First Presbyterian Church, Mankato was officially organized on August 31, 1855 at the home of James Hanna with just seventeen members. The first minister was Rev. James Thomson who had arrived at the fledgling community of Mankato in 1854 to start a college. Because the land belonged to the Native Americans, he was unable to do this and instead he held prayers meetings, conducted weddings and funerals, taught Bible classes, and preached at his home in what is now called Thompson Ravine. Soon the church held its services in the log schoolhouse at the site of the current Union Office Building.
Right away the women of the church formed a Ladies Sewing Sociable to meet the needs of the community for clothing and to raise money for furnishing the log schoolhouse. The women purchased our church bell in 1857, long before there was a building to put it in. Soon they raised funds to furnish the first church building and during WWI they formed a Red Cross chapter. The women have continued to be active to this day supporting mission at home and abroad.
The first church building, the brick church, was built in 1864 and stood where the Security Apartments now stand—kitty corner from our present building. The congregation outgrew the brick church building and in 1893 the cornerstone was laid for the current church building, dedicated in 1896.
Our church’s mission is to glorify God through worship and service to our community and world. Worship has been enhanced by everything from building remodels to Sunday School, the Hope Mission and Chapel on North Broad St. to the Chapman Chapel in West Mankato, and always through outstanding music in our sanctuary. Service to our community has taken the form of Young People’s Christian Endeavor, providing classroom space when the Normal School burned and during the 1951 flood, special communications sent to soldiers during the two world wars, support for the Salvation Army, free clothing to those in need, aid to refugees, divorce support group, multi-cultural Sunday School class, mission trips, caregiver support group, community meals, First Friday speakers, and much more. The Endowment Committee and Deacons provide ongoing support for education and individual needs. Our fellowship has been increased through activities such as retreats, dinner groups, youth activities, and a soft ball league. Like the seventeen members over 150 years ago, we continue to seek God’s guidance and help as we navigate our challenges as Christians united in purpose at First Presbyterian Church.