Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer and educator John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him. Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789. The first Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.
First Presbyterian Church of Green Bay has had a mission from God on the near west side of Green Bay (formerly Fort Howard) for nearly 150 years. We are part of the Winnebago Presbytery. Winnebago Presbytery is located in Northeastern Wisconsin, in the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and in the Presbyterian Church (USA) the prebytery is comprised of 33 churches ranging in size from 20 members to approximately 1000.
Sister Churches in the Green Bay area include First United Presbyterian Church of DePere and Wequiock Presbyterian Church.
First Presbyterian Church of Fort Howard was officially organized
The first building was completed on July 22 at a cost of $2,500. It was located on Chestnut Street between Main and Hubbard. The church was dedicated on Christmas Eve 1876 by the first pastor, Rev. David Street.
Clara Austin joined First Presbyterian Church
Clara Austin joined First Presbyterian Church in 1880 and was a member for more than fifty years. She served as a missionary to the early settlers of Wisconsin. She published an article in the March 1912 issue of the Home Mission Monthly, titled “Winning Wisconsin.”
Second Church Building was erected on our present site.
On October 16, 1892, with Rev. J. F. Young as pastor, a second church building, fully equipped and including electric lights, was erected on our present site. The cost of this building, $7,000, was a gift from David McCartney, a local banker.
Mr. McCartney told the story of how he came to donate this building at the dedication
Mr. McCartney told the story of how he came to donate this building at the dedication, a story that was then printed in the Fort Howard newspaper. His bank had been robbed of a substantial sum. Rather than hiring detectives, McCartney put his trust in God. While he was wintering in Thomasville, GA, he received word that most of the money had been recovered without cost to the bank. In gratitude to God, he resolved to do something for God and the church building was the result.
Our Old Building was Demolished and Replaced
In 1924, under the leadership of Rev. E.H. Easely, the old building was razed and a new one erected. This structure was built at a cost of $50,000 and was dedicated on April 19, 1925.
Ann Bannan was called by the Board of Missions of the Presbyterian church to go to Point Barrow, the most northern point in Alaska
In the previous year, Ann Bannan, a member of the church who had worked for many years for a local law firm, was called by the Board of Missions of the Presbyterian church to go to Point Barrow, the most northern point in Alaska. She had most recently been living in CA, but when her many years of service were ended in AL, she came back to Green Bay and lived here until her death. The Neville Museum now houses Ann’s collection of Eskimo artifacts, carving, letters and photographs, including the one seen here.
Church Was Remodeled and Renovated
In 1955, the church building was remodeled and renovated, including the addition of an educational wing, at an approximate cost of $75,000. Improvements continued into the 1960s and included the addition of stained glass windows.
Second Story was added to the Educational Wing
In 1994-95, a second story was added to the educational wing. This is the facility that is the center of our mission to the community today. Our Building and Grounds Committee does a fantastic job of maintaining our building so that we may continue to worship and serve God in this near west side neighborhood!