First Church was founded on June 17, 1810 by Rev. Nathan B. Darrow, a missionary of the Connecticut Missionary Society. Thirteen people gathered in a small wood building which stood on the site of the present Lake County Courthouse. Those present were Phoebe and Benjamin Blish; Molly and Joel Scott; Mary and Abraham Skinner, Jr. ;Agnes and Davis Alison; Lydia and Robert Martin; Matilda and David Alison Jr.; and Jemima Jones. In 1818 our first settled pastor the Rev. Amasa Loomis began his ministry to 30 members ready to support him. The church belonged to the Grand River Presbytery at the time.
The Church met in many places around the city park, building their first permanent house of worship starting in 1823. That location on Liberty Street is now occupied by our church offices. At one time the belfry was hurled into the city park by strong winds and replaced with a steeple. This building was sold and removed to make way for our present Sanctuary.
In 1862, the cornerstone of the new church at the corner of Mentor Avenue and Liberty Street was placed and from that time we have met continuously in this building. A Sunday school building and a Memorial Chapel were added in the 1950’s. In 2001 the foundation under the bell tower and the steeple were found to be in bad condition and the congregation undertook the repair and replacement. The foundation was rebuilt by outside contractors, but the steeple was built, painted and shingled by volunteer parishioners. It was raised into position in 2002.
During the time we occupied the first building (1823) anti-slavery feelings surfaced among the Congregationalists. They were involved with the Underground Railroad and were instrumental in assisting hundreds of slaves on their final leg of their escape into Canada.
In 1835, Thomas Weld, a noted Abolitionist, made his appearance in Painesville and proposed to deliver a course of lectures. Our church being the only meeting house in town, he was granted use of our pulpit. One of his lectures was followed by retaliation from a pro-slavery element of the local population. The Church was forcibly entered and the Bible, pulpit, and those pews normally occupied by persons with anti-slavery sympathy were splashed with ink. In addition pictures of the Devil were drawn on the walls and stood for some time since they could not be erased. Worshippers thereafter took some comfort in saying that the pro-slavery folks must have been quite familiar with Satan’s features to have drawn them so well.
For 10 more years, the slavery issue smoldered and finally, the Church went on record proclaiming that slave holding was sinful and not to be tolerated by the Church of a righteous God. Shortly after this time the Church voted to withdraw from the Presbytery and became known as The Independent Presbyterian Church.