Our Story

The History of FPC

In 2018, FPC Houston celebrated its 180th anniversary. In the many years leading up to this milestone and the time since, FPC has been a community committed to following Jesus’ example of open-handed service. 

We firmly believe that God placed First Presbyterian Church here—in this growing and changing neighborhood, in the heart of this city of opportunity and innovation, to have a profound impact for the sake of the gospel. And being Here to Serve remains at the heart of our vision for the future.

To learn more about the history of FPC, take a moment to view our clickable timeline.

FPC Timeline

1838

1838

The Presbyterian Foreign Mission sent Rev William Allen to the Republic of Texas as a missionary to spread the gospel and build a church. Prior to his arrival there were no churches in Houston.

1838
1839

1839

On Easter Sunday 1839 an invitation was given to those present who felt willing and prepared to unite in the formation of a Presbyterian Church in this city (Houston) by Rev William Allen in the Texas Senate Chamber.

1839
1842

1842

Presbyterian Church builds the first church building in Houston built at Main and Capitol.

1842
1845

1845

Sam Houston attended First Presbyterian Church.

1845
1862

1862

First building burned as a result of a bakery fire. Second building built in same location.

1862
1872

1872

Local Missions becomes a priority and 16 church plants were established. The first is now Grace Presbyterian.

1872
1879

1879

Ladies Association founded by Rev. James McNeilly. They created the first cookbook in Texas to raise funds to purchase the parsonage. Charlotte Allen, whose husband founded Houston, served as President of the ladies organization and donated property.

1879
1896

1896

New building on Main and McKinney. Stained glass can be seen in Palm Court today.

1896
1906

1906

Electric lights added by the Ladies Association.

1906
1907

1907

Sunday School class for Rice Students begins.

1907
1907

1907

First foreign missionary to China.

1907
1916

1916

Ellison Van Hoose becomes the choir director and Handel’s Messiah is sung for the first time in Houston, which later became an FPC tradition.

1916
1920

1920

Boy Scout troop established. FPC has the oldest active troop in Houston.

1920
1928

1928

FPC begins weekly radio broadcast of sermons, the first church in Texas to do so.

1928
1928

1928

Current location property is purchased, but plans are put on hold due to the depression and World War II.

1928
1932

1932

Dr. Charles King called to be head pastor and serves as pastor for 28 years.

1932
1932

1932

Building on Main and McKinney was destroyed in a fire. Without a building the congregation met in various locations, including First Methodist, Temple Beth Israel Synagogue and the Metropolitan Theatre.

1932
1946

1946

Ground breaking for the current location at 5300 Main.

1946
1948

1948

Current church building is complete. The first Sunday of worship was May 2. It was the first air-conditioned church in Texas.

1948
1948

1948

With the help of Dr. King, Mo Ranch is purchased by Presbyterian Church and FPC begins annual summer retreat (King Dining Hall pictured).

1948
1949

1949

The Fellowship Sunday School class begins to meet as the “Young Married Couples Class.” The class ran for 66 years (the longest-running class in FPC’s 175 year history) and ended on Sunday, June 28, 2015 with a standing ovation by the congregation.

1949
1961

1961

Dr. Jack Lancaster is called and serves as head pastor until 1989. Hurricane Carla arrived during his first sermon at FPC.

1961
1967

1967

Live television broadcast of services every Sunday.

1967
1987

1987

Addition of Fellowship Hall, nursery and library.

1987
1989

1989

Presbyterian School opens. Betty Baxter, one of the schools founding head, shaking hands with a student (a morning greeting tradition started by Betty which continues to this day).

1989
1991

1991

Vic Pentz called, expanding children’s and youth ministries, and short-term mission trip opportunities.

1991
1996

1996

Nehemiah Center is founded by a few women of the congregation.

1996
1999

1999

Presbyterian School expands and adds grades 6-8

1999
2000

2000

Addition of Lancaster Center

2000
2002

2002

William Vanderblomen called, and starts the 11:05 contemporary service at FPC.

2002
2009

2009

Jim Birchfield unanimously elected head pastor.

2009
2009

2009

Main Street Ministries is founded to house the ministries of Operation ID, Shepherd Center and Holy Ground.

2009
2013

2013

Holy Ground Garden is open.

2013
2014

2014

Adoption of Vision 2020.

2014
2016

2016

Staff member Jeremiah Morris and a team of FPC members and others birthed Seven Mile Road, a new church plant in Houston.

2016
2016

2016

Dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination to ECO A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians

2016
2017

2017

First Project Flourish competition for social ventures begins

2017
2018

2018

Main Street Fellowship leadership development program launches inaugural year

2018
2019

2019 (Spring)

Church Plant launched: Kingdom Story Fellowship

2019
2019

2019 (Summer)

Church Plant: Jericho Road Renewal

2019
2019

2019

Here To Serve vision is introduced

2019
2020

2020

Expansion of media capabilities to address the changing needs of the FPC community and those we are trying to reach

2020