Westminster Presbyterian Church
This is a story of a Church. Not just any Church, but a very
Special Church which was called into being because there
were people who cared. People who cared about the
Presbyterian Witness, that it could be heard in Escondido.
For many years Presbyterian families had asked the Chamber
of Commerce, the Mayor, the newspapers, and the Newcomer’s
Club, “Where is the Presbyterian Church?” There was no
Presbyterian Church. So Presbyterian families united with
other Faiths, went to San Diego, or just forgot about going
to Church at all.
Can we say it was People who cared? Yes, but it was also God
who cared. It was the Spirit of God who moved the hearts of
Two Escondido Families early in 1956, who, unknown to each
other, contacted the Church Extension Committee of
Presbytery requesting a Presbyterian Church in Escondido.
Just eighteen months before, this Presbytery had made an
unfruitful survey of the area and decided that the time had
not yet come for a Presbyterian Church in Escondido. Now the
Spirit of God was moving; the two families independently
asking for the Committee’s approval could only mean that the
Hand of God was in the movement.
Now was the time to test the Faith and the interest of the
people in this adventure with God. On June 15, 1956, Thirty
four people met with the Presbytery’s representative, The
Reverend Mr. Chester Tolson, then Director of Missions and
now the Pastor of the Village Church, in Rancho Santa Fe.
The proposal for a New Church was discussed with much
enthusiasm and sincerity by the group and plans began to
form. A Site for the Church needed to be selected by the
Presbytery and so several families along with Mr. Chester
Tolson and Reverend Robert Thomas looked over various pieces
of property. A Site was selected and a final purchase of
this Site was consummated by Presbytery in October of 1956.
The Reverend Robert Thomas, organizing Pastor of the Church
was officially sent to the field to help organize a Church
in October of that year. The interest grew. A Steering
Committee was chosen to work with the Presbytery and with
the Pastor to guide the Church through its organization
until Officers could be elected. This Group faced many
difficulties, but these were all met as challenges,- and by
work, faith, Prayer and co-operation the Dream became a
Reality. A suitable Name for the Church must be selected. A
suitable place of Worship must be found, as well as a place
for Fellowship dinners and Church get togethers. A home for
the Minister and his family had to be found. Step by step
God led the Group to find the answer to each problem. On
November 7th, 1956, sixty four People met for a potluck
supper, to become acquainted with one another, and to hear
from Presbytery, and officially from the Organizing Pastor.
On November 25, 1956, the First Worship Service was held in
the small Chapel of the Seventh Day Adventist Church on
Fourth and Orange Street. This meeting was attended by 105
People, and as Church attendance increased, the Sunday
Worship was moved to the main Sanctuary. More people were
called into the work of the Church, Ushers, Choir Leader and
Organist, Choir Members and Church School Superintendent and
(The Church was chartered March 10, 1957)
In January of 1958, less than two years later came the
challenge of moving forward toward a Church building
program. A building fund committee and building planning
committee laid this project on the hearts of the people and
the fund began to grow
On February 9th, 1959, a ground breaking ceremony was held
at Juniper and Idaho Street, and the First Service in the
Chapel of the Newly Built First Unit was held on August
On March the 10th, 1962, after five years, our Church
Fellowship now numbered over Three Hundred and Fifty Souls,
a dream accomplished. Our church continued to grow and Joyce
DeGraaff was installed as our new Pastor in 1986 replacing
Reverend Thomas, our organizing Pastor.
A Contemporary Service with a Praise Band and Singers
replaced the Traditional First Service in the summer of
1990. Six years later, the Congregation voted to call Jim
Rauch as Pastor to replace Joyce DeGraaff who had been
called to Medford, OR. Construction of our new Sanctuary was
completed in February 2007 and the 2,300 pipe Schantz Organ
was installed 2 months later, another dream accomplished.
Perhaps the thrill of a difficult adventure has faded for
some of our Members. Some have lost their sense of Mission;
the realization that we are carrying on God’s work that is
vitally important to us and to our Community and our World.
May we remind ourselves that God has called everyone of us
to be His builder. He asks that we continue to turn to
positive tasks of love and self-giving Service. The Lord
asks us to build His House with Him, He now asks us to be
Faithful Laborers, so that the Church will not have been
built in vain.