Name of congregation:
First Presbyterian Church of West Chester
: Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Size of congregation:
What is the history of your church:
In 1831, the Rev. William A. Stevens was assigned to organize a Presbyterian church in the West Chester area and after construction, the first services were held in 1834. The church was designed by Thomas U. Walter, America's preeminent Greek revival architect, who later designed the dome of the Capitol in Washington.
In the 1840s the small congregation began to grow, and over the years, there have been many renovation and expansion projects, ranging from upgraded pipe organs and new stained glass windows to added buildings.
Today, First Presbyterian Church has four full-time pastors serving 2200-plus members, and 2007 is our 173d year serving the borough of West Chester.
What makes you proud of your church?
First Presbyterian Church of West Chester is a beautiful church built in 1834 and is a National Historic Landmark. When it is decorated for a wedding, Easter or Christmas, we believe it would be hard to find a more stunningly majestic and, at the same time, warm and welcoming sanctuary than that of Old First.
People are the church, however. There are more than 2,200 of us who make the Greater West Chester area our home. We are leaders in education, health care, justice, government service, and business. We volunteer our time and talents in virtually every community organization. In addition, we contribute more than $400,000 annually to mission outreach beyond ourselves.
Our worship services are spirited, passionate, and joyful. Our preaching is biblically based and theologically Reformed. Our Music Ministry attracts people from near and far to hear the 85-voice chancel choir, the pipe organ, the bell choirs, youth singers, and the children's choirs. Our Contemporary Service is led by our deeply dedicated Praise Band.
We have educational opportunities for all ages. Sunday School is the heart of the program, but you can attend a Bible study, a discipleship group, or a special learning opportunity almost any day of the week. WOW (Welcome on Wednesdays) is a program for the whole family that includes a meal, various studies and music opportunities, and a series of special speakers. The Youth Ministry has a full schedule of activities, retreats, service opportunities and fun.
In our attempt to be obedient to Jesus, we strive to "love one another." Deacons, parish nurses, Stephen ministers, Agape visitors, and the pastoral staff all seek to meet the pastoral needs of the congregation in truly caring for one another. We are frequently told by visitors that we are a warm, friendly, and welcoming church.
How do you see your church's role in your community?
Our church mission is "to empower everyone to be an agent of God's peace, healing, and love in our church, community and world through the power of the Holy Spirit." We are pleased to work alongside others in the community to make West Chester the best place on earth. Teams of "hands-on" workers are to be found offering their talents at Habitat for Humanity, Good Works, the Care Center for Christ, Community Volunteers in Medicine and many more local agencies. We have a sister church in Guatemala and a sister presbytery in South Africa. We support missionaries in Columbia, Cameroon, Taiwan, Pakistan, Ghana, New Guinea, and Hungary. Our trustees labor to keep us all sensitive to being a "green" church and doing what we can to care for God's creation.
Rev. Dr. William Hess, II, Pastor; Rev. Robert Barcus, Rev. David Pickett and Rev. Elisabeth Hartwell, Associate Pastors.
Marcia Mau, Director of Music Ministry; Dory Speer, Business Administrator; Elizabeth Hess, Director of Marketing and Membership Administration; Mary Hambleton, Director of Congregational Life and Membership Development; Lisa Herman, Director of Children's Ministry; Joshua Landis, Youth Director
Many more wonderful staff members that manage the office, the facilities and our terrific teaching staff at our preschool, the Bucket School.
Days and hours of services:
Sunday Worship: 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. Traditional Worship; 10:45 a.m. Contemporary Worship. During the summer, only the 9, 10:30 and 10:45 worship services are held.
130 West Miner Street, West Chester.
For more information:
The Inquirer is publishing profiles of Chester County churches, synagogues, and other religious congregations on a regular basis. These profiles are created by filling out an e-mail questionnaire that we will send you.