No less than half a million Scotch-Irish people came to the United States between 1700 and 1775 seeking religious liberty denied them in the Old World, landing in Pennsylvania. Around 1732 these people began moving southward across the Potomac into the Valley of Virginia. They were encouraged to settle far up the valley west of the Blue Ridge Mountains by the opening of the Beverly Manor and Borden's Grant, which eventually became our Rockbridge and Augusta counties.

In September, 1740, the Reverend John Craig accepted a call for the congregation of Shenandoah and began a ministry to a congregation which covered the valley from the Blue Ridge to North Mountain. A second Presbyterian community developed on the watershed of the James and Shenandoah rivers. Some of the settlers, with the construction of their homes completed, turned their attention to the building of a place of worship. To it was given the name "South Mountain Meeting House". This meeting house was supplied by John Craig once in two months.

In 1746 the Rev. John Blair visited the community around South Mountain Meeting House and organized New Providence. The first meeting house, of log construction, was located at or near the spot where Old Providence A.R.P. Church now stands. By 1748 this was a flourishing Christian society and New Providence, Timber Ridge and Falling Spring joined in calling Mr. Elisha Byram. He refused the call and supply ministers were secured by New Providence and Timber Ridge until settled ones could be called.

Mr. John Brown, a ministerial candidate in New Castle Presbytery, was sent to supply and was called in August of 1753. He was ordained as the first minister of New Providence and Timber Ridge on October 11, 1753 at a meeting of New Castle Presbytery.

Around the late 1740's a number of members of New Providence began planning to move the church to the Walkers, Hays and Moffats Creek area because this was a more central point considering the large territory from which the congregation grew. And so the second log church was built on a hillside across the creek from where the present church stands.

The deed to the first property possessed by the church was given by Joseph and Elizabeth Kennedy and dated August 21, 1754. and says the building was already under way. This was our third building and was made with stone and probably occupied the site over which our present brick building stands. It was completed around 1760 and was quite an undertaking for the people of that day. There were no roads, no wagons. Sand for the mortar was brought from South River some eight or ten miles away by the young girls and women of the congregation on horseback. Unintentionally, a sycamore seed was brought in the sand which took root and grew into a tree that still stands today.

John Brown served the church for 42 years, resigning in 1795 because of ill health. The church was soon to be served by Samuel Brown, whose wife was Mary Moore, well known to many as the "Captive of Abb's Valley". She was one of the settlers captured in 1786 in one of the last frontier Indian raids in the state. She was taken to Canada and later was ransomed and returned to her family in the area. The Browns are buried in the New Providence cemetery just west of the sanctuary.

In 1812 the stone building had been torn down to make room for a large brick building, the fourth sanctuary for this congregation. The church grew from 128 communicants in 1819 to more than 569 in 1833. By 1856 the need for an even larger facility led the congregation to tear down the old building and build a fifth sanctuary, our present brick structure, which was completed in 1857.

God continued to bless the congregation with godly ministers, elders and members through the years. The New Providence congregation has served as a leader in the area and continues to serve God and the community in its rural location after over two and a half centuries.

New Providence Church, 1746-1996, A History by Katharine L. Brown is available for purchase at New Providence Church.

HISTORY OF NEW PROVIDENCE