Church History

                 In January 1909, Rev. Samuel McPheeters Glasglow, fresh out of Union Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, answered the call to “speak for GOD in this newest of American frontiers.”  When he arrived, there were no Protestant ministers other than himself at Mercedes and a Baptist missionary, Rev. Petty, in Brownsville.  Rev. Glasgow was instrumental in the organization of churches all over the Valley.   On Sunday night, January 30, 1910, First Presbyterian Church of Harlingen was founded.                                                            


                 On July 26, 1910, Harlingen's town founder, Lon C. Hill gave two city lots on the corner of Jackson and 4th Street to FPC to build a church.  After much fundraising and donations the building was completed in 1912.  For the next two decades, the congregation grew and the building took on many changes, including the addition of the ‘Gallery’.  In the 1930’s even the Great Depression didn’t stem the expansion of the church.  The ‘Gallery” proved to be the salvation of the building during the 1933 hurricane; for it braced the building and kept it intact, while the windows were blown out and the interior damaged.  By 1937, the congregation had seriously outgrown the original building.  A committee was appointed to look at two other sites on which to build the new building.  Ultimately it was decided to stay put.  February 1939, the congregation unanimously decided to erect a new building to take the place of the old one at a cost of $25,000.00.  Construction began February 1, 1940 and the job was completed in four and one half months.  A time capsule is in a box on the northwest corner, in the base of the pilaster next to the foundation and secured with reinforced concrete.   The rope pull bell in our steeple was purchased with funds collected in large jars by the Sunday School classes in the early 1940’s.  The bell arrived by train.   The year 1941 saw the Harlingen Army Gunnery School become a reality, and countless men and women moved in and out of the area.  During this period FPC made the large room available for recreation for the young men and was called the Church Door Canteen.  Hosts and hostesses from the congregation were assigned to work in the canteen.  This canteen served as a “home away from home” for so many, until 1968.  The room was remodeled and redecorated and became the church “Parlor”.

                In June 1946, FPC went on the air!  Local Radio Station KGBT, “The voice of the Valley”, offered Sunday Morning broadcasts.  In 1949, FPC contributed $2,500 toward a new building for Second Presbyterian Church when they raised a like amount.  On April 1954, the new Church on Lincoln Street was dedicated.  Expansions continued, in 1950, with the purchase of the lot immediately east of the church for $11,000.  In March 1954, another 100 feet Jackson frontage to the east was purchased to build a new education building.  The fellowship hall was endowed by Mrs. Bess Blume in honor of her husband, Conway M. Blume in the fall of 1957.  Finally in October of 1957 FPC voted to purchase the rest of the Jackson Avenue frontage, giving the church the entire north one half block from Fourth Street to Fifth Street.

                During this period of time, three Services were being held; two Sunday mornings and one Sunday evening.  The membership at year-end of 1955 was 676.  A need for another Presbyterian church became a big issue.  In December 1958, the congregation approved the purchase of five acres for $9,500., with Presbytery of South Texas contributing $5,000 while the church provided the rest.  The Air Force base in Harlingen closed in 1962, impacting the population and the local economy.  Despite the repercussions of the base closing, FPC continued to prepare for the establishment of another church.  October 1962, the Session recommended to the congregation that the church assist in the purchase of a manse in Treasure Hills to be used by our “Daughter” church.  In June of 1963, 32 members of FPC became charter members of the new Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church.





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