In the early 1960’s, eleven Presbyterians began an informal gathering in local homes for study, song, prayer and a strong sense of mission to the larger world. This gathering quickly grew under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Stewart MacColl (1961-1979) beyond a single house into the American Legion Hall, and subsequently into the music room and gym at Cider Mill School before moving to the Parish Hall on the current WEPCO campus. Rev. Steve Jacobs (1980-1987) continued to lead WPC as a thriving church community, actively engaged both inside and beyond our building. After much discussion and discernment, the congregation decided to build a sanctuary. In November, 2004, following a capital campaign which fully- funded its construction, WPC dedicated its current sanctuary to the worship of God, under the visionary leadership of the Rev. Dr. David Graybill (1988-2011). The Rev. Shannon White (2012-present) continues to lead the WPC congregation forward, welcoming in many young families whose presence has reinvigorated the congregation’s mission and vision.
From our very inception, there have been two principal passions.
Our first passion is to share with others the blessings God has so generously lavished upon us. The clearest expression of this is WPC’s initial—and continuing–commitment to hands-on mission. In our 50 plus years, Wilton Presbyterians have built a church manse in Kenya and initiated the CROP Walk in Wilton. We have visited prisoners at Sing Sing Prison and refurbished the houses for Pivot Ministries’ drug rehabilitation program in Norwalk/Bridgeport. We have sponsored volunteers in mission to Maine, South Africa, and Nicaragua and overseen 11 candidates for ordained Presbyterian ministry. We have sent letters to prisoners through Amnesty International and led a Walk for Peace in Wilton. We are founding members of Presbyterian Promise, a Presbyterian organization advocating for LGBTQ inclusion and have urged open conversations about the role of LGBTQ persons within the larger church. We have also lead a bi-annual seminar on human sexuality to our 7th-8th graders. We take some 30 senior high youth on a mission trip each February to help feed the hungry through soup kitchens and learn about advocacy for the underserved. And we have been privileged to seed, both with money and time and talent, two Wilton community projects: A Better Chance and Wilton Commons (affordable housing for seniors).
Our second passion is to share our Christian faith openly with other people. WPC is a community who welcomes people wherever they are in their religious journeys and who initiates relationship with other religious communities. In 1971 WPC and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church formed our current Joint Venture, sharing a common facility, common church school, common youth ministry, and occasional common worship services. This has been followed since 9/11 by a series of initiatives culminating in annual common worship with: Grace Baptist Church, an African-American congregation in South Norwalk; and annual interfaith worship at WPC with Jews from Temple B’nai Chaim (Georgetown) and Muslims from American Institute for Islamic Studies (North Stamford)
CURRENT AND PAST FOCUS PROJECTS
Regularly prepare and serve meals to senior citizens at Ogden House and meals to working poor at Manna House in Norwalk;
Provided board members and see money for A Better Chance of Wilton, a resident academic program for male and female minority scholars;
Provided Board members and seed money for Wilton Commons, an affordable congregate living facility in Wilton with assisted living services available;
Provided school supplies, Thanksgiving meal baskets, and Christmas gifts for children and adults in need in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Wilton;
Helped rehabilitate homes along Mississippi Gulf Coast through Katrina recovery Teams (over 25 volunteers total, 2005-2008) and homes in rural Maine through 26 MATE work camps (about 25 volunteers each year) since 1982; Built homes in rural Nicaragua during 2 trips with teens and adults (2014, 2015).
Donate to 30 area relief agencies through its Gift of Christmas, an annual special offering since 1992;
Donate $20,000 annually, through our congregational mission funds, and volunteer hours toward support of such local agencies as:
- Triangle Center, an agency which provides advocacy and assistance to LGBTQ persons in southern CT;
- Mission at the Eastward – a work camp to rehabilitate homes in south central Maine coordinated by a consortium of 11 Presbyterian churches; WPC sent volunteers for decades.
- Domestic Violence Crisis Center – a program for shelter and counseling for victims of domestic abuse;
- Provide funding and hospitality programs for Liberation Programs, a program which provides care and empowerment for people to be free from addiction;
Sponsorship of programs provided by Wilton Youth Council for parents and teens in Wilton;
Sponsorship of two docudramas regarding the civil rights era—My Soul Is A Witness (2006) and Jackie, Vi, and Lena (2007)—for the Wilton/Norwalk Community;
Elderhouse – an adult day care and program for seniors in Norwalk and Stay at Home/Wilton a program helping seniors to age in place;
Americares’ Homefront – a one-day housing rehabilitation blitz in our area;
Sponsorship and hospitality programs for Pivot Ministries – a faith-based program for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Norwalk and Bridgeport.
As a congregation founded on principles of the Reformed tradition,
Wilton Presbyterian Church believes that all people are ministers. However, we recognize and value the ministries of our staff members through the years who have led our adults and children into deeper spiritual growth:
Rev. Douglass T. Lind, 1973-1994
Rev. Charlotte H. Lohrenz, 1986-1988
Rev. Rebecca Segers, 2001-2003
Rev. Jane Field 1990-1999, 2004-2015 (Director of Spiritual Formation/Youth Minister)
Sheri Richards, and Jami Lewis