a historical foundation

The Presbytery of Cincinnati has a long and distinguished history in the Ohio Valley.

Today . . .

. . . the Presbytery of Cincinnati contains 64 vibrant communities of worship. The Presbytery covers 7 counties in southwest Ohio, 6 counties in northern Kentucky, and 2 counties in southeast Indiana. Our congregations range from small rural core churches to large urban, and everything in between.

We are a Matthew 25 PC(USA) Presbytery, continuing our long heritage of speaking out for racial justice, alleviating poverty, and seeking always to create vibrant communities of worship and mission.

We are diverse: the places we serve, our styles of worship, our kinds of ministries, and how we think about issues of faith. But we are united in Christ, our common bond of love and hope, peace and faith, justice and mercy.

Journey with us along the path of Life in the Spirit.

First Presbyterian Church was organized on October 16, 1790

The first Presbyterian Church in the Northwest Territories was planted near Fort Washington, on the banks of the Ohio River, in the town then known as Losantiville, later named Cincinnati, in 1790. A mere two years after the founding of the fort. Funding for the church was secured with subscriptions from every male resident.

The Reverend James Kemper, a Revolutionary War hero from Virginia, committed five dollars. This equaled five days of his work, five days of work by his oxen team, and five boat planks to the building of the church. Kemper became the first ordained minister in the Ohio River Valley and of the church.

FUN FACT: Records at Covenant-First from 1795 indicate that the men of the church were fined if they walked to church without their musket!



Underground Railroad
Rankin’s House an Underground Railroad station

Southwest Ohio has significant history in the abolitionist movements of the early 1800’s. It’s location on a major part of the Underground Railroad, and the significant role played by many Presbyterian Pastors and Elders in that effort, played a major part in that history. As did the creation of the Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, in 1829.

Notably, the Reverend Lyman Beecher would become the President of the institution in 1832. His son Henry Ward Beecher graduated from the seminary. His daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, gained acclaim following the publication of her famous work Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in 1852.

Lane Seminary was intended to be a premier theological institution of the caliber of Princeton. However, the founding and first years of Lane were difficult and contentious. This all ended in a mass student exodus over the issue of whether students were permitted to discuss the issue of slavery. This event was later considered the first major academic freedom incident in America.