The theme for our 200th anniversary was "Great is Thy Faithfulness."  As we reflect upon and celebrate 200+ years of church life in Tuscaloosa, it does not take long to realize that this is really a celebration of God's faithfulness to us and our forebears.  Throughout every season of this church's existence God has faithfully extended grace, love and blessings untold.  We also recognize 200+ years of faithful people through whom God has provided so many gifts to us.

Click here to read a brief history of FPC including the names of many of our ministers and the church's growth and changes under their leadership.


Presbyterians roots trace back to the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther who influenced a Frenchman named John Calvin to shape a church in Geneva, Switzerland, that reached out to French and Scottish Protestants. John Knox took this Protestant church to Scotland. When John Knox Presbyterians came to America, the Church grew and became known as The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (the PCUSA).


In 1820, one year after the City of Tuscaloosa had been incorporated and Congress had admitted the State of Alabama into the Union, Bethel of Tuscaloosa was organized by eighteen immigrants from upstate South Carolina. Rev. Andrew C. Brown was called to be our first pastor, followed by Rev. Samuel Hodge and Rev. James H. Hillhouse. 


By 1830 the membership had grown to 100 and a brick building was constructed, under the direction of Rev. Robert M. Cunningham, on the same site where our sanctuary stands today.  In 1831 the congregation officially became known as the Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa. In the early years, between 1831 and 1836, when the University of Alabama opened its doors and the State Capital moved to Tuscaloosa, the church membership began to increase and diversify. In 1833 the congregation established the Tuscaloosa Female Academy for the formal education of young white women. When the State Capital was moved to Montgomery in 1847, the church lost many members.  During the devastating years of the Civil War, membership was greatly reduced and by 1865 financial security was non-existent, with church funds reduced to one dollar in gold.


With the end of the war, many former slaves sought to form churches of their own, but there were no trained ministers to serve them. Pastor Dr. Charles Stillman convinced the Presbytery to establish an Institute for the training of African American ministers. It was known as Stillman Theological Institute. After his death in 1895, the name was changed to Stillman College.


By 1918, membership stood at 674.  On December 15th the congregation voted to build a new sanctuary and began a fund-raising campaign.  By April 1922, the building of a new Sanctuary and Sunday school rooms at an estimated cost of $150,000 was complete in part by the generous gifts of Mrs. Anna Price Spence. The Sunday school building was named "Spence Memorial" in honor of Mrs. Spence and her late husband.  From June 1921 through July 1923 Rev. William B. Patterson served as our first UA campus minister.


Dr. Warner L. Hall served us from 1940 to 1946 during the difficult days of World War II.  He was an excellent speaker and drew members and UA students back to Sunday morning worship.  He resumed the Sunday evening vesper services with the UA Minister and students conducting the worship.  These services drew over 100 students to the church.  Dr. Hall recruited Rev. Malcolm C. McIver to be our UA Minister in 1944 and he served the students until 1952.


The sanctuary was remodeled and redecorated under the guidance and generosity of Mrs. Mildred Warner and the Warner Family. Also in 1952, the Westervelt-Warner Chapel was built in memory of Mildred Warner’s late mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. H.E. Westervelt.


A new educational building was completed, and the church grew to 1000 members under the leadership of Dr. Simril Bryant. In 1967 Mary Anne Stollberg Findlay and Tillie Walker Nisbet were elected as our first women Deacons.


Dr. Charles McCain was called to FPC. Under his leadership, the church’s outreach was greatly expanded by means of radio and television ministry. A pre-school was established. Our first two women Elders, Emily Bass Nash and Dovie Bridges Pickens, were elected in 1978.


Dr. Charles Durham was called to serve this church, and he served as its pastor until December 2014. Under his leadership, local, state and international missions were expanded. First Presbyterian with other churches as partners, worked together to establish the Community Soup Bowl, Caring Days, Feed My Sheep, Counseling Ministry Professionals, and many others outreach ministries.


A new educational building, a family life center, and Warner Hall were dedicated.


With the call of Rev. James Goodlet as associate pastor for college ministry, the church expanded its involvement with college students through UKirk campus ministry at the University of Alabama.


The church began an outreach to the German community in Tuscaloosa with First Pres Deutsch which holds German-language services, confirmation classes, and other offerings in German led by Rev. Dr. Thomas Herwig. The congregation also expanded the emphasis upon mission with the calling of Associate Pastor Lou Ann Sellers discerning God's mission in partnership and advocacy within Tuscaloosa, Perry County, Alabama and beyond.


Following the devastating Tuscaloosa tornado in April of this year, the church became a host site for mission teams from across the nation who assisted in rebuilding homes.


Our worship experience was greatly enhanced by the installation of our new Letourneau organ that had been purchased in 2014.  Events to enhance our church fellowship outside of worship continued regularly.  We were actively involved in our new Presbytery camp, Living River, and expanded our property with the purchase of the old YMCA.


Rev. Michael Bailey accepted our call and began his ministry with the challenge of overseeing transitions within our church during an era of great social change and political division. He has encouraged our congregation to look to the future while acknowledging God’s faithfulness to our church for 200 years. Our congregation remains faithful to God and our original 1820 tenants; we still gather for worship and fellowship, promote education, and provide service to others.


First Presbyterian Church celebrated its bicentennial. A big celebration was planned but due to a worldwide pandemic, plans were scaled back. We still celebrated but masked and "sacredly distanced." Click here to check out some of the ways we celebrated.


First Presbyterian Church has provided the city and county of Tuscaloosa a wonderful place of worship, service, and fellowship for more than 200 years. We are grateful for the legacy of vision and faithful service that we have inherited from its past and know that it will continue and grow into the future.