Worcester First Presbyterian Church, 1925, Historical Sketch
The families of Scotch descent and Presbyterian principles who emigrated to this country from the North of Ireland, came to Worcester and established a church in the old garrison house near the intersection of the Boston and Lancaster Roads.
Rev. Edward Fitzgerald, from Londonderry, Ireland, was their first pastor, and preached to them for some months. Soon they began to erect a church building, but this did not meet with approval of other inhabitants, who gathered and destroyed the building, which was well under way. Discouraged by this opposition, they made no further attempt to build a sanctuary. Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald was compelled from want of financial support to leave and was later succeeded by Rev. William Johnston. In 1736 the congregation attempted to have their taxes for the support of the Old South Minister (the town minister) abated, because they were supporting another minister, but like all other such attempts to avoid the church rates of the Puritans, it failed. The church soon afterward seems to have disbanded and the members returned to the Congregational fold. Thus ended the first attempt to establish a Presbyterian church here.
For nearly one hundred and fifty years there was no Presbyterian church in Worcester, no further effort being made until February 25, 1886, when a group of men and women met in the Y. M. C. A. rooms on Elm Street to consider the organization of a Presbyterian church in connection with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Rev. Joseph W. Sanderson, superintendent of N. E. Mission, presided. Elder Robert Gilchrist of Boston represented the Presbytery. No definite action was taken at this meeting, which was adjourned and met March 25 in Mechanics' Hall. At this meeting fifty were present, and the following committee was elected: George Edwards, R. J. McKay, Dr. H. D. Kurtz, Thomas Hamilton, George Weir, James Russell and William Findlay, this committee to act until formal organization was perfected.
On April 1, 1886, the first prayer meeting was held at the home of George Edwards, 114 Beacon Street, and was led by Dr. H. D. Kurtz. On April 4, 1886, the first preaching service was held at St. George's Hall. Rev. J. H. Ralston, from McPherson, Kansas, appointed by the Presbytery to take charge, preached in the afternoon. A canvas of the city by Mr. Ralston soon settled the question of a church organization. A petition signed by over one hundred names was presented to the Presbytery of Boston requesting the organisation of a church in Worcester. This was granted, and May 27, 1886, Rev. V. A. Lewis of Boston presided and proceeded to organize the church in due form with 57 members. At this meeting- Mr. Ralston was duly installed as pastor; the first elders, George Edwards, George Weir and William Findlay, were also installed.
In June, 1886, the church began to hold meetings in Continental Hall, and continued there untii September 1, 1887, when services were held in Curtis Hall, Y. M. C. A. Building. Rev. Thomas Atkinson succeeded Mr. Ralston; he was installed May 1, 1890, and resigned in January, 1894. On September 28. 1890, the meeting place changed to Horticultural Hall, and on April 5, 1891, to Washburn Hall. The next move was September 27, 1891, to the church building on Kilby Street, which was bought from All Souls Universalist Church.
The next minister was Rev. Alvah R. Scott, who came June 27, 1894, and was installed in October. He resigned October 5, 1898. During his pastorate he studied at Clark University, and later received his degree of Ph. D. from the University of Woos-ter, Ohio. Rev. Andrew J. Brucklacher was pastor from May 1, 1899, until April 18, 1900. He was succeeded by Rev. Francis W. Beidler, who came September 1, 1900, installed April 30, 1901, resigned June 18, 1902. During this period it was found that the church building on Kilby Street was too far from the center of the city, so it was decided to locate further down town. On October 2, 1901, Malta Temple, on Main Street, was the next meeting place. Rev. McLeod Harvey was the next pastor, called from Haverhill, Mass.; he was installed December 17, 1902, and resigned in 1913. During his pastorate the church acquired the church building formerly occupied by the Main Street Baptist brethren, at the corner of Main and Her-mon Streets. The acquisition of a church home meant much, even although loaded down with a heavy burden of debt, but through the efforts of the pastor and Rev. Charles T. Schaeffer, chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Board of Church Erection of the Presbyterian Church made it possible to carry the burden.
Rev. Charles Allen Fisher, the present pastor, was installed December 17, 1913.
The mortgage on the church property was canceled and burned December 6, 1920.
Rev. Edwin Kagin was secured as a part-time assistant December, 1923.
The Mission Schools were established at Bloom-ingdale in 1920 and Auburn in 1924.
The now Educational and Social Building was started in May, 1924, and we are looking forward to a larger history.
1. "Extract from HISTORY OF WORCESTER AND ITS PEOPLE", By CHARLES NUTT, Directory, First Presbyterian Church, Worcester, Mass., 1925, pages 5-6.
See AlsoWorcester First Presbyterian Church 1925 Directory
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