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Scottsville Presbyterian Church

Scottsville Presbyterian Church
Name:  Scottsville Presbyterian Church

Date:  August 17, 1969

Image Number:  B251cdB25

Comments:   The congregation of the Presbyterian Church was organized first at Warren with six members on October 18, 1927, as part of the West Hanover Presbytery.  The elders of the church were John B. Hart and Samuel Harris, and by 1830, this church had grown to sixteen members, thanks largely to the influence and support of Peyton Harrison, a landowner and lawyer in early Albemarle County.  The church became the Warren and Scottsville Presbyterian Church, and Peyton was appointed its ruling elder. 

It is said that the congregation first worshipped in a free church building which then stood in the edge of the village of Warren.  The Scottsville congregation first used the Concord House of Worship which was on the ground of the Presbyterian Cemetery (now Scottsville Cemetery).  It was written about Harrison, "...and Harrison rested not until a church was formed in Scottsville."  The Presbyterians built a two-story brick church, shown above, which was completed in 1832 on land owned by Peyton Harrison and with funds he helped secure.  The Presbyterian Church measures 32' x 42' and is located on Lot 148 on Bird Street; it is the oldest church building in Scottsville.  About this time, the name 'Warren' was dropped from the congregation's name and thereafter the church became known as the Scottsville Presbyterian Church.  Reverend Samuel Hurd was the first pastor of the Scottsville Presbyterian Church.

Presbyterian Prayer Meeting, ca 1920 In 1866 a manse for the Scottsville Presbyterian minister was presented to the church by Isaac H. Barksdale, one of the elders, and William Branch, a member of the congregation.  This manse was destroyed by fire ca. 1950's.  The church building itself underwent its first major alteration in 1956 when a new terrace with iron railing at its front was added to the church building's front.  This terrace permitted entry into the church through any of three doors which open off the terrace.

Shown at right is a 1930-vintage topic card for interdenominational prayer meetings, scheduled to be held at the Scottsville Presbyterian Church for this three-month period.  A fine feeling of brotherhood has always existed in Scottsville between churches of differing beliefs.  On this prayer meeting card, members of the Scottsville Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist churches were assigned to lead the listed topic discussions.

The following article about The Scottsville Presbyterian Church was printed in the Scottsville Sun, dated December 6, 1851:

Presbyterian First Church Established Here;
Organized in 1827 With Only 6 Members

According to historical records, the Presbyterian Church, a substantial brick building in the heart of Scottsville, was the first church established here.

Organized first at Warren in the year 1827, it was taken under the charge of the West Hanover Presbytery and in 1830 became the Warren and Scottsville Church, but a few years later Warren was dropped from its name.

At the time of organization, there were only 6 members.  The Elders were John B. Hart and Samuel Harris, and in 1830, Peyton Harrison was installed.

When first organized the congregation worshipped in a free church building which then stood in the edge of the village of Warren.  The Scottsville congregation first used Concord House of Worship, which was on ground now embraced in the Presbyterian Cemetery, about a mile from town, and which was the assembling place for large congregations of different dominations.

The present church, much the same as it was originally, was erected about 1832 on land presented to the church by Rev. Peyton Harrison.

Rev. Samuel Hurd, of whom little is known, was the first pastor of the Scottsville Church.

In 1866, the manse was presented to the church by Isaac R. Barksdale, one of the elders, and William Branch, a member of the congregation.  This was destroyed by fire in recent years.

The church has kept a steady course through over a century of service, and now carries on a full church program with weekly services, although a few years ago it was comparatively inactive.  It is now one of a group of eight churches which compose the Old Providence Rural Parish.  Dr. R. G. Hutcherson is the parish pastor, and he is assisted by a student minister, Randolph Harrison.

There is an active Sunday school in the Presbyterian Church, with Russell Brill serving as superintendent.  Five Sunday school rooms have been made in the gallery, and classes are taught for all age groups.

