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First Congregational Church of Long Beach - National Fund For Sacred Places
2019 Cohort

First Congregational Church of Long Beach

Long Beach, California

First Congregational Church of Long Beach, California, is the oldest church in the city that still houses its original congregation.

First Congregational Church of Long Beach by The MAYE Center

First Congregational Church of Long Beach by The MAYE Center

2019 Cohort

First Congregational Church of Long Beach

Long Beach, California

First Congregational Church of Long Beach, California, is the oldest church in the city that still houses its original congregation.

Both the congregation and the city of Long Beach were founded in 1888, and the original First Congregational Church was built on land donated by members of the city’s founding family. The rapid growth of Long Beach in the first decade of the 20th century led to the expansion of the church’s membership and its need for a larger space. In 1914, California architect H.M. Patterson designed the new church in a Romanesque Revival style in the form of a Greek cross. The stained-glass windows are purported to be the last to come out of Germany prior to World War I. First Congregational Church was one of the first white-dominated congregations in Long Beach to racially integrate, and it has formally welcomed LGBTQ members since 1992.

First Congregational Church remains committed to social justice through public service and advocacy on issues such as climate change, income inequality, marriage equality, and immigrant rights. Since 1970, the church has provided space for Downtown Associated Youth Services (DAYS). DAYS has expanded from a six-week summer camp for local children to a year-round educational and leadership development program that serves one of the city’s most disinvested neighborhoods. First Congregational Church also provides meals and aid to unsheltered persons, supports the arts, and offers monthly justice forums on difficult social issues.d

A $250,000 National Fund grant and matching funds raised by the congregation surpassing $800,000 allowed First Congregational Church to complete major repairs to the east facade and the large stained-glass rose window. This work unexpectedly required removing hazardous materials. The congregation hails this restoration project as evidence of an ongoing “commitment to the city and to the neighborhood where the church is located.”

First Congregational Church of Long Beach courtesy First Congregational Church of Long Beach

First Congregational Church of Long Beach courtesy First Congregational Church of Long Beach

A Postcard Tour of Historic Houses of Worship

The vast quantity of postcards depicting historic houses of worship is best evidenced through the James R. Tanis Collection of Church Postcards. The collection of more than 20,000 postcards illuminates the range of religious architecture in the United States from monumental cathedrals to one-room meeting houses. Read more for a postcard tour highlighting the history and significance of select congregations in the National Fund for Sacred Places.

James R. Tanis Collection of Church Postcards

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez