Built along the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails – Where the Trails Divide
First Presbyterian Church of Gardner began 150 years ago with signing of papers on August 12, 1866, designating the first elders and trustees of the church that was part of the Presbytery of Kansas. It was the first permanent church organized in Gardner.
Story of the Stones
Founders of the church met in the early Gardner School and purchased lots across the street from our present location on the Northeast corner of Shawnee and Elm. A small limestone church was built in 1870 near the present day Santa Fe Trail Marker. The stone church was struck by lightning and deemed unsafe in 1892.
Stones from that first church were moved across the street to the church’s present location and became the foundation of the white clapboard church built in 1894.
Almost a century later, in 1993, a fire destroyed the sanctuary of the church. Members met in Fellowship Hall while plans were made for the present-day building. In 1995, ground was broken and a new church rose in the place of the old clapboard church. Following is a link to a few pictures of the groundbreaking for the new building. ground breaking The sanctuary and chapel stand where the old clapboard church had been. A spacious Narthex, offices, and classrooms connect the new church to Fellowship Hall.
Today, as the congregation worships in the beautiful sanctuary, the same stones that formed the original church can be seen in an expanse of limestone that rises to the ceiling behind the oak cross. It stands as a testament to those early founders who spread the Word of God and the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to all who entered.