History

Oldest continuously serving congregation 
of this denomination West of the Mississippi River 

This Presbyterian congregation was organized in the River Town in July, 1828. Reverend James Wilson Moore had been commissioned by the Northumberland Presbytery of Pennsylvania as a Presbyterian Missionary to the Territory of Arkansas and to work specifically with the Indian population. 

The first meeting house for the fledgling congregation was in a rented log cabin near the present site of the River Market, near present-day Rock Street. The congregation then relocated to a structure on present-day Main Street not far from the intersection of Second Street and Main Street. In 1869, the congregation purchased three lots at North West corner of Capitol Avenue and Scott Streets and erected a brick sanctuary with a steeple. 

By 1900 the membership had risen to approximately 300. In 1909, the Reverend John Van Lear, DD accepted the congregation’s call. In 1916, the congregation voted approval for purchase of available lots at 800 Scott Street for a future church site. The first venture was to erect a three-story building for church school purposes and for the next five years (until 1921) morning worship services were held on the second floor. A Little Rock architect, the late John Parks Almand was retained to design a new sanctuary. 

Upon dedication in October, 1921 the congregation took great pride in their sanctuary being one of Little Rock’s most beautiful churches. Tragically, a disastrous four-alarm fire gutted the room of the sanctuary in May, 1958, causing thousands of dollars damage of the chancel and the organ. Fortunately the sanctuary was restored for worship services within nine months. 

The carillon bells were given to First church in 1948 by the Cordon Campbell family as a memorial to their son, the late Robinson Campbell. Dr. Raymond David Adams (the Rev. R.D. Adams) served as minister for 38 years from 1932 until his retirement in June, 1968. In the decade of the 1950’s there was a strong participation of the young church members called the Danho Fellowship – largely the work of young parishioners. This Danho Fellowship was mandated to encourage vibrant participation among the parishioners in activities of the church by sponsoring spaghetti suppers and square dancing. 

The Rev. Ben Collins served as minister from September, 1968 until 1979, and he was the leading participant in arranging the Sesquicentennial Anniversary celebration marking the 150 years of First Presbyterian Church history in the summer of 1978. Governor David Pryor (Governor of Arkansas and shortly U. S. Senator-elect) was principal speaker at worship services. Feeling keenly for the needs of Little Rock’s homeless, Rev. Collins, with approval of the Session, initiated the hot noon lunch outreach known as “Stewpot”. This ministry was first begun in 1978 and continues to present date. Today “Stewpot” serves daily an average of 167 homeless men and women. 

In January 1993, Rev. Howard “Flash” Gordon was installed as minister. Mr. Gordon came to Little Rock’s First Church from Homer, Louisiana. He retired and was named Minister Emeritus in May 2009.

Read more regarding the makings and history of our stain-glass windows. In 2004, FPC finished a remodeling of the sanctuary and rebuilding of the historic pipe organ by contracting with Nichols and Simpson, Inc. 
 
Various visiting ministers helped fill pulpit supply from 2009 to 2012. Rev. Jim Miller served as Interim from 2010 to 2011 and Rev. Guy Delayney from 2011 to 2012. Marie Mainard O'Connell was called to serve as our pastor starting September 1, 2012. She was ordained and installed in the Presbyterian Church (USA) on October 21, 2012, and served us until August 23, 2015.