Who We Are

For over 70 years the Westwood Presbyterian Church family of more than 500 members and friends has gathered to worship and learn, and scattered to love and serve.  People from all ages, stages and life situations find a welcome in the WPC family.  While we are a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), many of our members hail from other Christian traditions.  Still others come our way having little or no religious background.  We affirm Jesus’ prayer that we may all be one.  Thus, we are a family in which all races, nationalities, ages, sexual orientations and political persuasions, worship, learn and serve together.  All are welcome here, whether deep into a faith journey or just beginning.

 

Taking seriously Christ’s call to love God with heart, soul and mind, we seek the one who is the ”light for our path,” and are intentional about becoming thoughtful, faithful and practicing Christians.  Taking seriously Christ’s call to love our neighbor, we seek to be a ”light for our city,” an open channel of God’s love and grace.  Our “little congregation that could,” has given birth to ministries that have made a significant difference to thousands who suffer and struggle.  From PATH (People Assisting the Homeless), to Child S.H.A.R.E., to the Westside Food Bank, to Habitat for Humanity we work to care for the poorest and most vulnerable of our city.  From Nicaragua to New Orleans, our arms stretch beyond the Los Angeles region, caring for those who suffer.

 

You are welcome... you are invited to share with us the joy of worship; take advantage of the opportunity for spiritual growth; find a community of support; and accept the call to be agents of God’s love and grace in the world.

 

Westwood Presbyterian Church is one of over 11,000 congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The denomination, with 2.4 million members, is a Christian community centered around six Great Ends of the Church:

  • Proclamation of the Gospel
  • Building up the Christian Community
  • Worship of God
  • Theology Matters in the World
  • Promotion of Social Justice
  • Demonstrating Our Faith

Our History

Westwood Presbyterian Church celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2017.

Soon after World War II, a small group of Presbyterians in the Westwood area came together with the vision of establishing a Presbyterian church in the community. Led by the Rev. Cecil Hoffman, Presbyterian campus minister at UCLA, this group of 134 individuals petitioned the Presbytery of Los Angeles in November 1946 to organize a congregation.


On November 23, 1947, the presbytery formally organized Westwood Presbyterian Church. The 116 charter members selected the Rev. Haven Davis, a former Army Air Force chaplain, as their first minister. The first congregation met at the Community Clubhouse on the northeast corner Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue.


In 1949, the Presbytery purchased a lot for the permanent church location on a Wilshire Boulevard hilltop to the east of Glendon Avenue. Anxious to get into their own building, the congregation bought a real estate office building on Wilshire and Glendon and moved it to the hilltop in the spring of 1950. The building (now the church’s fellowship building, Hoffman Hall) was retrofitted as a temporary chapel, and the first worship service was held there in July 1950.

The church completed its sanctuary in June 1953. Later in the decade, the Christian education building was added.


Haven Davis was followed as pastor by Bruce Reinhart in 1962, James Angell in 1965, and Charles Orr in 1970. Haven Davis had a vision that the new Westwood church would become a leader among churches in Los Angeles. In many ways, that vision has been realized.

 

What We Believe

MISSION/ESSENTIAL PRACTICES

Approved by Session on June 19, 2012



Mission Statement –
Westwood Presbyterian Church journeys as a welcoming and inclusive community, seeking to model the grace of God through Jesus Christ by

doing justice
loving kindness and
walking humbly with our God.
–Micah 6:8


Essential Practices –
Inspired by the love and mercy of God,
joined in our desire to know, love and grow as followers of Jesus Christ,
guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit,
we strive to realize our mission through the following Scripturally based practices:

 

INSPIRED WORSHIP
We join together in joyful worship of God, a holy conversation in which we proclaim God’s love in Christ, bring the Biblical story into our experience, and celebrate the sacraments of baptism and communion. We respond to God’s grace through the singing of hymns and the beauty of sacred music; in prayer, as we listen for God’s voice; in self-giving as we bring our offerings and our lives to God before moving out to serve.


DOING JUSTICE
Desiring to live out the biblical vision of justice, we work to make God’s intentions for the human family real. We endeavor to live fair and honest lives, seek rights for those who have no power to claim rights for themselves, bear witness against political oppression and exploitation, seek to overcome the disparity between rich and poor, and work for fair laws and just administration of those laws, so that “God’s kingdom might come, on earth as it is in heaven.”



 

LOVING KINDNESS
Gracious Hospitality:We celebrate our diversity and affirm the God-given dignity and worth of all persons, extending a warm welcome to everyone, without exception.


Compassionate Service: We strive to bring the love of God to bear on human need. Whether the call is to house those without homes, feed the hungry or be present with another in a difficult time, we seek to make a real difference in the lives of the suffering.


Caring Fellowship:
 We aspire to create a place of belonging in the midst of our disconnected society. We serve as an extended family in which the grace and forgiveness of God can be experienced, no matter one’s age or stage in life. We break bread together, discuss our beliefs and doubts, share joys and sorrows, and support one another in times of need. We celebrate often.


WALKING HUMBLY
Intentional Discipleship:As followers of Jesus Christ we prepare ourselves to live faithfully in an ethically complex society. We are diligent in the spiritual formation of our children, youth and adults through studying Scripture and contemporary culture and by devoting ourselves to spiritual practices.


