Winter Park Presbyterian Church is a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The Winter Park Presbyterian Church, or WPPC as we call it, was chartered on November 15, 1953, the day we refer to as “Charter Sunday.” That year the Presbytery bought property that once had been the 16th fairway of the old Aloma Country Club, about three acres on Dundee Drive between Lakemont Avenue and Perth Lane, for the purpose of building a Presbyterian church in Winter Park. A railroad track, originally part of the Dinky Line, ran along the south edge of the property. Later the tracks were removed and we were deeded that property, too. The neighborhood looked vastly different then.
At first WPPC members met at the nearby Winter Park Woman’s Club. The first construction was started in late 1953 with the manse that was to serve as the home of the Senior Pastor. In succession we built an education building (later to become our preschool building), a Fellowship Hall that was to serve at first as a temporary sanctuary, a permanent sanctuary, an office and administrative building, a chapel, and finally, completed in 1965, a Christian Education building.
Our first Senior Pastor was Glenn Otto Lantz. In 1955 we were blessed with the beginning of the longest running tenure of a Senior Pastor in our sixty years—that of Dr. Oswald Delgado, who served twenty-five years, retiring in 1980. During his tenure WPPC grew to its maximum membership and had a variety of programs for all ages and interests. Many current members remember him with great respect, love, and admiration. They recall his annual Advent sermon, “Come Before Winter,” based on Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy, entreating him to have courage and come to Rome. The Delgado Memorial Chapel with its beautiful stained glass windows bears testimony to the legacy left by this man. Among those who followed in his footsteps were Dr. John Calvin Reed (Interim), Dr. Sherwood Anderson who served seven years, Dr. Robert Gray (Interim), and Dr. Larry Cuthill, who served as Senior Pastor eighteen years, retiring in 2012. The church was led by Interim Senior Pastor Dr. Timothy Rogers-Martin while it sought its next Senior Pastor, Reverend Dr. Jason T. Micheli, who was called by a vote of the Congregation on March 30, 2014 and served until June 2018. The church was then lead by Rev. Dr. Robert Eckard and he served until April 2020. In May of 2020 Rev. Dr. W. Darren Bess was welcomed into our church as our new Senior Pastor.
WPPC has excelled over the years with a variety of strong programs, based in faith and led by the faithful. Our preschool program started in 1959 and is going strong still, with significant facilities and staff dedicated to its continuing success. Our youth program, particularly strong in the growth period of the 1960s-80s, served the needs of youth of all ages including college. The music program, under the leadership of a succession of unusually talented directors, organists, and vocal musicians, has always been strong, featuring myriad voice and bell choirs, instrumentalists and performers of all ages that have enhanced our collective and individual worship experiences. Our dedication to good music is also reflected in our Reuter pipe organ that was purchased in 1998. The Women of the Church organization provided significant assistance and leadership in all program and church life activities for decades. Our outreach program is particularly strong, especially in recent decades, having been manifested in the form of both local and foreign missions. We have participated in the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida program and in Greater Orlando’s Interfaith Hospitality Network, as well as travel missions to foreign countries that have included Peru, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Haiti, and Ukraine. We also spent considerable time helping Hurricane Katrina victims on location in Mississippi.
WPPC celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in service to Our Lord Jesus Christ, to our Winter Park and Greater Orlando communities, and to the world. At no time have we given up during the hard times, but have striven to overcome difficulties and return our church to the commission given us by our Lord, to go into all the world with God’s truth, light, and love. We look forward to the future in the certain knowledge that we are secure in that commission.
The History Committee maintains the church archives and periodically highlights aspects of the church history by posting on this site.