The city of San Mateo was established in the 1800’s, but really began to turn into a “suburban community” of its own in the early 20th century.  By the 1940’s, the Peninsula had become increasingly attractive to people, builders and developers, but churches had not caught up with them and there was no Protestant Sunday school in the south San Mateo area.

The seeds for First Presbyterian Church San Mateo were sown when Presbyterian leadership recognized that need and rented a store in the court of shops on the first block of 25th Avenue to be used for a Sunday school for children.  The Church Extension Board paid the $25 a month rental fee.  Attendance increased rapidly, and on February 15, 1942, the enrollment stood at 100.

A larger store on 25th Avenue was found.  Eleven adults participated in the first worship service there as the “South San Mateo Community Church.”  Rev. Lon H. Eakes, a retired minister, conducted the service.

Only six and a half months later (August 30, 1942), having grown to 84 members, the Presbytery of San Francisco chartered “San Mateo Presbyterian Church” as a member.  As a gift to the congregation, in 1943 the Presbytery paid $3,400 to purchase four lots which now make up the present main church property.  A San Francisco Theological Seminary student was leading the congregation at the time.  On April 22, 1943, he was ordained as their first full-time pastor.  When his tenure ended September 6, 1945, membership had grown to 277.  In fact, it was the beginning of a period of phenomenal growth and a reflection on the tenor of the times.

In 1946 construction got underway for a sanctuary (now Geneva Hall) and plans were made for the later addition of Sunday school classrooms. The first building fund campaign was held with a goal of $30,000, which was surpassed within 24 hours.  The results of the continued campaign were so successful that the two-story Sunday school wing was actually able to be completed, along with the sanctuary.  Thus it was that on October 20, 1946, the Sunday schoolers left their storefront location and marched up 25th Avenue to their new church facility.

By April 1950 the congregation had grown to 450 members and was experiencing tremendous growth.  By 1954 two Sunday worship services, along with double sessions of Sunday school, were being offered.   This accelerating growth of the congregation and their needs sparked a three-year building fund drive to construct the Sanctuary we have today with its soaring overhead beams, pews, organ, piano, etc.

The church continued to flourish through the 1950’s and ‘60’s, and the parking lot and church manse (the house next to the parking lot) were purchased.  In 1973, the Lighthouse building was purchased, and the church offices moved from the main campus to the location across the street.  Music, worship and a commitment to mission were priorities which became well-established in the congregation. An emphasis on ministry to children and youth continued to be a strength of FPCSM, and in 1991 the lower level of the north Sunday school building was totally remodeled to better accommodate the exploding population of newborns and toddlers.

When we look back, we see the size and make-up of the congregation has changed over the years reflecting the aging of our founders and the demographics of our community, but the opportunity for all who are a part of FPCSM to grow and serve in love and faith of our Savior, Jesus Christ, has always been the priority.