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CENTRAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Bronx Rotarian David Michel is a Certified Lay Pastor in the Presbytery of New York City. He brought the Gift of Life program to the attention of the pastor, Rev. Douglas Grandgeorge of Central Presbyterian Church in Manhattan..

After visiting the Bronx Rotary Club and learning more about it, Rev. Grandgeorge became very excited about the Gift of Life Program. He consulted with parishioners and a donation of $12,000 was raised for the Bronx Rotary Club to sponsor 2 more children for their life-saving surgery.

About Central Presbyterian Church

On January 8, 1821, The Rev. Dr. William Patton and his wife invited four other persons to their home on Elm Street, now called Lafayette Street, and founded Central Presbyterian Church. These four were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Donaldson, Mr. John Proctor, and the Rev. William Gray. Interest in the church grew rapidly, and a site was soon purchased for the new church on the north side of Broome Street. The cornerstone was laid in September, 1821, and the building was opened for religious services in May, 1822, with Dr. Patton its first pastor. Dr. Patton was a progressive voice in the city and the denomination and was instrumental in founding both New York University (1831) and Union Theological Seminary (1836). He was succeeded by the Rev. Dr. William Adams, considered the most forceful and eloquent preacher in the city, and the church grew rapidly, but the Broome Street location became a liability as the city expanded to the north and it found itself surrounded only by businesses. In 1869, a site was purchased for the congregation on 57th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue, and when Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church decided to move from 5th Avenue and 19th Street to its present location on 55th Street, they donated their 19th Street edifice to Central Church. Moved brick by brick and pew by pew to its new location, the old 5th Avenue structure became Central's new home. Here Central Church continued as a progressive voice in local and world affairs, with energetic and broadminded preaching, and strong missionary outreach. Branches of Central Church were opened in Hyden, Kentucky (1894) and Hwai Yuen, Anhui Province, China (1901), where a hospital was also established. In December, 1904, the Big Brother movement was started at a men's association meeting. The church was known for its outreach to underprivileged children and its sponsorship of numerous clubs for young people providing social and educational activities. At this time in its history, it was one of the outstanding churches in the Presbyterian denomination.

In 1915, an unusual transaction occurred in which the Madison Avenue Reformed Church on the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and 57th Street bought Central Church (the old 5th Avenue edifice), and in exchange, Central bought the Madison Avenue structure, moving the congregation to the Upper East Side where many of its members were now living. A long and distinguished pastorate of 31 years in the person of the Rev. Dr. Wilton Merle-Smith ended with his retirement in 1920 and his death on October 3, 1923, concluding a significant era in the church's history.

 

 

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Central Presbyterian Church

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Rev. Douglas Grandgeorge