Gardens Presbyterian Church first met in Lake Park in 1956. Organized as Immanuel Presbyterian Church, the church was located on a four-acre site within the northern neighborhood of Lake Park. The first pastor was the Rev. Robert Asmuth. Immanuel sponsored a childcare center and an Alzheimer day care center. Besides the sanctuary that seated 400 people, the church had a fellowship hall, Asmuth Hall, with stage, kitchen and large storage room, an administrative building, and Sunday School facilities. During the 1960’s the church grew to over 400 members.
In the early 1960’s the leadership of Immanuel Presbyterian Church, recognizing the growth coming to the new city of Palm Beach Gardens, decided to start a new church development. The first worship service was held on November 16, 1961 in the meeting room of Gardens Lane Bowling Alley, formerly located on Northlake Boulevard east of the C-17 canal. The organizing pastor was the Rev. Raymond W. Gamble who was the Assistant Pastor. In January 1962, members of the steering committee approached representatives of Mr. John D. MacArthur to purchase property for the new church site. A four-acre plot was secured at the corner of Military Trail and Burns Road. At the time, Military Trail was a two-lane road and Burns Road was a dirt path.
The congregation was formally organized by The Presbytery of the Southeast, United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., on May 27, 1962. The church name was Westminster United Presbyterian Church and there were 74 charter members. After a building program, the congregation, on September 15, 1963, moved into its first building beside the canal on the corner of Military Trail and Burns Road. The chapel was a multi-purpose building with seating for 160, classrooms, plus offices and kitchen facilities.
Recognizing the need for childcare in the community, Westminster Presbyterian Church built a Christian Education building and in September 1974, opened the Westminster Child Care Center. The Rev. L. Keith Taber was the pastor during this time.
Reflecting economic changes in the community, the congregation grew and then got smaller. In the fall of 1983, the mortgages held by the United Presbyterian Church were paid off and the congregation was debt free.
In Lake Park during the 1990’s the membership of Immanuel grew both smaller and older. Demographic changes led the church leadership to approach Westminster with the possibility of relocating both churches to a new site in the growing area of Palm Beach Gardens. Westminster, facing the loss of their property due to expansion of city roads and facilities, agreed.
After a year of discussion, on October 1, 1995, The Presbytery of Tropical Florida merged Westminster Presbyterian Church with Immanuel Presbyterian Church, Lake Park, creating a new congregation – Gardens Presbyterian Church, Palm Beach Gardens, Inc. The Rev. Dr. Albert “Skip” W. Bush, Jr. was the founding pastor of the new church. On May 1, 1997, the congregation sold the former Westminster Presbyterian Church property to the City of Palm Beach Gardens. The Lake Park site was sold in May 1999 to the Bethlehem Haitian Baptist Church. A new church site was purchased in September of 1997 at the corner of Hood Road and Central Boulevard. Construction began and three years after groundbreaking, the congregation moved into the Celebration Center for their first worship service on April 1, 2001.
The predecessors of Gardens Presbyterian Church (Westminster and Immanuel) were home to several area firsts: the first organized congregation in Palm Beach Gardens, the first childcare center, and the first home of the Jewish congregation, Temple Beth David. The congregation also hosted the first meetings of the Roman Catholic community and a Korean Presbyterian Fellowship.
Church members and leaders described their church as “intimate,” “friendly,” and “welcoming.”