OUR CHURCH HISTORY
The first evidence of a Presbyterian presence in Culpeper County began in 1767 when seven young men were sent by Donegal Presbytery, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to the mission territory of what is now Culpeper and the surrounding area. After several years of preaching, a church was formally organized in 1772 in Culpeper and was named Bethesda Presbyterian Church.
During the early years it was supplied irregularly by ministers who would come from Alexandria and Georgetown. The general assumption was that the Revolutionary War made it very difficult to carry on any consistent pattern of worship, and records indicate that the Presbyterian Church at Culpeper Court House was dissolved in 1780.
After the Revolutionary War, a renewed interest was shown by Winchester Presbytery and supply ministers were once again sent into the area on a regular basis. In 1813 the church was reorganized and in 1814 Samuel Davis Hoge was ordained as its first pastor. The little church continued to prosper and had grown to seventy-nine members by 1838.
In 1954 the Thomas Hooper Educational Building was built, across E. Locust Street from the existing sanctuary. It was named in honor of Reverend Thomas Hooper, who served as pastor of the church for thirty-eight years. A fifteen-thousand square foot activity and education building was opened in July of 2003, to house all the programs, activities, and ministries of the congregation.
The Civil War took a great toll on the Presbyterian Church because it was located in the heart of the winter encampments of the great armies of Union and Confederacy. The Confederate forces used the church as a hospital and at various other times it was used by both armies for less glorious purposes. By the end of the war it was in no condition to be used as a church, so the old property was sold and a new church was built on the present site. The first services were held in 1869 even though the building was only partially finished. It was at this time that the name of the church was changed from Bethesda to the Culpeper Presbyterian Church. The church has shown great resiliency over the years, surviving the ebb and flow of spiritual growth.
As we move into our third century as a church, Culpeper Presbyterian is committed to active ministry to its members as well as to the surrounding community. Today, with almost three hundred members, the commitment to stay in the heart of the town and to be a spiritual presence to the community holds great promise for the little church that began to take shape prior to the Revolutionary War.