Ginter Park Presbyterian Church came to be after a 1907 canvass of the new Ginter Park residential area (then a separate town north of Richmond) revealed a desire for a church in the neighborhood. Union Theological Seminary invited Presbyterians to make use of its chapel, and for the next half-century the congregation met on Union’s campus. Meaningful worship, including an exceptional music program and openness to visual arts, became central to the life of the church, with seminary interns and professors assisting.
Ginter Parkers have had an abiding commitment to Christian education, featuring significant laity leadership over the years. From 1921-54 the congregation met in the Seminary’s Schauffler Hall, a state-of-the-art Sunday school building. Faculty and students of the adjacent Presbyterian School of Christian Education tried out new learning theories with Ginter Park students, developing a showcase of creative methods and materials. Our members established Sunday schools in nearby areas that grew into daughter churches, and provided Sunday school at the Children’s Hospital. We have brought handicapped children and adults into programs at the church. A variety of classes continue to be offered for all ages today, educating members about the scriptures, social justice issues, the spiritual life, and the wider church.
International as well as local mission has been strong throughout our church’s history, but methods have changed as the world has changed. For most of the 20th century the focus was on supporting missionaries in foreign countries, especially in Congo, China, and Brazil. We operated the nearby Mission Court apartments for missionary families on furlough; their presence broadened the congregation’s awareness of other cultures. Now, as we continue to support partners on several continents, we also reach out to provide a church home for international students in our city. Richmond’s first Korean Presbyterian congregation and an Arab-speaking Presbyterian congregation got their start at GPPC.
Our history has mirrored Richmond’s struggle with race relations and changing neighborhoods. During the segregation era, the church established an effective ministry to African-Americans in Shockoe Bottom, at that time a poverty ghetto. We strive to live by our welcoming statement through developing a richly diverse congregation. Our centennial year motto was, “A century of ministry – to be continued.” We have a great past to draw upon as we strive today to follow Jesus Christ in the path of love, justice, and peace.