Founding Ministers of the OPC

On June 11th, 1936 in Center City Philadelphia, a body of Christians assembled to establish a new denomination, the Presbyterian Church of America (now called the Orthodox Presbyterian Church).

Rev. H. McAllister Griffiths, D.D. read a three point statement:

  1. In order to continue what we believe to be the true spiritual succession of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., which we hold to have been abandoned by the present organization of that body, and to make clear to all the world that we have no connection with the organization bearing that name, we, a company of ministers and ruling elders, having been removed from that organization in contravention (as we believe) of its constitution, or having severed our connection with that organization, or hereby solemnly declaring that we do sever our connection with it, or coming as ministers or ruling elders from other ecclesiastical bodies holding the Reformed Faith, do hereby associate ourselves together with all Christian people who do and will adhere to us, in a body to be known and styled as the Presbyterian Church of America.

  2. We, a company of ministers and ruling elders, do hereby in our own name, in the name of those who have adhered to us, and by the warrant and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ constitute ourselves a General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America.

  3. We do solemnly declare (1) that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice, (2) that the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms contain the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures, and (3) that we subscribe to and maintain the principles of Presbyterian church government as being founded upon and agreeable to the Word of God.

Those the ministers, ruling elders, and laity who wished to affirm the first point were asked to stand and constitute a new church. The ministers and ruling elders who wished to constitute the first General Assembly by affirming the second section were asked to stand.

Thirty six ministers stood in affirmation of the first two sections; six men would be ordained by this assembly. Their names are recorded in the minutes of the first General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I have included names below along with some biographical information obtained from the A Ministerial and Congregational Register of the OPC, 1936–2016.

Name Residence Age Birth Death Ordained By Left OPC In Left For
Dean W. Adair Canaan, Maine 26 1909 1947 PCUSA
Samuel J. Allen Indianapolis, IN 37 1899 1954 PCUSA 1948 PCUS
Philip du B. Arcularius Duryea, PA 34 1902 1985 PCUSA 1938 BPC
Robert L. Atwell Harrisville, PA 26 1910 1988 PCUSA
J. Oliver Buswell, Jr. Wheaton, IL 41 1895 1977 PSUSA 1938 BPC
Robert Churchhill Tacoma, WA 32 1903 1980 OPC
John P. Clelland Wilmington, DE 28 1907 1993 PCUSA 1965 BPC
Bruce A. Coie 29 1907 1998 OPC
Calvin K. Cummings Philadelphia, PA 26 1909 1987 OPC
Everett C. De Velde New Park, PA 30 1906 1991 PCUSA
Albert B. Dodd China 59 1877 1972 PCUSA 1944 BPC
Franklin S. Dyrness Quaryville, PA 31 1905 1990 PCUSA 1949 Unaffiliated
Frank L. Fiol India 24 1912 1999 OPC 1943 BPC
David Freeman Philadelphia, PA 34 1901 1984 PCUSA 1946 RCA
A. Culver Gordon Philadelphia, PA 25 1911 2006 OPC 1946 BPC
Robert H. Graham Middletown, DE 31 1905 1993 PCUSA
H. McAllister Griffiths Philadelphia, PA 36 1900 1957 PCC 1938 BPC
Frank Hamilton Ventnor, NJ 36 1900 1899 PCUSA 1938 BPC
R. Laird Harris Philadelphia, PA 25 1911 2008 OPC 1938 BPC
Robert Moody Holmes Philadelphia, PA 27 1909 1989 PCUSA 1941 PCUS
Bruce F. Hunt Philadelphia, PA 33 1903 1992 PCUSA
W. H. Kiehlhorn Oxford, WI 46 1889 1947 PCUSA 1937 Unaffiliated
J. Mulder Kooyers Athens, WI 39 1896 1983 PCUSA 1936 PCUSA
Luther Craig Long New Haven, CT 32 1904 1991 PCUSA 1942 ARP
J. Gresham Machen Philadelphia, PA 54 1881 1937 PCUSA
Allan A. MacRae Philadelphia, PA 34 1902 1997 PCUSA 1938 BPC
George W. Marston Oxford, PA 31 1905 1994 PCUSA 1951 PCUS
Arthur F. Perkins Merrill, WI 48 1887 1936 PCUSA
Leonard S. Pitcher Wildwood, NJ 30 1905 1988 PCUSA 1945 BPC
Edwin H. Rian Philadelphia, PA 36 1900 1995 PCUSA 1947 PCUSA
Peter De Ruiter Nottingham, PA 35 1900 1977 PCUSA 1943 PCC
J. F. Minor Simpson Frederick, MD 44 1891 1958 PCC 1938 BPC
Leslie W. Sloat Ridgebury, NY 28 1908 1988 PCUSA
Clifford S. Smith Bridgedon, NJ 30 1906 1991 PCUSA 1947 BPC
N. B. Stonehouse Philadelphia, PA 34 1902 1962 PCUSA
John Burton Thwing Philadelphia, PA 39 1897 1959 PCUSA 1939 UPCNA
Kelly Grier Tucker Port Kennedy, PA 38 1898 1985 PCUSA
Robert J. Vaughn Chicago, IL 54 1881 1938 PCUSA 1937 BPC
Edmin L. Wade Windham, NY 27 1908 1965 PCUSA
Henry G. Welbon Newark, DE 31 1904 1999 PCUSA 1937 BPC
Charles J. Woodbridge Philadelphia, PA 34 1902 1995 PCUSA 1937 PCUS
Paul Woolley Philadelphia, PA 34 1902 1984 PCUSA

Several ministers who “signified their intention of joining the Presbyterian Church of America” were seated as associate members of the assembly:

  • Charles Dana Chrisman, (New York City, N. Y.)
  • Leslie A. Dunn (Columbus, N. J.)
  • Lewis J. Grotcnhuis (Phillipsburg, N. J.)
  • Robert S. Marsden (Middletown, Pa.)
  • John C. Rankin, (Worcester, N. Y.)
  • Cornelius Van Til (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Robert L. Vining (Mifflinburg, Pa.)
  • Peter F. Wall (Chester, N. Y.)
  • Walter V. Watson (Syracuse, N. Y)

By the second General Assembly later in 1936, there were 106 ministers on the roll of the denomination.