Westminster Presbyterian Church Welcomes New Pastor, Enters New Denomination
The Westminster Presbyterian Church of Gulfport, founded in 1960, welcomes the Rev. William Henderson Shurley, 33, most recently of Titusville, NJ, and originally of Monroe, La., as its new pastor in time for 2014's Easter and Holy Week season. The church also begins its affiliation with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and, through that denomination, sponsors missionaries in South Sudan, Malawi, and Austria.
“My family and I are delighted to become part of the Westminster community,” said Shurley. “From the time we first visited Westminster in December, we knew that we would very much enjoy coming home to this church’s warm fellowship and forward-looking commitment to local and global Christian mission.”
Westminster, founded by members of the First Presbyterian Church of Gulfport in 1960 as a mission to the then-new Bayou View neighborhood, recently joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, a growing denomination of more than 500 congregations in the Reformed Christian tradition that engage the world through biblically-sound worship and mission. As part of this new affiliation, Westminster, in addition to offering regular programs in music, community service, and Christian education for all ages, sponsors missionaries in nations such as South Sudan, Malawi, and Austria.
“We are grateful to God for the chance to help tell the world about the love of Jesus Christ,” said Rena Dukes, an elder at Westminster and chairman of the church’s mission committee. “With our new pastor here and opportunities for new denominational and ecumenical partnerships in place, we look forward to exploring all the possible ways in which we can grow in our commitment to the great commission—to go into all the world to preach and live the good news of the gospel.”
Shurley, who will be leading his first Holy Week services at Westminster next week, is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 2007, and Baylor University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2002. Before going into full-time ministry, he held positions in the Office of Seminary Relations at Princeton Theological Seminary, focusing on communication and alumni relations, and in the Office of Public Affairs at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, where he assisted in media relations for exhibitions such as “America on the Move,” “West Point in the Making of America, 1802-1918,” and “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.” His primary interests in pastoral ministry include creating excellence in worship, forming partnerships between congregations and community organizations, pastoral care of church members and friends, and creating opportunities for families and children to engage their faith. Shurley is marred to the Rev. Dr. Anna Katherine Shurley, an ordained Baptist minister and 2012 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary’s Ph.D. program in pastoral theology. They have two young children.
Westminster will be observing Holy Week through the following events, all of which are free and open to the public: Palm Sunday worship, including a children’s processional of the palms, at 10:30 a.m. on April 13; Maundy Thursday worship, including the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, at 7 p.m. on April 17; an all-family Easter Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. on April 19; an Easter sunrise service at Bayou View park at 6:30 a.m. on April 20; and Easter Sunday worship at 10:30 a.m. on April 20. All events will be held at the church unless otherwise noted.
The Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 5005 Lawson Avenue, directly behind Bayou View Elementary School, in Gulfport. Sunday morning worship services are at 10:30 a.m., and professional childcare is available. Christian education classes for children and adults are at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday. For more information, call (228) 864-3143.