Church History


May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us or abandon us. -- 1 Kings 8:57



Presbyterians trace their history to the 16th century and the Protestant Reformation. Our heritage, and much of what we believe, began with the French lawyer John Calvin (1509-1564), whose writings crystallized much of the Reformed thinking that came before him.

Calvin did much of his writing from Geneva, Switzerland. From there, the Reformed movement spread to other parts of Europe and the British Isles. Many of the early Presbyterians in America came from England, Scotland and Ireland. The first American Presbytery was organized at Philadelphia in 1706. The first General Assembly was held in the same city in 1789. The first Assembly was convened by the Rev. John Witherspoon, the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence.

What is distinctive about the Presbyterian Church? Presbyterians are distinctive in two major ways: they adhere to a pattern of religious thought known as Reformed theology and a form of government that stresses an active, representative form of leadership provided by both ministers and church members.


East Main Presbyterian Church History

In 1879, the village of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania had a population of about 300 with a grist mill, a post office, a few stores, a hotel, a Presbyterian church erected in 1847, and a Methodist church dating back to 1840. The nearest United Presbyterian churches were Harmony in Harrisville, Scotch Hill and Springfield congregations. 

building1-smallOn a suggestion from the Springfield congregation, it was arranged that Rev. W.B. Barr, pastor of that church, hold an occasional service in Pine Grove provided that the local members guaranteed a payment of $100 per year. The spirit of going over the top, for which the Grove City community has been noted in later years, was shown by those early adherents whose subscriptions totaled $154. But money and members were only two of the pioneer troubles. Roads, building, heating and lighting had to be considered. Rev. Barr rode a mule from Pardoe to hold the first meeting on April 6, 1879. A second story room in the Pine Grove School House, [situated where McDonald's Restaurant is now located,] had been secured for the service. Rev. Barr chose for his text, "God's love for His Saints," Isaiah 9:15. more tag


East Main Church Historical Timeline

1879 Church was formally instituted as The United Presbyterian Church of Pine Grove on September 10.
1882 Articles of Incorporation for the church were approved on May 8.
1883 Name was changed to The First United Presbyterian Church of Grove City because the name of the town changed.
1883 Congregation built a church building on East Main St. that was destroyed by fire in 1892.
1893 A new red brick church was built on the site of the old church. Later it was sold to Grove City College and renamed Ivy Chapel.
1909 A new church building was built across the street at 120 East Main St. (corner of Walnut St.) and is still in use.
1953 An educational wing was added to the original building on the side facing Walnut Street.
1958 Name of the church was changed to East Main United Presbyterian Church.
1961 Sanctuary was remodeled replacing original curved pews with straight ones and adding a center aisle.
1983 Church name was changed to East Main Presbyterian Church due to denominational merger.
1990 Fellowship Hall was added along Walnut Street.
2010 Sanctuary was remodeled and a Welcome Center was added.
2013 Church changed its denominational affiliation to ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.


Pastors of East Main Church

1879-1885: Rev. William B. Barr   1949-1959: Rev. Dr. Emerson R. Ray
1885-1886: Rev. John C. McElree   1959-1971: Rev. Dr. Gordon E. Boak
1887-1890: Rev. Dr. James A. Reed   1971-1982: Rev. Dr. William O. Dandoy
1890-1894: Rev. R.P. McClester   1983-1994: Rev. Dr. David M. Watson
1895-1903: Rev. William G. Martin   1995-2006: Rev. Dr. Donald C. Hoagland
1903-1924: Rev. Dr. W.E. Purvis   2007-now : Rev. Dr. William S. Hoffman, Jr.
1925-1949: Rev. Dr. Homer B. Henderson    


East Main Church Denominational Affiliation Timeline

1879 - 1958 United Presbyterian Church of North America
1958 - 1983 United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
1983 - 2013 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
2013 - ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians