A Glorious Past, A Promising Future
The First Presbyterian Church of Monroe is the oldest Presbyterian Church in Michigan and can lay claim to being the oldest continuous protestant church in the state.
On January 13, 1820 Dr. John Montieth, co-founder and first president of the University of Michigan, and The Rev. Moses Hunter came from Detroit to establish the First Presbyterian Church. Twenty charter members met a log courthouse in front of the present church at Loranger Square. The church was a community church and included all Protestant denominations.
In 1832, a small brick church building seating 200 was built at the southwest corner of Cass and First Streets, and most other denominations had left to build churches of their own. In 10 years, the congregation outgrew their building and began to make plans... big plans for a sanctuary that would seat 400 and be built on the corner of Washington and First Street.
In 1845, Colonel Oliver Johnson gave land for the present church. Made of handmade bricks and built in 1846-1848, it looked very different from the church today. It was built in the Colonial style with tall clear glass windows protected by dark green shutters, a white steeple, and a porch and door faced the square. The Sunday School was held in the basement.
In 1858, our church bell was hung high in the church tower. Its beautiful tone has called people to the worship of God since then. Forty-six Presbyterian men fought in the Civil War, and the wedding of General George A. Custer and Elizabeth Bacon took place here February 9, 1864. An Underground Railroad tunnel ran to the home of Dr. Dorsch (Memorial Library) next door.
The Boyd Chapel was built for $5000 next to the church building and dedicated November 21, 1869. It was connected to the church building in 1874. The church door was placed at the west end of the sanctuary, thus joining the chapel and the church by the present vestibule and tower entrance. It was also when the present black walnut woodwork, pews, and stained glass windows were installed.
During another remodeling project in 1950, the chapel and basement were remodeled into Fellowship Hall, Hall of Memories, Wayside Chapel, and the Cairl Room (parlor). Lastly, a Christian Education Building was erected across the South end of the church, adding offices, Sunday School classrooms, a Nursery, Library, and space for an elevator. It was dedicated in 1964 to the memory of The Rev. W.E. Simpson.
The Presbyterian Church is more than a building project; however, it has always been a church of mission, aiding many in our community and in our world. Youth groups still go to work with HOMES, joining young people from other churches to help build or repair homes of those who need help in Kentucky. The youth have also paid for and built a Habitat for Humanity House in 1998. The "Now I Lay Me Down" program was designed to help youth by providing beds for children in Monroe County who are without a bed to sleep on, and community meals are provided every Thursday.
Our Church is affiliated with the Maumee Valley Presbytery and Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Our pastor is Rev. Jessica Myers. We have also have Pastor Emeritus: Rev. Paul Markham, and Pastors Emeriti: Rev. Dean and Rev. Dr. Ellen McGormley.
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