When: Thursday, January 21, 7:00 - 7:30 pm
Where: Old House Chamber, State Capitol
Interview Opportunity: Rev. Ed McLeod, Pastor
Visuals: Historic House chamber, bagpiper-led recessional after service
Contact: EdBristol848@gmail.com, (919)749-5189
On Thursday, Jan. 21 at the State Capitol, more than 300 members of Raleigh's First Presbyterian Church will celebrate the church's 1816 founding. The church isthe third oldest in Raleigh and the city's first Presbyterian church.
The brief ceremony will feature highlights of church history and reflections by Pastor Ed McLeod on the church's mission, one that remains centered in its downtown location and reaches out to points across the globe.
Reflecting Presbyterians' Scottish heritage, the service will be followed by a bagpiper-led recessional across the street to the church, where members will enjoy a highland-themed gala.
The events commemorate the day when Reverend William McPheeters, then pastor to the city, gathered together a group of 40 Presbyterians--including William Peace, founder of the namesake university--and established the church.
The group met in the old State House where the State Capitol now stands.The fledgling church purchased a lot across the street and opened its doors on Feb. 7, 1818.
Until after the Civil War, the church’s sanctuary was the largest and best meeting place in the city. Other religious groups, including Catholics and Episcopalians, used the church while they were building their own.
When, in 1831, the old State House burned to the ground, the state Supreme Court, then quartered in the State House, was forced to meet elsewhere and chose the church’s session house. A few years later, the sanctuary was used for the state’s Constitutional Convention of 1835.
In 1900, a new, larger church replaced the old one at the same downtown site. The church bell and the original bricks were salvaged for use in the new building.
In 2012, renovation of the sanctuary featured a restoration of the 1900 sanctuary’s three enormous arches that had been walled off in a 1955 renovation. Originally, the arches opened into a fellowship hall that was later chopped up into smaller rooms. Now the arches’ new hinged doors lead to the newly re-opened space—a large, much used common area for members’ informal gatherings.