First Presbyterian

Church), Anne Gensheimer,

Nancy Lunsford,

Christian Zebley.

Reynosa and Miguel Aleman, Mexico, to work with Ministerio

de Fe; (4) a Japan Friendship Mission Trip coordinated in

Japan by pc (usa) missionaries Christian and Kay Zebley. A

total of fifty-three adults and youths participated in the four

mission trips.

In 2004, youths participated in a Group Workcamp in

Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Fifteen members joined a

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program in Canton, Missouri.

Five of our members revisited Miguel Aleman, Mexico

(Ministerio de Fe). And finally, Westminster members took

part in a trip to Eagle Butte, South Dakota, organized by

First Presbyterian Church of Saline.

In 2005 twenty-two youths and ten adults participated

in a Heart & Hand youth mission trip to Medford, Oregon,

to build and repair homes with Habitat for Humanity. Later

that summer twenty-two youths and adults traveled to the

Dominican Republic to help local missionaries minister to

children in private and public schools.

In 2006, twenty-five young people and adults returned

to Miguel Aleman, Mexico, to work with Ministerio de Fe.

Later in the summer a Habitat for Humanity work project in

Marquette, Michigan, was organized in conjunction with the

Presbytery of Detroit.

Missionary Support

To further the mission emphasis of Westminster, the Session

agreed to provide support to a number of missionaries by

designating funds directly from the church budget. Previous

missionary support had come from the Faith Promise

offerings. By 2004, $63,000 of Westminster’s mission giving

was from the church budget. Across the years a number

of missionaries and projects have been directly supported

from the church budget, including Julie Chamberlain (Costa

Rica), John and Gwen Haspel (Ethiopia), David and Debra


Kornfield (Brazil), Mark and Gwen Potter (Philadelphia),

Christian and Kay Zebley (Japan), Mike Babcock (Romania),

Hope Medical Clinic (Ypsilanti) and Harold Kurtz (Presbyterian

Frontier Fellowship).

In addition to the church budget, Faith Promise funds

continue to provide additional support to designated causes.

Periodically, mission fairs were held which highlighted mission

causes supported by Westminster. Mission auctions, with

Tom Thomas serving as everyone’s favorite auctioneer, were

held to raise funds for mission causes. In 2003 over $12,300

was raised.

The enthusiasm for missions continues, and will over the

next years serve a vital role in the life of the congregation in

fulfilling its vision for the future.

134—the story continues

We are the people of his pasture,

the flock under his care. (Ps. 95:7)

14 People and Programs

Board of Deacons

In 1986 the boards of elders and deacons were reorganized.

The number of elders was reduced from 21 to 18, and the

board of deacons increased from 12 to 15 members. With

the reorganization, the board of deacons assumed some of

the responsibilities formerly carried out by committees of the

Session. The board of deacons was increased again in 1990

from 15 to 21 members.

The deacons organized six care groups in order to better

serve the congregation. The six care groups provided the

mechanism by which a speedy response could be made to

those who required some assistance. Meals were provided,

flowers and cards sent, transportation arranged and household

tasks performed as the situation required. The initial

care groups included two deacons, three or more elders, and

congregation volunteers. Later the deacons assumed full

leadership of the care groups without the assistance of elders.

Each member of the congregation was assigned to one of six

groups as a means of receiving as well as giving care.

Beginning in 1996 the deacons began a special project

people and programs—135

of adopting six needy area families at Christmas, providing

gifts and food. This project has continued to grow until many

more area families are being helped. The whole congregation

is enlisted to make Christmas special for these families.

Women’s Association

The Women’s Association of Westminster continued to provide

a ministry to the women of the church. The association

consisted of three circles, the Miriam Circle, the Sarah

Circle and the Martha Circle, and a Friday morning Moms’

Bible Study with available child care. Association meetings

were held several times a year, including an annual spring


In December 1989 the women organized Westminster’s

participation in the Prison Fellowship Angel Tree project,

with continuing sponsorship in recent years by the Christian

Education Committee.

Auctions of goods and services were held over the years

with Tom Thomas serving as auctioneer. These auctions

The Sarah Circle in 2002 included, left to right: Dee Cheney, Greta Cant,

Edith Carbeck, Margaret Love, Pauline Flandorfer, Phoebe Vance, Florence

Westrum, Bonnie Terpstra and Aileen Crossman.

