For more than 185 years, First Presbyterian Church has been a vital presence in the London, Ohio community. Founded as a mission church, we are committed to the mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.
MISSION STATEMENT: Growing Together through Faith, Love, and Fellowship.
First Presbyterian Church
The First Presbyterian Church of London, Ohio is a community of Christian believers. We join together to support and care for one another and to take part in the work which God through Jesus Christ calls us to do in our community and our world. We accept each person as unique, possessing God’s given gifts.
We are part of the larger congregation of the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.) who are called as a congregation and as individuals to the discipleship of Jesus Christ.
We believe we are chosen by Christ to do the following:
To grow in the teachings of Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, praise, and celebration.
To be a living example of Christ’s love through concern for each other, our neighbors, friends, and those who are not a part of a church family.
To spread the good news of Jesus through Christian education, evangelism, Bible study, outreach, group activities, and sharing of ourselves.
To give of our resources, talents, time, and money to support the internal and external life and ministry of the church.
To be Christ’s ambassadors in bringing peace into our community and our world.
To minister to the needs of our brothers and sisters – the young, the elderly, minorities, single adults, single parents, and substance abusers and their families – to help relieve barriers of ignorance, fear, anger, loneliness, poverty, hunger, and hate.
To provide Christian leadership and set an example for one another through our daily lives.
To provide fellowship opportunities for the community of believers by coming together to share joys and triumphs as well as pain and struggles.
We share a common faith and a common purpose. Our acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior provides us with the strength to carry out this mission of our church through worship, care of members, outreach, education, evangelism, fellowship, and stewardship.
History of our Church - Part I (Condensed)
During the early 1800's, plans were laid to establish the town of London, Ohio. Lots were purchased for individual homes and businesses. Necessary services included merchants, tanneries, a mill, dry goods, hardware, eating establishments, and taverns.
On the 26th day of September, 1829, a sermon was preached in London by the Rev. D.C. Allen, Missionary, with reference to the formation of a Presbyterian Church. After the service a meeting for this purpose was held at the house of Mr. Charles Berry.
On the Sabbath, September 27th, 21 persons presented themselves, gave their assent to the Presbyterian Article of Faith and Covenant, and by prayer were set apart and constituted as the First Presbyterian Church of London.
The Rev. D.C. Allen served as Missionary Supply for the church until he was installed as the first pastor on April 18, 1833. He prayed: "May this little vine be owned and blessed as part of the Lord's own planting"
The congregation met in the Courthouse until the first church building, a frame structure, was erected on the southwest corner of Oak and Fifth Streets in the years 1834-35.
In 1838, the Rev. E. Van Derman was installed as pastor and served until his untimely death in 1839. Between the years 1840 and 1854 the minister for the church was the Rev. R.C. McComb.
In 1855 the Rev. C.W. Finley became the supply pastor of the church. Under his leadership the church grew and he was installed as pastor in 1859. The people were led to construct a brick structure on the southwest corner of Main and First Streets in 1859.
The Rev. C.W. Finley served as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church during the civil war and Reconstruction years, 1859-1877. He served the congregations of London, Midway, Mt. Sterling, Genoa, and Grove City. He was duly installed as pastor of the London Presbyterian Church in 1859. James G. Patterson was called to the church in 1877. He resigned in 1881.
In the early 1900's the church relocated to the corner of Walnut and Second Streets.
History of our Church - Part 2 (Condensed)
In 1981, the Session, after prayerful consideration, determined that the congregation was ready to embark upon Phase Two of the Garfield Avenue building project. Appropriately, on Dedication Sunday, February 28, 1982, the adult choir sang the anthem "Build Thee More Stately Mansions".
Garfield Avenue - 1982
Symbolic stained glass windows graced the south side of the Sanctuary, and a large Narthex with display case and coatroom welcomed all who entered. Many members and church friends, whose names were listed in the memorial book, provided special gifts and memorial furnishings for the new addition. The Parlor, along with it's adjoining Kitchenette, would become the site of meetings, bible studies, classes, receptions, celebrations, and funeral visitations.
Following Christ's example of concern for children, First Presbyterian continued to offer Sunday school classes for all age groups and a nursery, promote five vocal choirs and a bell choir, and encourage a very active youth group. Inspired by their leaders, children, and youth responded with enthusiastic participation and service.
First Church continued to reach out to the children and young people of the community through its Community Nursery School Vacation Bible School, and scouting program. In 1997 the Session and Advisory Board of Community Nursery School changed its name to Presbyterian Child Center in an effort to more accurately reflect the close relationship with the Church and to better describe the center's focus.
PCC celebrated 35 years of service to the community's families in 2008. Today, with Mrs. Cindy Clifton as Director, the Center cares for as nearly 200 children in its preschool, daycare, and before-and-after-school programs, and provides full and part-time employment for about thirty people.
Service through mission has been a common thread throughout the past 2 1/2 decades. In addition to its many mission endeavors, the Presbyterian Women coordinates numerous activities and enhances the life of the Church, in many ways including funeral meals and a Mother/Daughter banquet.
Professional nurses and pharmacists continue to offer blood pressure checks and medication information. Shut-ins and hospital patients benefit from visits by Deacons, who also provide transportation to worship services and other church activities. Dedicated teachers lead two adult classes and six children's classes during our Faith Building hour on Sundays.
First Presbyterian Church has been well represented by volunteers who have extended their help beyond the church doors. They have staffed the Food through Faith Food Cupboard, the Welcome Table and the Loving Kindness Soup Kitchens, the Free Health Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, and sponsored teams each year for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
Responding to mission opportunities and service beyond our community, members of First Church have worked beyond in a variety of capacities. Commissioned Presbyterian Volunteers in Mission, Carolyn and Richard Tracey served in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1985, and Marjorie Hopkins journeyed to Cameroon, West Africa, three years later.
Pastor Gordon Johnson represented the Presbytery of Scioto Valley three times as a commissioner at the General Assembly. He was also selected by the Synod of the Covenant to travel to Mexico City as a part of its mission study of developing countries. Extending his service to the Presbytery, Pastor Johnson accepted the challenging role of Moderator in 1994.
First Church established a partnership with Ratchakit Pakdee Church of Christ in Thailand in 1996 when pastor Gordon and Mrs. Ruthanne Johnson led a group of Presbytery youth to the Asian country. Since then, members of both congregations have enjoyed exchanging and hosting visits.
Several additions to our worship and redesign of the Church Narthex were part of the new millennium. Linking past to present, Eagle Scout Spencer Elliott fashioned a wooden cross using a beam he recovered from the rubble of the first church building erected in 1834 on Oak and Fifth Streets. Placed in the Narthex, the cross reminds us of our past. On November 3, 2002, the Columbarium, located in the south wall of the Narthex, was dedicated, and Elder Floyd M. Walls became the first to be interred.
An informal worship service at 8:30 AM was added to the Sunday morning schedule in September 2000, and an electronic Yamaha Clavinova, played by Richard "Clint" Morse, was dedicated during the early servivce on May 4, 2003. Music Director Thomas Lloyd chaired a drive to raise funds to install a pipe organ in teh Sanctuary. On June 28, 2003, members and friends of First Church rejoiced at the dedication of the Bunn=Minnick 42-rank pipe organ with 2,561 pipes, including some pipes saved from the 1901 organ whose home had once been in the Walnut Street church building.
First Presbyterian Church has been blessed with strong leaders and staff. In 1987, Parish Associate Pastor George Alexander joined our congregation when his employment in Ohio's prison system brought him to London. Coming full circle, Pastor Terry Phleger, in 1999, returned to our congregation upon her retirement from the active ministry, but she continued ministering by teaching Bible Seekers 101 Sunday school class. In 2003 Elder Steve Watters was commissioned by the Presbytery as Lay pastor of McNair Presbyterian Church in Washington Courthouse, Ohio.
Marsha Sternad, the church office admininistrator until her retirement in 2017, became our seminary-certificate Christian Education Director and presbytery-commissioned lay pastor.
In November of 2017, Pastor Gordon E. Johnson, retired after 50 years of dedicated leadership, inspiring this congregation with his faithfulness as the longest-serving pastor in the history of First Church.
In 2019, Pastor Désirée Youngblood became the newest minister for the First Presbyterian Church. In November 2021, Dr. Mark A. Johnson left St. Andrews Presbyterian Church to become the PCC pastor and administrator. Then in February 2022, Pastor Steven A. Watters came back home to become the pastor of congregational care, following his retirement from the business world and serving as pastor of McNair Presbyterian Church.
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