Westminster is the present day descendant of Dayton’s first church, organized in 1799 by the Washington Presbytery of the Synod of Kentucky. Originally it was named First Presbyterian Church. Worshiping in a small log cabin in the heart of what would later become the downtown, the congregation began with ten people. The church grew until 1838, when the “New School-Old School Controversy,” a dispute regarding slavery, caused 72 of its 187 members to leave and form, as New School adherents, The Third Street Presbyterian Church. The pastor who preached at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral, The Reverend Phineas Gurley, served First Church in Dayton from 1849 to 1854. For 81 years the two churches, only a city block apart, maintained their separate congregations. In 1919, however, their differences long forgotten, the two churches were reunited to become a congregation of 1,146 members. They had a vision of creating more than just a church. They also launched a Choir College and chose the name Westminster both for the church and the Choir College.