History of Reformed Presbyterian Church
of West Chester
Note: This history comes from “A Brief History of The Reformed Presbyterian
Church of West Chester,” written around 1990 by Ruling Elder Emeritus Edgar
Bullock (1915-2003). Mr. Bullock was not quite a charter member of the church,
but he was with the church from its earliest stages of formation, serving faithfully
in many capacities over the years. He prepared this brief history for use
in the new members’ class. Much has happened in the church since Edgar
Bullock wrote this historical account. God continues to lead and prosper the
ministry of RPC as He has given us the vision of “being a branch deeply rooted
in the Vine of Life, filling West Chester with the hope of life.” But the
words that follow are those of Mr. Bullock and serve to survey the church’s
beginnings and convey the same priorities that the church holds to this day.
The beginnings of our church go back to the First Presbyterian Church of West Chester.
Dr. Washington Laird had pastored that church for a long time in the early part
of this century. Under his ministry the church was kept soundly committed
to the Bible in a time when some were openly questioning its authority. By
the time he retired, the Chester Presbytery and the entire denomination was openly
drifting away from its long time Biblical testimony. Certain members of that
church felt as though they could no longer remain there and be faithful to Christ.
This little core formed the nucleus in the winter of 1938 of a Presbyterian church
that would continue the testimony formerly held by that denomination.
Homer Emerson, a student at Faith Theological Seminary in Wilmington, Delaware,
came to West Chester and went from house to house seeing if there were others who
would be interested in such a church. On March 5, 1939 at 3:00 p.m. a meeting
was held at the home of Joseph Hunter on Sharpless Street for those interested.
Homer Emerson was in charge and preached from the book of Romans. A church
role of 13 was shortly thereafter formed and the young group called themselves the
Independent Church of West Chester.
Later that spring the congregation decided to join with the Bible Presbyterian denomination.
Dr. Harold Laird from Wilmington (son of the late Dr. Washington Laird) came up
to West Chester for a meeting on May 29, 1940 at which elders and deacons were elected.
This meeting was also held at the Hunter’s home. Shortly thereafter Homer
Emerson left to go to the mission field in Peru.
Boyd Lentz, a senior at Faith Seminary continued the work for about another year.
On September 29, 1941 Rev. Scotty Hastings accepted the call of this church to become
its first pastor. Rev. Hastings had just graduated from Faith Seminary.
The church met at Library Hall in West Chester for some time. By 1946 the
congregation was ready to take a step of faith and purchase property. The
land obtained was on Sharpless Street (land which now belongs to West Chester University).
In July of 1947 groundbreaking ceremonies were held. However, in God’s
providence, the church was led not to build and instead purchased a home at 626
S. High Street for $17,000 for its ongoing ministry.
New growth now began to take place in these facilities as this group of people stood
firm on the Bible as God’s Word. Outreach into the neighborhood took
place. Every Friday night a brief gospel service was held on the courthouse
steps. Once a month there were services at the prison that was located in
town. Vacation Bible School and an Easter Sunrise Service were also begun.
By the time Rev. Hastings left in 1952 the church had grown from 15 to 70 people.
A year later on August 1, 1953 the Rev. Robert DuVall was ordained and installed
as pastor. Under his ministry the congregation authorized the sale of the
properties at 626 S. High Street and Sharpless Street and purchased the present
building at New and Union Streets for $45,000. The first service was a prayer
meeting on August 29, 1956. The dedication service with Homer Emerson and
Dr. Holdcraft was held on November 25, 1956.
It was about this time 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. At this time the name
of the church was once again changed, this time to the Reformed Presbyterian Church
of West Chester.
Rev. DuVall left in late 1971. William Phillips, a graduate of Westminster
Theological Seminary was called from Faith (Reformed) Presbyterian Church in Wilmington,
Delaware where he had been serving as an assistant pastor and was installed in March
of 1973. Pastor Phillips received a call from the Reformed Presbyterian Church
of Indianapolis, Indiana and resigned in August 1978 to accept that call.
A call was then extended to the Rev. Edward T. Noé, pastor of the Cono Bible
Presbyterian Church and principal of the Cono Christian School in Walker, Iowa.
He accepted the call and was installed by the Philadelphia Presbytery on September
27, 1979 as pastor of the church. Rev. Noé served as pastor until March
of 1988 when he resigned due to poor health.
A call was extended to the Rev. Stanley Gale who was serving as assistant pastor
in the Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church in Hyattsville, Maryland. He was
installed as our pastor in September 1988 by the Philadelphia Presbytery.
Over the years we have seen many people come and go, but one thing has always remained
constant: our allegiance to the Bible as God’s holy, inspired, inerrant
and infallible Word. Pray with us that this devotion to our great Triune God
and His Word might always be our common testimony along with lives fully yielded
to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.