This article needs additional citations for . verification (December 2010) Old Ship Church
(1681), the oldest surviving Puritan meeting house in Massachusetts
The designation of the
oldest church in the United States requires careful use of definitions, and must be divided into two parts, the oldest in the sense of oldest surviving building, and the oldest in the sense of oldest Christian church congregation. Even here, there is the distinction between old church buildings that have been in continuous use as churches, and those that have been converted to other purposes; and between buildings that have been in continuous use as churches and those that were shuttered for many decades.
In terms of congregations, they are distinguished between early established congregations that have been in continuous existence (despite sometimes great theological changes), and early congregations that ceased to exist. Some of these churches are located in areas that were part of the
thirteen original colonies that made up the United States in 1776. Others were built in states and territories that were later annexed, such as New Mexico and Puerto Rico. Sites on the list are generally from the First Period of American architecture or earlier.
To be listed here a site must:
be the oldest church in a state, territory, large city (top 50), or oldest of its type (denomination, architectural, etc.); be freestanding (not a ruin or mound...there are separate lists for those); and/or be the oldest congregation of its type (denomination). Oldest church buildings [edit ] This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it
Building Image Location State First Built Denomination Notes San Miguel Mission Santa Fe, New Mexico NM 1610 Roman Catholic Said to be the oldest church structure originally built in the continental USA. The original adobe walls and altar were built by the Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico, but much of the structure was rebuilt in 1710. Building has been within the U.S. since 1848, when the New Mexico territory was annexed. [1 ] St. Luke's Church Smithfield, Virginia VA 1632 Episcopal/Anglican Said to be the oldest church in one of the thirteen original colonies, National Historic Landmark [2 ] Jamestown Church Jamestown, Virginia VA 1639 Episcopal/Anglican The church tower is the oldest surviving building in Jamestown, the 1st British settlement [3 ] Old Ship Church Hingham, Massachusetts MA 1681 Puritan, Congregational, now Unitarian Universalist Oldest church building in continuous ecclesiastical use in the United States; only remaining 17th-century Puritan meetinghouse in the US. [4 ] Third Haven Meeting House Talbot County, Maryland MD 1682 Quaker (Friends) Oldest building in Maryland. Oldest Quaker meeting house in the United States. Old Indian Meeting House Mashpee, Massachusetts MA 1684 Congregational/Native American Oldest Native American church King's Chapel Boston, MA MA 1686 Unitarian Christian Oldest continually used religious site in Boston Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow Sleepy Hollow, New York NY 1685 Dutch Reformed Oldest church building in New York Old Quaker Meeting House (Flushing, Queens) Flushing, New York NY 1694 Quaker (Friends) Oldest religious building in New York City. The only surviving example in New York State of a typical 17th-century ecclesiastical frame structure of medieval design. [5 ] Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes) Wilmington, Delaware DE 1698 Lutheran/Episcopal Oldest Swedish Church in the United States Great Friends Meeting House Newport, Rhode Island RI 1699 Quaker (Friends) Quaker Meeting House, oldest surviving church in Rhode Island Gloria Dei (Old Swedes' Church) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania PA 1700 Lutheran/Episcopal Oldest surviving church in Philadelphia Six Principle Baptist Church North Kingstown, Rhode Island RI 1703 Baptist Possibly oldest surviving Baptist church building in the U.S. St. Mary's Episcopal Church Burlington NJ 1703 Episcopal Oldest church in New Jersey St. Andrews Episcopal Church Charleston, South Carolina SC 1706 Episcopal Oldest church in South Carolina Old Narragansett Church Wickford, Rhode Island RI 1707 Episcopal Oldest surviving colonial Episcopal