Westwood Presbyterian Church
Looking back on our first
fifty years of fellowship
from 1958 to 2008...
and looking forward
to our future.
Memorial booklet provided by
the 50th Anniversary Committee
From the 50th Anniversary Committee
Rev. Joshua Long knew it would take a lot
of time and energy to put together a celebration
of Westwood’s first 50 years.
At a congregational meeting in January
2005, he asked members to establish
a seven-member committee that included
two elders, one deacon and four members of the
congregation at large.
On May 12, 2005 the committee held its first
meeting and immediately began a careful
study of improvements that were long overdue.
For nearly a year, committee members considered
suggestions to renovate the sanctuary, choir loft,
fellowship hall, kitchen, nursery and hallways.
Our efforts culminated with a capital fund raising campaign in the spring of 2006, in which members pledged more than
$72,000 for the improvements. Miami Presbytery allowed Westwood to pursue a loan, and in August, an $85,000 loan was
obtained from Lebanon Citizens Bank.
As generally happens with renovation projects, the actual cost for all of the improvements we’ve made has topped
$100,000- more money than it originally cost to build the church in 1958!
We thank Rev. Long for his inspirational leadership these last three years. When we questioned whether we could afford
some of these improvements, he challenged us to have faith and trust that God would help us find the way to accomplish our
We hope you enjoy the many improvements that have been made
for this celebration.
Dale Alvey and Bob Long, co-chairs, Rev. Joshua Long, ex-officio,
June Conlin, Bob Estridge, Reva Johnson, Kym Smith and Jean Wright.
Visions of a new church development
What is known today as Westwood Presbyterian Church actually began as
The Presbyterian Mission Church of Hamilton in March 1958.
The Presbytery of Dayton and the Board of National
Missions of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. established the
new church. The founding partners believed Hamilton needed
a second Presbyterian church, because the city had grown to
The first worship service was held Sunday, April 6, 1958 in the
red brick home that now serves as the manse. A month later, members decided on the name Westwood, because
it was located near West Park and Brookwood subdivisions.
Fifty-three people became Westwood’s first members on June 15, and by fall, a committee began planning for a
new church. Architecht Robert Beeghly of Winkler, Ranck, Beeghly developed the design, and Session approved
the plan for a sanctuary, narthex, meeting room and small kitchen in March 1959.
The cost of the building was revised down from $110,000 to $73,000 with the Board of National Missions
offering a loan of $35,000 and Front Street Presbyterian Church offering $20,000.
A. Benzing & Sons Inc. served as General Contractor for construction, and the first worship service was held in
the new sanctuary in December 1960.
Rev. Niswander leads early days
Rev. Lee Niswander was Westwood’s first pastor from 1958 to 1962.
The Reverend E. Lee Niswander was appointed as the first pastor of the original Mission Church and
guided members through the first four-and-a-half years.
Initially, he worked with Acting Elders who came from the Presbyterian Church of Hamilton to launch the new church
development. Those first elders were Robert Beeghly, Vernon Kershner, Arthur Livergood, Robert Marrs, James
Sisson, Jack Smith and Bruce Snider.
Rev. Niswander had the difficult task of providing the inspiration and faith for a small group of individuals
who wanted to make a new church a reality.
It was a time of growth. During his pastorate, Westwood’s membership jumped from the original 53 members in June 1958
to roughly 200 by the time he left in July 1962 to become pastor at the First United Presbyterian Church in Eaton, Ohio.
With many young families calling Westwood their home, the church had an active youth program. Even in its fi rst year,
Westwood had a thriving Vacation Bible School that was attended by 53 children.
The Session also voted to sponsor Brownie and Cub Scout troops, and scouting played a major role at Westwood for
Westwood’s original building committee included l-r: Bill Copeland,
Chairman John Marshall, Peg Williams, Rev. Niswander, George
Michaels and architect Bob Beeghly. Not pictured: Jack Smith.
Westwood grows throughout the 60’s
The 1960’s proved to be a period of unprecedented growth for Westwood as membership reached nearly
300 by the end of the decade. This growth led to an expansion project. It
also was a time when Westwood called its first pastor.
Rev. Hugh L. White became Westwood’s second pastor in
December 1962. He’s pictured here with Mary Ann Marsh
(center) and his wife Joyce.
After Rev. Niswander announced he was leaving, James Sisson chaired the committee that hired Rev. Hugh
L. White. A graduate of Center College in Danville, Kentucky and of the Louisville, Kentucky Theological Seminary
of the United Presbyterian Church U.S., Rev. White became pastor on December 9, 1962.
Westwood began work on its fellowship hall addition in the
summer of 1968 to provide additional classroom space for
children and adults.
Rev. White’s time at Westwood saw a second building committee appointed in 1964 to provide additional
classroom space for a growing Sunday School program. Ground was broken for the project in July
1968, and the $66,000 addition was dedicated in February 1969.
In addition, Westwood members started a long-standing relationship with the Boy Scouts when Troop 982 was
organized in 1964. Steve Anglin, Jack Confer, George Johnson and Ken Reynolds were among Westwood
members who actively served as leaders.
The Morris family arrives
Rev. Jim Morris was the longest
serving pastor at Westwood. He’s
pictured here with wife Nancy,
daughter in-law Debbie, son Tom,
son Dave and his wife, daughter
Jane and son John.
The 90’s: New children and a new look
Westwood enters a new century