A Better Way Forward
150 years ago, the storms of conflict raged in the midst of our nation’s Civil War. In this period of great turbulence and turmoil, a small group of abolitionists from First Presbyterian Church believed there was a better way forward. This group of 7 women and 3 men knew God was calling them to create a place for worship for all, despite having little money and no building to call home. Together, in 1865, they founded Second – a place with a name that reminds us that our first, flawed attempts and failures do not need to be our undoing nor our ending. Second’s narrative begins with a failure, difficult decisions, a divided landscape, few resources, and a renewed commitment to faithful discipleship and transformation in Christ. It is our humble determination that we continue to keep God’s calling and mission First.
An Unyielding Commitment to Mission
In the early days, Second’s members taught in mission schools and supplied food, clothing, supplies, labor and money for those in need throughout Kansas City and missions overseas. This spirit continues today as Second champions a variety of agencies in Kansas City that include food pantries, AIDS ministries, housing projects and social justice initiatives designed to build bridges toward racial harmony, create quality public schools and nurture children and youth in area neighborhoods. Second also provides international assistance to missions and other projects in Ethiopia, Thailand, India, Brazil, Honduras and Guatemala.
From 1865 to 1915, Second occupied buildings at several downtown Kansas City locations, beginning with the first church at 809 Wyandotte. The congregation survived and flourished in the early years despite many setbacks, including a fire which destroyed the church building and manse at 13th and Central, and continuing shifts in population. Realizing the need to follow the population south, in 1916 Second settled in one of Kansas City’s first suburbs at 55th Street, between Brookside Blvd. and Oak Streets, where it makes its home today.
Second’s Historic Building
The first unit of Second’s present structure (left) was erected in 1916 (the side chapel or south wing of the church, now called the transept). The sanctuary was completed in 1917. The tower was enlarged and chimes installed in 1924 and the educational wing was built in 1956. The remodeling of the sanctuary, with installation of the new organ, complete rebuilding of the chancel and provision of the new stained glass windows, was finished in 1949.
Second’s church building itself is a symbol of our heritage. The distinctive Gothic-style stone structure features a welcoming and inspiring sanctuary with carvings in the molding and furniture that reflect events and teachings in the life of Christ. Magnificent stained-glass windows, including a Tiffany window, depict Christian symbols and stories. Fifty colorful liturgical banners, created over a 12 year period, are changed to reflect church seasons and needlepoint cushions of Biblical figures decorate the front pews.
The windows, banners and cushions represent the work of dozens of men and women who devoted their talents to planning, designing and executing the art projects – yet another evidence of the spirit of involvement that permeates Second.
A Church for the 21st Century
At Second, we are simultaneously proud of our rich heritage and traditions and looking for ways to become the church God is calling us to be in the 21st century. Included in this is our commitment to be better stewards of God’s creation. In recent months and years, Second has pursued green initiatives that not only reduce the church’s carbon footprint, but create long-term savings for our congregation. The environmentally-friendly projects include:
– Installation of 102 solar panels on our facility’s roof. The system will cover approximately 8% of Second’s energy costs, and will save an estimated $100,000 over the next 20 years.
– Installation of high-efficiency furnaces with set turn on/off times
– Replacing old lighting with energy-efficient light bulbs
– Installation of motion sensors on lights in restrooms
– Recycling within the building, and a community recycling bin in our parking lot
– Reduction in the amount of chemicals used on our lawn
– Installation of modern, double-pane thermal windows
– A new bike rack to encourage alternative means of transportation