The 120 year old red sandstone First Presbyterian Church stands proudly on the corner of Church and Division Streets. Older church buildings require commitment to keep them up to date. Following are some highlights about the building.
- The original stained glass windows were refurbished in 1990.
- At the same time, a new tracker organ was custom built and installed and the sanctuary updated to accommodate this addition.
- The Westminster Room was updated and serves as a gathering place after worship. This room was air conditioned in 2006.
- The Library, decorated several years earlier, provides an intimate meeting space for the Adult Forum Sunday School and other meetings.
- In 2004 the church renovated and air conditioned the Preschool rooms, an important mission of the congregation for over 50 years.
- The church office and adjacent rooms were updated to meet the needs of the staff.
- In 1999, the congregation made a commitment to handicapped accessibility. The building addition with an elevator that serves all floors was completed that year. First Presbyterian Church received the Acanthus Award from the City of Oshkosh Landmarks Commission for the addition because it blended in so well with the rest of the building.
- Magnolia Hall on the lower level was updated in 2008 and provides space for a variety of activities throughout the year, such as: After School program, Simple Suppers during Lent, Seder Meal, and potlucks.
- The Quilting Room provides members of the quilting group a wonderful environment for work on fabric arts projects.
First Presbyterian Church of Oshkosh does rent portions of the church facility to outside parties.
- Magnolia Hall can be used for meetings for up to 100 participants. No alcoholic beverages are allowed.
- Sanctuary can accommodate 250 participants and can be used for concerts and weddings.
Rental includes salaries of church personnel required for event.
Contact the church office (920-235-6180) for information regarding availability and request forms. Information is forwarded to appropriate committee and session for approval. Allow 4-6 weeks for approval process.
Our sanctuary, built in 1893 is a classic example of the Akron Plan, an innovative design for the church interior developed in Akron, Ohio by church designer George W. Kramer. The emphasis was on acoustics and sight lines, along with the single focus on the pulpit and communion table. The elevated platform with a large pulpit was placed in the center corner of the audience room. Seating in pews in a circular pattern, on a sloping floor was focused on the preacher. The pulpit, rather than an altar, was the focal point. The communion table was accented by its location at the lower level in front of the pulpit. The pipe organ and choir were behind. Without traditional chancels and processionals, long, wide center aisles were not needed. A natural ventilating system with adjustable air grilles (still in place) vented through stone chimneys provided comfortable air circulation. Typically, the interior circular design was not outwardly reflected by any curved forms on the exterior.
The Akron Plan was prevalent in the design of Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches. Currently the concepts of this plan are reflected in the contemporary design of churches of various denominations. In our church through the years the platform (chancel) area and the audience room (sanctuary) have been modified several times to provide for changing programs and needs of our congregation.
Leonard H. Reinke, FAIA
Stained Glass Windows
These windows are on the east wall of the sanctuary. The left one is the symbols for Alpha and Omega, a reference to Revelation 21:6. The right window shows crossed palm branches, a reminder of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The six-pointed star is the Star of Creation, which refers to God's having created the heavens and the earth is six days, Genesis 1:31.
This window is on the south wall of the sanctuary. The one on the left is an Easter lily, with "gloria" written beneath the flower. This is a reference to Matthew 6:28, "Consider the lilies of the field..." The left window has a Lenten theme. The Latin cross recalls the crucifixion and the purple cloth refers to John 19:5.
This window fills the east wall of the sanctuary. When the morning sun shines through it, the sanctuary glows. The top image is of the lamb triumphant on a pedestal. The seven scrolls refered to in Revelation 5 appear vertically across the front of the pedestal. The words on the banner mean, "The lamb of God," a phrase found in John 1:29, uttered by John the Baptizer when he first saw Jesus. The image on the lower left is a bee hive, a fitting symbol for the church, a place we call "home" and where we are fed, and from which we "fly" into the world. The middle image is a dove, holding an olive branch in its beak, both are symbols of peace, found in Genesis 6:11. The image in the right window shows a dove flying above Noah's ark.
This is the large window on the south wall of the sanctuary. The afternoon sun comes through it often and then the window becomes alive! The central image at the top is of a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, descending into and open Bible. This window depicts the central place that the reading and interpretation of the Bible has in our worship service, and the need for the Holy Spirit to guide our interpretation of what the Bible says. The lower windows can read "read" from left to right. The scythe and hour glass point to the reality and finality of death. The cross and crown remind the viewer of the death of Jesus Christ, in faithful Persbyterian fashion, the cross is empty, which points to the reality of the resurrection. The third and last window on this level shows grain that is ready to be harvested, reminders that "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12:24