History of Westminster United Church
1876 John McCalla, a member of Knox Presbyterian Church erected at his own expense of $1,000.00 a wooden building on Haynes Avenue, on farmland donated by Mr. D.C. Haynes. Haynes Avenue Presbyterian was built on the west side of Haynes Ave., in the area of Seneca St. The population of St. Catharines at the time was 11,000 people. It is a tribute to Mr. McCalla's faith in the future of this city and of the east end area that he built a church, confident that the years ahead would provide the people to occupy it and support it. The congregation numbered 29 at the start. This church served for 21 years, then under the leadership of Rev. W.H. Geddes another step forward was taken in the erection of a brick building on the comer of Queenston St. and Oakdale Avenue. The cornerstone was laid by Mrs. Mary McCalla on Aug.6,1895 and here the congregation worshipped for 20 years.
1922 The name of the church was changed from Haynes Avenue to Westminster Presbyterian Church.
1925 The church became part of the United Church of Canada. The need for further expansion was apparent if the needs of the ever increasing congregation were to be met.
1927 Today our beautiful Westminster Church stands as a monument to the vision and foresight of Rev. Alfred A.Thomson, under whose direction this church was built and dedicated Oct. 27,1927. During the depression the Church faced a time of anxiety and distress. In these trying years Westminster was encouraged by the spirit of Christian fellowship and understanding revealed by the churches of Niagara Presbytery. With the perseverance of a committed and faithful congregation this Church slowly moved forward.
1947 Rev. Elmer Ashley began his ministry in Westminster.
1951 The Church had a membership of approximately 750, and a Sunday School of more than 400, and many organizations serving the interests of a growing community.
1953 A long standing mortgage was liquidated.
1954 A sod turning ceremony was held for the construction of a large hall, a new kitchen and boiler room at a cost of $84,450.00.
1955 The new and remodeled Church hall facilities were opened and dedicated.
1967 The Rogers Organ was installed and dedicated.
1971 The Rodgers Organ debt liquidated. Remodeling and refurnishing Church Parlor.
1972 Ordination of Donald H. Maclean.
1976 A new sanctuary piano made possible largely by a gift from Mrs. Jean Noble of Edmonton, in memory of her husband and augmented by a contribution from the Emma Petrie Fund.
Installation of three new stained glass windows. The Centennial window made possible by a fund initiated by Miss Ellen McPherson and her Sunday School class quite awhile ago and added to through the years by the gifts of many individuals in memory of loved ones. A second window donated by Phyllis and Murray Corbin in memory of Mr. And Mrs. Walter Eckford; by the Fishleigh family in memory of Mrs. Dorothea Fishleigh and by Mr. Fred Barley, in memory of Marion Barley.
The third window was given in memory of Mrs. Clara McKay, by her daughters Joan and Helen.
1977 Rev. Gordon Geiger begins his ministry at Westminster. The Manse was renovated and modernized. The Vestry was built.
1982 David Chotka received as a candidate for the ministry.
1987 Rev. Norman Hair begins his ministry at Westminster. The Manse received a facelift and a new roof. A new heating system installed in the church.
1988 Window storm glazing begun and completed in the following year.
1995 Rev. Stephen Shantz begins his ministry in Westminster.
1998 Gym floor refinished.
The Men's Choir was formed.
New Hymn books, Voices United were purchased.
Operation Christmas Child was begun.
2000 Ground breaking ceremony was held September 27 for the installation of the Otis elevator.
2001 Our 125th Anniversary.
Dedication of elevator February 18. Westminster is now fully handicap accessible!
In the past, Westminster's people have always responded to their Church's needs. We know however that things are expected of us and we know that only through the grace of God that anything of value can happen. We can plan for the future, but we must remember that we are only the means through which God can work, so that His work in our city, our country and the world can increase. He needs our help, and we need His help, and by working together, great things can be done.