The Women of the Church, formerly called the Ladies Aid Society, have always cooperated with the work of the church, and have just concluded a successful annual Christmas Bazaar.  Mrs. Russell Brill is president of this organization.

An excellent organ has been installed in the church.  Miss Frances Morris is director of music for services and programs.

The Presbyterian Youth Fellowship program includes young people between the ages of 12 and 18 and meets every second, third, and fourth Sunday, meeting on the fourth Sunday with the whole Parish at Louisa.

Elders at the present time are Joseph Wilson, Thomas A. Allison, and John Morris.  Deacons include Barney L. Philpot, Russell Brill, Stephen Ward, and Kirkwood Spencer.

It is interesting to note that within the past 50 years there have been only two marriages in the church, and they were nearly 50 years apart.  The most recent marriage was this past June when Miss Billie Jane Burcher was married to Edward Grady, Jr.  Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Slaughter were the last to be married here before.

The interior of the church has the charm of antiquity, and one can imagine the rustle of long skirts and petticoats as they came down the two aisles, and the chorus that rose from the "amen corner."  In early days the pews were doubtless filled with worshippers who came from miles around over difficult dirt roads, and the gallery held their negro slaves, all summoned by the tolling bell in the steeple.  Now that many paved roads lead to the church, and away from it as well as the fact that other churches have grown up around it, the enrollment of members is reduced.  But those who remain are steadfast in their loyalty and work devotedly in its interests.

The following article about the Scottsville Presbyterian Church was printed in the Scottsville Monthly, dated February 27, 2015, and authored by Ron Smith:

188 Years and Counting!

Martin Luther, the great leader of the Protestant Reformation, had a number of followers.  Among them was John Calvin who lived from 1509 until 1564.  Calvin, known for his theological beliefs referred to as "Calvinism," had a friend and fellow student in Geneva who took Calvin's teachings on Protestant Reformation back in Scotland.  With the Church of Scotland embracing these new beliefs, the Scottish Reformation occurred in 1560.  From Scotland reformed ideas were carried to Ireland and England and, with settlers coming to the "new world," these beliefs arrived on the shores of North America around 1640.

After America achieved its independence, the need was felt to organize the several Presbyterian groups around the new country, and in 1789, a meeting was held in Philadelphia, and one of the "Founding Fathers," John Witherspoon, who was President of Princeton University at the time, became the first moderator of the Presbyterian Church in the USA.

Scottsville Presbyterian Church was founded in October 1827 with Rev. Samuel Hurd, a graduate of Union Seminary in Richmond, as its first pastor.  The church began with six members and was located in Warren, just west of Scottsville.  In 1830, Mr. Peyton Harrison donated land for a new church in Scottsville, and in 1832, the first church to be built in Scottsville was constructed on the lot it has continued to occupy since that date.  The congregation grew to sixteen.

Around 1889, membership grew to 100, with 71 young people enrolled in Sunday School.  Membership declined to around 45 in the 1950's, but there was still 64 in the Sunday School program.  Today (2015) membership is a little less than the 1950's, but each Sunday, in addition to the regular members and visitors, two vans loaded with young men from the Discovery School attend worship services.

Gordon Lindsey had been the pastor since 2007.  After a twenty-five year career in the corporate world, Gordon entered the ministry.  The Yale-educated minister led the congregation of Scottsville Presbyterian Church until the Fall of 2014.  Since Gordon was past what some may call a normal retirement age, he decided to retire from the active ministry.  A vacancy needed to be filled.

Church member Tom Thomson, as a member of the Search Committee, was tasked with the challenge of finding someone to fill the empty pulpit.  As Tom says, "We were blessed to have had Gordon, who served us on a part-time basis, as this matched our small church's limited resources perfectly.  And lightning stuck twice when Reverend Dr. Gay Lee Einstein approached us seeking a part-time position to complement her business serving as a wedding pastor for hire."  The Rev. Dr. Einstein had been commuting a great distance from her home in Charlottesville to Kenbridge each Sunday to preach.  "So we offered not only the small-sized church she was looking for but also many fewer hours in the car every Sunday," Tom said.  "We were immediately taken by her vibrant and engaging personality, strong faith, inspiring and approachable style of preaching, and interest in pastoral care.  We're very excited to have her in our pulpit."