136—the story continues

Some participants at the 1996 women’s retreat gather between sessions

for refreshments. Left to right: Jan Werner, Debbie Slizewski, Joan Piatt,

Joanne Pearsall, Eileen Helm, Elsie Claypool.

raised funds for the Women’s Association’s roster of projects.

Currently, the Sarah Cricle continues to meet, and the

Women’s Association provides many opportunities for fellowship

and spiritual development. These include annual weekend

retreats with excellent speakers and many activities at

Michindoh Conference Center in Hillsdale, Michigan, miniretreats

during the year, an annual prayer and praise service

at Brookhaven Manor, an annual Christmas tea, game nights,

and Bible studies.

Men’s Fellowship

A Men’s Fellowship group was formed for all men, college

age and above, and their friends. They meet on the third Saturday

of the month for breakfast and a program relating to

jobs, families and faith. Annual weekend retreats were held

to further their fellowship growth. On October 22, 1994,

Robert Short, author of The Gospel According to Peanuts was

the featured speaker at the retreat.

people and programs—137

The men have sponsored a Halloween Party for Westminster

and neighborhood children. In 1989 an estimated one

hundred children and their parents attended the Halloween


In April 1994, thirty-six men from Westminster attended

the Promise Keepers Conference at the Pontiac Silverdome.

In 1996 the Men’s Fellowship sponsored Corky Erickson of

Young Life and Pastor May in attending the Promise Keepers

Pastor’s Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

A Westminster men’s softball team played in the Ann

Arbor church league for many years – with varying degrees

of success. Bringing home the winning trophy was a cause

for rejoicing by all Westminster members. In addition, an

erstwhile group of men met on Saturday mornings for a fastpaced

basketball game at a local school.

Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN)

In September of 1992 the Session voted to participate in an

Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) community program

to provide shelter, meals and assistance to homeless families.

Area churches and synagogues hosted three to five homeless

families for one week every two or three months on a rotating

schedule. Barbara Dick and Peter Quiroz spearheaded

and organized Westminster’s participation in the program.

Approximately sixty volunteers attended the initial training

sessions. The first week of hosting for Westminster was November

8–12, 1992. In March 2001, IHN moved to Alpha

House, a new permanent facility on Jackson Road. Westminster’s

association with IHN continued until 2002, completing

ten years of service to homeless families.

Endowment Fund

In June 1999 a task force was appointed by the Session to plan

for an establishment of a permanent endowment fund. At a

138—the story continues

special meeting of the congregation on June 25, 2000, the

task force recommended amending the bylaws to establish an

endowment fund. The congregation voted its approval. The

purpose of the endowment fund is to allow more support of

mission work, cope with unforeseen capital and maintenance

needs, and develop additional creative ministries. It is not intended

to support the annual operating budget of the church.

The funds are invested with the Presbyterian Foundation, an

arm of the Presbyterian Church (USA) which manages financial

resources for Christian individuals and institutions. The

principal of the fund is held in perpetuity and only income

accumulated from investment is available for use.

The Link

In 1996 Marti Burbeck began serving as editor of The Link,

the church’s monthly newsletter, replacing Jan Thomas who

was editor for many years. The Link provides information

about upcoming church events, children’s and youth activities,

adult education and other items of interest to the Westminster

congregation. In 2005, The Link received an APEX

Award of Excellence in the annual international APEX competition

recognizing outstanding publications and web sites.

Westminster Web site

Rev. Melissa Anne May created Westminster’s first web site,

using her own America Online account. Dave Nettleman

continued to maintain and improve the site for several years.

In 2003 Marti Burbeck was hired as church web editor and

redesigned the site. For that redesign, the site received a

2004 APEX Grand Award, the top honor in the competition.

The web site gives information relevant to visitors and

church-shoppers. It includes up-to-date news of programs

and events, thus constituting a valuable resource for Westminster

members as well.

people and programs—139

The Session of 1986 gathers for a photo. Front row, left to right: Stephen

Murray, Henry Ahrens, Joan Piatt, David Hammond. Middle row: Rankin

Swan, Sue Miller, Jim Thomson, Ligia Reynolds, Bert Smith. Top row:

Lloyd Kempe, Jim Dick, Gary Claypool, Richard Leslie.

