Prairie Village pastor leads oldest continuous church in KC through 150th anniversary

Paul Rock delivered a sermon Sunday commemorating Second Presbyterian's 150th birthday.
Paul Rock delivered a sermon Sunday commemorating Second Presbyterian’s 150th birthday.

The past Sunday, Prairie Village resident Rev. Paul Rock had a distinction no one else in the metro can claim: Helping lead his church to celebrate its 150th birthday.

Rock has been pastor at Second Presbyterian Church in Brookside for the past five years, having moved to the area from New York City where he led his previous congregation.

On Sunday, the church welcomed current and former congregants and staff members for a celebration of Second Presbyterians’ sesquicentennial. That milestone represents Second Presbyterians’ status as the longest continuously meeting congregation in the Kansas City area.

“One of the questions that was at the heart of the sermon on Sunday was ‘How does a church get to be 150 years old?'” Rock said. “One of the things I think has been part of our longevity is that the congregation hasn’t been afraid to look honestly at the things going on is society and apply a critical lens.”

The church has continued that tradition, Rock said, by focusing on environmental issues — they installed solar panels on their roof a couple years ago — and race relations.

On Sunday, Rock’s service ended with a call to have everyone head out to the church lawn, where the organist played Happy Birthday on the tower chimes.

“It was a really cool moment,” he said.

Rock lives in Prairie Village with his wife and three children.