St. Joseph Presbyterians predated events like the Pony Express and the Civil War. While these two events are history, this church does not dwell on its past but remains focused on the future and commits itself to life and ministry in the present.
The story of the church begins in 1854 at a meeting in the parlor of one of the members living at Third and Francis. In the 1860s the Civil War brought about a split among Presbyterians between the sympathizers for the north and south. This happened among members across the country and it was not until the 1960s that there was a union between the two main groups of Presbyterians and they became the Presbyterian church in the United States of America (PCUSA).
Even though there were some members who left the church First Church remained strong and after meeting in a variety of places in the city, the church fathers purchased the land at Seventh and Jules and built a church which was dedicated in 1872. When the church developed structural flaws, the church was torn down and the present sanctuary was built and dedicated in 1911. Two other additions, one in the early 1920s and the other in the late 50s expanded the church to its present size.
The members were active in establishing the Florence Chapel and Riverside, Hyde Park Presbyterian, for a period of time Third Street Presbyterian Church was a mission of First church and helped establish Second Presbyterian and Walnut Grove. In 1975, Third Street members joined First, a union benefitting all.
First Church has long been known and the quality and dedication of its ministers as well as the home of many community leaders.
During the over 160 years of our witness in this community we face the future as custodians of the church to continue telling the Christian story to this generation as we "Hold Forth the Word of Life."