The United Presbyterian Church of Webster began as a Congregational society in 1825. It was called the Church of North Penfield and Ontario. It was also known as the Penfield Second Church or North Penfield Church. Rev. Asa Carpenter was the pastor. For the first few years the new church struggled under the leadership of several different pastors. In 1829 a controversy within church arose and was settled by changing the organization from Congregational to Presbyterian. The name was changed to Presbyterian Society of North Penfield and Ontario. Rev. Richard Dunning was named pastor. In 1853 land was purchased from Mr and Mrs A Brewer and a new church building was built at 77 E. Main St. In 1855 the dedication of a new church building took place. Over the years the church continued to grow. In 1968 groundbreaking took place for a new church building at 550 Webster Rd. The dedication of the new church building took place on October 19, 1969.
In 1971 the United Presbyterian Church of Webster sold the land on E. Main St to Carrol’s restaurant for the purpose of building a restaurant there. In December of 1971 the old church building on 77 E. Main St was demolished. In 1977 a Burger King restaurant opened on this property.
1975 was the United Presbyterian Church of Webster’s sesquicentennial year. This milestone was celebrated with many activities that occured over the year. There were opportunities to look back at the past during events such as; The Moments of History, a barn revival meeting, the Service of Hippolytus and the placement of the Shepherd’s window on the wall in the Christian Education wing of the Webster Rd Church. The Shepherd’s window had originally hung in the window of the the church on Main St. After remaining in the Education Wing for several years, it was later hung as a window in the chapel. The sesquicentennial celebration also included events that focused on looking toward the future. These events included; an R and R weekend, guest speakers, contemporary service with music by Walt Dixon, and the banner service depicting the Beatitudes. In 1825 the church consisted of 11 members. In 1975 there were 1127 members on the rolls.
In 1983 a merger of UPCUSA [United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America] and the PCUS [Presbyterian Church in the United States – churches located in the southern and border states] resulted in the denomination name change from United Presbyterian Church to Presbyterian Church. On June 10, 1983 the first General Assembly of the new denomination was held. The United Presbyterian Church of Webster became known as Webster Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Clyde Mellinger retired in 1991. Rev. Mellinger was dedicated to the church and to the community. During Rev. Mellinger’s years with Webster Presbyterian Church the first retreats were held for men and women, youth groups were encouraged and supported and the church began a ministry for the unemployed during a time of severe layoffs within Xerox and General Dynamics. Rev. Mellinger also served on several boards including Flower City Habitat, Compulsive Gamblers Treatment Program and the bicentennial committee for the Town of Webster. Rev. Mellinger had a radio program on WHAM that reached listeners as far away as Toronto, Canada. In 1991 Rev. Alan
G. Gripe was named interim pastor to Webster Presbyterian Church following the retirement of Rev. Clyde Mellinger. In September of 1993 Rev. Dr. Lawrence J. DeVuyst was named senior pastor.
After seven years of planning, researching and fundraising a Webster Presbyterian committee joined with Heritage Christian Homes to open Respitewood Home. The project provided free, quality temporary care for people with developmental disabilities. Clients were able to visit Respitewood for short periods of time giving their families a break. The total cost of the project was $340,000. Webster Presbyterian Church and the NY State Office of Developmental Disabilities and Mental Retardation each contributed $140,000 to the project. Volunteers donated $60,000 in the form of labor and materials. The Respitewood Home opened its doors Sunday March 27, 1994.
