First Presbyterian Church was organized on January 1, 1854, just 3 years after Portland was incorporated as a city. As a congregation, FPC has been served by many well-loved heads of staff over the course of its 150+ years. They have walked with us through great missions and important work for God. The most precious and productive leaders have been those who led with vision and fortitude and who have inspired congregants to do God’s work in our community and around the world.
Since it was first organized, First Church has been ministering outside its doors with a strong sense of purpose and in so doing has brought the world into its midst. From the beginning, First Church members were keenly aware of the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods and the greater world and found ways to be of help. Previous pastors and members were responsible for the first missionary work with Native Americans in the Northwest as well as the Chinese in downtown Portland. First Church was responsible for the organization of 21 Presbyterian churches in Oregon in its early years.
Interesting facts about First Presbyterian Church:
- FPC was founded on January 1, 1854. Located at Front and Washington Street, the new church began with ten charter members.
- FPC was the third Presbyterian Church established in the Oregon Territory and the fifth congregation organized in Portland.
- In 1864 the Church moved to a new location at Third and Washington.
- The cornerstone of the present Church was laid in May 1887.
- The first service at 12th and Alder was held in 1889 in what is now the Chapel.
- The first service in the current Sanctuary was held in the fall of 1890.
- The Sanctuary balcony and stairways were added in 1891-1892 for General Assembly of Presbyterian Church, the first one held west of the Rockies.
- The Church was dedicated debt free on January 18, 1899.
- First Presbyterian Church was designated a National Historic Landmark on April 8, 1970.
- The Sanctuary today seats approximately 1,000.