Westminster is the present day descendant of Dayton’s first church, organized in 1799 by the Washington Presbytery of the Synod of Kentucky. Originally it was named First Presbyterian Church. Worshiping in a small log cabin in the heart of what would later become the downtown, the congregation began with ten people.

The church grew until 1838, when the "New School-Old School Controversy", a dispute regarding slavery, caused 72 of its 187 members to leave and form, as New School adherents, The Third Street Presbyterian Church.  The pastor who preached at Abraham Lincoln's funeral, The Reverend Phineas Gurley, served First Church in Dayton from 1849 to 1854.

For 81 years the two churches, only a city block apart, maintained their separate congregations. However, in 1919, their differences long forgotten, the two churches were reunited to become a congregation of 1146 members. They had a vision of creating more than just a church. They also launched a Choir College. They chose the name Westminster, both for the church and the Choir College.
This reunited congregation worshiped in Dayton's Memorial Hall until the current building was completed in 1926. Architect Ralph Adams Cram designed this neo-gothic structure.   From September 1999 through May 2000, Westminster celebrated its 200th birthday.  A leather-bound book: Westminster Presbyterian Church: Increasing the Love of God and Neighbor, written by parishioners as a tribute in its bicentennial year, details the history of Dayton’s first church and is available in the Church Office.
 
125 N. Wilkinson Street, Dayton, OH 45402 Phone 937.223.7285 Fax 937.223.9085

E-mail wpcdayton@westminsterdayton.org

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