History of Donegal Presbytery

The Brief History of the Presbytery of Donegal

The first presbytery in America - the Presbytery of Philadelphia - was organized in 1705. The Synod of Philadelphia was constituted in 1717. As the young nation moved westward and the church moved with it, the Presbytery of Donegal was brought into being on September 21, 1732. It consisted of five ministers - James Anderson, John Thomson, Adam Boyd, William Orr, and William Bertram; and five congregations at that time -Chestnut Level, Donegal, Little Britain, Middle Octorara, and Pequea. The first meeting of the Presbytery of Donegal was held in the Donegal Church on October 11, 1732. The original territory of the Presbytery of Donegal was Lancaster County in Pennsylvania and it extended "as far west as settlers cared to go".

Over the intervening years, Donegal's boundaries have been changed, as has the name of the Presbytery, numerous times.   All or parts of the present Presbytery of Donegal have, at various times, been known as Donegal, Lancaster, Baltimore, Carlisle, New Castle, Westminster, and Chester.   The dates and designations of the governing body known as Donegal Presbytery since its inception are as follows:

                        Presbytery of Donegal                                    1732-1765

                        Presbytery of Lancaster                                  1765-1766

                        Presbytery of Donegal                                    1766-1786

                        Presbytery of Baltimore, and

                                    Presbytery of Carlisle, and

                                    Presbytery of New Castle                   1786-1842

                        Presbytery of Donegal                                   1842-1870

                        Westminster Presbytery                                 1870-1933

                        Presbytery of Donegal                                    1933-1959

                        Presbytery of Donegal, plus

                                    Presbytery of Chester                         1959-

In 1958 (the same year as the union of the former United Presbyterian Church of North America and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), the Synod of Pennsylvania took action to dissolve the Presbytery of Chester, and to add the churches in Chester County to the Presbytery of Donegal, bringing the number of churches in Donegal Presbytery to 71.

The *roll of churches in the Presbytery of Donegal at its newly-constituted organization in 1958 is as follows:

@Airville, Guinston                                         *Mortonville, Doe Run (Coatesville)

Atglen, Penningtonville                                   Mount Joy, Donegal

Avondale                                                       Mount Joy, First

Berwyn, Trinity                                           @*Narvon, Pequea (Gap)

Brogueville, New Harmony                            @New London

Cardiff (MD), Slate Ridge                                New Park, Centre

Christiana, Latta Memorial                              Nottingham

@Coatesville                                               @Nottingham, Little Britain (Peach Bottom)

@Cochranville, Fagg's Manor                        Oxford

Columbia                                                    Shiloh (Oxford, Second)

**Delta, Rehoboth                                       Oxford, Union (Kirkwood)

Delta, Slateville                                           Paoli, First

Devon, St. John's                                        Paradise, Leacock

Downingtown, Central                                  Parkesburg, First

East Earl, Cedar Grove                                @Parkesburg, Upper Octorara

#Frazer, E. Whiteland (Covenant)                 Phoenixville, First

@Gap, Bellevue                                           Quarryville, Chestnut Level

@Glenmoore, Fairview                                 Quarryville, Middle Octorara

@Glenmoore, Forks of the Brandywine          Stewartstown

Hellam, Kreutz Creek                                   Strasburg, First

#Holtwood                                                   Toughkenamon

Honey Brook                                                Unionville

@Kennett Square                                      **West Chester, Harvest Community

Lancaster, Bethany                                        West Chester, First

Lancaster, First                                              West Chester, Second

Lancaster, Highland                                        West Chester, Westminster

**Lancaster, Memorial                                   West Grove

*Laurel, Hopewell, (Felton)                            *Woodbine, Chanceford, (Airville)

*Laurel, Round Hill (Felton)                            *Woodbine, Pine Grove (Airville)

#Lincoln University, Ashmun                          Wrightsville

#Malvern, First (Covenant)                             #York, Calvary

@Malvern, Great Valley                                 York, Eastminster

#Marietta, English                                        #York, Faith

Mendenhall, Bethany                                     York, First

**Modena                                                   #York (First (U.P.)

                                                                    York, Westminster

* Several congregations have been assigned to different post offices since 1958.

** Congregations dissolved.

   #   Congregations merged with existing congregations.

   @   Withdrew from the denomination.

In the years between 1959 and 2002, nine congregations were dissolved, merged, or withdrew and two new congregations came into existence, Wayside of Landisville in 1985 and Marketplace Community of Wayne in 1997. Marketplace Community was dissolved in 2002, making a total of 62 congregations in 2002. As of 2006, the new church development projects are La Iglesia Hispana de Toughkenamon, the Oromoo Presbyterian Fellowship. Harvest Community Church was dissolved as of May 2006. Title to all real estate and property was transferred to Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Chester. Dilworthtown Community Church, meeting in the building of the former Harvest Community Church, began services in September 2006. In July 2007, the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, PA was closed and the membership was transferred to the First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster.

In 1963, the Presbytery elected its first Executive Presbyter, the Rev. Dr. William J. Brown, who served in that position until his retirement in 1989, a total of twenty-six years. The Rev. Dr. Donald G. Campbell served as the Executive Presbyter from 1990 until 1999. The office of Associate Executive Presbyter actually began in 1974 when Miss Lena E. Musgrave was hired as the Secretary of Research and Planning. She served in this capacity until her retirement in 1979. Her work assisted the Presbytery in determining that an Associate Executive Presbyter was needed.

In 1982, the Rev. Laurean H. Warner, Jr. was hired with the title “Minister-at-Large.” In 1990, his title was changed to Associate Executive Presbyter. He served in that office until his retirement in 1994. The Rev. Thomas E. Robinson became the Associate Executive Presbyter in 1996 until 2004 when he left to assume responsibilities as Co-Executive of the Synod of the Trinity.

The Rev. Roger W. Uittenbogaard served as the Executive Presbyter from 2001 to 2006. Charles W. Gross, Jr. was ordained to the position of Interim Associate Executive Presbyter in 2004 and was called to be Associate Executive in 2006. He became Acting Executive in October of 2006 until he resumed his Associate duties until January 31, 2011. Rev. Dr. Erin Cox-Holmes was called as Executive Presbyter January 1, 2010.