Location:

Malvern

Affiliation:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church

Size of Congregation:

250 members

History of the congregation:

Before George Washington was born, Great Valley's first pastor was preaching the gospel from the crude pulpit of a rough log church. With the single exception of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia (1698), it is the oldest Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania. The founders of Great Valley Presbyterian were Welsh Presbyterians who left their country for conscience's sake. They came to America and settled in the shelter of Penn's colony in order to secure freedom of worship for themselves and their children. Since then, the historic Christian message has been faithfully proclaimed by Great Valley pastors.

It is this strong desire to be free to proclaim what it means to be a Christian as revealed in God's Word, the bible, that has led Great Valley to affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination (EPC). As a member of the EPC, Great Valley believes in historic Christianity as taught in scripture, thus looking to the bible as its guide on moral issues and believing in the reality of sin, salvation and judgment. At the same time, it wants to hold convictions with charity toward others, allowing a diversity of views on non-essential issues.

What makes you proud of your church?

The congregation is very excited about the dynamic pre-school program started in 2004 which now has over 100 students under the auspices of a dedicated director and staff. The pre-school is an outgrowth of the historic emphasis Great Valley has placed on the family and the importance of Christian education for all ages. There is Sunday School for the very youngest and oldest, Pioneer Club for elementary age, and very active junior and senior high youth groups. Our youth groups (

» READ MORE: www.gvyouth.org

) enjoy their time together, but also take short-term mission trips and are active in the community. Just last year a senior high team went to share God's love at an English-speaking camp in France for 10 days.

Both a contemporary and traditional worship service is offered on Sunday mornings. Music plays a great part in both services, with choir members and instrumentalists assisting in the worship experience. Members also participate in the reading of scripture and prayer time. A time for fellowship is provided after each service.

One of the strengths of Great Valley has been its traditional emphasis on missions. It currently helps support more than 30 national and international missionaries, plus another 25-plus mission organizations. One of its biggest outreaches is providing tuition for 100 students to attend Christian school in Cance, Haiti.

Great Valley is also quite involved on the local level. It provides physical and spiritual nourishment to over 125 homeless in Philadelphia on the third Saturday of each month. In addition, it provides regular weekly and monthly support for House of Creation (home for teenage mothers), Hope Mission in Coatesville (rescue mission), Good Works (assistance for Chester County homeowners), and the delivery of holiday meals and Christmas presents to Chester County individuals and families.

Staff:

Dan Stewart has been its pastor for about 12 years, faithfully proclaiming the gospel. Jim Shackleton, director of equipping ministry, is in a newly formed position to facilitate Great Valley's outreach to its neighbors and surrounding community. Evan Curry is the new director of youth ministry. These men are complemented by our director of music ministry, Herb Balian; organist, Sharon Smoker; church secretary, Karen Bittenbender; and sexton, Steven Leach.

Days and hours of services:

Services are held on Sundays - a contemporary worship service at 8:35 a.m., Sunday School for all ages at 9:30 a.m., and a traditional service at 11:00 a.m. Please note: during the summer (starting June 29th) we will have one "blended" worship service at 10:00 a.m.

Street address:

2025 Swedesford Road in Malvern, midway between Routes 29 and 252.

To area religious congregations

The Inquirer is publishing profiles of Chester County churches, synagogues, and other religious congregations on a regular basis. These profiles are created by filling out an e-mail questionnaire that we will send you.

For more information, call Bill Raftery at 610-701-7615.

For more information: Call 610-644-1995. Also, get up to-date information at www.gvpres.org., even transcripts of the most recent sermon.