We believe in God, who made all things, who came into the world in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and is today present everywhere as the living Spirit.
We affirm both the biblical revelation of God’s creative activity and the scientific understanding of God’s continuous creative action.
We trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We believe that Jesus lived in complete trust and obedience to God’s purpose, was killed by people he loved, and was raised to new and everlasting life by God, whose love is never-ending. We believe that by and through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has brought to us that same promise of everlasting life and never-ending love.
We experience joy in the presence of the Spirit of the living Christ, who moves in our lives, in the Church, and in the world.
We take the Bible seriously, accepting it as the unique witness to God’s revelation of himself in the world, both in history, and in the person of Jesus Christ. We believe the Bible is God’s word to us, and embrace its mystical and metaphorical, as well as its literal content.
We affirm the Christian ethical directives of love, justice and peace, seeking to demonstrate in our actions God’s concern for all who are in need, caring for the planet, working to reconcile those who are in conflict, and making peace.
In recognizing God’s call to be a people of his own, we affirm the Judeo-Christian tradition, remember our roots in the Protestant Reformation, and look to discern the new things God is continually doing in and among us.
We respect diversity of understanding, valuing open minds and compassionate hearts, realizing that no human being can comprehend the infinite mind of God. We try to discern together God’s purpose for us in faith and in life.
We work to reach out with compassion to those in need, and particularly to those who are on the margins of life. We know that the Bible tells us that God has special concern for those who are overlooked by others. We believe we are called to that same concern, and that through practical acts of compassion we grow in our faith and life together.
What Makes us Unique
At First Pres, we understand and appreciate that God has not only blessed each of us with an individual and unique character, but also has worked through us to create a church community with its own distinct characteristics. While, ultimately, life and worship at First Pres must be experienced to be understood, here are a few things that we think make us a little different from other churches you may have experienced:
- A church that welcomes all people, wherever they are on their spiritual journey.
- A church that understands that a spiritual journey is neither a constant value nor a straight line, but a variety of experiences, some of which are individual and some of which are best experienced within a shared and supportive community.
- A church that believes that God speaks to us not only through the Bible and prayer, but also through our day to day lives, and especially through each other. We try to listen for God’s message and purpose for us as we live each day.
- A church that values diversity in ideas, discussion and dialogue as we seek to be God’s people in this time and this place.
- We value the current perspectives, differing worldviews, and open discussion of ideas that all bring to our worship and our community. We believe that a diversity of people and a variety of ideas make a vital congregation.
- A church that supports and embraces the arts. In worship, our music ranges from the classics to the contemporary. We provide support for local concert series. Artwork by the renowned artist Laddie John Dill welcomes you to our campus.
The First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica was founded by two sisters, Emma and Jennie Vawter, who wanted a safe place for the children they saw “running wild” on the beach. They created a Sunday school in their home, and the church grew from there.
The Church was officially chartered on September 28, 1875, with nine women and three men as charter members. In keeping with the Presbyterian emphasis on education for all, the first building also served as the public school for several years. A newer building followed in 1889, and the congregation grew along with the city of Santa Monica.
In 1922, the church built a large and dramatic Spanish Renaissance structure. The congregation moved into its current location on 2nd Street in Santa Monica in 1975. We completed an extensive remodeling in April of 2007. Through the years, First Pres has consistently emphasized family, education, music, and involvement in the social issues of the day.
“We were introduced to First Presbyterian Church by Jessica’s parents. During a service wonderfully balanced between music and prayer, we were immediately impressed by the minister’s relatable interpretation of the bible wrapped into a thoughtful message useful to our daily lives. We find ourselves learning something new from each sermon — allowing us to resonate with the palpable spiritual lesson throughout the week. Our three children quickly warmed to the Time for Children, and have enjoyed both the activities and playground, in addition to being involved in the fun holiday singing. We have formed strong bonds with other families and made a community of friendships. We are truly blessed to be a part of the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica.”
— Jessica and Alan Matkovic