The First Presbyterian Church had its beginning in the late fall of 1872. In November of that year Rev. A. R. Naylor arrived in Winfield, having been sent here to the young settlement by the superintendent of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in Kansas.
When Nr. Naylor came to Winfield the nearest railroad was El Dorado. He traveled along the remainder of the distance in a stage coach. It was his first trip to Kansas and he was not acquainted with anyone in the small village where he intended to organize the church.
He arrived in Winfield on Saturday only to find that there was no suitable place for holding services. There was only one building in the town big enough to hold religious services in and that was occupied by the saloon.
Finally he went to the saloon keeper and told him what he had come to town for. The saloon keeper at once offered him the use of the bar room for the Sunday services. Rev. Naylor accepted the offer and the saloon keeper even tended to getting the congregation for the new preacher who had come to town.
He sent a runner out over the town telling the people to come to the services. The saloon keeper and the preacher together made ready for the services the following day. They carried in some rough boards and made crude benches for the people to sit on. The preacher then went home and did not return until 11 o’clock Sunday morning.
When Rev. Naylor went to the salon Sunday morning, he found the room filled with people. The bar had been cleared off and all the liquor had been removed from sight. As soon as he had entered and had everything fixed to suit himself, the saloon keeper said: “Now parson, go ahead and preach. I will see that these fellows keep quiet and listen.”
The morning services were held in the saloon just as though it had been a regular meeting house. After the preaching was over the saloon keeper locked up the building and kept it locked until time for the evening services when again the people assembled and Rev. Naylor again preached a sermon. On January 19, 1873 the church received its charter. The state issued a Charter of Corporation on November 21, 1873 and again on September 18, 1912. Future services were held in a sod school house, a wagon maker’s shop and from 1873-1877 services were held mostly in the new Cowley County Court House.
A new church at 10th and Millington was dedicated on September 23, 1877. This building was remodeled around 1900. Because of the growing membership, a larger church was needed. The cornerstone of the church at 11th and Millington was laid on July 14, 1912. The first service in the new building was held on July 15, 1913 and was dedicated on May 3, 1914.
Christian Education has always been a large part of our church. A new education building wing was dedicated on February 21, 1954. Property south of the church was used for youth activities. An elevator was installed in 1954. The Mariam Root Memorial Library was established and dedicated on March 14, 1965.
Our church was instrumental in establishing the first Winfield Council of Churches. The congregation has participated in many community gatherings, and projects – such as combined Christmas Eve Community Services, youth cantatas, Ministerial Alliance parades, and the annual Community Thanksgiving Service.
1914 architectural drawing of our current church building.
Our Centennial (100 years) was celebrated in 1973 with much fanfare, including a special Worship Service, Parade of Banners, and a banquet. In February 1997 a Church Quasquicentennial (125 years) Committee was established. A year of special activities were planned and enjoyed by the congregation. We published the Quasquicentennial Cookbook and sponsored the 6th Habitat House with a pledge of $10,000.00. The years events culminated with a very special worship service featuring five returning ministers, a dinner at Baden Square followed the service, and 36 members with 50 or more years of membership were recognized.
January 19, 2015 the church celebrated its 142nd Birthday.
Winfield First Presbyterian Church
1101 Millington * Winfield,, Ks. 67156 * (620) 221-4500