At the turn of the century, many Protestant Syrians immigrated to the U.S. , and many of them ended up in Brooklyn , where they sought to worship together in their native Arabic tongue with familiar Arabic hymns and liturgy. Originally an informal gathering which met in homes, storefronts, and rented auditoriums, the Syrian Protestant Church was incorporated under the laws of New York City in 1907. 1920 was a milestone year, not only because the church at last found a home on Clinton and Pacific Streets, but because the Rev. Dr. Khalil Beshara began service as a stated supply, initiating a relationship that extended nearly 25 years.
During World War II the congregation, elders, and trustees believed the time was at hand to bring the worship services fully into English. The new spirit was championed by Rev. Dr. Edward Jurji, a pastor and renowned professor of comparative religion at Princeton Theological Seminary. Through his over 30 years of leadership, the church was brought into the Presbyterian denomination, was moved to the neighborhood of Bay Ridge (where it is currently located), and constructed a sanctuary that was completed in 1957. The church was built with the labor of its own members, and it has been a central place for families of Brooklyn ever since.
Over the next 50 years, the congregation housed people of faith and dynamism. Whether at a picnic table, on a stage, in a pew, or volunteering, people were growing in faith with many laughs and tears along the way. The church has been led by many gifted pastors including the Rev. David Dyson, the Rev. Ed Soares, the Rev. Richard Preston, the Rev. Anne Akers, and, our present pastor, the Rev. David Aja-Sigmon.
On August 8th, 2007, our little church became a national phenomenon, though it was not for a subject of our choosing. We were hit by Brooklyn's first ever recorded tornado. We had damage to our stained glass windows, walls, pews, trees, ironwork, bricks, etc; but we are thankful that no one was hurt. 3 years later the church is in better shape than it was physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Through it all we were humbled and impressed by the support of our neighbors, the workmanship of the crews, and the strength of our own congregation. We found God, who had never left, in the extended hands helping us back up.
In 2013 Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church was contacted by the leadership of Bay Ridge United Church. Bay Ridge United wanted to consider a plan for integration. The inspiration was a strengthened mission and presence for our churches in the community. In February 2014, the churches started worshiping together. In July of 2015 the presbytery approved the plan of union, in January of 2016 Bay Ridge United transferred the majority of their members to Fourth Avenue Presbyterian Church. Joined in prayer, song, leadership, and mission, the churches are stronger because of this faithful step. For more information about the history of Bay Ridge United Church, please visit their Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_Ridge_United_Church
While the church's membership has changed over the years and the building has been forever altered, many of the names and the church's centrality in the lives of its people have remained the same. As the church enters its second 100 years of existence, the church searches for a way to remain true to its roots while also reaching out to a world different than the one at the church's founding.