A second task for the new congregation was to seek a site for a church building. A committee was formed and, after options on both the north and south sides of the railroad were evaluated, a property at the corner of Mill Creek Road and Montgomery Avenue was chosen and purchased. It was decided a chapel would be constructed initially, with a sanctuary to follow as the congregation grew. In 1910, the first service was held in the new stone and granite chapel. Over the next fifty years, additional, integrated construction followed–in 1917 the chapel was expanded; in 1924, the present Neo-Gothic sanctuary was built next to the chapel; in 1959, a renovation of the sanctuary westward, matching the design and materials of the original and doubling its size, was accomplished.
When the Neo-Gothic sanctuary was first completed, an observer at the time wrote, “Where only a vacant field was, stands a work of architectural beauty of which all Ardmore is proud.” More recently, a church member wrote, “Our building’s commanding presence on Montgomery Avenue makes it one of the more visible and attractive landmarks on the Main Line.”
For more than one hundred years Ardmore’s congregations have been blessed by distinguished pastors [link to Pastors], who established traditions of excellence in Biblical teaching and preaching, and generous involvement in local and global missions. We invite you to join us in our historic church, with its soaring spire “ever lifting up the cross, the symbol of our faith,” for worship, fellowship and service in God’s name in our community and throughout the world.
Adapted from “Our Heritage, Our Life,” a publication written by member Don Poorman for the celebration APC’s 100th anniversary.
The Memorial Chapel, Ardmore’s original church from 1910 until 1924, when the new sanctuary was constructed, was next utilized for Sunday School for more than three decades. Its most striking feature, then and now, is the large, luminous Tiffany landscape window, donated in 1913 in memory of the parents of a founding member, T. Edward Ross. The beautiful Tiffany window is called “Sunrise,” for the serene and lovely scene it depicts.
In 1962, the chapel was renovated and rebuilt as Memorial Chapel with gifts from members. Additional, smaller, stained glass windows were dedicated in memory of members’ families. These windows have a distinctive glass overlay and depict the nine Beatitudes. Recently refurbished, the Memorial Chapel is an intimate worship setting, often used for funerals and weddings.
For more than a century, excellence in preaching and teaching has distinguished Ardmore Presbyterian Church. We have been blessed and privileged to have been served by seven ministers.
Edmund Grindal Rawson, from Sarasota Springs, NY, became Ardmore’s first Pastor in 1908 and served until his death in 1935. Two areas of his leadership helped form the identity of our church. First, because of his zeal for mission, he encouraged the young congregation, to “reach out in service to others, at home and in the regions beyond.” In its support of local and national evangelism and relief efforts, Ardmore became one of the leading churches in the Presbytery for mission giving. Second, Dr. Rawson emphasized Ardmore’s ministry and outreach to the community’s many children. He took a personal interest in the growing Sunday school program and spent time with its children, who enjoyed his warm personality. The story has been told that, at Sunday School picnics, Dr. Rawson greeted each child by name and provided each one with ice cream. In 1936, funds were raised from the congregation to commemorate his love for children with the Rawson Memorial Stained Glass Window. Its outer panels depict children of the Bible, from Moses being discovered in the bulrushes to the boy giving Jesus the bread and fish from which the multitudes were fed.
Dr. Allan McLachlan Frew, Ardmore’s second minister, born in Scotland, had a reputation as one of the finest preachers on the Main Line. Known as a biblical scholar, Dr. Frew’s expositions of doctrinal topics were said to “demand attentive listening.” One of the enduring legacies of Dr. Frew’s 17-year ministry is his appreciation for the arts. Dr. Frew suggested the themes for many of the stained-glass windows installed during his tenure. In music, he hired the Curtis Institute’s prize pupil, Claribel Thomson, who served as Ardmore’s organist and music director for 50 years. He also secured a professional quartet and instituted special services during which sacred works were performed in their entirety. During Dr. Frew’s 17 years of leadership, the congregation grew from 500 to 1500.
