Providence Presbyterian Church is a congregation of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a denomination founded on June 11, 1936, after a small group of conservative ministers, ruling elders, and laymen, led by the Rev., Dr. J. Gresham Machen (pictured left) separated from the mainline Presbyterian Church in the USA in response to the ever-growing modernist (i.e., liberal) tendencies in that denomination, which increasingly called into question the veracity and trustworthiness of the Bible, the belief that Christianity was the only true Faith for mankind, and the call of denominational missionaries on the foreign field to labor primarily for making converts to Christ.
When various efforts to correct the errors of the mainline denomination failed resulting in Dr. Machen’s removal from ordained office in the mainline church, Machen and other conservatives left the PCUSA to form what is now called the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Click here to watch a documentary video presenting an overview of OPC history.
Similar to the OPC’s founding, Providence Presbyterian Church was informally established as a congregation on May 1, 1994, when a group of conservatives (ten families), led by the Rev. DeLacy A. Andrews, Jr., left a PCUSA congregation located in Southwest Virginia due to its liberal tendencies and overall rejection of biblical and Reformed preaching.
Initially, worship services of this new congregation were held at the Tobias Smyth Cabin located on the campus of Emory and Henry College in Washington County, Virginia (pictured right), while the group looked for a new denomination to join. Sunday school classes were held in the nearby homes of various members. Six weeks later, the group moved into a rented business facility in Meadowview, Virginia,
which they renovated into a sanctuary (see black and white photo below).
In September 1994, the OPC’s Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic received Providence Presbyterian Church as new a mission work of the presbytery with the hope it would soon grow into a self-sustaining congregation. This hope was realized on July 22, 1995, when the church was formally established as a new and official member congregation of the OPC. The Rev. DeLacy A. Andrews, Jr., served as its first pastor. On January 1, 2000, the church became part of the newly formed Presbytery of the Southeast.
On May 19, 1996, a mission work of Providence Presbyterian Church was begun in Bristol, Tennessee. The core group consisted of several member families from Providence Presbyterian Church that lived in the Bristol area. On July 21, 2000, this mission work was organized as a new and separate congregation named Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church. Rev. Rob McCurley served as pastor. The congregation held worship services at the YWCA in Bristol, Tennessee. However, in the Fall of 2002, Rev. McCurley transferred to another denomination. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Matt Figura, a licentiate in the OPC’s Presbytery of the Southeast, began serving as regular stated supply. Regrettably, in the years following Rev. McCurley’s departure membership slowly and continually declined, which finally resulted in the closure of the church on May 29, 2006. Some of the former members of TRPC moved their membership back to Providence OPC in Chilhowie, Virginia. Others transferred their membership elsewhere.
In June 2000, worship services of a second mission work of Providence Presbyterian Church began in Neon, Kentucky, about 98 miles away. This mission work was named the Neon Reformed Presbyterian Church and was originally overseen by the session of Providence Presbyterian Church. But in 2008 oversight was transferred to the Presbytery of the Southeast of the OPC until the mission work could be established as a separate and self-sustaining congregation of the
denomination. Mr. John Belden, who had been serving as stated supply in Neon, was ordained as the associate minister of Providence Presbyterian Church on August 6, 2004, with special duties of preaching and teaching at the mission work as its first organizing pastor. But Rev. Belden later took a call to serve in California. On June 29, 2012, Rev. M. Jay Bennett (formerly of the PCA) was called by the Presbytery of the Southeast to serve as the second organizing pastor of the Neon work. At present, this mission work consists of fourteen families. A storefront building in the downtown area of Neon was eventually purchased thanks to the generous donations of various congregations throughout the OPC. Renovation of this building to serve as the mission work’s new meeting place for worship is almost complete with only a few small projects to be finished.
In August 2000, the congregation of Providence Presbyterian Church purchased a used church building in the town of Chilhowie, located in Smyth County, Virginia, where it currently meets for worship (pictured below). In January 2002, the Rev. DeLacy A. Andrews, Jr., resigned as pastor in order to accept a call to serve as the Regional Home Missionary of the newly formed Presbytery of the Southeast. His calling is to help establish new OP congregations throughout the region.
In July 2002, the Rev. Hank L. Belfield was called by the congregation to serve as its second pastor. He and his wife, Cheryl, along with two of their three children, reside in Chilhowie just a few miles from the church building. Their eldest child, raised in the church, is now married to another church member. She serves as the accompanist playing the piano for congregational singing on Sundays. Currently, the membership of the congregation stands at sixty. A few non-members attend regularly as well. The members and attendees range in age from young to old and serve in their communities in various vocations.
Like the OPC, Providence Presbyterian Church continues to maintain a strong commitment to the Bible as the divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God to mankind. The denomination and church are strongly conservative and affirm Jesus Christ as the incarnate Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who physically rose from the dead after being crucified for the sins of God’s elect people, who now reigns at God the Father’s right hand and will come again, physically and spiritually, at the end of human history to judge all mankind. Providence Presbyterian Church is committed to preaching Christ alone as the only hope for the salvation of sinners who must repent and believe on Him alone for eternal life. At present, Providence Presbyterian Church is the only Presbyterian Church in Chilhowie, Virginia.
If you would like to find out more about the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, please click here to visit the history page of the OPC’s website. There you will find various articles and resources about the history of the OPC, including a six-part video documentary (each part is about 10 minutes in length), which can be streamed to your computer or mobile device. This video presentation goes into the specifics of the OPC’s founding and development through the years. We encourage you to give it a watch.