History

There’s a lot to know about First Presbyterian.  Great stories about God’s faithfulness and the amazing way that everyday people have been called to serve here in Bloomington and around the world.  Here are a few important highlights.

  • We’ve been around for awhile.  For almost 200 years our congregation has been worshipping, serving and learning in Bloomington. Founded by Presbyterian Pioneers as they established communities on the “frontier” between 1806 and 1820, we also draw on a heritage that connects us back to American revolutionaries, Reformation leaders, ordinary saints, and of course the occasional fisherman and tax collector.
  • Buildings change, but not our purpose!  We’re a downtown church. We started out worshipping in the court house, moved to a building on the corner of Washington and 4th, then into a building on the corner of Walnut.  A fire meant we moved again, to our present location at 6th and Lincoln.  No matter where we’ve worshiped, our building has always been open to the community.  In the 1870s it was the Humane Society and today we welcome over  30 community groups that use our building on a weekly basis. Our building is a gift to be shared!
  • We believe in mission. Back in the early 1800s, congregants were working to address social and economic inequalities, while also being vocal proponents of public education.  That desire to faithfully respond to God’s call to saw us active in the formation of Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM) during the Great Depression and Stonebelt Center shortly after. Deep partnerships with Area 10 Agency on Aging  invite us to care for our community. Internationally, we have been blessed by over 20 years of partnership with the Jesus of Nazareth Parish in Posoletega Nicaragua. We’ve supported over 45 mission co-workers in this century alone.

 

Want to learn more?

These Stonesa more detailed, but brief, history of the church in the 18th and 19th centuries, by Owen Johnson.

Pastors, Associate Pastors for FPC from 1819 to the present

Memoirs of Paul Miller (PDF). On March 30, 2014, Rev. Paul Miller, pastor of FPC from 1965-1977.

Memoirs of Bob White (PDF). Rev. Bob White shared his perspectives on ministry at First Presbyterian Church as Associate Pastor and Minister of Christian Education, 1971-1974.

Memoirs of George Reed (PDF). Rev. George Reed remembers his work as Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church from 1967-1971.

Memoirs of Jim McDonald (PDF). Rev. Jim McDonald was Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church from 1975-1979. Jim is currently president of San Francisco Theological Seminary and Professor of Faith and Public Life. Jim's wife, Dean, was also ordained as a minister in our church in the fall of 1978. 

Memoirs of Byron Bangert (PDF). Rev. Byron Bangert served as Pastor and Head of Staff from 1985-2000.

Memoirs of Charlene Williams Heaton (PDF). Rev. Charlene Williams Heaton served as Assistant Pastor from November 1980 until 1987.

Memoirs of the Ministry of James R. Steele (PDF). Marcy Steele, wife of Rev. James R. Steele, reflects on the ministry of Rev. Steele, 1977-1984.

Memoirs of Cynthia Cochran-Carney (PDF). Rev. Cynthia Cochran Carney reflects on her time as associate pastor, 1988-1993.

Memoirs of Ben Dorr (PDF). Rev. Ben Dorr served as pastor and head of staff from 2003-2009.