Our church has been serving as a witness to Jesus Christ in Bucks County, Pennsylvania for more than 200 years. During these many years of ministry, we have moved through life's blessings and challenges as a church family, and in every situation we have found great comfort in the steadfast care and unwavering faithfulness of our gracious Lord.
While we are deeply grateful for what God has done for our church in the past, the greatest benefit that our history provides for us is the ongoing record of God's loving character and grace, which moves us with confident faith and joyful anticipation toward the future!
You may be interested in the detailed history below, which was prepared in advance of the congregation's bicentennial in 2011.
A Brief History of Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church
(Note: Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church was formerly Solebury Presbyterian Church)
The beginnings of Solebury Presbyterian Church go back to 1811 when land was acquired for $40 from Robert T. Neely. Mr. Neely was born on July 16, 1769 and raised in the Thompson-Neely “House of Decision” in what is now Washington Crossing State Park on River Road just below the church. There was no Presbyterian Church nearby. The nearest churches were in Newtown and Doylestown in Pennsylvania, and Mt. Airy and Pennington in New Jersey.
The original subscription paper, dated August 19, 1810, contained the names of thirty-four subscribers pledged to a total of $1066:
Wm. Neely, Richard Corson, John Keith, Robert T. Neely, John Ely, John Vandycke, Cornelius Van Horn, Solomon McNair, John Poor, James Simpson, Garret Johnson, Anthony Torbert, Samuel Torbert, Barnard Van Horn, James Slack, James Torbert, David McNair, William McMaster, John Harman, Cornelius Slack, Abraham Slack, Oliver Erwin, James Vance, James McMasters, Abner Torbert, James Kennedy, Henry B. Slack, Archibald Graham, Christian Van Horn, Thomas Gain, Joseph Johnson, James Johnson, Phineas Jenks, and Thomas Jenks.
Four Elders were chosen at the beginning: William Neely, Benjamin Pidcock, David Wynkoop, and Thomas M. Thompson.
In 1822, when the First Presbyterian Church of Lambertville, NJ was organized, Solebury Church sent some of her members to strengthen the new congregation. Ministers serving Solebury also rendered pastoral assistance to growing Presbyterian concentrations in Forest Grove and New Hope, as well as Lambertville.
The church cemetery dates back to the founding of the church and the original 2 acres of land. Tombstone inscriptions have been found dating to 1814.
During the Civil War, the Solebury Presbyterian Church was nearly forced to close her doors. Only an impassioned plea on the floor of Philadelphia Presbytery saved the little congregation from extinction. In 1875 the generous offer of Mr. William Neely Thompson to remodel the church in memory of one of the first elders of the church, Thomas M. Thompson, gave the church a new lease on life. The cemetery was enlarged, and the church was renamed the Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church.
From 1876 through 1896, the Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church conducted regular Sabbath School and Worship on the present site. In addition to this, however, weekly Sabbath Schools were conducted by this congregation in the Brownsburg, Buckmanville and Woodhill school houses nearby. One evening each month, a preaching service was conducted at the schoolhouses in turn. These three schoolhouses are still standing. In 1910 the Woodhill Chapel was constructed at the intersection of Woodhill and Eagle Roads. In it Sabbath School and Worship were conducted regularly for a number of years. Today this building is a private residence.
From 1876 until 1966, a unique relationship existed between the New Hope Presbyterian Church and Thompson, often sharing ministers.
In 1928 a temporary building was erected next to the church for educational facilities. By 1957 a campaign had been completed to raise funds, construct and dedicate a new Educational Building. A fire in 1966 destroyed this building, but a new one was immediately completed in late 1967. Further renovation and expansion of the Christian Education Building was done in 1994.
The church music programs have expanded greatly over the years. The purchase in 1970 of a rebuilt pipe organ dating from 1895, greatly enhanced worship in the sanctuary. Malmark Handbells were first purchased in 1976, and that program now includes children and adults, as well as a training choir on Handchimes.
Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church has continually reached out to help the community. The Women’s Missionary Society was begun in 1877. In more current times, we aided victims of the flood along the Susquehanna River at Forty Fort, PA in 1972. During 1980 and 1981, Thompson Church undertook the sponsorship of a refugee Vietnamese woman, Be Le and her brother, Tam Le. In 1985 the youth fellowships became involved in helping the “street people” of Philadelphia through a program called “Trevor’s Place.” In the same year, the Bucks County Housing group began receiving help from a dedicated group of Thompson Church members in the form of clothing, food and financial assistance, which has continued to the current day. Since the 1980s the youth and adults of the congregation have also been active in projects such as annual mission trips, working with local food pantries, and supporting many local ministries and missions.