When the church was founded on January 8, 1848 there were only nineteen Presbyterians worshiping at the log building known as the male academy. "This church was incorporated in February, 1854." "The name under which it was first incorporated was the 'First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta,' and it was the only Presbyterian church in the city." The founding pastor of First Presbyterian Church was Dr. John S. Wilson. In 1915 the church completed a Sunday School building at the new location where the first service was held on December 5, 1915. The new sanctuary, which was designed by Walter T. Downing (1865-1918), was completed in 1919. The first stained glass windows, some by Tiffany, were installed then and over the next few years.
First Presbyterian Sunday morning worship service was broadcast on local WSB (AM) radio. The only time the service on the radio was suspended was September 3, 1939, when the United Kingdom declared war on Germany and brought the world to the brink of World War II. In 1973, the church received its first black member since the days of slavery. Now the church is led by Dr. Tony Sundermeier who became pastor in 2014.
"It is our purpose as a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
to be and become
a community of grace
a people of praise
a loving congregation
rooted in tradition, open to the Spirit
disciples who proclaim and serve
the Lord Jesus Christ
in all we say and do
to the glory of God
for the salvation of humankind
for the healing and hope of the city, and
for the reconciliation and peace of the world."
Sanctuary Organ at FPC Atlanta
After finishing the church in 1919 the first organ was constructed by Henry Pilcher's Sons in 1919 with 4 manuals. In 1920 the Echo- and Solo-sections were added, and the organ had 48 stops. In 1969 organ builder M. P. Möller (Hagerstown/MD) built a completely new organ, using some stops from the Pilcher's organ from 1919. In 1992 the instrument was restored and enlarged. In 2018 the instrument again was cleaned and restored and newly enlarged by German organ builder Klais (Bonn) and US organ builder A. E. Schlueter. The Instrument has got 112 ranks (6.397 pipes) on 10 divisions, with a control system by Syndyne.