Our purpose is to share God's love and grace with all people and celebrate the truth of Jesus Christ.
We approach this purpose with a commitment to: "unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and love in all things." Unity in essentials means we focus on the core beliefs of Christianity and the essential tenets of the Reformed tradition. The term non-essentials does not necessarily mean unimportant. Rather, it refers to those things that if lacking do not prevent our union with Christ.
Each believer needs to be extended liberty – the liberty to hold fast to her or his own conscience on what Christ has commanded (Rom 14:5). Love in all things has to do with one of the New Testament Greek words for “love,” namely, agape. Agape is an unselfish kind of love that holds people together and shows itself in faithfulness and loyalty.
We fulfill this purpose by: Serving Christ through service to others. Connecting people to God through outreach. Nourishing people in the Spirit through worship, fellowship and discipleship.
We express this purpose through our Core Values:
- Glorious worship
- Spirit empowered prayer
- Life rooted in scripture
- Gracious witness
- Compassionate service
- Abundant life through community
- Every person's dignity affirmed
In 1883, the Lansing Presbytery authorized the formation of the First Presbyterian Church of Battle Creek, Michigan. The young church bought property at the corner of West Michigan Avenue and McCamly Street and in 1884 built a chapel and installed its first resident minister. By 1910, the original membership of 87 had grown to more than 700, and soon a bigger church was needed. On Thanksgiving Day of 1927, the cornerstone of our present church was laid, and one year later the first worship services were held. Between 1958 and 1983, First Presbyterian Church helped establish both Pennfield Presbyterian and Westlake Presbyterian Churches, created the First Presbyterian Church Pre-School and built the Retreat Center on Waubascon Road.
In 1983, First Presbyterian Church celebrated its 100th anniversary. At this time an elevator, barrier free accommodations, and a refurbished kitchen were all added. These improvements allowed First Pres to better serve those whom God has continued to bring through our doors.
Many new ministries and programs that exist today were also started, including Stephen Ministry, Hospital Visitors, and our participation in the Franklin Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen of Battle Creek. The Youth Center across the street from the church was added in 1996 to provide a safe place for young people in middle school and high school to gather for fellowship and to explore and deepen their faith. In 2014, renovations changed our worship space in a way that is consistent with our biblical and theological heritage. The new design enhanced the usability, flexibility and safety of the building. It has been a blessing for us to share the exceptional acoustics of our worship space with our community through the First Pres Presents Guest Artist Series (free of charge) as well as local musical groups such as the Kellogg Community College choral ensembles, Lakeview High School choirs & musical ensembles, BC Community Chorus, Girls Chorus & Choir of Men and Boys.
When First Pres embarked on the Campaign for Renewal in 2012, we wanted to add a mission component to the campaign. The focus would be on local mission work that would make a positive impact on the community, provide hands-on experience and be enhanced by the use of our church, youth center and retreat facilities. We wanted to partner with agencies that would help build and strengthen families, parents and children, with a concentration on education, healthy relationships and spiritual growth and encouragement. Three local agencies (Early Childhood Connections, Charitable Union, CityLinc Ministries) had programs that aligned with this focus and showed success in their current projects and potential for additional growth with continued support. By giving both financial and physical support, as well as utilizing ministries already in place here at First Presbyterian, we believe we can build the effectiveness of the services offered which allows us to be a part of God's work in the "Heart of the City".