Succeeding Dr. Frew later in 1952 was Dr. William Faulds, also born in Scotland, who also became known throughout the area for his special gifts in teaching and preaching–for “imparting profound truths”-as well as for his warm personality. He has been remembered as “a window to the love of God, which he ever held in his heart.” Under Dr. Fauld’s 23-year tenure, our church saw its greatest period of growth, from 1500 to 2200. The Sanctuary was expanded to twice its original size, including a new transept with two beautiful stained-glass windows and a new addition, the Christian Education Building, was constructed and dedicated. One of his last projects as pastor was the creation of a new church library, named in his honor and including in its large selection of Christian books, many from Dr. Faulds’ personal collection. Dr. Faulds died while serving as our pastor in 1975 and was memorialized at a service attend by nearly 700 people.
In 1977, Ardmore welcomed an academic scholar, Dr. Robert W. Bohl, born in Oklahoma, who continued in the tradition of his predecessors with strong preaching and inspirational teaching. His ministry here was further characterized by his commitment to the community at large, bringing the needs of the poor and hungry worldwide to our congregation’s attention by helping to create the Hunger Task Force. Dr. Bohl also served on boards of service organizations, including the Upper Main Line YMCA, Presbyterian Hospital and the Pearl Buck Foundation. In 1993 Dr. Bohl served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and later as pastor of Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kansas. When Ardmore celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007, Dr. Bohl returned to our pulpit as a guest speaker.
In 1981, Dr. David V. Yeaworth, with roots in Philadelphia, arrived as Ardmore’s fifth pastor. From our pulpit, Dr. Yeaworth immediately impressed worshipers with challenging, biblically based sermons demonstrating his scholarship in church history and theology. Dr. Yeaworth’s foresight and talent in programming, helped the church prepare for the future. He revitalized the church and established many events that still define church life, including the Wednesday Plus afterschool program for children; the Floral Cross creation at Easter; and in December, “Greening” of the Church, Advent Family Night and a midnight (now 10 PM) Christmas Eve Service. To build on the church’s musical tradition, Dr. Yeaworth envisioned a volunteer choir to help lead weekly worship. The need for a larger chancel area to accommodate such a choir led to a major renovation of the sanctuary, financed by the congregation through the 85th anniversary campaign. The result included an extension of the chancel and pulpit, relocation of the organ, creation of the choir loft, creation of a cross-aisle and restoration of our building’s exterior surfaces. Dr. Yeaworth’s ministry was also characterized by his interest in children and youth. With his wife Grace, the Yeaworths led fellowship groups, and recreational and devotional events. He reinstituted and designed Vacation Bible School with yearly themes, daily assembly, songs and skits, and organized Youth Mission trips during which our senior high students led similar VBS programs at churches in other areas. The Yeaworths’ enthusiastic participation is still fondly recalled by today’s adults who were youth of the church then.
On January 7, 1996, Reverend William P. Proctor, a Texan, braved near-blizzard conditions in Ardmore (along with about 100 church members) to accept his call to be our next pastor. Furthering our tradition of strong preaching from the pulpit, Rev. Proctor delivered well-researched, meticulously prepared sermons faithful to the Biblical text. Among parishioners, Rev. Proctor’s welcoming spirit was a blessing. His love of Christ was constantly evident in his eagerness to meet them, gladness in their presence and ability to convey a sense of hospitality to all. Rev. Proctor began including congregations more fully in Sacraments of Baptism by including a “baby walk” up and down the aisle, so worshipers could see whom they were pledging to nurture in the faith. Preservation of Ardmore’s church building was another emphasis of Rev. Proctor’s ministry here, and major improvements he envisioned, underwritten by the Century Campaign, equipped us well for the future. His “hands-on” attention to detail and his visual acuity were well-known. He oversaw refurbishment of the chapel and sanctuary, air-conditioning, installation of a handicapped accessible elevator and restroom facilities, and creation of a drop-off lane on Mill Creek Road. The organ also underwent restoration during his tenure.
In 2009 the Reverend James Hodsden, another Texan, accepted a call to become Ardmore’s seventh pastor. A Bible scholar with a gift for teaching, his sermon messages were centered around the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He had a passion for his mission to “equip the saints” so that all could glorify God in worship, service, and love for others. James believed in the centrality of worship, and took great care to coordinate preaching, prayer and music to create a meaningful worship experience. He encouraged hands-on service both near and far, with missions to Belize, Puerto Rico and East Kensington in Philadelphia. His gifts of empathy and compassion were appreciated by those in need of visitation and healing.