church in Northeastern USA St.Michael's Church (Marblehead, Massachusetts) Marblehead, Massachusetts MA 1714 Episcopal Oldest surviving Episcopal church building in New England on its original foundation Old North Church Boston, Massachusetts MA 1723 Episcopal Oldest active church building in Boston and a National Historic Landmark, the Old North Church (formal name: Christ Church in the City of Boston) is the location from which the famous signal lanterns are said to have been displayed for Paul Revere's midnight ride during the American Revolution. Trinity Church, Newport Newport, Rhode Island RI 1726 Anglican/Episcopal Oldest Episcopal Parish in Rhode Island St. John's Episcopal Church (Hampton, Virginia) Hampton, Virginia VA 1728 Anglican/Episcopal Oldest Episcopal Parish in the New World Christ Church (Ironsides, Maryland) Nanjemoy, Maryland MD 1732 Episcopal Oldest Episcopal church building in Maryland St. Thomas Episcopal Church (Bath, North Carolina) Bath, North Carolina NC 1734 Episcopal Oldest church in North Carolina Augustus Lutheran Church Trappe, Pennsylvania PA 1743 Lutheran Oldest unaltered Lutheran Church in use by the same congregation St. Michael's Church Charleston, South Carolina SC 1752–1761 Episcopal/Anglican Oldest church edifice in Downtown Charleston, SC St. Paul's Chapel New York, New York NY 1766 Episcopal Oldest church building in Manhattan Barratt's Chapel Frederica, Delaware DE 1780 Methodist Second oldest Methodist church building in the U.S. built for that purpose (the oldest is St. George's in Philadelphia, PA, built in 1769) Mission San Juan Capistrano San Juan Capistrano CA 1782 Roman Catholic Oldest building in use in California Oldest Continuous Church Congregations [edit ]
Building Image Location State Founded Denomination Notes St. John's Episcopal Church (Hampton, Virginia) Hampton, Virginia VA 1610 Episcopal Oldest English-speaking parish in continuous existence in the United States of America, current building from 1728 [7 ] First Parish Church in Plymouth Plymouth, Massachusetts MA 1620 Originally Separatist ( Calvinist), then Congregational, now Unitarian Universalist Oldest congregation in New England, oldest congregation in Massachusetts (building from 1899), founded by the Pilgrims Marble Collegiate Church New York, New York NY 1628 Dutch Reformed Oldest church congregation in New York State (building from 1854) First Church in Boston Boston, Massachusetts MA 1630 Originally Puritan ( Calvinist), then Congregational, now Unitarian Universalist Oldest congregation in Boston, Massachusetts (building from 1968) Christ Church Stevensville, Maryland MD 1632 Episcopal Oldest congregation in Maryland, building from 1880 pictured. (current building from 1995) First Baptist Church in America Providence, Rhode Island RI 1638 Baptist First Baptist Church founded in America, oldest church congregation in Rhode Island, oldest Baptist congregation in America (building from 1775) First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica New York, New York NY 1662 Presbyterian Oldest Presbyterian church congregation in continuous existence St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina) Charleston, SC SC 1681 Episcopal Oldest Episcopal Congregation south of Virginia, present church building 1838 King's Chapel Boston, MA MA 1686 Unitarian Christian Oldest continually used religious site in Boston Christ Church, Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania PA 1695 Episcopal Oldest Episcopal congregation in Pennsylvania Trinity Church, New York New York, NY NY 1697 Episcopal Chartered by King William III in 1697. Trinity Church, Newport Newport, Rhode Island RI 1698 Anglican/Episcopal Oldest Episcopal Parish in Rhode Island Most Blessed Sacrament Parish Bally, Pennsylvania PA 1741 Roman Catholic Oldest RC Church in the original thirteen colonies still in continuous use in original building, original name St. Paul's Chapel Mother Bethel AME Church Philadelphia PA 1794 African Methodist Episcopal (AME) AME Church and denomination (1816) founded in Philadelphia; oldest congregation in the United States (building from 1890) By state [edit ] Alabama [edit ] Indian Springs Baptist Church, possibly the oldest surviving church building. Circa 1825. [8 ] Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile, congregation established in 1703, took current name in 1781, current building completed in 1850 (Roman Catholic) Mt. Calvary Presbyterian Church, Clay, AL. Founded in 1806. Flint River Primitive Baptist Church, founded in 1808 (Baptist) Canaan Baptist Church, Bessemer, was founded in 1818 (Southern Baptist). Round Island Baptist Church (Athens, Limestone County) was founded in 1817. Old Salem Baptist Church, Monroe County was founded in Nov. 1817 and is still an active church. Alaska [edit ] Church of the Holy Ascension, Oldest church building, built in 1826 (Russian Orthodox) Russian Orthodox Church in Kodiak Alaska, Oldest congregation, founded in 1794 (Russian Orthodox) Sitka Lutheran Church, Oldest Protestant church congregation, founded in 1839 (Lutheran) Arkansas [edit ] Smyrna Church, Searcy - Oldest church building in the state, built in 1856 (Methodist) [9 ] [10 ] Arizona [edit ] California [edit ] Emmanuel Church in Coloma, Oldest Protestant church building, built in 1855 (Methodist/Episcopal) Mission San Juan Capistrano, Oldest church building, built in 1782 (Roman Catholic) Mission San Diego de Alcalá, Oldest congregation, founded in 1769 (Roman Catholic) Old First Presbyterian, Oldest Protestant church congregation, founded in 1849 (Presbyterian) Colorado [edit ] Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church, Oldest church building and congregation, built in 1857 (Roman Catholic) St. James Methodist Church in Central City, Oldest Protestant church in Colorado still used as a church, oldest Protestant congregation (1859) and oldest Protestant church in the state (1871) (Methodist) [11 ] Connecticut [edit ] Delaware [edit ] Florida [edit ] Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Originally established September 8, 1565. Abandoned in 1763, but re-built in 1793. Elevated to Cathedral when Diocese of St. Augustine was created in 1870. Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Augustine is Florida's oldest Episcopal Church opened its doors in 1831. Trinity remains on its original site, and with its original steeple that was completed in 1837. Old Christ Church (Pensacola, Florida), Oldest church in Florida on its original foundation, built in 1832 (Episcopal) Mt Beasor Primitive Baptist Church (Sopchoppy, Florida) established in 1853 (Baptist) Georgia [edit ] Hawaii [edit ] Mokuaikaua Church, Oldest church congregation and building, founded in 1820, built in 1837 (Congregational) Kawaiahao Church, Oldest church congregation, founded in 1820, current structure dedicated in 1842 (Congregational) Idaho [edit ] Illinois [edit ] Church of the Holy Family (Cahokia), Oldest church building, built in 1799 (Roman Catholic) First Baptist Church of Elizabethtown, Oldest Baptist church congregation in Illinois, possibly oldest Protestant church, founded in 1806 (Baptist) Indiana [edit ] Iowa [edit ] Kansas [edit ] White Church Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Oldest continuously used church building, built in 1832 Kentucky [edit ] Louisiana [edit ] Maine [edit ] Maryland [edit ] Third Haven Meeting House, oldest church building, built in 1682 (Quaker). Old Trinity Church, in Dorchester County, construction date has been estimated as between 1660 and 1692. It is the oldest Episcopal Church building in Maryland (and is still in use). St. Paul's Church, in Clear Spring, Washington County, oldest congregation in Maryland (1747) Massachusetts [edit ] First Church in Plymouth, Oldest congregation founded 1620 (building 1899), (Puritan, Congregational, now Unitarian Universalist) First Congregational Church of Marshfield, gathered in 1632 (same building since 1838) (Congregational)  First Baptist Church in Swansea, Oldest Baptist congregation in MA, founded in 1663 (Baptist) First Parish in Cambridge, founded on February 1, 1636 at the First Church (Evangelical, now Unitarian Universalist) Old Ship Church, Oldest church building, built 1681, (Puritan, Congregational, now Unitarian Universalist) St. Michael's Church (Marblehead, Massachusetts). Oldest Episcopal Church in New England on its original foundation, built 1714, and still used daily year-round. A National Historic Landmark. Old North Church, Official name: Christ Church