Christmas Eve Service

Monday, Dec. 24, 7:00 PM. Our annual Christmas Eve candle lighting service is one of the most beautiful and anticipated worship services of the year. Come and find peace as we join together to celebrate the light of Christ this Christmas Eve. Invite your neighbors and friends!


The National Day of Prayer this year is on Thursday, May 3.  Please offer up your prayers to the Lord for our nation!  There will be a prayer event at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma from Noon-1:00 p.m. on that day, if you want to participate.  See details here:
We also have a new prayer meeting at the church to pray for our church’s ministries.  Those meetings take place every other Tuesday, 11-noon in the Prayer Room.  Next month the days will be May 1May 15, and May 29.  We have the tremendous privilege of knowing that our great God hears our prayers.  Let’s spend some time with Him and seek His face! 

The Church Tower

The Tower of the church is 22 feet by 26 feet and reaches 165 feet into the skyline. In earlier years it served as a landmark for ships entering Tacoma’s harbor. Just below the Tower’s dome is housed a two-octave set of chimes constructed by the Deagan Co. of Chicago.

The Tower is filled with old Christian symbols used in churches throughout the world.

Facing the north the symbol is a square standing for the Eternity of Life.

Facing northeast is the triangle for the Eternity of the Trinity. As used on our tower the triangle is within a circle which gives it the added significance of the Eternity of Life.

Facing east is the Greek Cross or Cross of St. George.

Facing southeast is a five-pointed star known as the Star of Beauty, and is a symbol of Health. It is held to be a talisman against witchcraft. Also considered to point out the five places the Saviour was wounded.

Facing south are the interlaced cricles (triquetra), an emblem of the Trinity found on the Celtic Cross and used in Western Churches.

Facing southwest is the seven-pointed star representing the sevens of the Bible: The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven days of the week, the seven branches of the candlestick of Moses, the seven churches of Asia, the seven mysterious seals, the seven stars in the right hand of God, the seven trumpets, the seven heavens, etc.

Facing west is the monogram I (Iota) for Jesus, and X (Chi) for Christ; surrounded by the circle of eternity or Perfection.

Facing northwest is a six-pointed star standing for the Creator.

Just below the dome of the Tower there is a balustrade. In the center of each side of the balustrade there is a niche with a model of one of the four evangelists–Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. The Boston architect originally thought that these items would have to be made in the east, but instead the work was done here by local artisans. Cram and Ferguson, the architects, sent a catalogue of ecclesiastical insprations by the A. DaPrato Co. of Boston and models were made from illustrations in that book. Upon completion of each model a picture was taken of it and sent east for their approval. In a letter dates October 17, 1924, the architects wrote, “We wish to congratualte the modler on the excellence of his work so far. We think it has been extremely satisfying.”

Atop the dome is a weathervane and careful attention was given to its design, too. Mr. Earl N. Dugan, architet locally in charge of construction, said that the whole weathervane is mounted on a movable ball so that during extreme winds there would be no danger of the vane being blown off, instead it can give with the wind, but will right itself again automatically. The whole vane is done in deep gold.

In connection with early plans for the church, a member of the Building Committee, Mrs. George L. Dickason, suggested that the pastor’s study be placed in the Tower. Her thought was that the view from the Tower would be inspiring to the Pastor.

The Madonna Della Sedia

On May 8, 1938, Mr. E.J. McNeeley presented the church with a handpainted copy of Raphael’s famed “Madonna Della Sedia.” It now hangs over the fireplace in Middleton Parlor. The McNeeleys spent 14 months traveling through Europe, Africa and Asia—visiting all the galleries, temples, and cathedrals. In Florence, Italy they visited the Pitti Gallery and observed that an artist of two always seemed to be at work making copies of original paintings hanging there. When they found a copy of Raphael’s Madonna Della Sedia hanging in the studio of a famous artist in Florence, they bought the painting for their home. After the death of Mrs. McNeeley, Mr. McNeeley presented the painting to the church as a memorial for his beloved wife.

