The First Presbyterian Church in La Grande began with six charter members on April 25, 1886, served by the Reverends J.C. Willert of Summerville and C.R. Shields of Joseph. A building was dedicated that December, built near the new town on a triangular site donated by the railroad. The Board of Home Missions subsidized the Church until 1902, when its 133 members became self-supporting
The Church grew to 315 members by 1912, when Dr. A.G. Lane became pastor. He introduced the first Session committee system and saw the construction of a branch Sunday School chapel before his death in 1914. Before the Church sold it in 1923, Lane Chapel enrolled up to 115 Sunday Scholars on La Grande's north side. The Good Shepherd window, in the back of the sanctuary, memorializes Dr. Lane.
World War I called away not only members, but the Church's permanent pastor, when the Rev. George L. Clark became YMCA field secretary for southern France. Whitman College professors helped fill the gap but, at one point, a harried pulpit committee recommended that local Protestant churches confederate for the duration of the war. Following the war, fortunes improved rapidly. After receiving 90 new members in a year, the Church appointed a building committee in 1921, dedicated a new sanctuary on the site of the original building in May 1924, and added a new pipe organ the following year.
The prosperous 1920's left the Church with 400 members and an average Sunday School attendance of 200, but the Depression dealt a harsh blow. The Rev. J. George Walz, who arrived in 1927 at a salary of $2700, would see his salary fall to $800 and find the Church unable to make payments on the manse (Presbyterian for “minister's residence”). There was gradual recovery by the late 1930's and renewed strength during the war and postwar periods.
The 20 year pastorate of the Rev. Louis Samson saw membership exceed 500 during the 1950's, and saw, as well, the building of a Christian Education wing in 1951, with the third story added in 1958. During the 1970's, under Pastors Jack MacLeod and Barry Heath, lay leadership expanded, the Church sponsored two Cambodian refugee families, and Reynolds Hall was remodeled. Dr. Stephen Kliewer brought the Church into its second century with two Sunday morning services and a thriving Sunday School.
The Rev. Norman L. Shrumm next served the congregation as pastor from 1988 until 2004. During his years of service, Church Fellowship Night, a Wednesday event offering food, fellowship, education, and outreach was added to the ministries of the Church. The congregation also developed the old Hub City Foods property into the Presbyterian Friendship Center, which serves both Church and community.
Eighteen months without full-time clergy followed Pastor Norm's departure. Many lay members and area clergy filled in as worship leaders, reaffirming the strength of the Church family. In December 2005, the Rev. Andrew M. Kennaly arrived to begin his ministry with this congregation. Pastor Kennaly served the Church through December 2007, and again the congregation found itself without a pastor. Reverend Larry Loftus (a retired Methodist minister) graciously agreed to provide pulpit supply and pastoral support from April 2008 until a new pastor was found.
In November 2009 prayers were answered with the arrival of the Reverends Keith and Laura Hudson, who were installed as the new pastors of First Presbyterian Church Thanksgiving weekend 2009.