Shared Ministry:
As we are all ministers, each of us is called to use our God-given gifts in some aspect of the church’s mission and ministry.


Generous Stewardship:
 As all that we have belongs to God, we seek to live lives of gratitude and generosity, wisely tending all that God has entrusted to our care – our lives, money, time, church and earth.


EVER-REFORMING
As Presbyterians, we are committed to the ongoing transformation of our faith community, seeking ever-more faithful and effective forms of ministry and mission.


Basic Beliefs

As a member church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), our basic beliefs are articulated in the Book of Confessions.  While there is a great deal of diversity within the church on some of the specifics of our theology, our Brief Statement of Reformed Faith, written in 1984, well summarizes the core beliefs held in common by most Presbyterians.


Brief Statement Of Reformed Faith

In life and death we belong to God.

Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The love of God,

And the communion of the Holy Spirit,

we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,

whom alone we worship and serve.

 

We trust in Jesus Christ,

Fully human, fully God.

Jesus proclaimed the reign of God:

preaching good news to the poor

and release to the captives,

teaching by word and deed

and blessing the children,

healing the sick

and binding up the brokenhearted,

eating with outcasts,

forgiving sinners,

and calling all to repent and believe the gospel.

Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition,

Jesus was crucified,

suffering the depths of human pain

and giving his life for the sins of the world.

God raised Jesus from the dead,

vindicating his sinless life,

breaking the power of sin and evil,

delivering us from death to life eternal.


We trust in God,

whom Jesus called Abba, Father.

In sovereign love God created the world good

and makes everyone equally in God’s image

male and female, of every race and people,

to live as one community.

But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator.

Ignoring God’s commandments,

we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,

accept lies as truth,

exploit neighbor and nature,

and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.







We deserve God’s condemnation.

Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.

In everlasting love,

the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people

to bless all families of the earth.

Hearing their cry,

God delivered the children of Israel

from the house of bondage.

Loving us still,

God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.

Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,

like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,

God is faithful still.

 

We trust in God the Holy Spirit,

everywhere the giver and renewer of life.

The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith,

sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor,

and binds us together with all believers

in the one body of Christ, the church.

The same Spirit

who inspired the prophets and apostles

rules our faith and life in Christ through Scripture,

engages us through the Word proclaimed,

claims us in the waters of baptism,

feeds us with the bread of life and the cup of salvation,

and calls women and men to all ministries of the church.

In a broken and fearful world

the Spirit gives us courage

to pray without ceasing,

to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,

to unmask idolatries in church and culture,

to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,

and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.

In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit,

we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks

and to live holy and joyful lives,

even as we watch for God’s new heaven and new earth,

praying, Come, Lord Jesus!

With believers in every time and place,

we rejoice that nothing in life or in death

can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Baptism

Baptism signifies the certainty of God’s covenant love and faithfulness and initiates entrance into the community of faith.  At Westwood Presbyterian Church, as in all Presbyterian churches, we baptize the children of church members as well as adults upon their profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  Infants are baptized as a sign of God’s love and as recognition of their welcome into the church family.  As children grow into young people they are better equipped to make a personal decision to follow Christ.  We invite them to confirm their baptism following a confirmation program during their teen years.

Baptism is celebrated when the community gathers for corporate worship.  Because baptism is an act of the community welcoming the child or the adult into God’s family, we do not hold private family baptisms.  WPC guidelines include:

  • Baptism is authorized by the session and administered by a minister of the Word and Sacrament.
  • Ordinarily, at least one of the infant or child’s parents shall be an active member of WPC.  On occasion, member grandparents may sponsor a grandchild’s baptism provided that the child’s parents are active members in another church.
  • Before each infant baptism, parents meet with a pastor to discuss the meaning of baptism and parental obligations of raising a baptized child. Baptism conversations with the pastor are held at the church the week prior to the baptism.
  • Adult baptism generally occurs at the conclusion of the Student Confirmation class or the New Member Class.

To inquire about Baptism at Westwood Presbyterian Church, fill out the Baptism Request Form and email it to the church office at office@westwoodpres.org or call (310) 474-4535 to schedule a conference with a pastor.

Lord's Supper

Holy Communion (or the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper) is the Sacrament that celebrates the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus often shared meals with his followers as a sign of community and acceptance.  In his last meal before his death, Jesus took and shared with his disciples the bread and wine, speaking of them as his body and blood, signs of a new relationship, urging all who would follow to regularly share in this meal.  As we partake of the bread and the cup we commemorate and participate in union with God and fellowship with one another.  As well, we are strengthened to love and serve God, one another and our neighbors near and far.


The invitation to the Lord’s Supper is not limited to any particular tradition or denomination but is offered to all who trust and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Access to the Table is not a right conferred upon the worthy, but a privilege given to the undeserving who come in faith, repentance, and love.  In preparing to receive Christ in this Sacrament, we confess our sin and brokenness, seek reconciliation with God and neighbor, and trust in Jesus Christ for cleansing and renewal.  Even those who doubt or whose trust wavers may come to the Table in order to be assured of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ.  Children who have been baptized are invited to share in the Supper of our Lord regardless of age or understanding, as one does not have to understand the mysteries of God in order to receive them.


At Westwood Presbyterian Church we celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of each month and at other special worship services throughout the year.