FIRST UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
In 1890, First United Presbyterian Church, USA, began as a mission with 14 members under the leadership of Rev. James E. Rawlings. The mission grew to a membership of 32. In 1892, it became First Presbyterian Church. There were 4 officers, two ruling elders and two deacons.
In 1893, a brick and stone edifice was erected on the corner of Monroe and Catherine Streets. Its membership grew slowly, as it became an integral part of the community, providing religious instruction and worship.
After Rev. Rawlings retired in 1899, there were 8 pastors that served until Rev. Herman V. Wiggins pastored from 1949-1962. This is significant because there are some church members that remember him. I remember the pastors after him. Robert Hare pastored from 1963-1968. Rev. Eugene James was pastor from 1969-1982. Rev. Dr. Willie Woodson served 29 years, from 1985-2014.
During the tenure of Rev. James, the church decided to relocate. The new structure was dedicated on May 4, 1975, to the glory of God and to the service of mankind.
There were many ministries and programs introduced during Rev. Dr. Woodson’s incumbency, such as Daughters of Imani, the Food Pantry, and many others. The Willie Woodson Educational and Outreach was erected during this time.
After six years and three dedicated interim pastors, the Lord blessed us with an enthusiastic, knowledgeable, motivated, experienced, Presbyterian pastor in September of 2021. Rev. Mary Newbern-Williams. She is always there to encourage us and her enthusiasm for Jesus is contagious. Pam
always reminds us to pray for Rev. Newbern-Williams because we are going to have to help her take care of that light that the Lord has blessed her with.
First United moved to the present site at 3401 North Avenue on September 28, 1974. The cornerstone was laid by the Capital City Lodge No. 107, under the direction of the Most Worshipful Grandmaster, the Honorable Landon White, Elder of First Church. First United was one of the churches of the predominantly Black Southern Presbytery, which ceased to exist in 1987 and became a part of the integrated Presbytery of the James.
In January 1988, Reverend Willie Woodson was called as Pastor after having served as Interim Pastor for three years. Under his leadership and tutelage, the church has grown spiritually. First United celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1990 with a grand celebration on the campus of Virginia Union University . The mortgage note was burned.
In the early 1990’s, the Church began making plans for a building expansion to perform ministries that will enhance the community, promote church growth, and do the will of God. In the mid-1990’s the Church purchased the property directly across the parking lot.
In 1997, the Church launched upon a new approach towards ministry by participating in a project called “Vision For A Vital Church ”. This remains the foundation of our purpose today.
In October 2003, First United launched upon its Capital Campaign with the commissioning of the campaign committee members. As we prayerfully embarked upon this vision, it was a testimony to the power of God and the fact that First United is and has always been blessed with loyal and dutiful men and women who work diligently utilizing their hearts, minds and souls so that the Church can be all that God called it to be.
Rev. James Rawlins………………………1890 – 1899
Rev. William E. Partee…………………..1899 – 1906
Rev. Thomas H. Lee, PH.D…………..1907 – 1912
Rev. Thomas E. Montouth………….1913 – Unknown
Rev. Alexander Aritmus Hector…..1916-1933
Rev. Samuel Govan Stevens……1934 – 1940
Rev. Everett A. Hewlett…………….1941 – 1943
Rev. Sanders McKelvey…………..1944 – 1948
Rev. Herman Wiggins……………..1949 -1962
Rev. Robert Hare……………………1963 – 1968
Rev. Eugene James, Sr…………..1969 – 1983
Rev. Willie Woodson, D. Min…….1988 – 2014
2014-2021 Interim Pastors
Reverend Warren LeSane
Reverend Nathan Dell
Reverend Larry Johnson
2021 – Present
Reverend Mary Newbern-Williams