small group of worshipers gathered in 1760 and was organized into a church in 1780 by the Rev. Stephen Bloomer Balch, a soldier of the Revolution and a pupil of John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It was the first Presbyterian Church in what was to become modern-day Washington, D. C. It is now the oldest church of any denomination with an unbroken ministry in the District of Columbia.
Long after the national capital was established many of the baptisms, weddings and funerals in Washington were held in our church. Men and women of every denomination worshiped with us, including many leaders of the young republic. The first, and for many years the only, Protestant church building in Georgetown was erected by our congregation in 1782. Additions were made in 1794 with Thomas Jefferson listed among the contributors.
In 1821, President Monroe laid the cornerstone for a new building on Bridge Street (now M Street). The building was moved fifty years later to West Street (now P Street), with President Grant laying the cornerstone. This is the building which we have restored and in which we now worship.
Read a Brief History of GPC.
Read selected sermons from Rev. Balch, Rev. Bocock, Rev. Stroup, and Rev. Gillon.
|Senior Pastor||Dates Served|
|Stephen Bloomer Balch||1780-1833|
|John C. Smith||1833-1838|
|Robert T. Berry||1838-1848|
|John M.P. Atkinson||1848-1855|
|John H. Bocock||1856-1861|
|Frederick T. Brown||1862-1865|
|Archibald A.E. Taylor||1865-1870|
|David W. Moffat||1870-1872|
|Samuel H. Howe||1872-1883|
|William C. Alexander||1893-1908|
|James T. Marshall||1908-1929|
|Frank S. Niles||1930-1934|
|Robert M. Skinner||1934-1938|
|John Bailey Kelly||1938-1950|
|Russell Cartwright Stroup||1950-1970|
|Richard J. Oman||1972-1978|
|C. C. Campbell Gillon||1980-2002|
|Richard L. Sheffield||2005-2007|
|Camille Cook Murray||2010-|
Our Pastors Remember, a collection of oral history interviews with nine former pastor is a 2011 publication of the Heritage Committee. Jolene Blozis, a member of the Heritage Committee, gave a presentation about this book at the December 4, 2011 Adult Issues Class. View her presentation here.
new Stephen Bloomer Balch tombstone, which was commissioned by GPC, now stands proudly near the chapel at Oak Hill Cemetery. The original tombstone has been refurbished as part of this same project, and is located on the ground floor of Balch Hall. View project report and pictures from the dedication of the new Balch Tombstone at Oak Hill Cemetery on September 13, 2009.
If you would like to visit the Heritage Room, please call (202) 338-1644 to schedule an appointment.
View the GPC “Living History at Work” Video on YouTube