A Brief History of First & Central Presbyterian Church
The Witness on Market Street
First & Central Presbyterian Church was formed as the result of the merger of First Presbyterian Church (founded in 1737) and Central Presbyterian Church (founded in 1855). First & Central’s centuries of history have seen times of flourishing ministry, as well as times of near extinction. The congregation’s heritage includes stories from significant periods:
- In our nation’s history, the British used Old First Church as a hospital during the Revolutionary War.
- In American Presbyterian history, First & Central experienced a major split as part of the schism in our denomination in 1936.
- In local ecumenical history, for 20 years, First & Central hosted daily Roman Catholic masses sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, as well as interfaith worship and activities.
- In Wilmington’s history, First & Central played a major role in reconciliation efforts following the city’s race riots in 1968.
- While many churches left the city for the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s, First & Central elected to stay and remain committed to being a church of the city.
A dynamic and exciting congregation, the church is continuing its heritage of centuries of mission and faithful witness, taking seriously the present and future challenges of ministry in the midst of the downtown community.
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