In 1838, “The Western Presbyterian Church” was organized by 18 Cabell County Presbyterians in the then unfinished Chapel at Marshall Academy. In 1872, land was purchased on Fifth Avenue and a small church was erected at the rear of the lot. It contained a 900-pound bell (at a cost of $296!), which is the same bell that hangs in our present bell tower. The cornerstone of our present Sanctuary was laid August 18, 1885, with the first worship service held on September 20, 1896. The cost for construction was a then staggering $22,000!
As Huntington grew, First Presbyterian Church also grew and was instrumental in the founding of several local Presbyterian congregations, including: Second (1908), Highlawn (1913), Beverly Hills (1945), Spring Valley (1945), Enslow (1949), Bates (1956), Rome (1958), Cabwaylingo (1958) and Green Valley (1959).
The following are some of the many high lights in our church history beginning in the early 1900s.
- 1913—As we celebrated our 75th Anniversary, an education wing was added, doubling our building size.
- 1951—A new Church School Building was erected, and the Fellowship Hall, kitchen, and other spaces in the main building were remodeled.
- 1954—The Moller Pipe Organ was installed.
- 1962—Although the history of Cabwaylingo Presbyterian Chapel dates back to 1956, the original building was dedicated in 1962 with a fellowship hall added in 1968. The rural Chapel, located in Dunlow, Southern Wayne County, WV, with its many social outreach programs to the community was, and continues to be, a very important part of our church’s mission and is experiencing renewed growth. Under the leadership of Bill and Addie Likens, and with the assistance of many generous friends and congregations, Cabwaylingo Chapel built and paid for a new Community Center in 2014. The Community Center serves as an important hub for outreach into the surrounding area and weekly youth groups meet there, as well as visiting mission teams.
- 1963—PC(USA) held its 103rd General Assembly meeting at FPC, where the ordination of women was approved. FPC also celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 1963.
- 1965—The first Christmas International House program was held at FPC. We hosted 180 students from 43 countries. The students arrived from 40 American colleges and universities to spend their Christmas vacation with us.
- In the late 1970s—FPC built two facilities, Presbyterian Manor and Riverview Manor. Presbyterian Manor is an elderly health care facility and Riverview Manor houses independent apartments for low-income seniors.
- 1987—The church purchased property on Sixth Avenue to use for Harmony House, a ministry to the homeless.
- 1988—While FPC celebrated its 150th Anniversary, the congregation voted to renovate the building to make it safer, more functional handicap accessible. The three FPC buildings—the original Chapel, the Sanctuary and the Education Building were combined. Construction was completed and paid in full in 1998.
- 1993—Our mid-week miracle LOGOS, for children Pre-K through high school, meets Wednesdays September through March. Logos, where everyone is treated as a child of God, is a cherished ministry at FPC. Many children who grew up attending Logos are now volunteering in a myriad of adult positions! The program is designed to build strong, loving Christian relationships
- 1997—Members of FPC traveled to Peru to investigate mission opportunities.
- 2003—FPC became one of the seven founding churches of the Presbyterian Church of the Amazon.
- 2006—FPC entered into a mission partnership with Galilto Presbyterian Church, a small village church along the Amazon River.
- 2008—Sanctuary renovation
- 2009— Members of FPC joined with other Christian leaders in the community to establish a Young Life ministry in Huntington. Young Life is an international organization with the goal of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with middle & high school students. The Young Life office and club room is located on the FPC campus.
- 2014—Dunlow Community Center (see above—Cabwaylingo Presbyterian Chapel)