The priority of First Presbyterian Church is to help people encounter the transformative love and hope of Jesus Christ.  These encounters can happen in serveral ways: through worship, service and relationships. Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “We have been created for life together, not isolated. We are better together. Here at First Presbyterian Church we worship together, we serve together, we witness together, we learn together,, and we reach out together. However, we also recognize that we are not yet all that God has created us to be. So we are always ready to welcome other folks into this part of the body of Christ. A website is a wonderful tool, but it cannot convey everything. I encourage you to come visit us, worship with us, and come serve with us, so that we might encounter the transformative love and hope of Jesus Christ together. – Pastor Jonathan Warren

Our Mission

The church…
More than a building … a living body,
More than a body …
A family of caring, concerned people
growing together
in the love and service of Christ.

We the members of First Presbyterian Church,
as a unique congregation

Acknowledge: that while we desire to trust and obey Jesus Christ, and in some of our actions and programs, may succeed, we are often a divided and disobedient people; and
Affirm: that God’s unconditional love is made real in Jesus Christ, whose spirit enables us to love ourselves and others.
Therefore we
Aspire: to respond to God’s love and accept Christ’s call to be involved responsibly in the ministry of this church through prayer, study of the scripture, worship, fellowship and stewardship,
In order that we may be
Equipped: to witness to God’s reconciling love for all people and to help heal the brokenness of human relationships and unmet human needs.

Our History

1827 – On June 30, First Presbyterian Church was founded in the house of John Leeper with its first services held in Leeper’s barn.  The Rev. John Brich, (Father Brich) was the founding Minister. John Millot Ellis, First Pastor, 1828-1832.

1831 – First Presbyterian dedicated its first building on the northwest corner of Church and State Streets.

1829 – Illinois College was founded under leadership of John M. Ellis. IC was the first educational institution of any kind chartered by the Illinois State Legislature.

1830 – Illinois Female Academy was organized, the first girl’s school established in IL. Chartered in 1835, it was called The Presbyterian Academy.

1838 – Second Presbyterian Church (Old School) left First (New School) to form a new congregation.

1860 – Westminster Presbyterian Church was constituted by a group of First Presbyterian members who supported of the abolition of slavery in existing states. First opposed the spread of slavery into new territories. Sermon at the dedication of the new congregation was preached by the Rev. Cyrus L. Watson, Farmingdale.

1874 – Second Presbyterian changed its name to Central Presbyterian Church.

1880 – Rev. Dr. Livingston M. Glover died. He had been pastor of First since 1848 (32 years).  Rev. S. M. Morton, Westminster PC preached the funeral sermon. Others who spoke, Dr. Eli Corwin of the Congregational Church, Rev. Dr. W. W. Harsha of Central Presbyterian Church, & greetings were received from the Central Portuguese Church.

1885 – First and Central (Second) Presbyterian Churches merge forming “State Street Presbyterian”. The Rev. Alexander Bullions Morey, graduate of Princeton, became pastor of Central in 1884 and was unanimously elected Pastor of State Street in 1885.  Served second longest term as pastor (twenty-six years).

William Jennings Bryan was received as a member of First Church in 1877.  From 1883 to 1888, after graduation from IC and law school in Chicago, he lived in Jacksonville and practiced law.  During this time, he married, (Mary Baird of Perry, IL 10/1/1884) and taught a boys Sunday School Class at the State Street Church. In 1888 they transferred membership to First Presbyterian Church, Lincoln, NE.

1899 – Westminster Church  built a stone church on the corner of College and Westminster Avenues.  The centennial of that event was commemorated September 19, 1999.

1900 – Northminster Presbyterian Church was founded by merger of Portuguese Presbyterian Churches.

1952 – First Presbyterian Church was reconstituted through the merger of the Westminster and State Street Churches. The State Street building was sold and the Westminster building became home to the new First Presbyterian Church.

1954 – FPC began one of the first Kindergartens in Jacksonville. Its successor was the Presbyterian Preschool Program.

1970 – Dedication of the Goltra Hall wing to First Church made possible by a bequest of Mabel Hall Goltra in 1965.

1973 – Desiring to provide quality care for children that would be accessible to families in all economic brackets, the congregation established the Presbyterian Church Day Care Center. With a capacity of 100 children, PCDCC continues to enjoy remarkable success and maintains a lengthy waiting list.