Dinners of Eight

In 1990 a fellowship opportunity called Dinners of Seven,

Eight or Nine was organized. For four Saturday nights over a

four-month period, groups of adult members and friends of

Westminster share, on a rotating basis, food and conversation

in the homes of the participants. The dinners provide a relaxed

setting to become better acquainted with fellow church


Valentine’s Day Evangelism Banquet

The first Valentine’s Day banquet sponsored by the Evangelism

Committee was held on February 12, 1988, at Weber’s

Inn. The banquets served as an outreach project to the community,

providing a church function in a neutral setting, to

which church members could invite friends and neighbors.

The speaker for the first banquet was Rich Hancock from

WMUZ radio speaking on “A Love That Endures.” In February

1990 the banquet speaker was astronaut Jack Lousma.

140—the story continues

Frank Tanana of the Detroit Tigers was the banquet speaker

in February 1992. Of the 261 guests at the 1992 banquet

at Weber’s Inn, approximately one hundred were guests of

church members.

Sixty Plus Club

Members and friends of Westminster sixty years or older

gather once a month for food and fellowship. Speakers are

invited and excursions are planned. The meetings provide an

opportunity for growth and fellowship for this vital segment

of the congregation.

Summer Campout

Under the leadership of Sharon and Al Banning, a summer

campout program has been held for the past thirty-three

years. This family camping experience provides members

with the opportunity for swimming, camping, campfires and

good Christian fellowship while enjoying the great outdoors.

For many years the weekend campouts were held at the Port

Huron KOA.

Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration

In 2006 the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Westminster

Church was celebrated. The celebration began on Sunday,

February 5, 2006, exactly fifty years to the day after the

first Westminster worship service. Of the eighty-seven charter

members, three have remained in the congregation for the

entire fifty years: Martha Akerman and Edgar and Florence

Westrum. They were recognized at the February 5 celebration.

Rev. Allen Timm, executive presbyter of the Presbytery

of Detroit, presented a plaque to the congregation in recognition

of its fifty-year ministry. Westminster Memories, a

booklet of stories and remembrances written by past and

people and programs—141

142—the story continues

Members of the

organizing committee

for the

fiftieth anniversary

celebration are

acknowledged between

services on

February 5, 2006

– exactly fifty years

after Westminster’s

first worship

service in 1956.

present members was distributed to the congregation.

In March, Don Wharton presented a concert of Christian

music. Rev. William Carl, president of Pittsburgh Seminary

and brother of our pastor Stephen Carl, led us in worship in

the fall. The year culminated with an anniversary banquet

at Weber’s Inn on October 4, to which former members and

pastors were invited to celebrate with us. The current version

of Window on Westminster, combining Ruth Tompkins’ work

with that of Anne Gensheimer, was published.

people and programs—143

144—the story continues

I know the plans I have for you

. . . plans to give you a hope and

a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

15 Into the Next Decades


hese are but a few of the events that have taken place at

Westminster since the first twenty-five-year history was

written by Ruth Tompkins. As always, it is the people of the

church who serve as witnesses to our faith in Jesus Christ. It

is the people who have devoted countless hours in committee

meetings, building programs, mission activities and Christian

education. Over 2,000 members have been entered on the

rolls since Westminster’s inception in 1956. Living in an everfluid

Ann Arbor community, in 2006 our membership stands

at 571. It is impossible to list all the saints of the church who

have gone before – their numbers are legion, their devotion

endless. We have loved those who have been with us and

wished them well as they moved on.

The life of the church is ongoing, ever changing to meet

the challenges of the times. In 2006 a Visioning Task Force

has been formed to develop a new mission statement for

Westminster. The task is to discern God’s will for the future

direction of the church – a daunting task. It is God who will

create the vision for the next years if we but follow his leading.

into the next decades—145

Wherever the path leads, one constant remains – that Westminster

exists to serve our Lord and Savior and to witness to

the love that God has for us. It is this that underlies all that

has been in the past and leads us forward into the future as

we begin the next chapter of the Westminster story.

