About the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Who We Are....

From 1678, there were at least five Presbyterian ministers assigned to Church of England parishes in Virginia. In 1683, the Rev. Francis Makemie arrived in New York, making his way south to Hampton Roads and finally settled on the Eastern Shore by 1685. He founded the first American Presbytery at Philadelphia with that presbytery reporting in 1710 that, "In all Virginia there is but one small congregation at Elizabeth River and some few families favoring our way in Rappahannock and York." He founded, among others, Makemie Presbyterian Church in Accomack, which existed between 1708 and 1710. It revived in 1837 and continues in ministry today. Naomi and Francis Makemie made their home just outside of Temperanceville, VA. Her father's home was licensed in 1699 as a place for meetings, and is one of the earliest court records of a place of Presbyterian worship in America.

During the 18th century, the Rev. Samuel Davies garnered permission from the Governor to preach and care for several frontier congregations and founded the Presbytery of Hanover.

The Civil War not only divided the country, but the Presbyterian Church as well. The so-called "northern stream" was initiated by Mrs. Samantha J. Neil, who taught classes for African-Americans of all ages, who were thirsting for knowledge. The resulting network of related churches became the Presbytery of Southern Virginia, part of the Catawba Synod. The PEVA congregations of First United, Messiah, Carver Memorial and Community Portsmouth churches spring from this Synod.

The "southern" steam witnessed sixteen new churches established within thirty years. As Hanover Presbytery was becoming very large, a new Presbytery of East Hanover emerged, which was renamed Norfolk Presbytery in 1893.

Fifteen new churches were founded in the fourteen years after WWI. Then after another pause, WWII precipitated eleven churches between 1940 and 1949 as populations shifted significantly from rural to urban centers.

After the reunion of the "northern and southern streams" in 1983, a Steering Committee was tasked with adjusting boundaries and how these entities would be combined. On July 21, 1989, the organizational meeting of the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia was held at First Presbyterian Church, Norfolk.

For more than 300 years, Presbyterians have formed a closely-knit ministry in Southeastern Virginia that includes the southern Eastern Shore, with a region stretching from Gloucester and Williamsburg south to the North Carolina border, and from Virginia Beach in the east to Franklin in the western edge.


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