Local History... Continued

There were two predecessor churches to our current church:

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in January 1873 and built the church seen at the right in 1876 on the corner of Third and Poplar.

A second Presbyterian church was organized in November 1877 under the auspices of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions.

In 1883, the second church built the “Brick Church” on the site of the current YWCA on First and Birch.

In 1907 the two churches merged when the Cumberland Church brought its members into the Presbyterian Brick church which was just a little larger.

It soon became evident that the Brick church was too small and construction on our current church building started in 1912.

The first services in the current church were in the fall of 1913, but the church was not dedicated until 1915 when the pipe organ was installed and operational.

The Christian Education wing was dedicated in 1970 and was the last major addition.

In 2004 the First Presbyterian Church celebrated 131 years of being a congregation and 90 years in this building. In those 131 years, 33 pastors  have been called to serve the Lord in our midst.

In 2012 we celebrated 100 years at the corner of First & Birch. The cornerstone of the stone building was laid in September of 2012.

On December 1st, 2013 First Presbyterian Church transitioned from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to become Walla Walla Presbyterian Church, a covenant congregation of the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). This decision was a near-unanimous one made by the congregation in the interest in continuing to be faithful to the Lordship of Christ and the Authority of Scripture. For more about the ECO, visit their website here.

Recent Renovations

In 2009 a million-dollar capital campaign provided for a major overhaul of the sanctuary and to provide central heat and air through much of the 1912 structure. The historic nature of the sanctuary was retained with the use of historic colors and preservation of the dramatic architectural lines. At the same time the sanctuary was updated and now has the ability to utilize modern technology.

This generational improvement is the first part of a two-part plan. Upon the completion of the financial obligations related to the sanctuary project, phase Ia of the master plan will begin. This second phase will provide for total handicapped access with elevator and central navigation in an expanded entryway.

An unexpected turn was taken the Sunday after Easter in 2009 when the church suffered an arson fire. The fire resulted in over one million dollars of damage and much of the recently finished restoration had to be fully restored a second time, with all three floors of the 1912 building repainted and much of the flooring replaced.

A separate challenge took place earlier in the year when in December of 2008 the building experienced flooding due to ice dams that were created in the downspouts. Over one-hundred-fifty thousand dollars of water damage was the result. This has precipitated many of the walls and ceilings needing new sheet rock, plaster and paint, as well as installation of a heating system to avoid future ice issues in the gutters and downspouts.

While we are honored to be the recipients of a Godly heritage, a church is not an historical entity alone; it is the living active body of Christ. Dr. Thomas Gillespie, while president of Princeton Theological seminary, put it this way: "Traditionalism is the dead faith of people now living; while tradition is the living faith of people now dead."  We seek to be a living tradition committed to knowing Jesus and making Him known.

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