Following World War II, farmland that had once belonged to the Shawnee, Osage, and Kansa Tribes was developed into suburban housing for soldiers returning from the war. Prairie Village, Kansas was established and officially recognized as a city in 1951.
As Prairie Village was being established, A 3.5 acre tract of land to build a church was purchased and the Presbyterian Church USA called Dr. Ward Boyd to plant a church in the newly formed Kansas suburb. A group of people met on September 23, 1951 for the first service at Hickory Grove Grade school. After filing a petition with Topeka Highlands Presbytery, signed by 92 members, on June 1st, 1952, the day of Pentecost, Southminster Presbyterian Church was born.
A $50,000 grant and another $40,000 raised allowed for the ground to be broken for a new building at the corner of 63rd and Roe was held on March 1st, 1953 in a blizzard and the first service was held on December 27th, 1953.
In September 1957, Francis Hayward became pastor of Southminster and by 1958, the need for more space was apparent and a building campaign began. Sunday morning services frequently overflowed the Sanctuary (current Fellowship Hall) and it was time to grow the building. Ground breaking was held on November 19th, 1961 and on December 23rd, 1962 the first full service was held in the new Sanctuary.
In September 1964, Mr. William Edelen was installed as pastor. Through the mid 60’s, Southminster participated in conversations with other denominations about “The Nature of the Church” and engaged in dialogue related to the new Confession of Faith being written (Confession of 1967). After Pastor Edelen resigned, the Congregation approved to call Rev. Howard Svodboda on May 1, 1966 which did not last long.
As 1969 began, Dr. Frank Rearick was installed as the Pastor. Dr. Rearick and Southminster worked with Western Highlands Presbyterian Church in Wyandotte County and ministry to the black community. Under Dr. Rearick, the youth group began participating in annual summer mission trips. Dr. Rearick refocused the congregation and helped them prepare for the installation of the Rev. James Fry in 1976.
Rev. Fry served Southminster from 1976 until his untimely death in 1986. During his tenure, Jim Fry helped Southminster continue its commitment to local mission. In addition to supporting local mission, two Advent traditions were created that continue today. In 1980, the Chrismon Tree was suggested by Jim Fry and the Southminster Presbyterian Women made the original ornaments. The tree was photographed for a Christmas Card for Hallmark in 1993. The second Advent tradition which started was Journey to Bethlehem. The first performance of Journey to Bethlehem was December 20-21, 1985. This interactive drama continues yearly and until the pandemic in 2020 ran for 35 consecutive years.
In Rev. Fry’s ministry, the endowment fund was created. This fund continues to support ministry at Southminster in a variety of ways. The congregation continues to be influenced by Rev. Jim Fry’s ministry and many initiatives he began have continued into the current day.
In 1988, Southminster Presbyterian Church welcomed Rev. Dr. Harold (Hal) LeMert Jr. Southminster continued to support local missions and began renovations in the Sanctuary to install the Casavant Pipe Organ. In 1992, ground was broken for a new building as the congregation continued to thrive. Southminster Presbyterian Church became supportive of LGBTQ rights and supportive of those with AIDS.
In 1999 Southminster wrote a new vision statement.
“Southminster Presbyterian Church is a welcoming community of believers striving to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Our common purpose is to glorify God and proclaim the Gospel through acts of service, celebration, nurture, and spiritual growth.”
In December 1999, the Rev. Jeff Clayton began ministry with Southminster Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Clayton continues to pastor the congregation today. In his 20+ years of ministry with Southminster, the congregation has continued its commitment to local mission and has expanded its reach into global mission as well. Building renovations in the early 2000s have helped Southminster Presbyterian Church to make use of the building to serve the community as well. The church opens its doors as part of the Interfaith Hospitality Network as a host church, we welcome musical recitals from UMKC, and host concerts of a variety of genres as a way to reach out to a broader community in the Kansas City Metro area.
Southminster Presbyterian Church is grateful for those who have served God through ministries at Southminster and looks forward to what God has in store for our community in the coming years. We are a part of the PC(USA) Matthew 25 initiative and are exploring where we might engage in eradicating poverty and eliminating racism within Prairie Village, the Kansas City Metro, and beyond.
Pastors of the Church
|Ward F Boyd||March 1951- April 1957|
|Francis Hayward||September 1957- November 1963|
|Richard Athey (I)||January 1964 – July 1964|
|William Edelen||July 1964- October 1965|
|Walter A. Dodds (I)||December 1965 – June 1966|
|Howard Svoboda||June 1966 – June 1968|
|Alva King (I)||August 1968 – November 1968|
|Frank Rearick||November 1968- October 1975|
|Milton Klein (I)||November 1975 – April 1976|
|Jim Fry||April 1976-August 1986|
|David Johnson (I)||October 1986- December 1987|
|Harold LeMert||January 1988 – May 1998|
|John Watson (I)||September 1998 – November 1999|
|Jeff Clayton||December 1999 – Present|