Reverend Gay Lee Epstein
Reverend Gay Lee Einstein, 2015.  Photo by Ron Smith

The Rev. Gay Lee Einstein was born in Louisville, Kentucky.  At an early age, her family relocated to Richmond, and she grew up in that great city.  After graduation from high school, she entered the College of William and Mary and earned a degree in French.

1976 saw the celebration of our country's bicentennial.  Having graduated from college, Gay Lee found employment with the Smithsonian Institution working in the Performing Arts Department.  One of the projects that department was planning in conjunction with the bicentennial celebration was a Festival of American Folk Life.  Gay Lee worked on the publicity and promotion of that event.

Having married and becoming the mother of three daughters, she "felt a true calling to enter the ministry."  She said, "I had been very active in my church, and when my younger daughter entered preschool, I entered seminary."  As if she didn't have enough to occupy her time, she was asked by her church's senior pastor to assume the duties of the associate minister role, and since she had not been ordained yet, she was an "unofficial" associate minister.  If this new assignment wasn't enough, she was raising a family, going to school, and working with a drama group.

Upon graduation from seminary and her ordination, she was offered the position she occupied at her church as the "real" associate minister.  She returned to Wesley Seminary from which she had received her Masters of Divinity and began studies that would lead to a doctorate.  "I taught at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond before making the decision to move to Charlottesville," she said.  She served at Cove Presbyterian and then began her own business.

Realizing that there are a number of couples that wish to be married, and they want to do so in a more or less formal setting, but do not have a religious or church affiliation, led the Rev. Einstein to form  She offers her services to such couples as well as premarital counselling, advice, and, of course, for the wedding ceremony.

Scottsville Presbyterian Church is located at 148 Bird Street, just off Valley Street in downtown Scottsville.   Worship services are conducted each Sunday at 11:00 am and, as their brochure states, "Our worship follows the traditional order that has been favored in Presbyterian churches ever since the Reformation."

While the congregation is small, they are vibrant, warm, and caring people and welcome everyone.  And Rev. Gay Lee Einstein reiterates what is also stated in their brochure: "Your presence adds to the joy of our worshipping God together."

Rev. Gay Lee Einstein, 2015
The Reverend Gay Lee Einstein at Scottsville Presbyterian Church, 2015. 
Photo by Ron Smith

Interior of Scottsville Presbyterian Church, ca. 2016
Above is a circa 2016 photo of the interior of the Scottsville Presbyterian Church. 
Photo Courtesy of Scottsville Presbyterian Church.

In January 2020, the Scottsville Presbyterian Church is led by Reverend Dr. E. Richard Knox, shown below with his wife, Nan Knox.  Reverend Knox came to the Scottsville Church with over 40 years of experience in the Presbyterian ministry.

Rev. Dr. E. Richard Knox and Nan Knox
Rev. Dr. E. Richard Knox and Nan Knox.
Photo Courtesy of Scottsville Presbyterian Church

For more information about the Scottsville Presbyterian Church, visit their web site at:

The top photo was taken by Ed Roseberry in 1969.  The undated photo of the prayer meeting card is part of the Jack Hamner collection.  Jack resides in Scottsville, Virginia, and is a lifelong citizen of our town.  The photos of Rev. Gay Lee Einstein are by Ronald Smith of Scottsville, Virginia.  The photo of Rev. E. Richard and Nan Knox and of the church's interori in 2016 are courtesy of the Scottsville Presbyterian Church.

Copyright © 2020 by Scottsville Museum

Church Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDB25

Prayer Card Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDJH08


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