OUR CHURCH'S HISTORY--FPC MONTROSE
The United Presbyterian Church of Montrose first gathered for worship on July 11, 1909. Rev. J.H.White, Synodical Superintendent of Missions, Synod of Nebraska conducted the first service. Later that same year the church was chartered with 32 initial members and the Home Mission Board soon sent Rev. J.R.Picken as pastor. Worship services were held at the Court House until the first church building was completed at 600 North 2nd in 1910.
In 1918 newly ordained Rev. Mark Warner was called as pastor and, except for 6 years as military chaplain, served the church until 1957. During this time United Presbyterian Church grew to approximately 150 members. Over the next 21 years other ministers were Leonard Knox, Anton Fabian, Fredrick VanderMeer, Jim Patton, and Robert Lutz (Interim). During this period of time, as membership grew, a new sanctuary was built and the old sanctuary eventually was torn down and replaced by an educational wing in 1968.
Straightening the steeple at FPC’s new location in November of 1984
An awakening to the need for discipleship and reaching out had already been kindled when Rev. John DeSanto, a gifted evangelist, arrived in 1979. Pastor John modeled a love for Jesus and God’s Word that shaped the church’s identity. Many were brought into the Kingdom of God, missions became a way of life, a preschool was born and youth ministry flourished. Rev. Tim Osterlund was called as the first Associate Pastor in the church’s history. The church on North 2nd soon was too small and a move to the current church site was made in 1985. With that move the name of the church changed to First Presbyterian Church.
In 1987 Revs. DeSanto and Osterlund moved on to new ministries. Rev. George Moore came to serve as interim while the church began a search for a new pastor. That search ended in 1989 when Paul Parsons was called as Senior Pastor. From the beginning of his ministry Paul has led the church toward a new vision and long range planning, particularly addressing the needs of a growing church. The staff increased from 4 to 15 and the leadership was challenged to see beyond a small church mentality and consider how to welcome, enfold, and disciple newcomers as well as established members. In 1992 Stephen Oglesbee was called as the Associate Pastor of Youth and Congregational Life to assist in this growing vision for the church.
FPC pastors gathered at the 100th year celebration
Under the godly partnership and leadership of Pastors Parsons and Oglesbee, the church began a new period of growth. In 1994 an educational wing was built and dedicated to the spiritual growth of our children. A summer internship program was realized and Pastor Moore returned to Montrose to serve as Calling Pastor. After seven years of faithful ministry, Stephen Oglesbee was called away in 1999 to a Senior Pastor position. In 2000, Pastor Bruce Greenough was called to oversee discipleship and enfolding ministries and left in May 2003, leaving behind a purpose driven model for the congregation to employ. We continued to need additional classroom and fellowship space, and a Christian Education Building was built behind the main church building.
Pastor Parsons was called to a new position in May 2003 in Kansas City after 14 faithful and giving years. Pastor Moore filled the position of Interim Senior Pastor from June 2003 until December 2004. Pastor Jo DeVinny filled the position of Interim Associate Pastor from January 2004 until May 2005. Pastor Larry Zirschky filled the position of Senior Pastor from February 2005 to March 2008. From 2008 to 2010, Pastor Steve Frank served the congregation as the senior interim pastor. Along with changes in leadership, these were difficult and refining years for the church, and we emerged as a smaller, stronger, and more unified church body.
In December of 2010, Alan Gibson began serving as Senior Pastor. Under his spiritual leadership we are striving to be a faith community that freely shares and shows the love of God in our community and beyond.
PRESBYTERIAN: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Our name, “Presbyterian,” is rooted in the Greek word “presbuteros,” which means “elder.” This etymology defines our system of church government, structured around a group of elders elected by the congregation — the same system of government upon which our country’s democratic philosophies were founded.
As Protestant Christians, we accept the authority of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, and profess our faith in God, who is known to us as the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Our faith has been especially influenced by the Protestant Reformation, specifically by leaders such as John Calvin and John Knox. We strongly believe in the key elements of the Protestant Reformation: salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone, the authority of the Bible for faith and life, and our individual duty to be a minister of Christ at all times and in all places. It is up to each individual to determine how to apply these principles in his or her own life.
Above all else it is our mission to share the love of God through Jesus Christ through word and deed. Presbyterians spread the love of God throughout the world by emphasizing the need for worship, developing new churches, and by fostering mission activities. We respond to disaster situations, minister to the sick and the needy, and educate new generations of Christian men and women to continue our legacy of service to God and the community.
For more information about the history of the Presbyterian Church, our beliefs and practices, and our outreach efforts, visit the Presbyterian Church (USA) web site at www.pcusa.org.