First Presbyterian Church in downtown Spokane/SpokaneFāVS

Where We Worship: First Presbyterian, a historic part of downtown Spokane



First Presbyterian Church has been in downtown Spokane for 125 years/Allison Marshall
First Presbyterian Church has been in downtown Spokane for 125 years/Allison Marshall

Spokane’s First Presbyterian Church was formed over 125 years ago and has grown into a large, unified congregation.

It’s located downtown just north of I-90.  The block borders 3rd and 4th avenue, Walnut Street and Cedar Street.

“You get diversity of all ages.  You get some churches that are purely young, and some that are purely old.  We have a healthy level of age diversity,” said John Sowers, pastor of First Presbyterian.

He came to the church almost five years ago.

“I knew of its good reputation,” he said. “I like its position as a vibrant downtown church.”

 The church offers three Sunday services. The 8:45 a.m. service consists mainly of praise worship, the 11:45 a.m. services offers a traditional style of worship, and the evening, emergent style worship service at 6 p.m. attracts mainly young, college-level people, Sowers said.

In addition to Sunday services, the church has a very active student ministry for middle and high school-aged kids. 

“There’s a real emphasis for both programs on mission work,” Sowers said. 

Each summer the junior high students go on a mission trip to San Francisco. The program, Urban Plunge, allows students to work alongside a number of caring organizations, the pastor explained.  The senior high students take a trip to Tijuana, Mexico each Spring Break to help build a house.

First Presbyterian also has a strong MOPS program (mother of preschoolers).  Once a month mothers inside and outside of the church have the opportunity to leave their children in the care of trustworthy volunteers.  This allows busy moms to have a night to themselves and relax. 

Connected with the church is First Presbyterian Christian School, which offers kindergarten through 4th grade classes. The school started 30 years ago.

Sowers said First Presbyterian strives for internal strength with a focus on external service.  When asked about controversies surrounding gay and lesbian matters involving the church, Sowers explained that First Presbyterian is supportive of the classical evangelical position, but is hesitant to make an overarching church stance on the matter in fear of turning people away. 

“I want to be able to have conversations about those things in my office.  I want to be able to talk with them about that on a one-on-one basis. I’d rather do that than make categorical statements,” Sowers said.

Sowers made it clear that all people are welcome at First Presbyterian.  As a congregation it is their hope to live a life pleasing to the Lord, he said.

“For me it’s the joy of pastoring a church where people are not only eager to hear the scripture, but eager to live them out,” Sowers said.

Where we Worship is a new SpokaneFAVS feature that profiles different houses of worship in the Spokane area. To have your organization featured email tracysimmons@spokanefavs.com.

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