First Church has a 160+ year tradition of ministry. Several notable pastors, community leaders, and activists for peace and justice have been members of the congregation.
Our congregation was founded in 1854 by a group of Methodists who also founded Evanston, Northwestern University, and Garrett Biblical Institute (now Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary).
Over the years this faith community has built and upheld a heritage of prophetic preaching, missional outreach, progressive social teaching and action, and a love of music. Our church history includes legendary figures such as Frances Willard and Ernest Fremont Tittle.
Our worshipping community has grown significantly in the past 15 years, with new members who are generally younger, more likely to have children, and who bring more diversity to our congregation.
First Church’s current structure, which was dedicated in 1911, is the third building in our history. Our name “First Church” is fitting in that we are the first faith community established in Evanston. Printed material on the building’s architecture and stained glass is available in the church office, and tours are offered after worship four or five years a year.
The history of First Church is the subject of Eleanor Darnall Wallace’s book For All the Saints (1978). Preserving this history is the work of our First Church archives.