John Quincy Adams was president, Arkansas was still a territory and Memphis had a population of only 500 when First Presbyterian Church was organized in 1828. It was the second congregation in the young city.
In 1832, the city deeded to the church a site at the corner of Poplar Avenue and Third Street, where First Church has stood ever since, proclaiming the word of God to all who come and continuing to be a pioneer in faith and service to the community.
First Church's history closely parallels that of our city. The early years of growth were interrupted first by the Civil War in the 1860s, then the yellow fever epidemics a decade later when its pastor, the Rev. Henry Bowman, lost his life while ministering to the sick.
Raising itself literally from the ashes after the church burned and was rebuilt in 1884, First Church continued to grow until the years after World War II, when many downtown residents migrated to the suburbs.
As before, such circumstances only provided us a new vision of ministry, and today at First, as with Memphis, renewal and revitalization have become our focus. First Church pioneered urban outreach programs, including The Learning Center preschool and the Soup Kitchen. First Church was instrumental in forming the Downtown Churches Association, and provided the first home of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association.
Today, members of First Church come from all over metropolitan Memphis. We extend to you a warm invitation to visit and become part of this church's future. With joy and thanksgiving, First Presbyterian Church is alive and well in downtown Memphis.