About First ARP Church
Our Beliefs, Mission and Story
There is only one God, eternal and self-existing in three Persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — who are to be equally loved, honored, adored, and worshiped. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Luke 3:22; Matthew 28:19)
Knowing God is supremely important because all of life is about Him! (Romans 11:36)
God the Father is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things. (Hebrews 11:3; Colossians 1:16-17)
Jesus Christ is God the Son, the only Savior and Lord of all people. (Romans 5:8; John 3:16)
The Holy Spirit is the gracious Initiator who enables salvation and empowers the Christian life. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
The Bible is the infallible Word of God, the only rule of faith and life, without error in all that it teaches. (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:20-21)
The Ten Commandments tell us how to love God and our neighbor. (Matthew 22:36-40; Exodus 20:1-21)
We sin by failing to love God and our neighbor. Every person is born a sinner, and all have sinned and fall short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23)
The Good News is that Jesus came as our substitute: to perfectly keep the commandments we fail to keep and to die on the cross, paying the penalty of our sins. (I Peter 3:18)
Salvation comes only by God’s grace, as we repent of our sins and embrace Jesus by faith. It could never be earned by what we do. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
THE RETURN OF CHRIST
Jesus Christ will return to earth, visibly and bodily, at a time when He is not expected, to consummate history and the eternal plan of God. (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Believers may unite with our church by publicly professing faith in Christ or by reaffirming faith in Jesus previously professed. (I John 5:11-13)
Baptism is a pre-requisite for church membership. It is the sign of initiation into God’s covenant and is properly administered to those who come to faith in Christ as adults, as well as the children of believing parents. (Genesis 17:7; Acts 2:38-39) We recognize and receive all forms of Christian baptism. Click here for more information on what we believe about baptism.
Those who have publicly professed faith in Jesus and are in a right relationship with God and their neighbor are welcome at the Lord’s Table. (I Corinthians 11: 23-28)
Offering our entire lives: our time, talents, and treasure to serve God and neighbor is our grateful response to what Jesus has done for us. (I Corinthians 6:20; Romans 12:1-2; Malachi 3:10-11)
Our church leadership structure is Presbyterian. This means we are led by group of godly elders elected by the congregation to oversee our spiritual well-being. We also elect Deacons to carry out works of mercy and administration. (Titus 1:5-9:1 Timothy 3:1-13)
As a congregation of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, we hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith, as well as the Shorter and Larger Catechisms. Our Form of Government explains how the church functions, our Directory of Public Worship guides our worship services, and our Book of Discipline outlines care and discipline for church members, officers, and pastors.
To develop DEEP ROOTS into God’s Word and a WIDE REACH into God’s World for the advancement of His Kingdom and the glory of His Name.
Our story is not a story of great faith; it is a story of faith in a Great God. It all began around 1873. The dusty little town of Gastonia was beginning to grow. As people began to move into town, a new house of worship was required. A small group of these town folk started to worship at a little church on Airline Avenue.
This group wasn’t an official or organized church yet, but they had faith that God was starting something special. Combining their resources, they came up with $145, which they used to purchase a large plot of land at the corner of York Street and Franklin Avenue. They continued to pray, worship, and trust God, and he provided. This time they started to build. In the fall of 1886, a small stucco church building was constructed costing $1200. The vision of these faithful few was slowly taking shape.
On October 29, 1887 the First ARP Church of Gastonia was organized with a membership of 47 faith-filled people. The congregation called its first pastors. Under the preaching and leadership of faithful men like Dr. Boyce and Dr. Galloway, the church began to grow.
It was time for another step of faith. God was calling the church to get involved with mission work, both locally and globally. They began supporting their first missionary – Thomas Sanches to Mexico. They also decided it was time for this young church to plant another church – and so they started a mission work in 1913 near Loray Mill which is now known as Linden ARP Church. God continued to bless each step of faith.
The growing congregation was requiring more space so they demolished their building, worshipping in the courthouse, and held evening services at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. During this time a larger building was built at the corner of York and Franklin Avenue costing $20,000. The first service in the new building was held on the last Sunday of February, 1918.
During the next few several decades, God continued to grow our faith. During the depression, when many families left Gaston county to move elsewhere to find work, they continued to believe God would provide. During this time all financial obligations were met and all debts were paid off.
During WWII, the congregation sent 87 young men and women into armed service for their country. This congregation believed God would protect them, and they prayed and kept in contact with these service men and women until they returned safely home.
In 1947 this congregation felt God calling them to continue to expand this ministry and so they stepped out in faith and purchased a piece of property on Chester Street, where our current church building now resides. The new church building was built and dedicated on November 14, 1948. And the church continued to grow.
Since that time membership, mission, giving, ministry, staff, have all continued to grow. Dr. McDill, Dr. Schutte, Rev. Grant Johnson, Dr. Murrary Griffith, Dr. Dick Bode, Dr. Harry Schutte again. Pastors come and pastors go but God continued to bless every step of faith that this congregation has taken.
A new education building was built back in 2002. Gaston Community Church was planted in 2008. From 2016-2019 the entire campus of First ARP underwent a major renovation, with increased parking, and a new Ministry Activity Center (MAC).
The theme of our story is this: God is so faithful – and delights in those who walk by faith in Him. So, stay tuned – God is still at work. To Him alone be the glory.