Why The Name First & Franklin?
One of our deepest yearnings in life is to belong, to know that we are welcomed, to know that we are loved and valued. As the oldest Presbyterian congregation in the City of Baltimore, we feel that yearning deeply, the human desire to be involved in something communal, something bigger than ourselves, and to share in something that matters. Our very origin, in fact, is based on communion, the combining of forces, where the sum of our parts is greater than the whole.
Founded in 1761 by several Scots-Irish families — merchants, physicians, farmers, and builders who came to Baltimore Towne from the Pennsylvania frontier to escape the French and Indian War — our church grew to foster new congregations throughout the city, including our present location at Park Avenue and Madison Street and a Presbyterian Church on the corner of Cathedral and Franklin Street. In 1973, these two historic congregations reunited to form The First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, which was later simplified to First & Franklin Presbyterian Church. In 1980, the Session, our spiritual governing body of Elders, adopted “The More Light Statement,” by which we aligned ourselves with a better understanding of issues affecting the greater community, including gay and lesbian rights.
How We Are Different
To this day, we have remained a rich, multifaceted tapestry, comprised of many different-colored threads — purple and gold, black, white, yellow, red and blue — and all woven together for one purpose: to form an inclusive, diverse congregation devoted to enriching our community. We come from all walks of life — city residents and county homeowners, baby boomers and millennials, straight and LGBTQ+, young and old — and all kinds of faith backgrounds — from lifelong Presbyterians to those who continually wrestle with their faith and identities.
Our role is to serve, as Jesus said to his followers in the Gospel of Matthew, as the salt, light, and yeast of Christ — the catalyst for hope, prosperity, and peace — for the people of Baltimore and beyond. We accomplish this in several ways:
- We are a community of worship: Promoting God’s love for all, our service is faithful to the Reformed tradition, centering on socially engaging and relevant preaching and an inspirational congregational music program of exceptional quality.
- We are a community of service: First & Franklin promotes peacemaking and social justice, in the City of Baltimore and beyond, through education, advocacy and hands-on projects.
- We are a community of fellowship: Our congregation extends beyond the formality of worship to small group activities that increase our understanding of one another within the church and the greater community.
We Are ‘Pretty and Gritty’
We are pretty: Our “Gothic Revival” style building was erected in the late 1850s, and features a rose-colored freestone exterior and a 273-foot steeple, the tallest in Baltimore. The interior sanctuary offers a triple-vaulted ceiling, with unique Victorian plaster pendants, and stained-glass windows, including three executed by Tiffany and Co. And our well-known Music Ministry is committed to presenting both musical and visual artists and fostering community while celebrating the unique space under the spire.
And we are gritty: We depend on deep and provocative sermons, and we’re not afraid to ask tough, honest questions, of ourselves and others. We don’t just talk about peacemaking and social justice, for example — we act on it. In May 2017, we hosted a Mother's Day lunch for 35 women whose children had been killed in Baltimore. And during our annual Purple Ribbon Pilgrimage, we walk from our church to Baltimore's police headquarters to present city leaders with ribbons representing our unanswered prayers for justice for Baltimore's homicide victims, and solace for those who love them.
First, For Baltimore
First and foremost, we are an open, inclusive place where anyone is welcome to worship God, to help serve others, and to find fellowship with like-minded people. We are not a large congregation but we are strong and growing. Our mission is to make Baltimore a better community for everyone, and we invite you to join us to achieve this goal.
We are rooted in the soil of God's promise, and we practice this belonging, welcoming people into our community with generosity and understanding. And throughout our way of being in this city, we proclaim in word and deed that we belong to the world God so loves. We believe you belong here with us.