Neon Reformed Presbyterian Church (NRPC) began with a core group of families working in a housing ministry. After years of service, they realized that providing material help to the community wasn’t sufficient to bring lasting change. Many had better homes and were inspired to be better stewards, but their spiritual condition remained unchanged. As the core group matured in their understanding of biblical ministry, they began praying for God to raise up a Presbyterian and Reformed Church in Letcher County.
Eventually the group made contact with Providence Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Chilhowie, VA and began discussing the possibility of a church plant. The Presbytery of the Southeast’s regional home missionary Jim Heemstra led the first worship service in April 2000. Two months later regular worship services began. Core group member John Belden, a student at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, served as an intern, exhorting and leading worship under the supervision of the Providence OPC session. On October 21, 2000 the Presbytery of the Southeast officially recognized NRPC (then called Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church) as a mission work. In September 2001, John Belden returned with his wife Sara as a year-long intern and was licensed to preach on October 18, 2001. John was ordained and installed as the associate pastor of Providence OPC with special duties at NRPC on August 6, 2004. Rev. Belden faithfully served the congregation, training officers, purchasing and renovating a facility, evangelizing the community, and shepherding the flock, until accepting another call in the spring of 2010.
Afterward, God provided several ministers and licentiates to fill the pulpit, while the church prayerfully sought another pastor. One of those men was the Rev. M. Jay Bennett, a PCA minister. In October 2011, upon Presbytery approval, the church invited Rev. Bennett to become Regular Supply with a view to calling him as their new pastor.
At the April stated meeting of the Presbytery of the Southeast Rev. Bennett’s transfer exams were sustained. He was subsequently installed as evangelist/organizing pastor of NRPC on June 29, 2012, becoming a minister of the OPC. To learn more about Rev. Bennett click here.