In January, 1954, John Douglas Clyde resigned in order to accept a position with the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, and in June of the same year Frederick A. Roblee, D.O., accepted the call to become Westminster’s next Senior Minister. Having come from the First Presbyterian Church of Bay City, Michigan, Frederick Roblee rendered a dedicated pastorate until 1962 when he left to become the Executive Secretary of the Council of Churches in Illinois.
Robert E. Palmer, Ph.D., was called as the pastor of Westminster Church in September, 1963, having previously served a nine year pastorate as Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, California.
After that time Westminster demonstrated a vigorous and progressive period of growth. Significant strides forward were made in the spiritual life of the congregation, its ministry in Lincoln and the world, and in its concept of mission.
Westminster was served by a growing staff of Ministers, Secretaries, Business Administrators and Custodians. The real secret of Westminster’s vitality and growth, however, lie in the outstanding lay leadership and support of members of the congregation. Since 1963 Westminster was headed in the direction to make it truly one of the outstanding congregations in America. In almost every area of its life, it experienced a rebirth of spirit and an outgrowth of service.
With over 2500 members Westminster became the largest congregation in Lincoln, and the largest Presbyterian church in Nebraska. Its annual budget was then over $400,000.00, and between 1965-1980 more than a million dollars, in addition to the annual budgets, was been pledged toward the Fifty Million Fund and the Major Mission Fund of our denomination, as well as to such causes as property acquisition, new buildings and renovation and remodeling of the existing structures.
A significant strength in Westminster has been the establishment of the Westminster Foundation, now over a half million dollars in assets, and representing the dedicated giving through wills and bequests of many of our members. The income from this foundation is used for building maintenance, property acquisition as well as special projects in music and education. The goal of the Foundation was to increase its size to $1,000,000.00 which would serve a number of purposes in the program life of our congregation, and in addition, it was hoped that the maintenance of our church plant could be undertaken by the Foundation so that certain maintenance and building needs in the future could be eliminated from the regular church budget which could then be focused on the ministry and mission of Westminster.
In 1964 funds were raised which enabled Westminster to air-condition the sanctuary and adjacent rooms, and to complete property acquisition and thus provide Westminster’s first parking facility for approximately 100 cars. We are currently in the process of acquiring additional properties which would enable us to double the size of our present parking area.
In 1967, Westminster engaged in another capital campaign which realized $100,000.00 toward our denomination’s Fifty Million Program for Missions, and also considerable renovation of the existing facilities.
In 1970 additional funds were raised for the further modernization of our sanctuary building, making it not only more attractive but more usable for a growing variety of purposes. Improvements were also made in the education building. Most significantly, our fine and usable Parish House building was dedicated in 1973, providing complete office facilities for our staff, a library, a conference room, a lounge, a youth center, and additional meeting rooms, as well as our delightful garden room area connecting the various buildings in a harmonious way.
In 1973 our congregation engaged in another campaign which enabled us to replace our aging and outworn Skinner Organ with a beautiful new modern $85,000 Casavant instrument.
In 1978 a capital goal of $375,000.00 was exceeded when $450,000.00 was pledged toward our Jubilee campaign which enabled us to make a significant gift toward our denomination’s Major Mission Fund, to enlarge Westminster’s Foundation, to construct the beautiful Memory Lane, and to renovate and remodel completely the aging and outworn West Hall, which will be dedicated during our Jubilee Year as “Cole Hall”. An elevator and/or ramp for elderly and handicapped persons along with additional modifications to be made in our buildings to facilitate their use by such persons were investigated.
In 1980 church staff consists of Dr. Robert E. Palmer, Senior Minster; Rev. Lee Van Ham, Minister of Education; Rev. Wallace E. Easter, Minister of Membership and Evangelism; Rev. Michael M. Mason, Minister of Youth; and Gordon and Helen Betenbaugh, Ministers of Music; along with an extremely competent staff of secretaries and custodians and a business administrator.