In the summer of 1999 a steering committee was formed to begin the planning for the upcoming 175th anniversary to take place in 2000. The committee consisted of Pastor Larry De Vuyst, Kim De Vuyst, Pastor Tracy Spencer-Brown, Dick Hunt, Sue Guyer and Don Lewis. The year long celebration was kicked off with a special 2 day family weekend with a picnic and worship service on September 9th and 10th. Over 300 people attended the picnic that was catered locally. Music was provided by Fathers’ Night Out: Tony Hubbard, Roy Snoke, Jim Hoffman , Dan Marsh, Bill Barr, San Goodwin, and Tom Petronio. James Kimbal performed songs and readings reflecting the past events of the church history. Several former pastors were in attendance; Howard and Judy Chapman, Clyde and Roxanna Mellinger, and Allen and Sue Presby. On Sunday September 10th a special service, “Celebrating the Journey -175 Years of Faith” lasted two hours with many songs, meditations and reflections of times past. Throughout the year Mary Lou Davison provided short snippets of history in the church bulletins and Pathway. Commemorative church medallions were designed and purchased. A special hymn was commissioned and written by Sandra Gay. Christmas ornaments depicting the church were designed and produced by Wanda Nungesser and Naomi Circle. A special 175th banner was presented to the congregation and hung in the Narthex.
Webster Presbyterian Church decided in June of 2013 to offer two new worship opportunities. In addition to the regular Sunday morning services a contemporary service would be offered on the 1st Sunday evening of each month. This service would be informal with more contemporary music. On the 3rd Wednesday evening of the month a supper and fellowship worship would take place. This service would be geared toward children of all ages and would include music, puppets, role playing, and acting.
A new power assisted handicap door was installed at the church in 2017 at the upper and the lower entrance. This continued the church’s efforts to be welcoming to all.
The congregation voted to in 2017 to change from the traditional one pastor model to a co-pastor model. On June 4, 2017 an installation service and celebration was held for Rev. Lawrence DeVuyst and Rev. Eileen Vanderzwan as co pastors.
In June of 2018 the Webster Presbyterian church began construction on its 12th Habitat for Humanity home. Working with other area churches, members have raised money and volunteered their time and talent to provide stable and safe homes for those in need.
Webster Presbyterian Church has always had an active outreach program. Since 1992 the congregation has given approximately $3,627,060 to support local, national and international projects. The congregation’s mission support is approximately 1/4 of the total church budget. These outreach opportunities allow the congregation to share their talents through monetary donations, physical assistance, donation of goods or services and spiritual support.
The youth members of the church have participated in work camps for decades completing projects that include renovating a farmhouse into a Rehabilitation Center for Teens, cleaning, repairing, planting, distributing clothes or food, painting, cooking and serving meals or simply talking to the lonely or elderly. The first recorded work camp was organized by Marge Wells in the summer of 1963 in Morris Fork, KY
Over the years the church has participated in the Christmas International House program where over 120 international college students were invited to live in members homes for the Christmas holidays.
The church has also sponsored over 60 refugee families in the Webster area. Refugees from Hungary, Cambodia, Africa and other countries have found support and fellowship as they resettled in Webster.
The Webster Presbyterian Church has participated in numerous local, national and international outreach programs over the years. This community effort has allowed members to enhance their understanding of cultural differences as well as provided additional support for those in need.
|Rev. Asa Carpenter||1825-1826|
|Rev. Jabez Spicer and Calhoun||1826-1829|
|Rev. Richard Dunning||1829-1835|
|Rev. John F. Bliss||1835|
|Rev. Richard De Forest||1835-1837|
|Rev. Alva Day||1837|
|Rev. Lemuel Brooks||1841-1847|
|Rev. James McFadyen||1847-1848|
|Rev. Joseph Royal Mann||1848-1850|
|Rev. Augustus F. Hall||1850-1853|
|Rev. Chester Holcomb||1854-1857|
|Rev. Thomas Bellamy||1857-1859|
|Rev. Robert McMath||1861-1864|
|Rev. George McCartney||1864-1870|
|Auburn Seminary students (supplied)||1870-1873|
|Rev. William T. Hayward||1873-1876|
|Rev. Jonathan Copeland||1876-1891|
|Rev. Kingsley Norris||1891-1893|
|Rev. George Patton (supplied)||1893-1895|
|Rev. Francis R. Wade||1895-1898|
|Rev. James S. Root (supplied)||1898|
|Rev. George F. Riggs (supplied)|
|Rev Edward Bristol (supplied)||-1900|
|Rev. R. V. Frisbie||1900-1903|
|Rev. W. D. Jones||1904-1911|
|Rev. Henry C. Millard||1912-1915|
|Rev. Charles Brown||1916-1934|
|Rev. John Schott||1935-1940|
|Rev. Melville Nesbitt, Jr.||1940-1945|
|Rev. Richard Northrup||1945-1950|
|Rev. Francis King||1950-1957|
|Rev. G. Rogers Smith (Senior)||1957-1966|
|Rev. Clyde L Mellinger, Jr. (Senior)||1967-1991|
|Rev. Alan G. Gripe (Interim Senior)||1991-1993|
|Rev. Lawrence J. De Vuyst (Co-Pastor since 2017)||1993-2020|
|Rev. Eileen Vanderzwan (Co-Pastor since 2017)||2017-2020|
|Rev. Philip B. Davis, Sr. (Interim)||2020-|
- Webster Church Box, United Presbyterian Church of Webster file, Webster Historian Office, Webster Museum, 2016.
