The Avondale Presbyterian Church was founded in 1870.  The Presbytery of Chester met at New London Presbyterian Church in October of 1870 and instructed a committee to go to Avondale to hold a series of meetings to see if that small village would be interested in forming a church.  On December 8, 1870 a small group of Christians met at Ziba Lamborn’s Hall in Avondale to organize a church.  The following day 12 charter members constituted the Presbyterian Church of Avondale where they continued meeting at Lamborn’s Hall.  The present structure was begun.

oldrev1Even though Avondale Presbyterian Church is a small to medium size church, it has always been mighty in ministry and leadership.

Records show that our church established a chapel in Toughkenamon which became the Toughkenamon Presbyterian Church in 1879.

In March of 1885, a chapel was established in West Grove and was conducted under the direction of the Avondale Church until May 27, 1886 when the Avondale session along with a committee from the Chester Presbytery met at the West Grove Chapel to organize West Grove Presbyterian Church.

In 1948 Gertrude Shelly and other mothers in the community invited young people 16 years or older to a breakfast at Thanksgiving for the purpose of organizing them for social events.  We were called the YAG Club (Young Adult Group).  That group is still in existence celebrating 61 years.  Of course they are no longer young adults since most of them are in their late 60’s and older.  There are 36 members of which nine have been members since 1948.  Elder Charles Patton served as President for most of those years.

In 1965 a Christian Education building was added to our campus opening the door foldrev2or significantly serving the community as well as our own Church Family.  Every weekday two kindergartens met in our church, including a teaching program for preschool-aged, developmentally disabled children.  The second kindergarten was organized by Mrs. David (Ann) Wells, donating her time for our church children as well as for the children of the community.  Mrs. Henry (Bernice) Walker also helped Ann as needed.  The cost per child was just $25 per month.

oldrev3One afternoon a week and two evenings per week a group of some twenty tutors were involved at the church in a tutor program for children in grades one through twelve.

Around 1967 the building was rented to Avon Grove School District for classrooms while the current Fred S. Engle Middle School was being built.

In the early 1960’s the Junior High youth under the direction of Elder Scott Eastburn studied the various crosses.  During this time each of the youth chose a cross and designed the stained glass windows you see in our sanctuary today.  Some of those former youth are active and serving as Elders, Deacons and on committees today.

A number of Elders and lay people have provided Leadership for the Donegal Presbytery.  Donegal Presbytery is the organization of the Presbyterian Church USA to which our church and pastor are accountable.  It is made up of 60 churches in Chester, Lancaster and York counties.  The first lay moderator of the Presbytery was Avondale Presbyterian’s Elder Robert Krause.  Others have served on committees and chaired some as well.  Some have served as Camp Donegal Directors, Counselors and Chaplains in summer camps.

About 20 of our members served as leaders of “Spirit Alive” – Presbyterian and Reformed Renewal Ministries International.  It was a three year cycle program for renewal of our church.  Mr. and Mrs. Richard (Patty) Merner served as PRRMI Coordinators for nearly 20 Spirit Alive renewals.

Streetlight Ministry was organized in May of 1993 which was supported by APC a well as other local churches.  Norman Fennimore felt a call from God to minister to the street people of our area.  He not only acted as a minister to many of his contacts but he also counseled drug addicts and alcoholics.  He also ministered in the Chester County Prison.OldChurch
Ministry is listening, praying, studying and doing.  It is sharing the gospel and the love of God in many ways.

For many years we have had a strong Sunday school providing teaching for all age groups starting with children age 3.  One of our teachers, Irene Taylor, has been teaching pre-junior high Sunday school since 1949!  We have always made it our priority to help our children and adults grow and maintain their faith in Jesus Christ.

Vacation Bible School is a significant community ministry for APC.  We usually host around 100 children, imparting to them the love of Jesus.  Kingdom Kids is another popular children’s ministry for kindergartners through fifth graders reaching APC children and the children of the community.  Kingdom Kids consists of Recreation and Crafts, Biblical teaching, supper and a mission project.

Helping the youth of our church and in the community to develop a strong faith in Jesus Christ is a priority.  Many youth of our church as well as youth of the community have been active in many service projects including mission trips to Honduras, West Virginia, Kentucky, New York, western Pennsylvania and serving needy families in our own area.

Pastor Ray Meute and members of our church serve as leaders and support the Latino Church, La Iglesia de Presbyteriana de Toughkenamon which is under the care of Donegal Presbytery.  La Iglesia met for worship for the first time in August in 1999.  It was chartered as a congregation within the PCUSA in the spring of 2009.  The church is an active and vital congregation and for the most part, is made up of Hispanic migrant workers and their families.  They have a weekly children’s ministry program on Saturdays and youth group meetings on Friday evenings.  A Study Buddies (homework help) program is conducted on Monday nights and they give dollars to help with small projects in Honduras as determined by Pastor Nering Huete and Elder Bob Walton who personally go down each summer and award funds.  Pastor Nering Huete is the founding pastor and is good friends of APC.  Parts of his pastoral duties include helping many people to become established US citizens.

APC celebrates a strong music program with dedicated, talented choir members and choir directors.  From 1988 through 2006, Bonnie Paisley served as accompanist and in 1993 added the role of choir director.  Since 2006 the adult vocal choir has been under the direction of Wayne H. Carr who also serves as organist and accompanist.  In 1995 the AvonBells bell choir came into being with director Peggy Watkins at the helm.  For several years Peggy has also directed “Joyful Rhythm”, a beginning bell choir for youth and adults.  Also from time to time, we have had a childrens vocal choir.

The Presbyterian Woman’s Association in APC is very active in ministry and mission.  There are three circles – Lois, Hannah and Ruth – which meet once a month for study and prayer.  They sponsor two Rummage Sales through which they minister to many people in our community and raise money to support an array of mission causes.

A number of members of APC have served the wider community as school board directors, township supervisors, borough councilmen and councilwomen, as firefighters and as ambulance drivers.

In July 2006, ground was broken and the former Christian education building and the garage were demolished – a new structure was erected with new classrooms, meeting rooms, a large multi-purpose hall, a new kitchen and a new library.  The sanctuary was reversed and remodeled.  We now have a beautiful new building to increase our opportunities for ministry.

Avondale Presbyterian hosted a Presbytery Meeting in January 2009.  As far as we know that was the first time we had hosted it.  Our own Pastor Ray Meute provided strong leadership as the Moderator for the year 2008.  In January he passed the gavel to the 2009 Moderator, Rev. James B. Shuler, and he preached a sermon entitled “What Are These Presbyterians Doing Here?”  Pastor Ray also emphasized the importance of prayer during his tenure as Moderator.  Sensing that the Presbytery and its churches, Pastors William Gaskill, former pastor of Avondale and Pastor Jeff Lampl, pastor of New London Presbyterian Church initiated a half day yearly Prayer time.

Our beloved sanctuary will stand and reach out to future generations, moving forward with new ideas as well as honoring and cherishing the past.  May God continue to bless APC and may His Kingdom come as His will is done in APC, just as it is in heaven.