The First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland has served the community for more than 125 years. Click on the photos to explore the history of FPC of Lakeland.
The First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland was formally organized in the community schoolhouse on March 7, 1885. The organizing pastor was The Reverend Caleb Jones. Two months later, the congregation built its first sanctuary—the first church building in Lakeland—on south Tennessee Avenue between Main and Lemon streets.
By 1919, the church had outgrown the first building, and a new building of buff brick was built on South Massachusetts Avenue overlooking Lake Mirror. FPC was well-known for its large adult Sunday School classes. The Regular Fellows Men’s class, had a membership of over 200 and its own radio program.
The Florida boom of the 1920’s brought great growth, and First Church became a prominent congregation in the community. The church endured a fire in 1941 and a congregational split in 1950. FPC recovered and built a new sanctuary in 1955 immediately to the South of the old facility. In 1958 FPC, in conjunction with the presbytery, started Chapel in the Grove.
By the mid 1970’s, the church’s expanding membership and programs had outstripped both the building and parking capacity downtown. The congregation made a bold move to build a brand new facility in an orange grove on the east side of Lake Hollingsworth. The first service in the current location was held on Christmas Eve, 1978. The first words from the pulpit by Dr. Henry Dahlberg, the Senior Pastor, were "Jesus Christ is Lord."