Woodlawn Presbyterian Church
Organized in 1870
The founders of Woodlawn Presbyterian Church first met in the home of Elder John W. Onley and his wife, Mary J. R. Onley, on February 10, 1870. But its history dates to long before the formal organization of the Third Presbyterian Church. Many blacks had been exposed to the worship services, doctrines and activities of Presbyterianism through their association and membership in First Presbyterian Church located at Ocean and Monroe Streets.
In 1870 – five years after the civil war – the only African American Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville was organized under the leadership of Elder Onley. A small group of saints met in his home located at the corner of Julia and North Streets to consider organizing a Presbyterian Church with black leadership.
On Friday, February 11, 1870, the committee met to determine the best plan to implement worship services. On February 12, 1870, the Rev. J. W.C. Pennington met with the committee in the office of Dr. Mitchell, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville. On Sunday, February 27, 1870, Rev. Pennington preached the first sermon, marking the first worship service of the first organized Third Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, Florida. In August 1875, the name of the church was changed to Laura Street Presbyterian Church located at Laura and State Streets in downtown Jacksonville.
The phenomenal growth of the church and the expansion of downtown Jacksonville was so great that the decision was made by the congregation to relocate. In 1961, the church was relocated to its present site. On December 31, 1961, the church was officially named Woodlawn Presbyterian Church.
The present sanctuary was constructed and dedicated on November 15, 1981. Under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Joe Rigsby, the fellowship hall was remodeled and a multi-purpose Family Life Center was constructed. This building was dedicated on September 13, 2003 allowing numerous congregational ministries to begin. The church recently celebrated its 150th Anniversary.
Thanks to Eris Northern of Woodlawn Presbyterian Church