First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh to celebrate 150 years


First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh. Photo by Kerry Hamilton Smith.

The service celebrating the sesquicentennial of the First Presbyterian Church on Chicago Boulevard will hopefully look much like the event dedicating the cornerstone did 150 years ago. On Sunday, July 17 at “10:30”  a.m., the church will commemorate the event by following the 1866 liturgy as closely as possible.

The history of the church goes back to just a year after Tecumseh was founded. Noah Wells conducted the first services in 1825. In 1828, the church was formally established.  Later it held services in a wood frame church built in 1840 on Ottawa Street where the Tecumseh District Library now stands. By 1863, the Society of the church decided the building was too small and located too far to the east. It was also in frequent need of repair.

A building committee consisting of Perly Bills, Thomas Lovett and Salmon Crane was appointed. In 1864 they purchased the current property. In March of 1865, the Society finally raised enough money — $15,000 — so that work could begin. In September of that year, Dr. Harrison Peters was contracted to dig the cellar, construct the foundation walls, lay the floor timbers and grade the ground. The foundation work was completed before the winter frost set in. In January of 1866, Crane was contracted to build the structure and on July 16 of that year, the cornerstone was placed with all the hoopla and grandeur such an occasion would command.

People from near and far attended the services, some coming all the way from Ypsilanti. An original hymn, written by the Rev. Samuel E. Wishard who was  the church’s minister at the time, was sung by the choir.

“They all had these hopes, all these dreams,” said the Rev. Cathi King, current minister of the church. “They must have thought, ‘What will God do?’ No one could ever imagine the dramatic swell and the ebb and flow of this church,” she said. “The people then planted amazing seeds. The church keeps bearing fruit in a whole variety of ways. The faithfulness that was planted then will continue to grow.”

How do you honor that history? “It just has to be celebrating the history of faith,” King said. “People whose faith has been deeply rooted in this church can come together to celebrate the glory of God. We hope we can move forward from there.”

Part of the way King and the congregation will honor the history is to repeat it. Using the same 1866 manual for the confession of faith, baptism, and the Lord’s supper, those attending will hear it in the syntax of that era. The choir has also learned the hymn that Wishard wrote and will sing it during the service.

“We, as a church, have a tremendously loving story of faith, witness, and hope,” King said. “Our hope is that we can come together to honor something bigger than ourselves and to open the gates for some possible healing and new beginnings.”

After the service, there will be a picnic on the lawn (bring your own picnic basket), games and a pie contest.  All are welcome to attend.


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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