December 10, 2018


First Presbyterian Church

133 E. North St.

Geneseo, IL  61254

(309) 944-5189



SUNDAY WORSHIPJoin us for worship this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. 



Sunday School 9:15 a.m.

Confirmation 9:15 a.m. 



Tuesday-Friday, 9:30-11:30 am and 12:30-2:30 pm

Pastor Tim:  Tues-Wed-Thurs.   9:30 am to 1:30 pm


About First Presbyterian Church

Come to the About Us section to find out what we're all about!

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About Presbyterians

Find out about the Presbyterian Church and it's history at What is the Presbyterian Church?

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Church History

Though the official founding of First Presbyterian Church is November 2, 1863, the history of Presbyterians in Geneseo begins in Genesee County, New York, with a decision of the pioneers to form "The First Orthodox Church of Geneseo" even before they left their homes.  They envisioned a union of Congregationalists and Presbyterians like they experienced at home.


For the first eighteen months after arrival, there was no resident minister, so they celebrated communion in May, 1837 and April, 1838 with Presbyterian ministers.  Early in 1838, they began the erection of a log cabin sanctuary on the site of the present Congregational Church, and accepted the invitation of the John Knox Presbytery in November, 1838.  For nearly twelve years, Congregationalists and Presbyterians met together in the only church in town, and followed a Presbyterian polity.


Because of bothersome theological controversies involving the "Oberlin theology" in 1843-44 and a growing impatience with the "New School" Presbyterian General Assembly for refusing to declare slave-holding to be a sin - which the members of the church had declared in their by-laws from its inception - the church in 1850, by a majority vote, resumed a Congregational polity.


We quote an old record: "There was some lively kicking by two or three trueblue Presbyterians against this change, who put themselves up as THE Church and claimed the building, organization, etc.  This induced some lively skirmishing all around, but finally the Congregationalists prevailed." 


The nucleus of the First Presbyterian Church in Geneseo was sixteen members chartered by the Presbytery of Rock River on Sunday, November 2, 1863.  After a period of meeting in individual homes, the congregation moved in October, 1864, to a small wooden structure across the street from the current building.  Under the leadership of its first installed pastor, the Rev. John Campbell Barr, the rapidly-growing congregation moved "with dispatch" to construct a brick and stone sanctuary at our current site.  Constructed during 1866-67, the local paper printed "The edifice is capable of seating 350 persons.  It is heated with a furnace.  The windows - Gothic in form - are beautifully stained glass through which the light comes toned and mellowed, and when the ceiling and walls shall be frescoed, and the pews are finished, it will greatly exceed in beauty and taste any church edifice in the city." 


Major remodelings will always be part of story of almost 150 years.  The original log cabin gave way to a manse for the pastor's family in 1906.  In 1916, a pipe organ replaced the original large pump model, and it, too, gave way to an electronic organ in 1948, when the whole chancel received a facelift.  In 1917, during the pastorate of the Rev. Dr. John Turner Hood, the east side of the building was remodeled to include a balconied Sunday School wing of twenty six classrooms and alcoves.  The sanctuary also added new stained glass windows.


The 1950s brought an extensive renovation with an exterior of Nu-Stone, a classroom reorganization, a new kitchen and new plumbing, heating, and electrical systems.  An enclosed entryway was constructed on the front of the building in 1978-79, which also provided a new classroom and pastor's study.  On the cutting edge of handicapped accessibility, the church added a chair lift in 1980, and improved it in 1992.  


Our current worship space is the result of a total makeover in 1995, offering us a much friendlier and flexible space.