- Dunn, Esther, Webster Through the Years, Webster Town Board, Webster, NY 1971, pg 69-73.
- The United Presbyterian Church, Moments of History 1825-1975, Webster, NY 1975, p 15, 25, 31.
- “End of an Era”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, December 15, 1971, p 27.
- “Report From Presbyterians”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, February 2, 1972, p 4.
- “Church Plans Workshop”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, April 19, 1975, p 3.
- “Church Celebrates Sesqui-Centennial”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, April 9, 1975, p 7.
- Mellinger Jr., Clyde L., “1975: The Sesquicentennial Year, Comments by the Elders and Pastor”, 1975.
- “Noteworthy”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 28, 1977, p 4A.
- Presbyterian Historical Society, 2018, accessed August 26, 2018, https://www.history.pcusa.org/history-online/presbyterian-history/history-church
- Presbyterian Church [USA], Wikipedia, 2018, accessed August 26, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyterian_Church_(USA)
- “Presbyterian Church in the United States”, Wikipedia, 2018, accessed August 26, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyterian_Church_in_the_United_States
- “Local Church helps to reunite Cambodian family, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, April 4, 1984, p 5A.
- Davison, Mary Lou, “Refugees find haven and help at Webster Presbyterian Church”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, November 21, 1990, p 23.
- “Gripe named interim pastor”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, August 21, 1991, p 8.
- Davison, Mary Lou, “Mellinger recalls 25 years in Webster”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, May 1, 1991, p 9.
- “Webster Presbyterian Church to Install New Senior Pastor”. Webster Herald, Webster, NY, November, 24, 1993, p 12.
- Geriner, James, “Webster Presbyterian project opening” Webster Herald, Webster, NY March 23, 1994, p 1 and 20.
- Batzing, Richard, “Pioneer church reaches 175 years”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, September 13, 2000, p 1B.
- Lewis, Don, “175th Anniversary Report, Webster Presbyterian Church.
- “Church members head to Kenya for mission trip”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, July 20, 2005, p 9.
- “Webster Presbyterian Church offers New Worship Options”, Webster Herald, Webster, NY, June 14, 2013, p 8.
- Rosenberry, Missy, “Webster Presbyterian Church missionaries will host community presentation”, Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY, November 10, 2016.
- “Trustee Corner”, Pathway Newsletter of the Webster Presbyterian Church Webster, NY, February, 2017, vol XLVII No 2, p 7.
- “Learning for a Lifetime”, Pathway Newsletter of the Webster Presbyterian Church Webster, NY, April 2017, Vol XLVII No. 4, p 4.
- “Session Notes”, Pathway Newsletter of the Webster Presbyterian Church Webster, NY, June 2017, vol XLVII No 6, p 5.
- “Habitat Update” Pathway Newsletter of the Webster Presbyterian Church Webster, NY, October 2017, Vol XLVII No. 8, p 11.
- “Penfield Habitat Coalition Thanks WPC” Pathway Newsletter of the Webster Presbyterian Church Webster, NY, February 2018, Vol XLVIII No 2, p 6.
- Webster Presbyterian Church, 2018, http://www.websterpres.org Webster Presbyterian Church Facebook, 2018 , https://www.facebook.com/Websterpres/