Immanuel Presbyterian will celebrate 95 years of ministry Sunday.
The church began as the Moscow Presbyterian Church, a rural mission in Moscow, a community once located near Winnwood Lake and Chouteau Trafficway.
The congregation first met in the one-room Moscow School while a church building was being constructed for them near Chouteau and Parvin Road. Later, when Moscow was incorporated into Kansas City, the congregation chose a new name: Immanuel Presbyterian.
“It was a big, busy church. Lot of missions and a big congregation and a wonderful place to be,” said long-time church member Jean Cain, 93. “Dr. Swallow was the first pastor. I remember him well because he was so big and I was so little. It was a wonderful church to grow up in.”
Cain joined the church with her family at age 10 and has many fond memories, including Sunday school where her mother recruited her to play the piano at age 12; revivals with visiting preachers that lasted a week; and the ice cream social the First Ladies Aid Society held every summer.
“That’s when the politicians would go around and talk to people,” Cain said. “That was the only way in those days they had to contact many people.”
The first full-time minister was a young Rev. Davis Thomas and his wife, who had just attended a training school for pastor’s wives.
“They were a young couple and were enthusiastic and we were, too,” Caid said. “It was a great time when had our own minister.”
In 1961, the congregation broke ground on a new facility at 3800 N.E. Parvin Road, Kansas City, North, and moved in a year later, taking the bell from the old church’s steeple on Chouteau with them. The old church was later torn down to make room for expansion of Chouteau Trafficway.
Dr. Joel Whiteside, a hospice chaplain, has been church pastor for the last 10 years and calls Immanuel Presbyterian a neighborhood church.
“They have a very mission-oriented congregation that is always strong in their contributions and involvement with various charitable efforts in the community and within the church,” Whiteside said.
Over the years membership has fallen from about 150 to 50 regularly attending members.
“Some churches survive and some don’t,” Cain said. “It disappoints me that we have as few as we do when I’ve known it to be so full. It’s an old church, an old neighborhood. We’re almost in the middle of Kansas City, North, and everything is moving north of us. The neighborhood is just different.”
Cain and her two living daughters still attend services with her. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren join them for special services. Her late husband, Mack, also grew up in the old church, where they later were married. His funeral in 1988 was held at the newer building.
Cain can’t see herself going to another church.
“I couldn’t go to another church, I never could. I know there’s so many in the church who have been there, grew up in the church and they are still there. They are still coming,” Cain said.
“There are enough of the regular members. We’re getting old, some of us. I think it will survive. Those are my wishes for sure.”
Former church members and friends are invited to attend the anniversary worship service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Whiteside and former church pastors will speak. A fellowship meal will follow.