What Began as Fifteen Is Now Eighty-Four
The old Delmarva Presbytery, now dissolved, was originally organized as a Presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES) on October 11, 1969. The name Delmarva is a “portmanteau”, a conflation of two or more words or sounds to create a new word. In this case, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia are conflated to become Delmarva. The earliest use of that term appears to date back to 1913, and by the 1920s it was widely used, particularly in commerical or business applications.
At its formation, the RPCES Delmarva Presbytery consisted of fourteen churches and one mission work. Upon checking, it appears that all of these churches either came into the RPCES from the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod (aka, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 1961-65), when it merged with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod in April of 1965, or were added to the RPCES in the short span of years 1965-1968 prior to the creation of Delmarva. By the time that the RPCES was received into the PCA in 1982—in little more than another dozen years—Delmarva Presbytery had more than doubled to a total of thirty-seven churches!
With the Joining & Receiving, a few of the RPCES Delmarva churches went into the PCA’s James River Presbytery, but most continued on into the new PCA Delmarva Presbytery. Gathering at its first Stated Meeting, the new Delmarva Presbytery convened at 9:45 A.M. on September 11, 1982 at the Abbott Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland, with a service of worship conducted by the Rev. Stephen Smallman, then pastor of the McLean Presbyterian Church. The service included hymns and a sermon preached from I Timothy 3. The Rev. Franklyn Miller, pastor of the host church, along with Rev. Smallman, led in the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
At its formation, Delmarva Presbytery was made up of the following churches, with the six oldest and one other (Munson Hill) originally having come out of the old Southern Presbyterian denomination (the churches are listed by their date of organization):
1844―Aisquith Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1877―Valley Presbyterian Church, Lutherville, MD [org. 1877]
1882―Abbott Memorial Reformed Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD (Armistead Gardens, Baltimore, MD [org. ?]; merged with Abbott, 8/2/1987)
1896―Chapelgate Presbyterian Church, Marriottsville, MD
1907―Forest Park Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1910―Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church, Hyattsville, MD
1936―Faith Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE [previously First Independent & Faith Bible Church]
1942―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1942―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Elkton, MD
1942―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Newark, DE
1943―Inverness Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
1944―McLean Presbyterian Church, McLean, VA
1951―Munson Hill Presbyterian Church, Falls Church, VA [joined the RPCES in 1972; dissolved in 1992]
1954―Manor Presbyterian Church, New Castle, DE
1956―Berea Presbyterian Church, Hockessin, DE
1962―Bethany Presbyterian Church, New Castle, DE [now Heritage Presbyterian Church]
1964―Covenant Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, DE
1964―Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Annapolis, MD
1969―Liberty Reformed Presbyterian Church, Owings Mills, MD
1970―Timonium Presbyterian Church, Timonium, MD
1975―Pilgrim Presbyterian Church, Martinsburg, WV
1976―Reston Presbyterian Church, Reston, VA [transferred to EPC in 2000]
1977―McLean Korean Presbyterian Church, McLean, VA
1977―Severna Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Severna Park, MD
1977―Tollgate Presbyterian Church, Owings Mills, MD [became Living Hope PC, now dissolved]
1979―Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church, Frederick, MD
1980―Chinese Christian Presbyterian Church, Falls Church, VA [now owns the former Munson Hill property]
1980―Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, Relay, MD
1980―Grace Church PCA, Dover, DE
1981―New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Bel Air, MD
1982―Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church, Woodbridge, VA [now dissolved]
1982―Loch Raven Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, MD
In the short space of another seven years, the Presbytery voted its own dissolution by division into the two presbyteries of Potomac and Heritage. Delmarva Presbytery met in its final meeting at the 30th Stated Meeting on November 14, 1989, taking the action to redraw the lines of Presbytery and delegate its churches to new presbyteries. Since Heritage was the primary beneficiary of the churches of the the old Delmarva Presbytery, she was accorded status as the official successor to Delmarva, and so retains the ranking of the PCA’s 26th presbytery, while Potomac is listed as the 48th.
Chesapeake Presbytery, the PCA’s 63d presbytery, was later formed by division of Potomac Presbytery on January 1, 2002. The churches of Potomac Presbytery number 33 in all; Heritage has 18, and Chesapeake now has 33. What began as fifteen now totals eighty-four churches, all descending from the legacy that is the old Delmarva Presbytery.
A Pray for Continued Growth:
The PCA has seen good growth among its churches in the Delmarva region, but there are literally millions of souls in that region who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. Taking today’s history as our motivation, pray not just for this region, but for our nation and for the world. Pray for the advance of the Gospel, that pastors would be faithful to the Scriptures and bold in the proclamation of the Good News. Pray that the Word of God would make a real difference in the congregations, that each of our lives would stand out in attractive testimony to the reality that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. And may God grant a great harvest of souls to be brought into His kingdom.
Note: The records of Delmarva Presbytery, both RPCES and PCA, from 1969 to 1989, are preserved at the PCA Historical Center, and comprise a total of three cubic feet of documents.