Friday, December 15, 2017

Reformed Presbyterian City Churches No Longer Part of Our Testimony

Saturday, December 20, 2008, 12:58
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Editor’s Note: St. Paul’s missionary journeys show a pattern of evangelization that focuses primarily on the major urban centers of the day, “leap frogging” other areas. The word “pagan” originally referred to those living in rural areas as opposed to the city because, at first, Christianity was an urban phenomenon. Do confessionally Reformed people have a plan that includes the cities these days? Or have we, like dispensationalist doomsayers, perhaps, written them off “for good” – unlike St. Paul?

By Nathan Eshelman

Today I was doing some research in the Reformed Presbyterian Minutes of Synod. I was in the old dusty copies- early 1900s through 1940s. What struck me was the number of congregations that used to be in, what are called, ’strategic’ cities. I began to be curious about what some of these buildings looked like and began using ‘Google Street View’ to see some of the old buildings and neighborhoods that used to be RP strongholds.Sadly, the RP Church no longer has a witness in some of the most important cities across the United States and Canada. I will leave it to the seasoned church historians to give all of the reasons why some of the oldest RP congregations are no longer with us. From ‘white flight’ to changing priorities in the denomination- many reasons have left some of the oldest congregations behind (along with grand buildings and hurting neighborhoods).

It is my prayer that we can again have a voice in these cities and neighborhoods. When will we see a congregation in New York city again? We used to have a large number of them. When will we see congregations in Portland, OR, or San Fransisco, CA, or Detroit, MI, or Kansas City, MO, or Miami, FL, or even downtown Pittsburgh?

Of course, it is not just the RP Church, but conservative Reformed Churches across the board. Many have given up on the cities and urban areas of this nation and Canada. Our churches thrive in suburbs and country areas. It does not have to be that way only. We can, once again ,seek out the urban areas for the cause of Jesus Christ. Reformation does not have to be in suburbia and in the pastures only (although those places are important too). I would like to see the cause of Christ advanced in the cites of this country- in the cities that used to have much light coming from thriving Reformed and Presbyterian Churches.

Below are some of the old RP Churches that have been lost to the denomination. I noticed that one is now Antioch-Baptist, one is African Methodist Episcopal Zion, and some are boarded up or torn down. These are just a few of the many former RP congregations.

Enjoy the tour, via Google Streetview:
First Boston RP Church
Warren Ave. and Brookline Street

Chicago RP Church

66th Place and South Normal Ave.

Kansas City RP Church
44th Street and Wyoming Street

Second New York City RP Church

308 West 122nd Street

Third New York City RP Church

1932 Walton Ave. Bronx

First Philadelphia RP Church
40th Street and Sanson Street

Third Philadelphia RP Church
Franklin Street and Dauphin Street

Portland, OR, RP Church
5935 North Minnesota Ave.

Toronto RP Church
754 Samman Ave.

Nathan Eshelman is an M.Div. graduate of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He has recently received a call to his first church in Southern California.

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