146—the story continues



July Building site purchased

December Provision made to meet at Stadium-Nob Hill Apartments


February 5 First worship service, attended by 49 persons

March 18 Sunday school organized

August Petition by 87 people to the Presbytery of Detroit to

organize as Westminster Presbyterian Church

November 18 Organization of congregation


April 28 Installation of Rev. Richard Miller as first pastor

April Women’s Association organized

May Building Fund campaign cabinet appointed

November 24 Plan accepted for phase 1 of three-phase campus


January 24 Excavation for new building started

January 26 First Westminster Fellowship meeting

April 6 Easter sunrise service in shell of new building

September 7 First service in nearly completed building


January 11 Dedication of new building



February 2 Pulpit declared vacant; Millers leave for East Cleveland

July 5 Rev. Charles J. Gensheimer called as pastor

November 8 Installation of Rev. Charles Gensheimer


March New Building Study Committee


February New Building Committee appointed


April 7 Ground breaking ceremony for phase 2 building


September 7 First services in phase 2 building

October 12 Dedication service (Dedication Week, October 5–12)


January 23 First annual meeting in new sanctuary


Debbie Ash hired as handbell director


July Julie Chamberlain hired as director of Christian education

December 16 Stained glass windows in sanctuary dedicated



November 30 Schantz pipe organ dedicated


September Virginia Smith hired as choir director

October Celebration of twenty-fifth anniversary


August Rev. Charles J. Gensheimer dies

October Rev. Richard Dempsey hired as interim pastor


August Virginia Smith resigns as choir director

November Rev. Stephen A. Murray installed as pastor

November Michael Pavelich hired as choir director


Number of elders decreased from 21 to 18;

number of deacons increased from 12 to 15


April Two worship services started

August Julie Chamberlain, Christian education director, resigns

September First Wednesday Night Live!


December Yamaha grand piano purchased and dedicated



Long term sponsorship of missionaries established

May Deacon Care Groups instituted

June Michael Pavelich resigns as choir director

August Linda Venable-Boehk hired as choir director


Board of deacons increased from 15 to 21

Dinners of Seven, Eight or Nine begin

April Phase 3 building (fellowship hall and classrooms) begins


October Phase 3 building dedicated


April Lydia Brown hired as director of Christian growth,

starts Worship Centers

September Participation in Interfaith Hospitality Network begins

October The Reverend Charles J. Gensheimer Memorial Garden

is dedicated

December Linda Venable-Boehk resigns as choir director


July Carroll Hart hired as minister of music; Sue Lawson

hired as choir accompanist



June Lydia Brown resigns as director of Christian growth

June Jill Fairchild hired as Worship Center coordinator

August Linda Tyler Brown hired as director of Christian

growth and youth minister

December Deborah Ash resigns as handbell choir director;

Michelle Borton hired in her place.


