A History of Orestimba Presbyterian Church
It was Reverend Eli C. Latta, minister and evangelist for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, who organized Orestimba Presbyterian Church on September 7, 1876. Orestimba is a Native American word meaning “Gathering Place.” The church first held its meetings in the Orestimba school house from 1876-1889.
In 1889 the church built its own building on the corner of P Street and Kern Street next to the P Street School in Newman. The building cost $1,600. In 1906 the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Newman joined PC(USA) and became the First Presbyterian Church of Newman. Through the years of witness to the community the congregation felt the need for another building to enhance its ministry and so in 1961 Westminster Hall was built as an educational multi-purpose building, which included the pastor’s and secretary’s offices.
In 1892 Rev. Latta also helped begin a Presbyterian Church in Crows Landing. That Presbyterian Church eventually combined with the First Presbyterian Church of Newman in 1963, another significant development in the life of the church. When the two congregations merged they called themselves the Orestimba United Presbyterian Church.
On January 14, 1979 the ninety-year old wooden church sanctuary burned down in a fire, and a new structure had to be built. The congregation met in Westminster Hall while the new sanctuary was being constructed. The new contemporary sanctuary was completed at the end of 1980, and the congregation was able to celebrate Christmas in it. It was later dedicated in May of 1981. Even though the fire was devastating and threatened to undo what God began, the Lord stood by his flock and established them in a new worship building. The original church steeple and bell from the old church building were salvaged from the fire, restored and dedicated in 1982 as a remembrance of God’s faithfulness and mercy to the congregation.
Another important milestone in the history of OPC occurred in 2013 when the church joined a different denomination of Presbyterian Churches called ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
Orestimba Presbyterian Church celebrated 143 years of worship and ministry to the Newman community on September 7, 2019. There is much to be thankful for and celebrate as we remember God’s faithful love for his flock.