More About First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans

In 1993 the First Presbyterian Church celebrated its 175th anniversary. The second protestant church in the city, had its start in a public meeting on February 9, 1818. Donations included a lot and $10,000 from the City Council. On January 8, 1819, the cornerstone was laid on St. Charles Avenue between Union and Gravier. Services began under the leadership of Rev. Sylvester Larned, who died two years later of yellow fever at the early age of 24. Under his successor, the congregation split into several groups. Two joined together under the leadership of Dr. Joel Parker, who in 1835 presided over the occupation of a new church on Lafayette Square. The building was twice destroyed by fire in 1854 and by hurricane in 1915. Both times the church rebuilt on the same site.

In 1938 the church moved to its present building, which incorporates several of the features of the original one downtown, including the organ, bells, pews, the millwork in the rear choir loft, and most of the stained glass windows. The education building was dedicated Easter Sunday 1939 and the connection between the two buildings in 1985.

Worship: We have a traditional Presbyterian worship service at 11:00 each and every Sunday. A Presbyterian Worship Service is like a Roman Catholic service in that we believe in affirmation of faiths (Apostles' Creed, etc.) but we have our own creeds. We also have corporate confession of sin, Lord's Supper, and Scripture readings (lectionary based). We are like protestants in that the sermon is the center of worship and have communion the first Sunday of the month. We are unlike the Baptists for example, in that we have no "altar call".

We also have a short, meditative worship service on Friday evenings at 5:45. This service has three hymns, meditation on a Scripture reading, shared intercessory prayers, and opportunity for ointment for healing.

Christian Education:

Our Sunday School classes meet each Sunday before service at 9:45 a.m. We offer classes for all ages of children including a nursery for the youngest. For adults we offer three classes, a Bible Study class, a contemporary issues class and a revolving class on church matters.

A Bible Study group meets every second Tuesday morning. A young adult Bible Study is held every Wednesday at 6:30. The Bell Choir practice follows at 7:30.

Fellowship: Every second Sunday is a Congregational Luncheon or potluck after church with fellowship and occasional programs. A Luncheon for Older Adults takes place every third Wednesday.

Outreach: The church sponsors the Child Development Program a preschool for children starting at eighteen months. The church collects food throughout the year for Second Harvesters, and books annually for Operation Mainstream. We are also a member of the Jeremiah Group, a grass roots organizing group of congregations seeking the peace of the city.

The Organization

Presbyterianism is a form of church government. As New Orleanians we belong to the Presbytery of South Louisiana and the Synod of the Sun, and receive institutional support from the local and national presbytery. In turn, we contribute to the missions of the Presbyterian church at home and abroad.

While valuing church structure, Presbyterians acknowledge the freedom of individual conscience as we all seek together to know and do the will of the Lord as we receive it through scripture. Many of us in this congregation were raised in different denominations from Baptist to Catholic. We are united here in our worship and service.


(Some responses contributed by our members to the above question.)

. . . to celebrate God in joy and praise.

. . . to nourish my spirit

. . . to devote my time and resources to Christ's work

. . . to provide a Christian education for my children

. . . to find peace after a busy week

. . . to be with people who care for each other

. . . to witness to God's work in uptown New Orleans

. . . to meet with others in the Lord's supper

. . . to hear that still small voice

. . . for friendship and fellowship

. . . for the beauty of song and place dedicated to God

. . . for a place that helps me think what God wants me to be


At each service and during Sunday School, there is nursery care available for the very young. Beginning after the Children's Moment, a Children's Church for those between the ages of 4 and 6. School-age children are invited to stay and worship with the congregation.

During the Lord's Prayer, we say "debts."

At the Lord's Supper, the outer ring of cups contain grape juice and the inner rings wine.

We traditionally hold both the bread and the wine until all are served so as to partake of it as a congregation.

After each service, all in attendance are invited for coffee and light refreshment in the education annex through the left rear door of the sanctuary.