760 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205
Summer Sunday Worship: 8:45 and 10:00 AM
Memorial Day Weekend-Labor Day Weekend

History & Architecture


The Beginnings: 1887 - 1907

The Rev. James Hoge, a travelling missionary sent from Virginia, established the First Presbyterian Church in 1806.  By the 1880's, congregants at First Church, on Capitol Square, observed the eastward relocation of its members and the opening of churches in that district by new and old congregations.  Dr. Francis Marsten, newly called as Pastor at First Church, was drawn into an animated debate about relocating eastward or planting a new congregation.

With the help of Mr. & Mrs. Aurelius Adair, an east-side Sunday school was established in September 1884 and in a few months, Marsten undertook afternoon preaching services.  On September 19, 1887, 105 individuals responded to a call to meet at the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church to form a permanent congregation. The Presbytery established Broad Street Presbyterian Church on September 20. Rev. Marsten was chosen as first pastor and preached his first sermon one month later.

Some called it Marsten's Folly because the location at 760 E. Broad Street seemed too far removed from the downtown to prosper.  But most observers concluded that it was a smart strategic move to plant a church in the growing near east side.

In April 1888, the first unit of the present edifice was completed for a cost of $31,000. From the outset, the common practice of pew rental was rejected. Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor was established, as was a quartette for music leadership. In the 1890's a mission was begun further to the east.  The sanctuary was completed in 1894 bringing the total construction cost to $100,000.

Following the resignation of Dr. Marsten in 1898, the Rev. Samuel Sterling Palmer was called as the second pastor. When called, there were 534 members; by 1907 there were 1,048.  The original building, sized for earlier membership norms, was bulging at the seams.

Two Decades of Stability: 1907-1927

Dr. Palmer was instrumental in hosting the Presbyterian General Assembly in Columbus in 1907.  Even as this occurred, the congregation was planning to expand the building.  In 1907-8, the sanctuary was doubled in size to 1500 seats, the largest capacity in Columbus. The mission, Nelson Memorial Church, became independent and in 1909 another mission was undertaken, this time among the poor in south-downtown.  For this, Broad Street postponed its own facility expansion and in 1916, built a chapel on West Main St. for worship and settlement house activities.

The Brotherhood Bible Class was in full swing with Foster Copeland teaching and the women's class was taught by Della Palmer, the pastor's wife.  Many other persons conducted educational ministries throughout this period. More than 500 persons were involved in these classes.

Dr. Palmer was assisted by other pastors -Revs. Staub, Braderick, Rodgers, and Pocock. In 1920, Dr. Palmer was elected moderator of the General Assembly.

The church sign (now in Memorial Lobby) indicated worship in the morning and evening, Christian Endeavor, Prayer meetings and Ladies Society.

During World War I the women of the church rallied to the cause and held regular meetings at which they folded swabs and rolled bandages. Our church was also highly involved in some important issues of the day, such as the temperance movement and "Saving the Sabbath."

At long last, the way was clear to expand secondary facilities.  In fall 1923, the "church house" opened with parlors, rooms for classes and charitable work, a new kitchen and dining room, and a multi-purpose room outfitted as a gymnasium.  The addition was dedicated on Memorial Day 1924 and included a marble lobby honoring the WW I service of congregation members and reminding of the heresy of war between Christian nations.

The General Assembly was again hosted by Broad Street in 1925.  Change was just around the comer for Broad Street. The 30-year pastorate of Dr. Palmer concluded in October 1928.

Two Decades of Vision & Change: 1927 - 1947

Dr. J. Harry Cotton was called as pastor of the 2,100 member congregation in 1928. Serving with him in this pastorate of a decade was Revs. McComb, Minor, Kring and Roy. The Sunday evening worship was discontinued due to lack of attendance — but other ministries grew in its place.  The first woman was elected to the office of Deacon.

In 1930, Dr. Cotton was offered the Cook Lectureship by the Board of Foreign Missions and in 1931 lectured overseas. In 1933, Columbus again hosted the General Assembly and preparations for the 50th anniversary of Broad Street included a vision for a newly re-modeled sanctuary. The congregation, accustomed to facing north in worship, would now face the Resurrection window on the west and broadly-curving pews would give way to the straight line of cruciform church architecture. A new organ was added. The total cost of the anniversary project was $150,000.
     
The quartette was replaced by the Broadstreet Choir under the direction of Herbert Huffman and the accompaniment of John Klein.

In 1938, the church opened a weekday preschool to replace kindergartens closed by the Public Schools. In 1940, Dr. Cotton resigned to accept the presidency of McCormick Seminary and later that year Dr. H. Ganse Little was nominated as the fourth pastor of Broad Street.

Dr. Little was to serve through the momentous days of World War II, détente following the war, and the Korean Conflict. The original Columbus Boy Choir, with 52 pupils, was at full strength; Christmas pageants were memorable; a camping program at Tar Hollow was initiated; attention was given to neighborhood children needing playground facilities, and the church, along with the nation, celebrated.

Two Decades of Growth & Faith: 1947 - 1967

In 1949 Dr. Little took on the responsibilities of President of the denomination's Board of Education. Assisting with his Broad Street duties were Revs. Allen and Hindman and Richard Johnston, Director of Music.