The Story of Raphael’s Painting

The story is told that late one summer afternoon Raphael was returning to Rome from one of the long excursions into the surrounding country which he loved to take. Passing through a little village, he encountered a band of strolling musicians playing in the one street about which clustered’ the houses of the little hamlet. Already the soft, dreamy gold dust, which sifts through the air and settles at the close of an Italian summer day, was enveloping fields and houses and the distant hills ; and wayfarers returning to the city, and laborers coming home from their work in the fields, stopped to listen to the sweet and joyous strains. Outside of the little stone houses were gathered the women and children, for when the burst of music of a well-conducted band fills the air and most Italians are good musicians — all who hear must stop and listen. So Raphael lingered by the roadside and, as was his wont, watched the faces of the little company, when suddenly his eyes rested upon one of the loveliest and purest faces he had ever seen, belonging to a young Italian mother who was seated on a doorstep holding her baby boy, while be-side her stood her little daughter listening to the music. Instantly Raphael determined to paint her as a Madonna, but looked in vain for something upon which to make a sketch. At last he discovered an old barrel head lying in the dust of the road, and, cleaning it off as best he could, he sketched the mother and her children, using the little girl as the figure of St. John (the Baptist). When he reached his studio, the thought came to him to retain the shape of the barrel head and make the painting circular, which he did.

Guide to the Painting

The Madonna, as you will observe, is seated upon a low chair holding the child in her arms. At her side stands the little St. John, his hands clasped in prayer. Over the shoulders of the Madonna is a brightly colored shawl, and a handkerchief of brilliant hues is tied about her head. The Madonna, the perfection of womanly beauty and modesty, is a young woman with a deep maternal love streaming out from her dark, expressive eyes ; while the child, strong and winning, nestles in his mother’s protecting arms. There is about the figures of the Virgin and child a warmth of coloring and a gladness of soul which are perfectly charming, while the earnest yet childlike worship of St. John is no less appropriate. The entire picture is painted with great freedom and power, and no other work of art in the world is so popular. At least fifty engravers have tried their skill upon it, and photographic copies have been sold by the thousands.

The Architecture of First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma

by Rev. C. W. Weyer

Originally published as “Church Erected for 7-Day-A-Week Work” in The Tacoma Sunday Ledger, August 30, 1925, p. 1.

The new First Presbyterian church building is a pure type of Romanesque architecture. The architect, Ralph Adams Cram of Boston, is probably the greatest authority in the world today on church architecture. The building committee succeeded in securing his services after they had floundered about for two years and had failed to find suitable plans. The building, the furnishings, the lighting fixtures, the pulpit and the entire plant has been designed by Mr. Cram, and it may be said to the credit of the building committee that they have allowed him to have his way. Probably no other city in the West the size of Tacoma can boast of one of Mr. Cram’s churches.

The Romanesque is the earliest form of ecclesiastical architecture. Following it came the Gothic and still later the colonial. The building committee decided first of all that they would build true to a type, that when completed the building should not be an unsightly structure with a touch of the gothic or a suggestion of something else, but it should remain true to whatever architectural type selected.

After careful investigation the Romanesque style of architecture was selected, believing that it was even more beautiful and far more unique than the stately and more common Gothic. Those who have traveled abroad will recognize in many of the features of this church suggestions of cathedrals and church buildings in Europe. The symbolism and coloring on the dome and various parts of the building is simply carrying out the features of Romanesque architecture.

The committee believed that the auditorium should be churchly and carry the atmosphere of reverence and worship. Mr. Cram is past master in this art and anyone who enters the auditorium will realize at once that this was built for a house of God and a place of prayer. The same atmosphere is found in the chapel. Though the seating capacity of the chapel is but 100 it gives the impression of a cathedral. While the adult congregation worships in the auditorium the Junior congregation will hold their services in the chapel and the purpose of this service is to teach the boys and girls the art and meaning of worship.

The committee discovered that it was no more expensive to build a beautiful church and keep it true to ecclesiastical type than it would to build an unsightly structure and disregard all ecclesiastical features and that which appeals to the eye and to the senses.

Feed the Youth Group


January 10th will be the first Wednesday night youth group ever! Same place, same people, different day! With our shift to Wednesday nights, we have many holes in our dinner schedule, and our youth still come hungry.  Please consider signing up to cook a Wednesday night meal for our middle and high school students. Do it by yourself or as a small group! This is a great opportunity to meet and minister to our youth. Contact Jennifer Jensen, 206-853-1992 with questions!


