August 29: Church Planting

This Day in Presbyterian History:

What a Novel Idea!

This contributor has been involved in several church plants himself as well as participating in Presbytery church planting efforts in the Presbyterian Church in America.  So when a mission church, or for that matter, an organized church begins anew in a new building, there can be no better beginning service than that of a prayer meeting.   And yet that is exactly what happened in West Chester, Pennsylvania on August 29, 1956.  Moving into a new structure for their smaller congregation, the first service was a prayer meeting.

And to be sure, united prayer before the Sovereign God was needed for that Pennsylvania congregation. For that very same year, the national denomination of the Bible Presbyterian Church had a sizeable schism which could very easily have weakened what God’s Spirit  had already been accomplished in this city and church.  But God was faithful in giving wisdom to the congregation, enabling them to stay independent of the whole issue for a while.

The church had begun in 1938 as a core group of faithful and committed Christians left the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. over the apostasy in that once great church.  Beginning with just a nucleus of Christians, they were able to begin a church role of thirteen members, with help from pulpit supplies from Faith Theological Seminary.  They began as the Independent Church of West Chester.  One year later, they affiliated with the Bible Presbyterian Church.  Faithful pastors proclaimed the whole counsel of God and the church grew.  Evangelistic outreach was begun in the town, and people began to respond to the gospel.

Eventually, they affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which became the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod. Since 1982, they became a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

Their allegiance to the Bible as God’s Word, inspired, inerrant, and infallible, remains the same since they began as a local church of Jesus Christ.

Words to live by:  There is a slogan which American business have often used, sometimes even painted  on the shell of a building, which said, “Build it, and they will come.”  That probably isn’t always the case, so it is more of a hope than anything else.  But in the framework of God’s church,  with the faithful proclamation of the Scriptures, the everlasting gospel, coupled with the sovereign God,  it is true, as this local church in West Chester Pennsylvania has experienced in the almost 75 years of its witness.  Praise  God for faithful churches, true to the faith once delivered unto the saints.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Chronicles 24 – 26

Through the Standards: Lawful and unlawful subjects of prayer    

WLC 184 — “For what things are we to pray?
A.   We are to pray for all things tending to the glory of God, the welfare of the church, our own or others, good; but not for anything that is unlawful.”

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  1. Vaughn Edward Hathaway Jr’s avatar

    I don’t think your dates are correct. The Westchester church was still in the Bible Presbyterian Church during my three years in seminary (1965-68). During my senior year (1967-68 [actually June 1967 to September 1968]) , I was student supply of the Coatesville church. The pastor of the Westchester church was the moderator of the Session of the Coatesville church. The Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod was already in existence in 1968, it was chronologically impossible therefore for the Westchester church ever to have been in the (first) Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

  2. davidtmyers’s avatar

    Dear Brother Hathaway:
    I took the facts of this Aug 29th post from their web site found on the web, copyright 2011. They call themselves now the Reformed Presbyterian Church of West Chester. The seventh paragraph reads as follows: “It was about this time (1956), that the Bible Presbyterian Church had a split. Our congregation voted to stay independent, waiting upon the Lord to lead us into that group which we felt was most consistent with our own stance. In February of 1976, we united with the group that took the name Evangelical Presbyterian Church and later (after union with an old smaller conservative Presbyterian denomination) became known as the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod.”

    On the dates which you mentioned when you were in seminary, the Rev. Robert DuVall, who was their pastor and the moderator of the Session of the Coatesville Church, where you were, was in the BPC, however the church was unaffiliated. In other words, Bob DuVall was a BPC minister, but he pastored a church which was not affiliated with the Bible Presbyterian synod, even though it was called Bible Presbyterian in name. It was unaffiliated. I went to church there once when I was employed as a field representative of Faith Seminary in the late 60’s. If you cannot get the site, I have a copy of it and can send it to you snail mail. Sincerely, David Myers, Author of ThisDay in Presbyterian History

  3. Vaughn Edward Hathaway Jr’s avatar

    There is still a problem. In 1975, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church had been a part of the RPC,ES for 10 years. The EPC ceased to exist in 1965. The Westchester Church could never have been part of the EPC therefore if it was unaffiliated 1965-68. I would suggest that the webmaster check his facts.

    Mr. Duvall had a prominent place in a student sponsored theological conference at Faith Seminary during my senior year at Faith (1967-68). Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, Mr. Robert Dunzweiler, Dr. Lynn Gray Gordon and Mr. Duvall in four consecutive weeks addressed the faculty, the student body and the public on Confessing Christ in a Twentieth Century Expression of the Westminster Confession of Faith. Dr. Lee’s address confronted a changing, hostile society. Mr. Dunzweiler addressed the church and its theology. Dr. Gordon addressed the church and its catechetical task. And, Mr. Duval addressed the church relative to its pulpit ministry. I don’t know what happened to three of the four papers that were presented; but Dr. Lee’s was later published in booklet form by an English publisher.

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