Moorhead's First Presbyterian Church to hold rededication

First Presbyterian Church moved to its new location in 1968 just south of the newly constructed Interstate 94 in Moorhead. Since then, it's been a popular gathering spot for parishioners and community members. Forum file photo

MOORHEAD — One of the oldest churches in the region is celebrating a rededication this weekend.

Moorhead’s First Presbyterian was first built in downtown Moorhead in 1872, but in 1968 moved into a new building right on the edge of the then-relatively new Interstate 94 at 2900 Fifth St. S. On Sunday, Nov. 18, the congregation is inviting the community to celebrate with them.

The Rev. Robert Drake said the congregation is excited because the rededication gives them the opportunity to open up all the old photo albums and look back on a proud 146-year history.

“We were the very first church in the area," Drake says. "We housed the very first school in Moorhead. Our first pastor, Oscar Elmer, helped form the committee that chartered the Moorhead School District with the state of Minnesota. Education and community improvements have always been important to Presbyterians.”

An artist's rendering from 1966 of the proposed new First Presbyterian Church in Moorhead. Submitted photo.

Drake said longtime church elder Dr. Ken Covey helped establish Moorhead's Dorothy Day House in 1983. Along with Father William Merhken, he responded because Moorhead was trying to discourage the housing of homeless people in the basement of the Newman Center on the Minnesota State University Moorhead campus. Four years later, First Presbyterian was a founding member of Churches United for the Homeless.

Drake said once they decided to celebrate the building’s 50-year anniversary, they dug up the worship bulletin they used in the original dedication and reprinted it so they could follow the same worship service for the rededication ceremony, which is open to the public and will start at 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

“We made a few changes, of course, but it’s the same hymns, the same scripture reading and the same litany. We added a few things, like bagpipes, violin, cello and handbells,” he says.

First Presbyterian Church was the first church in Moorhead. It celebrates its 50th birthday in its current location this weekend. Submitted photo

Two anonymous church members each pledged $5,000 toward the “Commit to 50” campaign. With their $10,000 as incentive, the church hopes to raise an additional $5,000 from the congregation and from the rededication service.

“This is our pledge to Moorhead to be around for another 50 years,” Drake says.