HISTORY

HISTORY
The story of First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church (FMHPC) spans almost 200 years of service to Christ. It embraces the rich history of two early Indianapolis Presbyterian churches, First Presbyterian Church and Meridian Heights Church, which merged in 1970.
 
First Presbyterian Church was founded on July 5,1823.
 
  • Their first church building was constructed on Pennsylvania Street, near Market Street.
  • First Presbyterian Church admitted their first African American member in 1827.
  • For the merger with Meridian Heights Church, they moved into the Meridian Heights building at 4701 Central Avenue in the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood.
  • President Benjamin Harrison was a member of First Presbyterian Church. The Tiffany window, given to the church in his honor by his wife, is on permanent loan to the Indianapolis Art Museum.

Meridian Heights Church was founded in 1909. 
 
  • Meridian Heights Church members were active in serving the neighborhood.  
  • Under the leadership of Pastor Gerry Johnson, the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association was founded, in part to combat the rampant redlining practices (intentional segregating of neighborhoods based on race.)
  • Meridian Heights Church had a great interest in educating children and youth. They built their education wing in 1959 because they had run out of room for youth to attend Sunday School!

FMHPC was formed when the two congregations merged into one in 1970.
 
  • FMHPC ordained the second female Presbyterian pastor in Indiana in 1971.
  • After the merger, the church continued working in the neighborhood through programs such as the now-defunct Vivian Smith House for teenage mothers, the Kaleidoscope after school and summer childcare program, and the Just Older Youth Program (JOY) for teenagers. For 20 years it provided space for the At Your School (AYS) childcare program.
 
The bulk of our historical documents are stored at the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia. Some are at the Indiana Historical Society. We have scanned copies of certain historical records at the church, including photos, session minute books and membership listings. If you are doing historical research, we may be able to assist you in locating a document.