WAMU 88.5 : Metro Connection

Filed Under:

On the Coast: Presbyterian Church Keeps The Faith For 300 Years

Play associated audio
The Old Rehoboth congregation was formed in 1683, more than 30 years before the present church was built.
Rehoboth Presbyterian Church
The Old Rehoboth congregation was formed in 1683, more than 30 years before the present church was built.
The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. (Rehoboth Presbyterian Church)

In 1706, a group of colonists founded a fledgling church on the banks of the Pocomoke River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. More than 300 years later, that church — Rehoboth Presbyterian — is still thriving.

“I still get surprised by the details of the three centuries and more of history from this congregation,” says Rev. Kirk Dausman, who came here from rural Georgia a little more than a year ago. “It is an honor and I'm very humbled that they would choose me as a pastor in a line that traces their ancestry theologically back to Francis Makemie.”

Francis Makemie is known today as the “father of American Presbyterianism,” and played a leading role in this church in its early days. In the mid-1600s, a man named Colonel William Stevens settled on the Eastern Shore and founded a plantation that he named Rehoboth. He opened his home to people from a number of different denominations over the ensuing years, and eventually decided there was a need for regular church meetings. He sent a request to Europe for a minister, and Makemie was the person sent back.

Since then, the congregation has continued to worship in the church’s red-brick building.

“It’s almost as if it’s been protected, this building,” says the church’s session clerk David Pollack. “We have enough money to keep the building in pretty good shape. It’s hard to keep the materials because they don't make it like they used to, but we try to replace brick with brick when we can find it.”

In its early years, Rehoboth Presbyterian was home to a congregation of about 150 to 200 people. After the Civil War, the congregation shrank to only 8 people, but by the 1950s it had rebounded again to about 150. Right now, the church is at about 81 members.

“This congregation has proven itself to be patient, in many ways and over many generations,” says Dausman.

Music: "Sea of Love" by Tom Waits from Brawlers / "Presbyterian Guitar" by John Hartford from Aero-Plain

WAMU 88.5

Anne Tyler: "A Spool Of Blue Thread" (Rebroadcast)

In her first live radio interview ever, Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler joins Diane to talk about her 20th novel, "A Spool of Blue Thread."


Thanksgiving Buzz: What Would Pilgrims Say About The Plight Of Bees?

When you sit down for your holiday dinner, you may want to give thanks to bees and other pollinators. Their health is tied to your food. What's behind the bee declines? Watch our video investigation.

Capitol Hill Lawmakers Find Living At The Office Makes Sense, Saves Cents

Three office buildings on the House side of the U.S. Capitol serve as offices, and by night as lawmakers' apartments. Dozens of lawmakers choose to sleep in the office when Congress is in session.

From Takeout To Breakups: Apps Can Deliver Anything, For A Price

Convenience is at an all-time premium — and a lot of smartphone apps promise to make many of the things we do every day easier. In a time-crunch or sheer laziness, how far will the apps take us?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.