The Arch Street Presbyterian Church, whose congregation now is largely the result of several congregations coming together, stands in Central City as one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in the area. While the church changed numerous times over the course of its lifespan for the better, it also faced financial and membership crises over the years due to the changing of the population of Central City. Despite these challenges, the Church still has an active congregation and welcomes anyone willing to come through its doors.
The Arch Street Presbyterian Church was originally founded
in 1813 as the Fifth Presbyterian Church. Initially, the church had difficulty
finding a pastor that would stay long-term until they found Dr. Thomas Skinner.
Skinner was not afraid to make waves, so much so that his sermons eventually
gathered attention from groups wanting to try Skinner for heresy. This did
bring undue attention to the church, but it also vastly increased the number of
attendees as well. As a result, the church raised enough money to construct a
new sanctuary in 1823. The congregation flourished over the next few years,
gaining a congregation of 600, until Skinner left the church, which signaled a
sharp decline in church membership over the next few decades. By 1850, the congregation
had fallen to 92 members.
In 1850, the church rebranded itself as the Arch Street
Presbyterian Church, and with Charles Wadsworth as its new pastor, church
membership grew quickly. Membership flourished until the 1870s, however, when
many residential centers in Central City were torn down for industrial centers,
and new suburbs outside the City were built up. As a result of this, many Church
regulars for themselves joining new churches closer to the suburbs. As
membership continued to decline, the Arch Street Church considered a merger
with the West Arch Street Church, and in June of 1897, the merger was approved.
Today, as more residents have moved into the Central City area, the Church has
increased its membership once again, and is always pleased to bring new members
into their congregation.