The story of our church begins with a body of believers committed to the Bible in a denomination that was abandoning its commitment to the necessity, sufficiency, and truth of the Bible.
In the 1920s, the Presbyterian denomination they were apart of had begun to publicly question key teachings of Scripture. In 1924 a number of ministers signed a document called the Auburn Affirmation which rejected the requirement that ministers believe and teach 1) that Scripture is totally true, 2) that Jesus was really conceived in the womb and born of a virgin, 3) that Jesus is fully God and fully man, 4) that He really paid the penalty our sins deserved on the cross, and 5) that He really rose again from the dead and is returning, calling all to repent and believe, take up their cross and follow Him. In response to this a number of other ministers joined together in affirming and defending what they believed were fundamentals of the faith. Those who affirmed these fundamental truths were called “fundamentalists,” and those who rejected the requirement that ministers believe and teach these truths were called “modernists” or “liberals.”
In 1929 Princeton Seminary, which trained ministers, appointed two men who had signed the Auburn Affirmation. This prompted Princeton professor, J. Gresham Machen, to withdraw from Princeton Seminary and found Westminster Theological Seminary. The Pastor who would become the founding Pastor of EPC, Henry Welbon, was a student of Machen at the time and followed Him to Westminster Seminary.
In 1933 seeing his Presbyterian denomination grow increasingly liberal despite all attempts to reform it, seeing ministers and missionaries no longer required to believe in the truth or, to use the technical terms, the 'inspiration' and 'inerrancy' of Scripture, Machen not only founded Westminster Seminary but formed the Independent Board of Missions to ensure that it was the actual gospel and not a false or watered down gospel that was going to the nations. For his actions and refusal to repent, Machen was eventually “defrocked,” which means that he lost his credentials as a reverend and was kicked out of the denomination. Undeterred, Machen formed a denomination called the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in 1936.
Around this time Pastor Henry Welbon was ministering at Head of Christiana Church. The Presbyterian denomination, which owned the building, was growing increasingly liberal. Welbon and his flock were with Machen and those who held to the fundamentals of the faith and supported Machen’s Independent Board of Mission. The tension came to head as Pastor Welbon and those who would found EPC along with him found themselves quite literally locked out of the building and kicked out of the denomination.
They worshipped at different locations, eventually planting themselves and building a church on Main St. in Newark, in what is now an antique shop. After outgrowing their facility they purchased the land we currently occupy. They first built the Fellowship Hall, which was sanctuary until they built the current sanctuary. After being associated with the Bible Presbyterian Church and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and then the RPCES, our congregation merged with the rest of the RPCES into the Presbyterian Church in America in 1983.
Over the years the buildings have changed, the denominational affiliations have changed and Newark has changed, but we retain the DNA of those founding members and their convictions. We are convinced that the Bible is inspired and inerrant, necessary and sufficient, and we cannot, will not cease to preach and teach it as such. We are convinced that at the heart of the Bible is the good news that Jesus, fully God, was born of a virgin, fully man, that He died in our place for our sin to bear the punishment that we deserve, that He really rose and is really coming again. This compels us to proclaim this good news, something which is visible not only in corporate worship but in our participation in, and support of, local, national, and global mission.