FPCN Celebrates Triple 300th Anniversary on Sun. Nov. 15

Created: Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On Sun., Nov. 15, 2015, the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown in Elmhurst, Queens, celebrates a triple 300th anniversary.

Session book medium
A page from our earliest session of book, which will be on display on our Triple 300th Anniversary on Sun., Nov. 15.

The historical 363-year-old First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, was the only church in Queens west of the Flushing River from 1652 to 1735. It was founded in 1652 by Puritans (like the Pilgrims) who came seeking freedom to practice their religion. This 363-year-old church has been in the same area, now Elmhurst, long before there was even a country called the United States! The church they founded is still going strong. Today, the congregation is a wonderful multicultural, multiracial mix, with members from over 25 countries, working in harmony to serve God and the community.

Sun. Nov. 15 will be a day to give thanks and celebrate the church's 300th anniversary of three special events.

  1. In 1715, the original Puritan church (founded 1652) turned officially Presbyterian.
  2. In 1715, land was given to the church by member and prominent citizen Jonathan Fish for its first two churches (1715-1774/5 and 1787- 1928), and its cemetery (1822-1959) – across the street from the current location. The original sheepskin 1715 deed will be displayed at this event.
  3. In 1715, our oldest, and still existing, book of records was begun. The original will be shown! Done in quill pen, with quite a few ink blotches, it records not only membership, baptisms, marriages, and deaths, but also an earthquake, smallpox wiping out families, yellow fever, slaves becoming members of the church, and how sinning members were disciplined.

In celebration of these events, a memorial stone to Jonathan Fish, an early Newtown settler, will be mounted on the wall in the church entry hall and be unveiled on this day. He came from Massachusetts to the new English settlement that would later be called Newtown (all western Queens then). He died in 1663 after serving as a magistrate for the town for several years. He was the ancestor of many remarkable men, including Hamilton Fish, advisor to President Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Secretary of State under President Ulysses S. Grant, and wealthy railroad owner Stuyvesant Fish (who had the stone made), three New York State congressmen, and is also said to be related to the Bush family, Secretary of State John Kerry, and others.

There will be a display of various documents and historical artifacts, including the following:

  1. the original 1715 handwritten deed, written in the reign of King George II (uncle of the infamous George III of Revolutionary War times)
  2. our original 1715 Record book
  3. the original small draft of a 1774 resolution by some church members to form a Committee of Correspondence, and support the Continental Congress
  4. photos of some important Fish descendants
  5. photos documenting the moving of the present church on log rollers turned by hand winches from the other side of Queens Boulevard, when the street was widened in 1924 to accommodate subway construction
  6. other photos and documents showing the congregation at worship as the demographics of Queens changed.

Our 10:45 AM worship service will include music and message to celebrate our colonial heritage and 300 years of Presbyterian faith.

All are welcome to attend the events.

List of Events

10:00 AM - 2:00 PM: Historical display in the sanctuary

10:45 AM: Church service in the sanctuary

12:30 PM: Unveiling of Jonathan Fish memorial stone

Refreshments in Fellowship Hall after unveiling

2:00 PM: Historical walking tour of Newtown