in the City of Boston. Oldest standing church building in Boston, built 1723 (Episcopal) a National Historic Landmark significant for its role in the American Revolution. Michigan [edit ] Missouri [edit ] Fee Fee Baptist Church in Bridgeton, Oldest Protestant church congregation, founded in 1807 (Baptist) St. Ferdinand's Shrine, Oldest church building, built in 1821 (Roman Catholic) Mississippi [edit ] Woodville Baptist Church, Oldest church building, built in 1809 (Baptist) Minnesota [edit ] Saint Peter's Church (Mendota, Minnesota), Oldest church in continuous use in Minnesota, built in 1853 (Roman Catholic) Wabasha United Church of Christ, Oldest Protestant congregation, founded in 1857 (Congregational) First Presbyterian Church (Stillwater, Minnesota), oldest Presbyterian congregation, founded December 8, 1849. Montana [edit ] St. Mary's Mission (Montana), Oldest church congregation, founded in 1841 (Roman Catholic) First Baptist Church in Stevensville, Possibly oldest Protestant church building, built in 1882 (Baptist) Melville Lutheran Church, oldest Lutheran congregation, founded in 1885, church building still in use (Lutheran) Nebraska [edit ] First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, Oldest church building, built in 1856 (Presbyterian) [14 ] Nevada [edit ] First Presbyterian Church of Carson City, Oldest church building, built in 1864 (Presbyterian) New Hampshire [edit ] First Parish Church in Dover, Oldest congregation founded in 1632 (Congregational/United Church of Christ) Newington Meeting House is the oldest church building in New Hampshire (1717, Congregational). New Jersey [edit ] New Mexico [edit ] First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe, founded in 1867, Oldest Protestant Church congregation in New Mexico (Presbyterian) San Miguel Mission, Oldest church building, built in 1610 (Roman Catholic) San Juan de los Caballeros/San Juan Bautista, Established 1598, second oldest foundation in the United States (Roman Catholic) New York [edit ] North Carolina [edit ] North Dakota [edit ] First Presbyterian Church of Bismarck, Oldest congregation, founded in 1873 (Presbyterian) Glencoe Presbyterian Church, Oldest church building used by original congregation, built in 1885 (Presbyterian) First Congregation, Assumption Catholic Church in Pembina, 1818 Ohio [edit ] Oklahoma [edit ] Oregon [edit ] Pennsylvania [edit ] Merion Friends Meeting House, oldest church building in Pennsylvania (1695), Merion Station (Quaker). Gloria Dei (Old Swedes' Church), second oldest church building, built in 1700 (Lutheran/Episcopal) St. George's Methodist Church, built in 1769, one of the two oldest continuously used Methodist churches in the world (Barratt's Chapel, Frederica, Delaware, 1780, is the other.) African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, founded 1792, oldest black Episcopal congregation in the United States (Episcopal) Mother Bethel AME Church, oldest African Methodist Episcopal congregation, founded 1794 (African Methodist Episcopal) African Methodist Episcopal Church, first African-American denomination in the United States, founded in 1816 (African Methodist Episcopal) Old Trinity Church, one of the oldest churches in Philadelphia, erected 1711 (Episcopal) Puerto Rico [edit ] Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, Oldest church building, built in 1521 (Roman Catholic) San Jose Church, Iglesia de San Jose, was constructed in the 1530s by Dominican friars to for use by their Saint Thomas Aquinas monastery. The church is located in Old San Juan. (Roman Catholic) Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Ponce, Oldest Protestant church, founded in 1872 (Anglican) Rhode Island [edit ] First Baptist Church in America, oldest congregation in RI, founded in 1638 (building 1775) (Baptist). Six Principle Baptist Church, one of the oldest Baptist church buildings in the U.S., built in 1703, (Baptist) Trinity Church, Newport, oldest Anglican congregation in RI, founded in 1698 (building 1726) (Episcopal). Great Friends Meeting House, oldest church building in RI, built in 1699 (Quaker). Old Narragansett Church, Wickford, oldest Episcopal church building in New England (1707). South Carolina [edit ] St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina), oldest