First Presbyterian Church in Hopkinsville was organized by Rev. Gideon Blackburn on November 6, 1813, as Hopewell Presbyterian Church. Within a few years, records referred to the church as Hopkinsville Presbyterian Church. For the first few years, services were held in the Christian County Court House. The church relied on visiting ministers for services until 1821 when Rev. Ralph Cushman became its minister.
On March 20, 1822, the church bought a half-acre lot that included the land on which the present-day church stands at the corner of East Ninth and Liberty Streets. Between 1822 and 1825, the first church building was constructed in the area that is now the church parking lot. The frame structure included a belfry with a bell thought to be the same one used today. In 1844, a member willed her home to the church to be used as a manse (parsonage). It was located in the area that is now the 14th Street parking lot for First Baptist Church. Between 1848 and 1849, the present church was constructed. The area of the lot on which the frame church stood was sold, but a little over a century later, a portion of it was repurchased to be used for a church parking lot.
In the winter of 1862-63, the church was used as a hospital for Confederate troops under General Nathan Bedford Forrest. One of the church officers stated that every pew in the church was occupied by a sick soldier. During the Civil War (1861-1865), the Hopkinsville Presbyterian congregation remained united, both within and nationally with the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly. However, the congregation divided in 1867 as the result of ongoing disagreements among Presbyterians at every level of the Presbyterian Church (USA), particularly in “border” states. One group of the Hopkinsville congregation remained part of the national assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), while the other group soon joined the assembly of the Presbyterian Church (US), which had formed when the Southern states seceded from the Union. The split was amicable, and the two groups continued to meet in the same church with no division of Sunday School and prayer meeting but with separate worship services on alternating Sundays.
In 1879 the Hopkinsville Presbyterian (USA) congregation moved out and became First Presbyterian Church (USA). Between 1880 and 1881, they built a new church two blocks away on the corner of 7th and Liberty Streets. The “Southern” Hopkinsville Presbyterian (US) congregation, which remained in the church at 9th and Liberty, became Second Presbyterian Church (US). Shortly afterward, the church was renamed Nashville Street Presbyterian, which later became 9th Street Presbyterian and then Westminster Presbyterian.
In 1943 the congregations of the two churches, First Presbyterian (USA) and Westminster Presbyterian (US), reunited. The church on 9th and Liberty became the home of the united congregation, First Presbyterian Church (Unified). The church on 7th and Liberty was sold to the Salvation Army.
Another Second Presbyterian Church existed for a brief time in Hopkinsville after a national unification of the assemblies of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the United States and the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1906-1907. Part of the Hopkinsville Cumberland Presbyterian congregation and their minister formed Second Presbyterian Church and met jointly with the First Presbyterian Church (USA) on 7th and Liberty Streets. Four years later they merged with First Presbyterian. Those who chose to remain in the denomination of Cumberland Presbyterians stayed in their church on 7th Street.
After the 1943 reunification, First Presbyterian mission work began to expand. A mission that had begun in the Highland community in the 1920s led to the 1948 organization of Highland Presbyterian Chapel, under the sponsorship of First Presbyterian. In 1950 Highland Chapel was constituted as Highland Presbyterian Church. Cadiz Presbyterian Chapel, organized by First Presbyterian in 1966, began having services at Cadiz Christian Church in 1975. To this day, a Presbyterian service is part of Sunday worship at Cadiz Christian Church. The Korean Chapel in Oak Grove was formed in 1981 as a part of First Presbyterian Church. The chapel was chartered as a fully organized Presbyterian church in 1986. In 2004 the last portion of the church lot that was sold in the 1840s was restored with the purchase of the former bus station property located next to the church’s parking lot. In 2007 the Winners’ Group of Narcotics Anonymous began using the building, which was named The Bus Stop. Support for the building and the program it houses has come not only from the church but also from leaders and members of the Winners’ Group and from the community.
In 2013 First Presbyterian Church celebrated the bicentennial of its founding in Hopkinsville. In the foreword of the church’s history, 200 Years of Open Doors, Rev. Charlie Evans stated the following:
"For 200 years, this church has been a true witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this community... We have a story worthy of sharing and of handing to our next generation. I encourage you to read the history of our congregation and give thanks to God for the many saints that have labored here. We undoubtedly stand upon their shoulders as we look forward to the next 200 years of our work on behalf of our Lord... Please pray that we will continually seek and work in the direction the Lord leads us. I am excited, and full of anticipation, to see the ways in which God will lead us the next year, decade and century. Indeed, to God be the glory forever and ever!"
Copyright © 2023 First Presbyterian Church - All Rights Reserved.