"Holding Forth the Word of Life" ... Since 1867
Church building erected in 1872. Manse next door erected in 1894.
Bulletin front for special dedication service following major renovations to building.
Reverend Clair S. Adams, pastor
Reverend Willis G. Craig, D.D., Chicago, IL, preached the sermon.
Joseph E. Hall
Mrs. Joseph E. Hall
Benjamin Q. Cherry
Mrs. Benjamin Q. Cherry
Gilbert S. Hall
T. B. Strauss
Charles R. Strauss
Mrs. Charles R. Strauss
Charles E. Strauss
Anna M. Strauss
John M. Hall
L. A. Dodd
Mrs. L. A. Dodd
Mrs. William Christie
James D. Kilgore
Mrs. James D. Kilgore
Nancy A. Atkinson
Eliza J. Atkinson
Susan V. Atkinson
Mrs. Emma Hall Fredrick
Bulletin front (above) for Fortieth Anniversary service, with Historic Items of Interest (below). Reverend S. Howard Smith, pastor.
First Presbyterian Church of Paxton, Illinois organized November 1, 1867
In response to a petition to the Bloomington Presbytery signed by twenty Presbyterians living in Paxton, a committee was appointed to organize a church. On Friday evening, November 1, after a sermon, the church was organized. There were twenty-three charter members. The Methodist church was opened to this new group in January, 1869. By June of the same year, regular meetings were being held in the newly constructed Clark's Hall (Index Building, uptown Paxton).
Paxton had been incorporated and laid out in 1865. It was comprised of thirty-five blocks on either side of the railroad. Lake Britt (a good place to skate in the winter), bounded by Vermilion, Orleans, and Center Streets was generously donated to the church by Col. and Mrs. Charles Bogardus in 1872; and a church building was erected at the corner of Center and Vermilion. The manse (or parsonage), a very fine home for its time, was erected in 1894.
In 1899, the church was remodeled; the ceiling was lowered; the sanctuary was made to face east instead of west. During this extensive work, the church met at the Baptist Church. A special worship service was held Sunday, February 11, 1900 to dedicate the newly renovated building. Rev. Clair s. Adams was pastor.
In 1907, the members were blessed with the installation of a water-powered pipe organ. It was in working order until 1957. The original pipes remain to this day a lovely element of the sanctuary. The next major improvement was the basement, which was converted into an elegant social room in 1910. The newly converted social room was first used for the Annual Congregational Meeting in April with an attendance of 120 members. A social time and a supper preceded the business meeting. Reverend S. Howard Smith was the pastor.
Following WWII some of the church members believed that their denomination was going in the wrong direction in a number of ways. Because of this they felt the need to remove themselves from their beloved denomination in 1947 to become Westminster Bible Church. A newspaper clipping captures the basis for departure. “In recent years there has been a manifest trend in the teaching of those who control and direct the [denomination] away from the doctrines of the infallibility of the Word of God, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, the necessity of His atoning death, the physical resurrection, Christ’s personal return, and other doctrines which are fundamental and vital.”
Later, with a desire for a more robust Reformed theology, as well as their continued eagerness to uphold biblical fidelity, the church members voted to return to the church’s Presbyterian roots and became Westminster Presbyterian Church PCA in June of 1987. They joined the Presbyterian Church in America, a conservative and Reformed denomination which was founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 1973. Reverend Donald W. Rackley was the pastor.
In 1984 the church was once again remodeled to add new restrooms and upstairs Sunday School rooms, and in 1988 the basement was modified to include a full kitchen and dining hall. The upstairs fellowship room was renovated in 2008 with a new kitchen installed. Throughout the life of the church, the original stained-glass windows have been maintained which artfully reflect some of the church’s earliest members’ names, initials and SS classes.
Westminster celebrated her 150th anniversary on Reformation Sunday, October 29th, 2017. Read an article about the service here.