Episcopal congregation south of Virginia, founded 1681 (Episcopal) First Baptist Church (Charleston, South Carolina), oldest Baptist congregation in the South, founded in 1682 (Baptist) St. Andrews Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina), Oldest church building, built in 1706 (Episcopal) Silver Bluff Baptist Church, oldest black Baptist congregation in the nation, founded 1774-1775 (Baptist) St. James Church (Goose Creek, South Carolina), built in 1719 (Episcopal) [15 ] South Dakota [edit ] Tennessee [edit ] Sinking Creek Baptist Church, Oldest church building, Oldest congregation and building, founded in 1772 (Baptist) Suggs Creek Cumberland Presbyterian, First Confession of Faith of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was adopted in 1814, Suggs Creek church founded in 1800 (Cumberland Presbyterian) Texas [edit ] Cathedral of San Fernando, Possibly oldest church building, built 1738-1750 (Roman Catholic) McMahan Chapel in St. Augustine, the oldest Protestant church congregation in Texas, founded in 1833 (Methodist) San Felipe United Methodist Church, the oldest Protestant church building in Texas, built in 1838 (Methodist) Ysleta Mission, Possibly the oldest continuous congregation, founded in 1680 (Roman Catholic) Our Lady of Loreto Chapel, at the Presidio La Bahia, Goliad, founded in 1779 (Roman Catholic) Utah [edit ] Vermont [edit ] Virginia [edit ] St. John's Episcopal Church (Hampton, Virginia), Oldest English-speaking parish in continuous existence in the United States of America, founded in 1610 (Episcopal/Anglican) [7 ] St. Luke's Church, Oldest building, built in 1632-1657: most likely erected in the early 1680s (Episcopal/Anglican) Slash Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Oldest wooden frame church building in Virginia, built in 1729 First Baptist Church (Petersburg, Virginia), contends as the oldest organized black Baptist congregation, organized 1774 (Baptist) Kempsville Baptist Church (Virginia Beach, Virginia), Established with the Baptist Association on
May 21, 1814
Washington [edit ] Washington, D.C. [edit ] West Virginia [edit ] Rehoboth Church, oldest church building, built in 1785 (Methodist), and oldest church building west of the main range of the Allegheny Mountains. Wisconsin [edit ] Methodist Episcopal Church in Mineral Point, Oldest Protestant congregation in Wisconsin, founded in 1834 (Methodist) St. Gabriel’s Church, Oldest church building built in Wisconsin, built in 1835 (Roman Catholic) St. Joan of Arc's Chapel, Oldest church building in Wisconsin, built in 15th century Chasse, France; moved to Wisconsin 1965 (Roman Catholic) Wyoming [edit ] See also [edit ] External links and references [edit ] ^ http://www.nosfarchives.org/sanmiguel.html ^ W. Eugene Kleinbauer, Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology, Medieval Academy of America, 1989, p. 315 ^ Nellie Urner Wallington , Historic Churches of America, 1907, p. 8 ^ "Old Ship Church", National Park Service ^ National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, 1970 ^ a b Tormey, James (April 2009). How Firm a Foundation. Richmond, VA: Diets Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-87517-135-7. ^ http://www.ruralswalabama.org/attractions/indian-springs-baptist-church-ca-1825-near-mcwilliams-al/ ^ Patsy Pipkin, "Walk Through History event brings to life memories of Smyrna Church", Arkansas Online, 13 Dec 2009, accessed 27 Sep 2010 ^ "Restoration Almost Complete for Arkansas 85", Texarkana Gazette, 27 Sep 2010, accessed 27 Sep 2010 ^ Hostetter, Lance. "Prayer, worship and community keep Conejos flock strong". Valley Courier. NewsMedia Corp., Alamosa, Colorado . Retrieved 25 Nov 2012. ^ "First Parish Church". Meeting House History. First Parish Congregational Church of York. 2009 . Retrieved 13 December 2010. ^ Farmer, John (1838). "Memoirs of Ministers". In E. Cornelius (and others). Quarterly register and journal of the American education society. The American quarterly register. ^ http://1stpresbvue.org/ ^ James Dillon (23 April 1976). . National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: St. James' Church, Goose Creek PDF (32 KB) and Accompanying five photos, exterior and interior, from 1975 and 1970 PDF (32 KB)