A Fellowship of Three Centuries
We are nurtured by a long and fruitful history of service in Christ’s name. The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville (formerly Maidenhead) was founded by settlers who came down the old Indian trails from Long Island and Connecticut in the late 17th century. In 1698, those who came to Maidenhead were granted land near the corner of Route 206 and Carter Road for a cemetery, school house and church. The land was never used for these purposes, probably because the grantors expected that an Anglican church would be established, while the settlers preferred a Presbyterian one.
A meetinghouse was erected on the site of the present building sometime in the early 1700’s. A record from 1709 indicates that it was used both for a meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia and for a session of the Hunterdon County Court. The present structure was built in 1764, originally measuring 45 feet wide and 32 feet deep, about half the present depth. Most likely, the roof line ran parallel to the road and the congregation sat on three sides of a central pulpit and communion table. In 1853, the building was given its present depth of 75 feet, the balcony was enlarged, and the pulpit was carved to match the front arch.
People are the life of the church. Through the centuries, countless hundreds have sung praises to God here, pondered God’s Word, cared for one another, and witnessed to God’s love in the affairs of life. Some names stand out for particular deeds. Elias Phillips, a major in General Washington’s army and later high sheriff of the county, is credited with attacking a Hessian supply train passing through the village, taking prisoners for Washington, and giving the supplies to the residents of Maidenhead. John Hart, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was baptized here on December 31, 1713. Legend has it that Molly Pitcher, heroine of the Battle of Monmouth, was also baptized here as Mary Ludwig. In 1810, the seventh minister of the church, Isaac V. Brown, began the Maidenhead Academy to prepare young men for college. This school is now The Lawrenceville School. Nearly a hundred years after the Revolutionary War, Robert Hamill Nassau and his sister Isabella left Lawrenceville to serve as missionaries on the River Ogawe in Gabon, West Africa. They served there from 1861 to 1906, and even today are honored by the government of Gabon for their medical, educational and pastoral work. Accounts of their work attracted Albert Schweitzer, and he continued the mission they had begun in the town of Lambarene.
The Heart of the Community
The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville has been at the heart of the community for over 300 years. Our church continues to grow in ministry and mission. In recent times, members of the church have served God in the affairs of the township and region by working for better housing, schools, recreation for the young, assistance for those in trouble, and more responsive government. The church’s participation in the broader affairs of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been carried out by men and women in state and national positions.