In 1748, the idea of a United States of America probably wouldn't have occurred to residents of South Central Pennsylvania - in the BRITISH COLONY of Pennsylvania. The American Revolution was still more than a quarter of a century away, and George Washington wouldn't become President for 39 years. The people were probably aware that England was fighting a war with France (as part of the War of Austrian Succession) and causing great bloodshed in New York and New England. They probably realized that the war might spread, given France's use of Native American Indian tribes as allies.
Locally, those who worshipped God as Presbyterians also were aware of a dispute within their denomination over qualifications for ministers and one's right to preach at another's church, all in the context of what would become known as the First Great Awakening. That dispute caused some members of Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church (founded in 1740 and located three miles west of Gettysburg) to leave that congregation and build their own log church about three miles to the south.
That was the original Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church.
The Presbyterian rift was patched up in 1758, and on October 17, 1786 - still a bit more than six months before Washington would become President of the soon-to-be United States of America - a new administrative governing body called the Presbytery of Carlisle was organized during a meeting in that log church, which had remained a separate congregation.
Four years later, Lower Marsh Creek Church's leadership decided the church should move to a new location some two miles away, along what was then called the "Great Road," now known as Fairfield Road. On this more accessible spot they built a substantial stone structure - church members brought stones from their farms by wagon - and the church began worshiping at its current location in 1790.
In 2023, Lower Marsh Creek celebrates its 275th anniversary in that same stone church - many renovations later and with the 1995 addition of a Christian education building/fellowship hall, and a 2015 addition of a "narthex" gathering space, nursery, classrooms, and relocated bathrooms, which in turn made possible a modest expansion of the sanctuary.
The sanctuary's interior reflects a major renovation done in 1891, only slightly altered by subsequent work.
It remains a member of the Carlisle Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It has a strong Sunday School program and is heavily involved in missions, providing support to numerous missionaries and organizations doing mission work locally, regionally, nationally, and across the world.
In accordance with Presbyterian principles, it is governed by an elected body called a Session, composed of Ruling Elders, including the Clerk of Session. Rev. Mark Englund-Krieger is pastor, following a long line of clergy leadership that includes Rev. Andrew Bey, founding pastor, and Rev. William Paxton, who served for 49 years, from 1792-1841. Former pastor Rev. Dale Williams remains active in the church.
The church cemetery is at the original building location off the Knoxlyn-Orrtanna Road. More than 600 individuals are buried there, including soldiers from the American Revolution and the Civil War. Graves include that of Rev. Alexander Dobbin, a pastor and educator whose name adorns one of Gettysburg's best-known restaurants.
The Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church, from which Lower Marsh Creek was born in a denominational dispute, later moved into Gettysburg proper and is today's Gettysburg Presbyterian Church.
Major interior renovations also took place in 1850 and 1997. The cemetery property also has received major enhancements in appearance over the years.
The church property also includes two houses, both of which are currently rented, and a garden area suitable for smaller outdoor services or private contemplation.
While we hardly have all the historical details from the last 275 years, there is more information available about Lower Marsh Creek. If you are looking for something in particular, please let us know by using any of the options available on the "Contact Us" page of this website.
August 1890, Celebrating 162 years since 1748 founding
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