In 1950 the membership was at 2,236. The five women's groups (Missionary Society, Suturia Guild, Palmer Guild, Cotton Guild and Business and Professional Group) were united into the Women's Association with 500 women participating. Within a year the first women elders were elected at Broad Street.

Dr. Little announced his decision to accept a call to the Pasadena Church in California in 1952 and in 1953 Dr. Raymond Kearns Jr. was called as senior minister. Associates in ministry during the coming decade were Rev. Paul Spierling, William Bingaman and Edgar Perkins. Another new staff member arrived in 1952. Elizabeth Lange was selected as organist, a position she was to hold for 35 years.

Christian education and youth ministry were strong components of Broad Street's life. Explorations for establishing a camping facility were just beginning. The emphasis on education, supported by a new curriculum, indicated the need for additional space and in 1961 the new educational wing was dedicated, the first major building program in 25 years.
     
In 1962-1963 the church received the gift of 162 acres of land from Ezra Anstaett and his family, and the Broad Acres camp was initiated and developed with additional gifts and funds.

In 1965, Dr. Kearns announced his decision to resign and in the next year Dr. Alvin Duane Smith was called as Pastor.

Two Decades of Outreach: 1967 - 1987

Dr. Smith's pastorate of seven years, assisted by Rev. Ed Sensenbrenner and Rev. Leland Issleib, were years of church and societal change.Following the race riots of 1967 the concept of "Neighborhood Ministries" was initiated. The long-time, neighborhood basketball program, under the leadership of Rudd Lewis, remained strong and vital as the church searched for new ways to serve the community. During this time the Food Pantry and Clothing Center were opened.
     
Dr. Smith announced his decision to accept a call in 1973 and the Rev. John M. Buchanan was called as the seventh senior minister in 1974. One year later Dr. Spierling retired following 20 years of devoted service as Associate Pastor. In 1975 Dr. Arthur Romig served as Assistant Pastor and Joel Mathias was selected to become Director of Music.

Gerry Gregg served as Associate Pastor from 1977 to 1993 and the Social Witness and Outreach program flourished with his leadership. The summer Rainbow Program was begun.

In 1980, called as Associate Pastor jointly with the Rev. Ashley Beavers, the Rev. Barbara Dua became Broad Street's first woman clergy.

The early 80's saw the addition of the Narthex, the founding of COMPASS and the ministry of Margaret Watson, the resettlement of refugees, and remodeling of the organ.

In 1985, Dr. Buchanan accepted a call to Fourth Church, Chicago, and in 1986, the congregation called Thomas York as the eighth pastor of Broad Street. With Judy Pidcock as Associate Pastor, Angia Snyder as Education Director, and James Hildreth as organist, worship, music, education and outreach continue strong. And God's story continues...

Affirming Our Heritage and Stepping into the Future: 1987 - Present

In 1987, Broad Street celebrated its Centennial with a three-week celebration. On September 27, the children of the church buried a time capsule in the south wall of Memorial Lobby.

 A strong emphasis on social outreach continued during these next 10 years. A Homeless and Refugee Resettlement Committee welcomed refugee families and built Habitat for Humanity houses. Over 100 Deacon Christmas baskets were assembled and distributed each December.

In 1992, the Broad Street Infant & Toddler Center opened.  Part of its mission is to maintain one-third of its 36 enrollment spaces for low-income families, and COMPASS celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The congregation voted to gift 300 acres of Broad Acres land to Buckhorn Children's Center in 1989. Thus began a partnership to provide care for at risk children. In 1991, the Memorial Garden was dedicated, providing a place of beauty where church and community can meet.

In 1993, Associate Pastor Gerry Gregg retired after 16 years of service. In 1995 the congregation called the Reverend Ann Palmerton as Associate Pastor.

In 1996 Reverend York announced his plans to accept a call to Knox Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati. During his ministry he oversaw the completion of major renovations to the facilities and grounds, new missions to serve suffering and disadvantaged children in the neighborhood and in Ohio, and the growth of invested financial resources double.

In 1998 the congregation called its ninth pastor, the Reverend Dr. David A. Van Dyke. Serving with Dr. Van Dyke is Reverend Ann Palmerton and Reverend Judy Hoffhine, called as Associate Pastor in 1999.  In the ten years of his leadership, Broad Street completed a comprehensive renovation project that restored and improved just about every corner of the building.  The stained glass windows were restored. The neighborhood ministry programs moved to new, remodeled space in the east wing.  The “new” Palmer Hall was created in what was formerly nursery and childcare rooms.  The second floor gym was transformed into new education space while the old office space around the choir room was removed to ‘open’ up the choir practice area.  During this same time, the session and church wrestled with what it means to be an inclusive church and produced the Statement of Inclusion that guides our life together to this day.

In 2006, Jessica Commeret was called as Associate Pastor.  In 2007 David Van Dyke announced his plans to accept a call to the House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.  In 2008, Amy Miracle was called to serve as Pastor, the first woman to fill that position at Broad Street.Broad Street Presbyterian Church remains a strong presence at the corner of Broad and Garfield. We give thanks to God for all that has been and look forward to all that will be.

Revised 3/5/2012 by Terry Sherburn and by Amy Miracle 8/23/12


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