June Sue Lawson resigns as accompanist, Shawn McDonald

hired in her place

october Rev. Melissa Anne May installed as associate pastor

December Rev. Stephen Murray’s call as pastor dissolved


March Rev. Kenneth Lister hired as interim pastor

March Linda Tyler Brown, director of Christian growth,

resigns; Eileen Helm, Jill Fairchild hired in her place


March Florence Westrum retires as organist; Shawn McDonald

hired in her place

September Rev. David Lenz installed as pastor


June First intergenerational mission trip to Reynosa, Mexico

July Rev. Melissa Anne May’s call dissolved

July Rev. Lawrence Woodruff hired as parish associate



June Visioning Task Force report adopted by Session

June Megan Zechman hired as minister to youth and young


Summer Cynthia Lenz hired as director of music for blended



June Jill Fairchild, co-director of children’s ministries, resigns

endowment Fund established

October Rev. Terri Gast installed as associate pastor


February Property at 1520 Scio Church purchased

February Eileen Helm hired as full-time director of children’s



January Sharon Flynn hired as coordinator of adult ministries

January Rev. Terri Gast resigns as associate pastor

April Megan Zechman resigns as minister to youth and young


August Lori Kilian hired as admininstrative coordinator for

youth ministry

october First Good News at 6:00 PM, monthly contemporary

worship service

November Rev. David Lenz’s call as pastor dissolved

Shawn McDonald hired as director of music for Celebration

Worship, replacing Cynthia Lenz



January Rev. Kenneth Kaibel hired as interim pastor

January Rev. Loren Scribner hired as temporary supply pastor

January Rev. Lawrence Woodruff resigns as parish associate


January Lori Kilian resigns as administrative coordinator for

youth ministry

January Paula Michalak hired as interim coordinator for youth


February Rev. Stephen Carl installed as pastor

September Rev. Ila Mayes hired as parish associate


April Rev. Ila Mayes resigns as parish associate

May Sharon Flynn resigns as coordinator of adult ministries

August Rev. Catherine King installed as associate pastor


Celebration of Westminster’s fiftieth anniversary



Charter Members

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Akerman

Henricka B. Beach

Mr. and Mrs. Reuben Beuerle

Mr. and Mrs. Frank M. Bowen

Hempstead S. Bull

Mrs. Edwin G. Burrows, Sr.

Edwin G. Burrows, Jr.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Carson

Mr. and Mrs. James Chase

Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Christiansen

Mr. and Mrs. F. Alton Collins

Mr. and Mrs. Perry Cooper

Mr. Norman Elder

Mrs. Fred Erickson

Mr. and Mrs. George Frisinger

Paul Frisinger

Mr. and Mrs. Rollo N. Frisinger

Mr. and Mrs. Philip Gillies

David L. Gillies

John P. Gillies

Thomas R. Gillies

Florence M. Guenther

Mr. and Mrs. Philip G. Hasell, Jr.

Mr. Thomas Kelly

Annetta W. Kivi

Dr. and Mrs. Leo A. Knoll

Bruce Knoll

Mr. and Mrs. Macon C. Lewis

Myron Lewis

Mr. and Mrs. William McClure

Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Mather

Mrs. Richard H. Miller

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph E. Morrill

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph L. Morrill

Mr. and Mrs. William G. Munro

Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Porter

Mr. and Mrs. John C. Robertson

Mr. and Mrs. Manford E. Robinson

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Rogers

Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Roth

Thomas Roth

Mr. and Mrs. Darrel Shippey

Edwin Shippey

Frederick Shippey

Mr. and Mrs. LeRoy Shreve

Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Simons

Mr. and Mrs. Walter Spaulding

Ruth R. Stewart

Ruth E. Stewart

Roberta P. Stewart

Mr. and Mrs. John B. Trezise

Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Troxell

Mrs. George L. West

Mr. and Mrs. Edgar F. Westrum, Jr.

Dr. and Mrs. James A. Wood

charter members—155

First Session of Elders, 1956

Joseph Akerman

Hempstead Bull

Kenneth Christiansen

Sarah Collins

Dr. Leo A. Knoll

Hope Morrill

Samuel Porter

Clarence Roth

Charles Simons

First Board of Deacons, 1956

Eileen Beuerle

Perry Cooper

Philip Gillies

Philip Hasell, Jr.

Annetta Kivi

Clarence Mather

Ralph E. Morrill

LeRoy Shreve

Edgar Westrum, Jr.

156— first deacons and elders

Research Sources

Westminster Presbyterian Church Book of Records

Annual reports 1956–2005

Session minutes 1956–1997

Sunday bulletins 1957–2006

The Church Mouse and The Link 1981–2006

“Change, Charge, Challenge” by Henricka B. Beach for the

ninth anniversary dinner

File on first building campaign including copies of newspaper

releases by Marian Elliott

Minutes of first Building Committee, 1957–58

“Building Phase 3” by James Thomson

“Handbell Choir History” by Deborah Rebeck Ash

Interview with Joseph and Martha Akerman

research sources—157


The typeface for Windows on Westminster is Caledonia,

designed in 1939 by American typographer, book designer,

puppeteer, illustrator and calligrapher William Addison

Dwiggins. Dwiggins described Caledonia as having “something

of that simple, hard-working, feet-on-the-ground quality

that has kept Scotch Roman in service for so many years.”

Scotch Roman typefaces were originally cut in the early

1800s in Edinburgh and Glasgow. They were designed to be

legible in less-than-ideal conditions, including poor quality

paper and rude printing techniques. Caledonia, the Latin

name for Scotland, is one of the most widely used book types

of all time.

Dwiggins died on Christmas Day, 1956.

colophon 159

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