The First Presbyterian Church
We are one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in America, established in 1640.
In the Spring of 1640, a group of English Puritans left Lynn, Massachusetts to make a new settlement on Long Island. They had come to the New World to seek freedom from religious persecution and greater economic opportunity. The church first gathered in the Community Meeting House built in 1640. It served as a social, civic, and religious haven for twelve years. The church's first pastor also established the Christian faith among the peaceful neighboring Shinnecock Indians. In 1652, the first church structure was on Main Street, known then as Town Street, and was home to the congregation for fifty-five years. The third church was a stately 1707 structure on Main Street. According to tradition, Presbyterian revolutionaries dismantled two cannons of the occupying Bristish forces and hid them in the church bell tower.
The present beautiful "wood gothic" church was built in 1843. The church was enlarged in 1895, and a three story Christian Education building was constructed in 1957. In 1965, during the Civil Rights Movement, the Bethel Presbyterian Church (the first African American Presbyterian Church on Long Island) merged with First Church.
Today our church family is an alive, active, committed congregation with more that 400 members providing extensive programs meeting the needs of all ages. Although we are in our fourth century of service to Jesus Christ, we seek to grow and continue to be an effective witness to the Christian faith on the East End of Long Island and throughout the world.
FIRST CHURCH FACTS
The Declaration of the Company to establish our church was signed by 20 men, in Lynn, MA on March 10, 1640
Our founding fathers first landed in the Cow Bay area of Manhasset on May 10, 1640. They were evicted 9 days later by the Dutch. They sailed to New Haven, CT, where they loaded on additional supplies.
On June 12, 1640, the first boatload of settlers landed in North Sea Harbor at Conscience Point. There were 8 men, whose average age was 25, one young woman and a child.
The first church building was located on the east by Old Town Road and north by the highway which is now known as Meetinghouse Lane, and the site is in the rear of Southampton Hospital.
A rude thatched building, it served as not only for church and school, but for Court and Town meetings and for the training of companies organized for defense. For many years the expenses of the church were a part of every man's allotment.
The Native name for Long Island is Paumanack. The Dutch called the land, Lange Eylandt. The Shinnecocks call the land on which the original colonists settled, Agawam.
Rev. Abraham Pierson was minister from 1640-1647. He was a man of strong faith and stern theology.
The Reverend Robert Fordham followed Abraham Pierson, becoming the second minister of Southampton in 1649. He preached at first in the old meeting house, built the second church, and received as "annual maintenance for the work of the Lord amongst us three score pounds (about $300)." He remained until his death in 1674.
Eight years after the settlement at Olde Towne the Towne Street (now Main Street) was laid out and every householder was allotted a "home lott" of 3 acres with farm land and woodland in outlying districts. Here the settlers built substantial homes and in 1652 they built their second church.
In 1707, our congregation built its third church. It stood on the Northwest corner of Towne Street and Meeting House Lane, across the street from where the church stands today.
The new church not only had a bell but also a clock which was made in New Haven, Connecticut.
Until the time of the Revolution at exactly nine o'clock every night curfew rang from the tower, calling all children back to their homes.
Among the archives of the third church are four beautiful silver communion mugs, two given by Stephen Boyer, a French Huguenot, who came to Southampton in 1686. Two other mugs, given in 1729, are marked "South Hampton Church."
The minister when the third church was built was the Reverend Joseph Whiting, who stayed until his death at age 82.