By Jeannette Stallard
First Presbyterian Church reaches milestone few Westerners can claim
As the church bells rang and the choir started to sing, the First Presbyterian congregation excitedly filled the chapel, ready to celebrate their church's 118th birthday.
Located on the corner of Newhall Avenue and Market Street, First Presbyterian Church is one of only three churches west of the Mississippi which has remained on the same property for over 100 years.
Chartered in 1891, the original sixteen members of the church had no idea that their ministry would continue into the twenty-first century. Over the years, they have attempted to aid the local community by conducting bread drives and clothing distributions, donating to food pantries, and assisting local charities.
On Sunday, June 7, about 100 members of the church gathered at William S. Hart Park after the morning service for an afternoon filled with food, games, fellowship, and birthday cake.
The highlight of the celebration was the creative games, including gunny sack races, beach ball wars, three-man ski races, and a knot and string race.
"This party was the best!" Johnny Howell, member of First Presbyterian Church exclaimed. "I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed setting up the games and getting the kids to participate."
"I think most people who came had a lot of fun," Reverend Bill Barnes stated.
Over the years, the expanding church body has altered their building, starting with a small, New England style church with a steeple, and later adding a red-brick, Gothic style church. Today, the congregation worships in a 1970's vintage contemporary building.
After 118 years of meeting, First Presbyterian Church hopes to continue growing for many years to come.