Our church has a really unique history, all right here in Portland. Second Parish Congregational Church was organized and incorporated by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1788. About 100 years later in 1885, another church was formed, called the First Presbyterian Church of Portland. These two congregations merged in 1923 to form what is now 2nd Parish OPC.
The first pastor of Second Parish Congregational Church was Elijah Kellogg, who continued in that role until 1811. He would later serve as a missionary to several local American Indian tribes and as a trustee of Bowdoin College. In 1807 Dr. Edward Payson joined Elijah Kellogg and served as pastor until his death in 1827. Under Payson’s ministry the church added over 700 new members. Dr. Bennett Tyler, then president of Dartmouth College, was called as the third pastor of the church in 1828.
More than ten other pastors served at Second Parish over the next 90 years, and several daughter churches were begun in the area. The original meeting house built in 1788 was destroyed in the great fire which burned so much of Portland in 1866, and the large granite and brick Payson Memorial building was erected at the corner of Congress and Pearl Streets. Over the years Second Parish sent out about thirty people to preach the gospel and at least half a dozen missionaries to foreign lands, including Miss Mary Morrill, who was martyred during the Boxer uprising in China.
The Presbyterian root of our church began in Portland in 1885, with the organizing of the First Presbyterian Church of Portland, Maine. The Presbyterians purchased the Old Park Street Church at the corner of Park and Pleasant Streets in 1898. This building is the second oldest house of worship in Portland, having been built in 1828. It is currently owned by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.
In the 1920s both the Second Parish Congregational Church and the Park Street Presbyterian Church were struggling with financial difficulties and reduced congregations and decided to merge, becoming a Presbyterian Church but agreeing to use the Payson Memorial building owned by the Parish.
In 1936, under the leadership of then-pastor John Skilton, Second Parish left the PCUSA and joined the Orthodox Presbyterian denomination. This was a crucial time in American church history as many denominations began to drift away from belief in the core teachings of the Bible. The church joined the new denomination in order to maintain their distinctive Christian witness and their steadfast belief in things like the resurrection of Christ, the inerrancy of Scripture, and the atoning work of Jesus on the cross.
By 1964 the Payson Memorial building required more repair and upkeep than the size of the congregation could support, so the church sold that building and moved to 32 Neal Street in the west end of Portland. This is where the church meets to this day.
A lot has changed in 230 years, but some things haven't. We are still just as passionate about reaching people for Christ. We are still just as eager to give God all the glory in our lives. And we are still just as confident that the Spirit is at work in Portland. Come and be a part of this incredible work that God is doing.