On June 30, 1901 a commission from Atlanta Presbytery organized Westminster Presbyterian Church to serve the rapidly growing Northeast section of the city. The Rev. Charles R. Nisbet was installed as the first pastor on September 9, 1901.
While meeting in a borrowed space in the Jackson Hill Baptist Church, the young congregation purchased property at the corner of Forrest Avenue and North Boulevard and began construction of its first building. The brick and stone building was completed in mid 1902.
The Westminster congregation used this facility until it was destroyed by the Great Atlanta Fire of May 21, 1917. The fire consumed nearly 3,400 buildings and left 10,000 people homeless including nearly 75% of the Westminster congregation. The very next Sunday, worship services were held in a tent erected on the ruins.
First services in the new building a few blocks north at the corner of Boulevard and Ponce de Leon Avenue were held on April 1, 1922. Seating capacity was enlarged to 700 in 1936 during the ministry of Rev. Peter Marshall. Dr Marshall served through September of 1937 and was succeeded by Rev. Ferguson Wood who remained until 1946. During Dr. Wood's pastorate, each member of the congregation serving in the armed services was prayed for by name during the mid-week prayer service.
Reverend Fulton C. Lytle was installed as Westminster's pastor in October of 1946 and served until January 1949. He was succeeded by Rev. John R. Richardson who served until March 1967.
Under Dr. Richardson's leadership, Camp Westminster was founded in the summer of 1954 and the church moved to its present location. The first service in this sanctuary was on Easter Sunday April 14, 1963. In the next few years the church was able to add to the property with the aquisition of two houses just west of the church building.
Also under Dr. Richardson's leadership, Westminster began a World Missions program in 1951. It was not until 1966 however, that the first missions conference was held.
Dr. Richardson was succeeded by Rev. James Patterson who served until 1972. Dr Richardson returned as interim pastor, and was serving in that capacity when the Convocation of Sessions was held at Westminster in May 1973. The Convocation of Sessions led to the founding of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Two months later in July 1, 1973, Westminster voted unanimously to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church in the United States. The church, however, remained independent until voting to join the PCA in June 1985 and being received by North Georgia Presbytery on July 20th.
Rev. Sam S. Cappell served as senior pastor from 1974 to 1978 and was succeeded by Dr. John M. Montgomery. It was under Dr. Montgomery's leadership that Westminster joined the PCA. He served as senior pastor from 1979 to 1991. Dr. Oliver J. Claassen served as senior pastor from 1992 to 1998.
Rev. Charles Frost came to Westminster from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida in 1999. Under his leadership a major renovation program was undertaken. In addition, the steeple chimes, which had not sounded for over two decades, were repaired. The pipe organ, moved to this building from the previous building, was also renovated and enlarged.
Rev. Aaron Messner currently serves the body of Westminster leading in reverent and joyful worship of our triune God through the ordinary means of grace (Reading and Preaching of God's Word, Prayer, Sacraments of Baptism & the Lord's Supper).
Westminster continues to review its past and look to the future. At the time of the 75th anniversary it was noted: "As each 25th year anniversary has been observed at Westminster, it has been stated that it is a church that has always stood firm on the Bible, as the infallible Word of God."
Aaron Messner was born in Texas, lived in Utah as a child, and from elementary school on lived in Phoenix, Arizona where he had the privilege of growing up in a devout evangelical Christian family. Aaron professed faith in Christ at a young age and began to sense a call to ministry during his high school years.
He graduated from Wheaton College, Illinois with a degree in Theological studies. While at Wheaton he met his wife Nancy Jo and cultivated a passion for expositional preaching under the ministry of R. Kent Hughes. After graduation from Wheaton and teaching school for a year, Aaron and Nancy returned to Wheaton where they completed Masters degrees together and Aaron served for almost 18 months as the stated pulpit supply for Wheatland Presbyterian Church.
Upon completing their Masters degrees, the Messners moved to Princeton NJ where Aaron completed a Master's of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary. While at Princeton, Aaron and Nancy began to attend historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in downtown Philadelphia. Aaron served as a seminary intern at Tenth working with their outreach ministry to the homeless and upon graduation was called to serve on the pastoral staff, where he preached extensively in Tenth's evening worship services.
After 5 years on staff at Tenth, Aaron accepted a call to serve as College Chaplain and member of the faculty at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. In January of 2013, Aaron was installed as the new Senior Minister of Westminster Presbyterian and is honored to have the opportunity to lead this historic congregation in the heart of one of the world's great cities.
Aaron and Nancy have five children (Nathan, Micah, Ilsa, Titus and Soren) and he takes delight in the activities that delight his children. You will find him following global soccer and fencing, discussing American girl dolls and ballet performances, and playing on the floor with superhero action figures. He is also well versed in the literature of Sandra Boynton, Margaret Wise Brown, The Magic Treehouse and JRR Tolkien.