Columbia, Missouri, is home to a rich tapestry of history, and its churches are no exception. This vibrant city boasts a diverse range of historical places of worship that have played pivotal roles in the community’s development.
Among these, you’ll find The First Baptist Church, The Second Baptist Church, The First Christian Church, The Second Christian Church, The Missouri United Methodist Church, and St. Paul A.M.E. Church, each with its unique story and architectural charm.
As you explore the historical churches in Columbia, you’ll not only witness stunning examples of architectural craftsmanship but also gain insights into the city’s cultural heritage and the pivotal role these places of worship have played in shaping the community.
Join us on a journey through Columbia’s historical churches, where the past and the present converge in remarkable ways. If you are interested in the historical places to visit in Columbia, we have another article for you.
The First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church, a historic Baptist congregation in Columbia, Missouri, holds a significant place in the city’s religious and civic history.
Established in 1823, it was Columbia’s first and only church at the time of its founding. The church’s rich history and enduring influence are intertwined with the development of both the city and the religious community of Missouri.
Architecturally, First Baptist Church is an exemplar of the Georgian Revival style. Its sanctuary, an architectural gem, stands prominently on Broadway in Downtown Columbia.
This elegant building completed in 1957, is the church’s fourth structure and its second at this location, showcasing the congregation’s commitment to their faith. Located across the street from Stephens College, which was initially founded by church members, the church’s physical presence is not only a spiritual beacon but also a significant part of Columbia’s architectural heritage.
Today, First Baptist Church embraces both traditional and contemporary Sunday services, reflecting its commitment to serving a diverse congregation. Its community outreach efforts have resulted in the founding of the Odyssey Chamber Music Series and collaborations with various musical organizations, making the sanctuary a cultural hub in addition to a place of worship.
The historical ties between First Baptist Church and the city of Columbia, as well as the church’s architectural significance, continue to be celebrated and cherished by both congregation members and the community at large.
The Second Baptist Church
Second Baptist Church, located at the intersection of 4th St. and Broadway in Columbia, is a historic Baptist congregation with an illustrious history dating back to its founding in 1866.
The church occupies a splendid Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival-style building, which was completed in 1894.
The sanctuary features elliptical arched doors and magnificent stained glass windows. It embodies the dedication of the congregation to create a space that exemplifies their faith and commitment to their community.
The church’s origins are rooted in the desire of newly emancipated slaves and free people of color to establish a place where they could worship in their own way. The church’s African heritage is evident in its original name, the African Union Church, which was later changed to Second Baptist.
Throughout its rich history, the church witnessed remarkable financial growth and spiritual development. In 1923, plans were made to build an annex to the sanctuary, a project that came to fruition in 1961, providing space for various functions, including classrooms and fellowship areas.
Recent renovations and expansions continue to reflect the congregation’s dedication to maintaining this historic structure as a vibrant place of worship and community service.
The First Christian Church
The First Christian Church in Columbia, stands as a historical monument to faith and architectural beauty. This Disciples of Christ church, designed by T.N. Bell of Chicago, Illinois, was erected in 1893 and showcases the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
The church’s striking Sanctuary features a square bell tower, contrasting high gables, round arches, and exquisite stone detailing, creating a sense of grandeur and reverence. Its architectural elegance extends to the voussoir arches, adding to the visual and spiritual appeal.
Eugene Groves designed the Education Building, a welcomed addition in 1929, expanding the church’s facilities and capabilities. This church, the second building on this site, still functions as an active place of worship, preserving its historical significance and architectural beauty.
Established in 1832, the First Christian Church has been an integral part of Columbia’s history and growth. Over the years, it played a vital role in founding educational institutions and mission work in far-off places. The church’s influence extends not only through its faith community but also through various local and international affiliations.
As part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1991, this church continues to grace the North Village Arts District with its presence, bearing witness to Columbia’s rich history and architectural heritage.
The Second Christian Church
The Second Christian Church in Columbia, is a testament to both history and architectural simplicity. Erected in 1927, this historic African-American church stands at 401 N. 5th and is an eclectic blend of architectural styles.
This rectangular, two-story structure boasts a flat roof and brick masonry, exuding understated elegance. The windows, with their decorative brickwork, are recessed, adding subtle charm to the facade. The entrance, marked by two unassuming doorways at each end of the front, invites all who enter into a place of faith and community.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, the Second Christian Church embodies the historical and architectural heritage of Columbia, a reminder of its rich past and the community’s enduring commitment to faith.
The Missouri United Methodist Church
The Missouri United Methodist Church, nestled in the heart of downtown Columbia, carries with it a rich history and architectural splendor. Its congregation traces its roots back to 1837 when it formed the very first Methodist Church in Columbia.
The current edifice, an exquisite masterpiece built between 1925 and 1930, stands as a shining example of Late Gothic Revival architecture. Fashioned from Indiana Bedford limestone, this sacred space is a testament to the enduring faith and dedication of its community.
The magnificent stained glass windows, notably the grand “History of Methodism” window in the sanctuary’s rear, are some of the most intricate in Mid-Missouri.
The sanctuary itself offers solace and inspiration to over 1,000 attendees. It’s not just a place of worship but a vibrant hub for music. The church houses a significant Skinner pipe organ, a prized possession acquired under the stewardship of University of Missouri School of Music Dean James Thomas Quarles.
Each year, the church hosts the Missouri United Church Concert Series, welcoming renowned groups like the Columbia Chorale, the 9th Street Philharmonic Orchestra, and distinguished ensembles such as Chanticleer and the Vienna Boys Choir.
Beyond its architectural grandeur, the Missouri United Methodist Church is a symbol of faith, heritage, and community engagement, rightfully earning its place on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
St. Paul A.M.E. Church
St. Paul A.M.E. Church, a historical cornerstone in the heart of Columbia, is a testament to faith and resilience. This African Methodist Episcopal church stands at the intersection of Park Avenue and N. 5th Street, a symbol of spiritual heritage and architectural grandeur.
Constructed in 1891, the church beautifully blends Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival design elements, making it a visual treasure.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980, St. Paul A.M.E. Church is a significant cultural and architectural landmark. Its roots trace back to the years following the Civil War when the local African American community sought unity among Baptist and Methodist worshippers.
The initial effort, known as The African Union Church, was short-lived, but in 1867, it gave rise to First A.M.E. Church, the precursor to St. Paul.
The congregation’s journey led to the construction of their first church in 1868 at Fourth and Ash Streets. In 1890, a pivotal change occurred as the church not only transitioned to its current location but also adopted the name St. Paul A.M.E.
Two years later, the present church building took shape, offering a beacon of hope, faith, and architectural beauty to the community.