The Oxford First Presbyterian Church had its beginning in 1837. In that year, all of North Mississippi had been recently acquired from the Chickasaw Indians and opened to new settlers. On July 15, 1837, a gathering was held in a carpenter’s shop for the purpose of organizing a new church. Four visiting ministers were present.
Upon call, 38 individuals came forward and had their names recorded as members of the new church, which was received into the Presbytery of Clinton and the Synod of Alabama.
In 1843, the elders of the church purchased a parcel of land from the town of Oxford for $10 and built a modest, white-frame church building (see below). The membership at that time was about 70.
Several of the elders, the pastor and practically every able-bodied man in town went to war between 1861 and 1865. While they were away, the northern army camped on the church grounds. They set fire to the church, but one fearless female in the congregation put out the fire while the soldiers jeered.
By 1880, the building, in need of extensive repair, was torn down. The present Sanctuary was built on the same site and opened in 1881. The membership by then had grown to 150.
With a few additions, modifications and modernizations (the most recent of which was an office renovation in 2007), the Sanctuary building has served us well. Two other structures, the Education Building, constructed in 1962, and the Fellowship Hall, built in 1988, comprise the church campus. An adjacent city block to the east of the sanctuary was purchased for future expansion in 2004.
Rev. Jesse Stratton was the first pastor and served one or two months. Rev. John M. Semmes currently serves as the church’s 25th pastor. There are approximately 750 members as of 2010.