First United Presbyterian Church turns 135

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Doris Evans, Interim Pastor at the Garden City First United Presbyterian Church, is shown outside the church on Thursday. The church is celebrating its 135th anniversary in Garden City this year.

On March 14, 1886 the Garden City First United Presbyterian Church was established.

The church had 27 members.

Now, it's 135 with 90 members.

Church member Audrey Law said it's wonderful to see the church reach such a milestone.

"It just shows the continuity I think with our congregation and it shows that we are industrious so to speak, in keeping ourselves going," she said.

The congregation is small, but it doesn't seem to have made any difference in the larger picture of now and when they had a greater number of members, Law said.

"We still seem to have all the same activities pretty much, I think, and we just seem to do a pretty good job of staying alive," she said.

Interim Pastor Doris Evans, who began at the church in October, said it's interesting to see the church turn 135, and to still have a vibrancy within the community.

"The church has a lot of outreach that they do within the community and it's a welcoming congregation, people are welcoming here, and I just think they're showing the 135 years," she said. "You don't just be somewhere for 135 years and still be a part of the community."

Some of the things the church does within the community include hosting a community garden, host Boy Scout Troop and Pack 712, host a youth group, outreach with Florence Wilson Elementary School, deliver for Meals on Wheels four times a year and have relationships with Emmaus House, Mosaic and other area organizations.

They have also supported on an irregular basis Family Crisis Services, CASA and the Western Kansas Community Foundation.

The church has seen three buildings since its establishment in Garden City.

The first building was located on Spruce St. and Garden City Ave., the congregation built and moved into the building n 1887 and remained there until 1929 when they moved into a new building at Seventh and Pine Streets.

That second building was destroyed by an arson fire on Feb. 7, 1985.

Law said it was devastating to hear on the radio the morning after that the church had burned, however the congregation stayed strong.

"It's amazing to me sometimes what brings people together," she said. "It's not always the good things that bring people together it's for things that make you realize how fortunate you are, at least I felt that way, to have this kind of friendship through the congregation."

The current building was completed in 1986, just in time for the church's 100th anniversary.

Evans said the church has adapted to 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic well, they have been able to utilize online resources, even with a portion of their membership being older.

"We have a lot of young people, but the congregation is older and they've been able to adapt, to be able to do things online, Zoom and still continue to have that type of caring ministry for one another through each other," she said.

To celebrate the church's 135 anniversary a celebration was held on April 25 with food and a gathering after the church service.

Church member Mary Buchele said the celebration was good.

"It was a really good celebration because we haven't had a gathering of our people for anything other than worship since (COVID came)," she said. "It was good  to have something to celebrate after this last year and it was well received."

Other plans have been made to celebrate the church's anniversary later in the year, Evans said. No concrete date have been set yet.

Around Father's Day they're planning to have a BBQ and ice cream social and in August they are going to do something to celebrate with the gardeners of their community garden.

Also, later in the year, probably around November, they plan to do a couple challenges with the congregation to get 135 pounds of non-perishable food to donate to community organizations.