History & Archives
The Brick Church in the City of New York has been in continuous operation since 1767, except for the years of the Revolutionary War, when the building was commandeered by the British forces for use as a hospital and later as a brig. The church was an expansion of the flourishing Wall Street Church, which had become so crowded that it was plain a second church was necessary. Its pastors, headed by the Reverend Dr. John Rodgers, and its officers administered both churches. The Brick Church did not become a separate and incorporated entity until 1809.
The Brick Church has had three locations in New York City. Its first site was on Beekman Street. This spot is now occupied by Pace University’s downtown campus. The elders deemed a move necessary when it became apparent that most of the members were moving uptown. Two wars, three epidemics and three great fires changed the area from residential to a neighborhood of boarding houses and commercial operations. The church moved to Fifth Avenue and 37th Street in 1858, and remained there until 1940, when, again, in response to the migration of its congregation, it relocated to its third and present site at Park Avenue and 91st Street.
Brick Church on Beekman Street
Brick Church on Fifth Avenue
Brick Church on Park Avenue
Senior Ministers of The Brick Church
John Rodgers (1767 – 1811)
Gardiner Spring (1810 – 1873)
James O. Murray (1865 – 1875)
Llewelyn D. Bevan (1877 – 1882)
Henry van Dyke (1883 – 1900)
James H. McIlvaine (1894 – 1896)
Maltbie D. Babcock (1900 – 1901)
William R. Richards (1902 – 1910)
William P. Merrill (1911 – 1938)
Paul A. Wolfe (1938 – 1964)
J. Reginald Thomas (1965 – 1970)
James S. Stewart (1972 – 1977)
Herbert B. Anderson (1978 – 2000)
Michael L. Lindvall (2002 – 2017)
Thomas E. Evans (2020 - Present)
On July 26, 2020, Reverend Dr. Thomas Evans was approved as the 14th Senior Minister of The Brick Presbyterian Church. Before coming to The Brick Church, he served as Senior Pastor and Head of Staff for First Presbyterian Church in Spartanburg, S.C., and prior to that, he served as Executive Presbyter for the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta. Rev. Evans also served in pastoral roles in churches in Idaho (1994), Arkansas (1996), and upstate New York (2000), and as Executive Presbyter in Birmingham, AL (2005).
He graduated with a Master of Divinity (1994) and Doctor of Ministry (2003) from Princeton Theological Seminary. Tom is also a graduate of The College of William and Mary (1989) where he earned an B.A. in Mathematics.
The Reverend Michael L. Lindvall was installed as the 13th Pastor of The Brick Presbyterian Church in the fall of 2002. Reverend Lindvall was raised in small-town Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He previously served as pastor to congregations in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Northport, Long Island.
Rev. Lindvall is also a writer whose essays, book reviews, sermons and fiction appear in a variety of church-related and secular periodicals. He has written two novels, The Good News from North Haven, and Leaving North Haven, both published by Crossroad/Carlisle Books, an imprint of Herder and Herder. A volume of accessible theology entitled The Christian Life: A Geography of God, was recently released by Geneva Press.
Henry van Dyke
Henry van Dyke deserves our thanks not only for writing the text for Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee but for worship innovations that we take for granted today: celebrating Christmas Day as a church holiday, holding a special Good Friday service and adding the congregational Lord’s Prayer to regular worship.
He was called in 1883; a time when the church was not in the best of health. The building was not in good repair and membership was low. Young, lively and personable, he reinvigorated the Church. Besides preaching, leading the congregation, editing the Psalter and writing much of the Book of Common Worship, he wrote poetry and stories, the best known of which is The Story of the Other Wise Man. Dr. van Dyke was also a popular speaker and teacher. After leaving the Brick Church to teach and preach at Princeton, he served as a diplomat, posted by fellow Presbyterian President Woodrow Wilson as minister to the Netherlands and Luxembourg just before World War I. Look him up and prepare to be humbled by his extraordinary resume.
Gardiner Spring, just out of seminary, accepted the call to Brick Church in 1810 after three others had declined. His was an era of uptown expansion of the city, social unrest, religious revivals, the War of 1812 against the British, passionate theological disputes about the nature of human sinfulness, and most profoundly, the issue of slavery. Dr. Spring tackled them all. He moved Brick Church to Fifth Avenue in 1858, instituted the first full choir and acquired our current church bell. He added prayer meetings, adult classes and mission-oriented Sunday Schools largely for the children of non-members, often poor, among many other accomplishments, while trying to remain moderate theologically and politically.
But as the slavery issue became increasingly prominent, the time for moderation passed. Today he is best known for the Spring Resolutions of 1861 in support of the Union after the South had seceded.
Dr. John Rogers
The church has been blessed with gifted and distinguished pastors. Our first pastor, Dr. Rodgers, regularly corresponded with George Washington, was moderator of the first General Assembly in 1789, and was chaplain to the New York State Legislature. He would deliver a short (60 minute) action sermon on Communion Sundays, and close the street in front of the church during services to eliminate noise. He has been followed by many notable clergy, three of whom were elected moderator of the General Assembly.
General George Washington wrote to Dr. Rodgers acknowledging receipt of a printed copy of Divine Goodness Displayed, in the American Revolution “… The Thanksgiving Sermon which you did me the favor to send me I read with much pleasure, & pray you to accept my thanks for, & the favorable mention you have been pleased to make of me therein…” Washington had also attended the service that marked the evacuation of the British from the City at the end of the war. Click here to read The Divine Goodness sermon.
Congregation & Corporation
The Brick Presbyterian Church was founded as an offshoot of First Presbyterian Church in 1767. The Corporation was chartered in 1809 and is governed by a twelve-person Board of Trustees elected by the Congregation.