A Brief History
A church is not a building; instead, it is a community of people who choose to follow Jesus Christ. A church is also not simply the sum of its history; rather, it is a present and living reality. That being said, the physical facilities in which a congregation gathers for worship, study, mission and fellowship do matter. Even though a church is here and now, its past has helped shape its present. First Presbyterian Church is a living community of modern disciples, blessed both with beautiful buildings and a rich history that have shaped that living community.
First Presbyterian Church has been in continuous operation since July of 1847. First Presbyterian has had two locations in Cedar Rapids, initially at the intersection of what is now Second Avenue and Third Street SE, the location, until recently, occupied by the Witwer Senior Center. That edifice, named “Old Muddy,” due to its crushed stone and grout walls, measured 26 x 40 feet, at an eventual cost of approximately $900. In May of 1867 work began on a new structure, located at the present location, erected at a cost of $27,000. On a cold morning in February 1869, the building was dedicated to the glory of God. Renovated and added onto more than once, and one hundred and forty-five years later followers of Christ still gather to praise God within its walls.
Since its inception First Presbyterian’s ministry has continued unabated through the Civil War, two worldwide wars, numerous other conflicts, The Great Depression, several economic downturns, fires, floods and other natural calamities; however, it remains vibrant and active in ministry to the city of Cedar Rapids, outlying communities and the world.
The church has been blessed with gifted and distinguished pastors as well as notable directors of its sacred music ministry. Unabated as a servant church in the “heart of the city,” First Presbyterian continues to be graced by God, providing outstanding preaching and sacred music within a traditional worship format.