A community where all who seek God are welcome

History


Old Church

  • 1885 – William Eves began Sunday School in his home.
  • 1887 – Sunday School moved to the Briggsville School.
  • 1888 – Cornerstone for Wallingford Chapel was laid, June 21,1888. Matilda Turner deeded her property at the corner of Avondale Road and the road to Lewis’s Mill. Methodist’s donated bell.
  • 1889 – Chapel is used for Sunday School and Worship.
  • 1891 – Wallingford Presbyterian Church was organized in September with 32 Charter Members. Benjamin T. Jones, D.D. became stated supply minister.
  • 1893 – Dr. Jones died.
  • 1894 – The Reverend Robert. M. Labaree first pastor. Christian Endeavor Youth groups begin.
  • 1898 – Women’s Missionary Society.
  • 1899 – Second Minister, The Rev. Edward W. Fitz-Simons installed.
  • 1900′s – 1930′s Church was a spiritual and social focus of the community. Clay tennis courts were constructed on the grassy area between the drives on Brookhaven Road.
  • 1911 – The Rev. Edwin E. Riley installed as fourth ministers.
  • 1912 – Manse built on land donated by Louise Spear.
  • 1929 – Social Hall and the kitchen were added to the church.
  • 1931 – The Rev. Edwin R. Rein installed as fifth minister.
  • 1943 – The Rev. Dr. John Rowland became pastor.
  • 1946 – Boy Scout troop was organized.
  • 1953 – Sanctuary expanded. Classrooms added on top and bottom floor. What is currently the library was the church office.
  • 1970 – Narthex was added. Sanctuary again expanded. Room One, current church office, and Pastors’ offices were added.
  • 1979 – Dr. Rowland died.
  • 1980 – The Rev. Dr. David R. Drain called as Senior Pastor.
  • 1991 – Church Centennial celebrated with year long activities and completion of refurbishing of facilities.
  • 2000 – Dr. Drain leaves Wallingford for another position
  • 2002 – The Rev. Dr. Suzan Hawkinson called as Senior Pastor
  • 2011 - The Rev. Dr. Suzan Hawkinson leaves Wallingford for another position
  • 2013 - The Rev. François Lacroix called as Senior Pastor

Our Heritage

The Wallingford Presbyterian Church might, well be likened to that familiar line about “the great oak from the little acorn”. The seed from which this congregation grew was a small Sunday School formed about 1885 to meet in the living room of the farmhouse of William Eves, across Providence Road from the site of the present Wallingford Elementary School. When the growing group needed more space, it moved in 1887 to the Briggsville School, a building which was converted to a dwelling and still stands at the corner of Shepherds Lane and Providence Road.

The faith which had inspired these little Sunday Schools was encouraged when Mrs. Matilda Turner donated an acre of ground specifically for a Presbyterian Church. A chapel was erected, and in 1889 it became the meeting place for both the Sunday School and Worship services. The Wallingford Presbyterian Church was organized in September, 1891, with 32 charter members. The Rev. Benjamin T. Jones, D.D., a professor at Lincoln University, Oxford, Pennsylvania, who had been chairperson of Presbytery’s committee to organize the church continued as its stated supply minister until his untimely death in 1893. At that time, it was felt that the church needed a full-time minister, and so Rev. Robert. M. Labaree, a recent graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, was called and installed as the first pastor in the summer of 1894.

Out of a rural summer vacation character of the 1800′s, a suburban community gradually developed. It was on the property of the Wallingford Presbyterian Church where until the mid 1930′s members of the church and community could play tennis. The clay courts were located on the Brookhaven Road side of the church. Expansive growth occurred in the township after 1945 and into 1960. The church kept pace with three major building programs in 1929, 1953-54, 1970-71. While these expansions have completed the facility to its present size and configuration, the original chapel building still stands, providing the exterior for the chancel and the front half of the present sanctuary. In celebration of the Centennial, the congregation completed a five year program of refurbishing the facilities, enlarging the parking lot, installing fire safety equipment, repairing roofs, and air conditioning the sanctuary in 1991.

Numerous church activities have been in operation for many years. The Sunday School was the nucleus from which the church started and a strong Church School has been maintained through the years. At one time it was meeting with double shifts and movable partitions in the Social Hall. Presently, the Sunday School is filling all available rooms, and new partitions were added downstairs to create more Sunday School rooms. Fellowship for Senior and Junior High students was started in 1894 in the form of Christian Endeavor. Youth ministry continues to be a priority under the leadership of associate pastors and currently a Director of Youth Ministries. Fifty or more Middle School and Senior High youth of our church, while involved in events such as ski retreats, summer Fun In The Son, and mission service which includes a week-long trip in the summer, are also active in a mid-week Bible Study as well as Sunday Evening Fellowship. Women’s activities, formalized through the organization of a Women’s Missionary Society in 1898, have been an integral part of the church program for 90 years and are reflected not only in the many circles but also special activities that they began, such as the Strawberry Festival, an outstanding neighborhood event, and the International Gift Shelf, an example of the continuing fruitfulness of their mission commitment. A Boy Scout troop was organized in 1946 and scouting has been a major activity since then, with up to half a dozen or more boy and girl scout units based here. Educationally, a cooperative Preschool provides morning activities for three and four year olds, as it has for over thirty years, and for several years, beginning in 1970, the Benchmark School (a private school for the children with learning problems) was housed here. Adult ministries have also continued to expand over the years. Small group Bible studies and special events and speakers have added to the opportunity for spiritual growth.

As the Church facilities have been enlarged, their use has been increased. In addition to serving the busy activities of a growing church, they have served the community as well. Garden Clubs, League of Women Voters, D.A.R., Century Club of Chester, Women’s Clubs, Indian Guides and Princesses, and the Sons of Norway use the church facilities for meetings regularly. The church continues to be a focal point for the community.

From 1943 until his death in 1979, the Rev. Dr. John Rowland, was the pastor presiding over all this growth and activity. Two major building expansions were accomplished under his ministry and his learned imprint endures, for example, in the design of the stained glass windows in the Sanctuary. In 1980, the Rev. Dr. David R. Drain, a Philadelphia native, was called as Senior Pastor. As attendance increased, with younger families being welcomed back to the fellowship of the Church, the goal has been to help each person grow in their relationship to Jesus Christ, both spiritually and devotionally as well as in service and stewardship. The Rev. Dr. Suzan Hawkinson became the Senior Pastor in 2002 when Pastor Drain moved to Florida.

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