On July 27th, 1868, a small group of people founded a community of Christian believers that is still thriving to this very day.

First Presbyterian Church of Evanston, which insists on being defined by their people, not their building, will celebrate their 150th anniversary this July. This is a significant milestone that has been achieved by the church’s dedication and God’s faithfulness over the years.

Contributing to their growth is Reverend Dr. Ray Hylton, who has been First Presbyterian’s pastor for ten years. He acknowledges God as the decisive force that has led them all this time.

“Being in the community for 150 years is something to celebrate,” Pastor Hylton said. “We want to celebrate what God has done and what he wants to do in the future. We are looking both ways.”

Pastor Hylton wants his members to be a lighthouse in the community, an analogy he draws from Matthew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

He sees the church as a dynamic force that is always growing; always improving. His mission is to make disciples by preaching, inviting people in, and living out the gospel. Part of living out the gospel involves believers’ responsibility to uphold the law, which Hylton affirms.

“The very idea of law emanates from God and is reflected in Scripture,” he said.

According to Hylton, this is also consistent with his goal of making disciples—people that can grow in their faith and learn to submit to God’s law.

Amidst a time of division in the Presbyterian denomination over conflicting views on marriage, First Presbyterian of Evanston has decided to remain firm and keep their focus on God. Pastor Hylton refers to the book of Jeremiah when God told his people to “Stay in Babylon” and pray for peace.

“The answer isn’t always to leave, but stay and be a witness to God,” he said.

The foundation of the Presbyterian Church is ultimately Jesus as savior, and that hasn’t changed.

Information regarding First Presbyterian Church of Evanston’s anniversary events can be found at http://www.firstpresevanston.org/fpce-150th-celebration/