The First Presbyterian Church ~ Cambridge, NY
In May, 1894, a few members of the First Boston Reformed Presbyterian Church, along with some members of First United Presbyterian Church, Cambridge, petitioned the New York Presbytery of the RPCNA to organize a mission church in Cambridge. Instead of granting the petition, the presbytery formed a commission of elders to urge the group to unite with one of the Boston congregations. But the group insisted that a congregation was needed in Cambridge itself, and they convinced the commission to provide them with preaching, commencing with a worship service on July 15th in the hall of the YWCA in Central Square.
The group slowly grew, and at each of the next two meetings of the New York presbytery, a petition was presented for the organization of a congregation. The presbytery twice declined to do this, so the group appealed to the Synod. On June 12, 1895, the Synod granted the appeal by a nearly unanimous vote.
On July 9th, 1895, the commission met and Rev. S. R. Wallace of Brooklyn, N.Y. preached a sermon on Psalm 48:2 entitled “The Incomparable Beauty of the Church.” Following the sermon, seventeen communicants were enrolled and officers were elected, examined and ordained.
The new congregation continued to meet in the YWCA hall, and on December 10th, they unanimously called Rev. Samuel Gormley Shaw, then pastor at Walton, N.Y., to be their first pastor at a salary of $100 per month. He was installed in February, 1896. The congregation continued to grow, and in May of the same year, land for a building was donated on Antrim Street. On September 24th, the congregation met for the first time in its present location.
In addition to its local ministry, the congregation has supported various denominational ministries throughout its history. These have included overseas missions in Syria, China, Cyprus, Japan, and Sudan, and home missions across the U.S. and Canada, as well as the Reformed Presbyterian Home for aged persons, the R.P. Seminary (both in Pittsburgh, PA), and Geneva College (Beaver Falls, PA). Over the years, the congregation has also supported the ministries of The Center for Urban Theological Studies in Philadelphia, PA, White Lake Covenanter Camp in the Catskill Mountains, and the Daybreak Crisis Pregnancy Center of Boston.
The present congregation maintains Sabbath School classes for all ages and several midweek fellowship groups, in addition to regular worship on the Lord’s Day. The congregation has a long history of active involvement in annual presbytery summer camps held at White Lake, NY. In 2001, the congregation began sponsoring an annual reformed theology conference, held in the spring.