History of the Church

The Church History


The Rev. Dr. W. W. Arrowood began the first Presbyterian work in the Richlands area in 1924. He was a pastor of a Church in Tazewell. He helped organize a group of women called The Presbyterian Women of Richlands and he preached once each month. As interest and growth continued, it became necessary to find a suitable meeting place. An old boarding house was used for about four years for Sunday School and Worship Services.

In May of 1928, the Rev. R. T. L. Liston, PhD., was sent to Richlands to serve as “mission territory minister” to the Richlands group and he also served Cedar Bluff and the Jewell Ridge area. On September 9, 1928, the Richlands Presbyterian Church was organized with Dr. Liston as the pastor and 22 charter members. A Sanctuary was built patterned after a “wee kirk” in Scotland. The membership grew to more than 100 during Dr. Liston’s pastorate that ended in early 1937.

The Rev. Frank Bell Lewis, PhD., a graduate of Edinburgh University in Scotland, was called as the second pastor. He served until 1940.

The Rev. John A. Womeldorf, D.D. was installed as pastor on November 17, 1940, and he served as pastor of the Church during the war years. Seventeen young men went into combat from the small congregation and three paid the supreme sacrifice for our Country.

On March 17, 1945, the Rev. Archie B. Williford, D.D. was installed as the forth pastor. During his 16 year pastorate, a new education building was completed. By December of 1958, three young men from the Church had entered into the ministry and the Church membership had grown to 257. By then, two outpost chapels were organized. The Dye Chapel and the West Fork Chapel, carried out by the Men of the Church and Chapel pastor Mr. C. Roy McGarvey. By 1961, when Dr. Williford resigned, the Church membership had grown to approximately 300.

On October 22, 1961, the Rev. James B. Hollenhead, D.D. was installed and many changes too place during his pastorate. A New Sanctuary was built seating over 324 individuals. Property was purchased next to the Church for a parking lot and a playground was built for the youth of the Church. Continued growth also grew at the West Fork Chapel and the Dye Chapel. Active social and community programs such as the Food Pantry and the Christian Clothing Store also grew. Dr. James B. Hollenhead retired on June 30, 1992.

The Rev. Frank Preston served as the interim pastor from October 1992 to August 1993.

In 1993 the Rev. R. Curtis Fussell, PhD., was called from North Carolina to serve as the sixth pastor of the Richlands Presbyterian Church. Dr. Fussell served at the Church until 1998.

The Rev. Catherine (Cathy) Carpenter served as the interim pastor until the year of 2000.

The Rev. J. David Danford was installed as the seventh pastor of the Church. Rev. Danford was the pastor until 2002.

The Rev. William (Bill) McDaniel served as the interim pastor of the Church until 2005.

In 2005 the Rev. Dennis J. Hoffman was installed as the eighth pastor of the Richlands Presbyterian Church. A New Fellowship Hall was built under Rev. Hoffman’s direction and the First Sanctuary was remodeled and reinvented. Other additions were also made to the New Sanctuary. In 2013 Rev. Dennis Hoffman retired.

Dr. John DiYorio served as our Stated Supply Pastor from September 28, 2014 until January 10, 2016.

We at the Richlands Presbyterian Church are currently being blessed by the service of the Rev. Dr. Paul Min and his leadership.