Westminster is a Presbyterian congregation in downtown Buffalo comprised of members from every corner of Western New York. Our open and progressive community is welcoming to all, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic status, sexuality, gender identity, citizenship status, or religious affiliation.
Worship is at the center of Westminster’s life and ministry. Our primary purpose is to praise and glorify God, which we do each week at 8:15 AM in the Holmes Chapel (with Holy Communion), and at 10:30 AM in our historic sanctuary with a full, fifty-voice choir and resounding Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. Our worship seeks to honor the mind and heart as we rejoice in music, advocate service, and encourage personal growth. We also offer three adult education tracks and Sunday school for children. In that spirit, we hope you choose to join us!
In addition to our love of God, our devotion to social justice brings our congregation together. Westminster stands committed to building a stronger, healthier Western New York through advocacy, volunteer work, and outreach:
Westminster also embraces interfaith collaboration for the common good. We have strong relationships with Temple Beth Zion, Congregation Shir Shalom, The Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier, The Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Buffalo Chapter of the Zen Mountain Monastery of Eastern New York and Brooklyn.
Forty Buffalo residents founded Westminster Church on September 3, 1854, with a deep Christian commitment and great faith in the future of our city. On August 26, 1858, this small band of Christians laid the cornerstone for what is essentially the same sanctuary we presently use for worship.
The early years were marked by the courage and vision of our congregation. By the 1870s, Westminster had launched several programs, laying the foundation for our longstanding tradition of Christian outreach to the community. We formed several missions, chapels, and Sunday Schools and began a Young People's Association and a Women's Missionary Society to provide gifts for local and overseas missionary efforts. Projects included work with local Native Americans and Sunday school missionaries in the Midwest and the establishment of Westminster Hospital in what was then Persia (now Iran). In 1894, the congregation founded Westminster Community House to provide social services to Buffalo’s immigrant populations in need. At the time, Westminster Community House was the second settlement house in the country.
Westminster’s vanguard social justice efforts continue today in the form of numerous volunteer projects, an afterschool tutoring program, community collaborations, and WEDI, our program to help reduce socioeconomic barriers to success on Buffalo’s West Side.
Forty area neighbors, including local Christian businessman and civic leader, Jesse Ketchum, built the church on land donated by Ketchum just beyond what was the northern boundary of Buffalo—then a city of 42,000 people. The current building replaced the parish chapel of 1847. Designed in the Romanesque Revival style by Buffalo architect, Harlow W. Wilcox, and built by master mason, Henry Rumrill, the church building features light yellow brick, likely to have come from Ketchum's native Canada. Distinctive features include small brick arches in the cornice, reminiscent of the Lombardy architecture of northern Italy and a 200-foot steeple. The bell from the original chapel, marked A.G. Buffalo, 1850 (Adam Goode Brass and Bell Foundry on Ohio Street near Washington Street) was hoisted into the steeple, where it hangs today.
The original muted leaded windows were later replaced by stunning gothic revival stained glass reminiscent of grand cathedrals of Europe. Altogether, there are 31 masterpieces by four of the leading artists associated with the gothic glass revival in America: Henry Willet of Philadelphia and Wilber Burnham, Charles Connick, and Joseph Reynolds of Boston.
The Parish House, built in 1918, housing the Parish Hall and Case Library, resembles a Norman keep. Behind Westminster is the restored Victorian stable for the Rumsey residence, home of the beloved Westminster Early Childhood Programs.
The most recent additions include the West Entrance, dedicated in 2011 and designed by the Buffalo architectural firm Hamilton Houston Lownie. The bright and accessible structure serves as the focal point and connection between the campus buildings while maintaining the church's architectural integrity.
From planning an event to check requests, find all of the forms and documents that pertain to Westminster’s operations here, in one convenient place.