Central Presbyterian Church was founded in 1853 by Rev. Stuart Robinson. The first church building was in Baltimore city at Liberty and Saratoga streets. It lasted for 21 years until it burned down in July of 1874. In spite of problems caused by the Civil War, during this time Central grew from about 100 members to over 400. The second building was constructed at Eutaw and Dolphin streets in 1879. The congregation grew until the Great Depression. Membership dropped to 48 members in 1946, and the Presbytery dissolved the church.
One of the elders left a bequest for the continuation of Central. The Eutaw location was sold, and the current location was purchased in 1948. Dr. Murray Smoot started the new iteration of Central. Murray also brought the ministry Young Life, a ministry aimed at high school students, to Baltimore. In the late 70’s and early 80’s, associate pastor Pat Hartsock fostered a singles group and a young married couples group that contributed significantly to Central’s growth. Also in the 1980’s, a contemporary service was started.
In 1989, Dr. Ron Scates was called as pastor. Jerry Cooper was called as associate pastor in 1990. The church entered a new period of growth and expansion. In 1996, Central launched the “Beyond These Walls” building campaign. “Phase one”, a renovation and expansion of what had been a breezeway and Sunday school building into a large concourse, general use rooms, offices, and a children’s ministry space, was completed in 1998. By the late 1990’s, the existing contemporary service reached the capacity of the sanctuary.
In 2001, an additional contemporary service was started to focus on the needs of young adults. Rev. John Schmidt was called in 2003 as Senior Pastor. Rev. Laura Crihfield joined the ministry in 2003 and now serves as pastor of Familily Ministries.. Rev. George Antonakos was called as the Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Equipping in 2005. Jim McClure was hired as Executive Director of Outreach and Ministry Support in 2005. In 2006, the second phase of the building project was launched. A 550 seat contemporary worship center, a number of children’s classrooms, a children’s worship center, and a mid-size general purpose room were completed in 2008. In 2011, Ian McFadden, Director of Discipleship and Young Adult Ministries, was added to our Senior Leadership Team.
Central is currently a congregation of about 800, and we continue to strive to build on our strong foundation of biblical fidelity and a focus on the needs of others.