We were organized on February 14, 1869, by The Cumberland Presbytery as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Waco. There were 18 charter members. A site for a church building was the first order of business. Property on Washington Avenue between Third and Fourth Streets was purchased and soon a two-story church edifice was erected. This location was deemed advisable because it was on the outskirts of the small town of Waco and would afford opportunity for growth.
Twenty years later in 1889, the church, as well as the city of Waco, had grown. Businesses surrounded the church's environment and another move, again to the edge of the city, was recommended. The city needed our strategic church property for a firestation and offered lots that it owned at Washington Avenue and 12th Street as partial payment for the church's downtown property. The church saw this as an opportunity to move and accepted the offer. We built a frame structure at this location in 1891.
In 1906, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church USA united and our name was changed from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to Central Presbyterian Church.
On March 1, 1917, a fire destroyed the frame structure that had been the pride and joy of the congregation. Miss Kate Kinnard, long-time member, said, "Our tears came too late to put out the fire."
Soon after the 1917 fire, the church purchased property at Washington Avenue and 13th Street. and a temporary tabernacle was erected on the back of the new lots. The congregation hoped to build a permanent structure soon, but building was delayed because of World War I. On December 24, 1922, the first service was held in the new sanctuary. A two-story educational wing was added in 1949, and since then several major additions and renovations have been made. In 1969, the sanctuary was remodeled to focus worship around the communion table, with congregants facing each other. This lived understanding of being community at Table together is in our DNA.
Having lived within two blocks of First Presbyterian Church for well over 100 years, the end of the twentieth century brought new opportunities. Our presbytery helped both congregations go through a missional study to discern God's will. Would it be best for both congregations to continue unchanged, to unite under one roof, or for one to move and try to reach a different part of the wider community. After much prayer and study, we decided God was calling us to a new home. Our beloved church building was sold to Mission Waco to become the Meyer Center, and our congregation moved into a storefront "Central West" in Woodway as we began our new journey. We were blessed to find, purchase, remodel, and move into our current sanctuary and facilities--again at the edge of a growing Waco--in 2004.
Now, as in the past, businesses have surrounded our location, neighbors and neighborhoods have transformed, the culture has shifted; and yet God still calls us to move forward in faith, sharing Christ's message of love and care for one and all. At Central Presbyterian, we keep Christ central to all we do, and we willingly go wherever God calls!