In 1964, thirteen families made a decision to establish a Bible-based church called Westminster Chapel. Pastor Wilbur Antisdale led the growing fellowship in a downtown Bellevue rented funeral home. By 1969 a chapel and education building were completed as the 500-member church began holding 2 worship services. Faced with steady growth, the congregation bought additional land in 1977 and began plans for a new worship center, office and classroom building.
The first service in the worship center sanctuary was held in 1980, and three years later Pastor “A” retired. Mark Neuenschwander was called as Westminster’s second senior pastor and the church continued to grow. Having established a very strong world missions department, more and more ministries were launched to serve the spiritual, physical and relational needs of the congregation and surrounding region. Seeking to support and nurture churches and other Christian organizations, Westminster Chapel became a key Christian and community focal point.
In 1993, Gary Gulbranson accepted the call to serve as the third senior pastor in Westminster Chapel’s history. Since then, he and his wife, Jorie, have helped the Chapel become an increasingly welcoming place to its congregation and visitors from surrounding Eastside communities, across the country and around the globe. Their mutual passion is to communicate the love of Christ in such a way that developing a personal relationship with Him becomes irresistible.
In 2004 the Next Chapter campaign was launched to provide the financial resources to underwrite a capital expansion project that would allow us to meet the needs of our growing community and ministries. This included the demolition of the original Chapel. By 2008, a three-story structure stood in its footprint housing the Community Life Center (CLC), Fireside Room, Foyer, a Counseling Center, Student and Children’s Ministry centers, offices, classrooms, restrooms, kitchens, an elevator, and more. The existing Foyer and Education Building were remodeled to create the Atrium, Library, Children’s Theater and restrooms.
The Next Chapter is much more than simply bricks and mortar. It’s an expanded philosophy about people and their relationship with God and each other. Relationships are the building blocks to life-change. Realizing we’re better together, we are eager to offer a place to begin as the broken receive help and respect; a place to belong where diversity becomes unity; a place to become all we can be within a community of grace and purpose; and a place to reach beyond ourselves to our neighbor, community and a desperate world.
Our passion is to engage the changing needs of this community with God’s unchanging Word. Westminster Chapel now finds itself at the center of an ethnically and culturally diverse urban center, with needs and challenges dramatically different from the suburban community of Bellevue just a few years ago. As God blesses and prospers the work and ministry of Westminster Chapel, it will continue to impact lives and eternity.