In 1826, Jerome Township was the scene of a heavy influx of settlers. Many came from the area around York, PA and were members of the Associate Reformed Church or the Associate Presbyterian Church.
The founders of this church were mainly "Scotch-Irish" and Scottish in ancestry. They were descendants of a staunch group in Scotland who defied the edicts of an English King bent on controlling their worship. These "Covenanters" and later "Seceders" were declared outlaws, and many stayed faithful to their beliefs even in the face of death. This deep and unswerving dedication to their faith carried on through their children, and wherever they went, they established churches, not waiting for a minister to arrive, but confident that God would bless their efforts.
In a meeting at the home of Robert Nelson, a lay leader, the Associate Congregation of Darby was established on Nov 21, 1826. The records of this organizational meeting are preserved as a cherished part of our church's heritage. The parish area of the new church stretched from the area around the present day town of Unionville Center through the New California area.
During the first five years, the new congregation met in the homes of members for worship and were served by a series of supply ministers. In 1832, the Rev. James Wallace was installed as Pastor and two years later the congregation erected its first house of worship--a log cabin!
In 1841, the parish was divided into two congregations, one serving the Unionville area and a new branch called the Sugar Run Presbyterian Church serving the New California area. The Unionville Church eventually closed, but the Sugar Run Church flourished.
That congregation built a frame church in 1852 on the site of the present house of worship. The Rev I.N. Laughead was minister from 1843 to 1864. His 21 years of service were marked by slow but steady growth in membership. During the Civil War, the church served as the site of the first enlistment of soldiers from Jerome Township into the Union Army. In September of 2009 a Historical Marker was put in place to commemorate this event.
Records of the time tell of a vigorous church, which frequently held services which lasted most of the day. Two sermons were preached each Sunday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a break for a picnic-style lunch in between. The only music was the singing of psalms. During the latter part of the 19th century, the church prospered and soon there was a need for a new and larger sanctuary.
The present Church building was erected on the site of the old church in 1904. A Fellowship Hall was added in 1957. In 1987, the Sanctuary was completely remodeled. Our most recent expansions involved a major addition to the church in October of 1995. This expansion added a new multi-purpose room, a kitchen and four new Sunday school rooms.
In the fall of 2000, the building fund debt for this addition was completely retired. In 2004 the sanctuary was expanded into the old fellowship Hall to accommodate the increasing membership!
The mission of the New California Presbyterian church is to be a family of God and to share the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ, affirming our faith and enhancing it with knowledge through worship, Christian education, fellowship, and the expression of God’s love to ALL in all conditions of life.
New California Presbyterian Church
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