A Legacy of Love
Many of the earliest settlers of Bloomsburg were Scots-Irish Presbyterians. Before 1817, they traveled for worship to Hidlay’s Church in North Centre Township. Occasionally, there was also preaching in Elias Furman’s barn two miles east of Bloomsburg.
The English Presbyterian church was organized in Bloomsburg in 1817. A two-story log sanctuary on West Third Street was built, with a high pulpit and high back pews. In 1848, having outgrown the log church, the congregation built a brick building on Market Street at Third. In 1880, a manse was added on the site of the original log church.
With the congregation continuing to grow, land was acquired at Fourth and Market Streets and the current brownstone sanctuary was dedicated in 1891, with colorful stained glass windows provided through memorial gifts. This building was supplemented with an educational wing in 1915, and later with a new Christian Education and office wing in 1963. All of these structures, often remodeled, are still in active use.
The earliest records of the church, prior to 1840, have been lost. The congregation was chartered in 1845 and incorporated with a board of five Trustees. A board of Deacons was added in 1947. A Women’s Guild and Circles were formed in 1941 and expanded in 1954 into the Women’s Association, which continues as a vital part of church life.
Membership growth was steady through a century and a half and peaked in the middle of the twentieth century at about 575. The Sunday school also had large enrollments. In 1922 there were 21 teachers and 334 “scholars” enrolled, with attendance averaging about 250.
First Presbyterian Church of Bloomsburg has continually fostered Christian service in its members. Over a dozen of its sons and daughters have entered full-time service as pastors or missionaries, and congregants have filled many leadership roles in Northumberland Presbytery and the wider church. Current church membership is about 180.