41 W. College Avenue, Westerville, Ohio 43081
In 1820, early residents organized the original Presbyterian church in what would become Blendon Township. The church opened as Lebanon Church, named after the community in Virginia from which many of the settlers had come. When the township’s name was changed from Harrison to Blendon, the church followed suit, becoming Blendon Church.
The church grew slowly but steadily, meeting at a township school building with 15 or so members. By 1826, members had begun discussing their own church building, and in 1829, a new church opened in the northeast corner of what today are Dempsey and Hempstead Roads.
But excitement over the new church was short-lived. The Sunday following its dedication, the Blendon Church burned to the ground. Arson was suspected.
While the ashes still smoked and the faithful gathered around the site, Squire Timothy Lee exclaimed “We can build as fast as they can burn.”
Not quite. The church’s funds nearly depleted, it took almost three years to complete the new building. Still, those years were ones of continual growth for Blendon Presbyterian Church. It was also a time of growth for the Presbyterian Church in general, as new Presbyterian churches began to spring up throughout Franklin and Delaware Counties.
In some cases, the churches were divided by deep differences in their outlook on slavery and other social issues. But in 1869, the factions decided to resolve their differences and reunite so that the Blendon Church and Central College Church could share a pastor.
Sometime in the 1890s, the name of the church in official records began to change from Blendon Presbyterian Church to Westerville Presbyterian Church. By 1908, membership had grown to more than 200.
The rising numbers began to strain the limits of the existing building. With the help of an $8,000 Presbytery loan, the cornerstone of our current building was laid on July 12, 1912. The new church opened the next year.
First Presbyterian Church since then has seen two world wars, a depression, social upheaval, and a merger. In 1966, Westerville Presbyterian combined with Huber Ridge United Church of Christ, resulting in a new name: First Presbyterian Church.
In 2029, we celebrated our bicentennial. We’ve seen much, changed much, since our humble beginnings on the frontier. Along the way we’ve constantly adapted to new community needs and the needs of those who call us “home.”
©2012 Westerville First Presbyterian Church
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