Christmas Events 2017 at Tacoma’s First Presbyterian Church

Join us as we celebrate the real meaning of Christmas at Tacoma’s First Presbyterian Church this year. We have a series of wonderful events for the entire family. Whatever your background, and whatever is happening in your life right now, you are welcome here!
In addition to these events, be sure to stop by our Church Library in Fellowship Hall on Sunday mornings before and after the service for a great selection of Christmas books and DVDs for kids and adults.

Sunday, December 3

Family U: “Creating Family Traditions” (9:15 am)

Advent Communion and Worship (10:30 am)

Mark the first Sunday of Advent with Holy Communion plus the FPC-premiere of an original choral work by our music director Dr. Daniel Perrin, “So Wonderful!” Daniel will also share the story that led him to write this amazing and joyous piece. During Communion, we be singing “Christmas Joy,” an Advent carol written by member Terry Estvold and led by Connie Connally on the guitar. You won’t want to miss this start to the Advent season! Pastor Eric will be preaching a special sermon series during Advent drawn from the book of Isaiah.

Sunday, December 10

FREE Christmas Play: “Improv in a Pear Tree” (9:00 am, Fellowship Hall)

Join us for a free performance of a Christmas play by Taproot Theatre Company during the Sunday School hour on Dec. 10, starting at 9:00 am. Going home for the holidays is a special sort of adventure full of road trips, family traditions and the crazy characters we call friends and family. This year, Taproot’s Improv Team is bringing you the story of a pair of newlyweds sharing their first Christmas. Using suggestions from the audience, the actors create the characters, traditions and circumstances to create a hilarious and unexpected holiday story you won’t forget. No two performances are the same! Improv in a Pear Tree is written by Emily Shuel and directed by Danny Walter.

Christmas Worship with Dickens Carolers (10:25 am)

Come to worship early and hear the Dickens Carolers present a selection of carols throughout our worship service, starting before the service at 10:25 am. The Dickens Carolers are a quartet dressed for the season in the garb of Victorian London.

A Celebration of Carols Concert (6:00 pm, Sanctuary)

Sing your favorite Christmas carols accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra, handbell choir, vocal choir, plus an organ with 3,000 pipes! Back by popular demand, this carol concert combines congregational singing with special music by soloists, our Chancel Choir, and our Lindsey Bell Choir. A Christmas reception with hot cider and hot chocolate follows in the Sanctuary.

Sunday, December 17

Children’s Christmas Pageant (10:30 am, Sanctuary)

Experience the Christmas season through the eyes of our children as they present their annual Christmas pageant through songs and readings in the midst of our Sunday worship service.

Monday, December 18

Christmas Friendship Luncheon (12:00 pm)

Join us for a delicious luncheon for those age 55+

Sunday, December 24

Advent Worship (10:30 am, Sanctuary)

Join us for worship on the final Sunday of Advent as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service (7:00 pm, Sanctuary)

Don’t miss this Tacoma-area tradition featuring Chancel Choir, soloists, instrumentalists, pipe organ, and hundreds of candles in the cathedral-like sanctuary of First Presbyterian Tacoma. This is one of the highlights of the entire year!

Family Room in Ferguson Chapel at FPC

FYI for parents!
FPC now has a family room located in Ferguson Chapel. There you will find diaper changing supplies, toys, comfortable seating and we have speakers so you wont miss the sermon!
Follow the signs in the back of the Sanctuary or ask an usher!

All Church Bingo & Chili Night


Friday, March 31st at 5:30pm in Fellowship Hall

Come one and all!! Free admission and chili provided. Hope to see you there.



Easter Food Baskets


Do you know a family who would be blessed by receiving an Easter Food Basket? 
If so, please stop by the Deacons’ Table after worship today.                
This ministry of the Deacons enables those in need to celebrate Easter with a special meal.
Your faithful support of this ministry is a blessing!                 

You can help in one, or all, of three ways:

  • Drop non-perishable food donations off in the church entryways or Fellowship Hall before or after services through April 2nd. For a specific list of food needed, see the Info Board in Fellowship Hall.
  • Cash donations will be used to purchase hams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh fruit, eggs, rolls butter and dessert.
  • Sign up to deliver a basket at the Deacon’s table in Fellowship Hall. (Delivery will be on Saturday, April 8th.)