North Presbyterian Church’s beginnings are rooted in family worship and small group prayer meetings. During settlement times as early as 1850, the members of the John Carson family were meeting for devotions every evening in their home at Knowlton and Fergus Streets, and often their neighbors joined them on Sunday evenings. Eventually three of these worshipers — Janet Langland, Janet Thompson, and Margaret Parker — provided seed money of two thousand dollars to found a church. And in 1852, a board of trustees from Cheviot Presbyterian Church was appointed to hold in trust a plot land donated by the Thompson family.
The First Sanctuary — Soon Outgrown
The first church, known then as Cumminsville Presbyterian, was built at a cost of $2,300 at the corner of Lingo and Langland Streets. The building was completed by November 13, 1853, when Reverend A.R. Naylor dedicated it with the text 1 Kings 8:27, “Behold, the heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?”
Two years later, the fifteen charter members of the new church successfully petitioned the Presbytery of Cincinnati to recognize them as a church. Their vision and purpose for the church were clear: “…for the spiritual welfare of us and our families, and necessary as a means for the conversion of sinners unto God in this community….” Along with the establishment of the church, the Cumminsville Union Sabbath School was organized. This contributed greatly to North’s rapid growth, as well as its importance to the community. The church prospered, to the point that a new building (the present sanctuary) was built by 1886. It was dedicated with the text Revelations 3:8, “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”
Christian Education and Music
Throughout the end of the 19th century and into the 20th, two other ministry emphases grew up with the Sabbath School. The music ministry began very humbly with the pastor “lining out” music to the congregation, in lieu of singing from hymn books unaccompanied by instruments. With the construction of the new building came the installation of an organ. After that, the music of worship took an important role in the Sabbath meetings.
Servant-Leadership by the Women
Concurrently, the women of the church took every opportunity to serve the growth of the Kingdom in Cumminsville. Not only were they important in the founding of the church itself, they made up the bulk of the Sabbath School teachers, made significant contributions to the church through their own fundraising activities, and promoted and supported local and foreign missions. They instructed the children of the church in mission works. They led the way in providing instruction to African Americans, who at the time had no local schools. They established the Ladies’ Aid Society of North Church, which eventually became the Women of North.
Challenging Changes in the Neighborhood
North Church grew continuously in numbers through the 1950’s, prompting the addition of the educational building onto the north part of the church, dedicated in 1955 as part of the Centennial Celebration. Shortly afterwards, in the 1960’s and 70’s, North experienced a time of great challenge as the neighborhood began to change drastically. Membership declined, and the church struggled to find its identity and purpose. But the next thirty years of questioning — when the church was sustained by the spiritual and material legacy of a previous generation — prepared the soil for God to do a “new thing” at North.
The “Missional” Church of Today
Since 1995, North has been on a hopeful journey toward becoming a missional church: a congregation of fully-devoted followers of Christ who believe they have been called and sent to this church and this community to bear witness to and live out the Reign of God. Other pages of this Website detail the many ministries and missions in which North Church is now engaged, across the driveway and across the ocean.
Since its foundations in the 1850’s, North Presbyterian Church has striven to do the work of God in Northside, to serve the Lord and do his will, and to preach his Word to believers and to the lost for the sake of their salvation. We continue to seek his face as together we “learn to live the love of Christ” toward each other and the world. As we study God’s Word and grow in relationship with Him, we continue to participate in God’s Kingdom work within the church building, the community of Northside, and around the world.