Providence Church grew out of a Wednesday evening Bible study that began in 1980. Grace OPC in San Antonio was our mother church. Its pastor, Rev. Jack Peterson, put a lot of miles on his car driving back and forth as he taught these week night Bible studies. When Sunday worship services, initially held in the afternoon, were started, he also drove here and led them. Grace OPC brought us our own first pastor, Rev. Jerry Taylor, in 1982, by calling him as their associate pastor, but for the purpose of working in Austin with our group. Fairly rapidly, we grew to the point of being able to become organized as a particular congregation.
A special service of particularization was held by the presbytery for our church on April 29, 1984. At that point, Rev. Taylor became our regular pastor. Articles of Incorporation were filed with the State of Texas the same year, and the congregation adopted bylaws in early 1985. During the first four years we received outside financial assistance from the denomination, from the presbytery, and also from Grace OPC, for which we are very thankful.
Our church was named “Providence” in 1984. A committee collected more than fifty suggestions for names, analyzed them, and finally recommended this particular name. The committee’s reasons were as follows:
- The Westminster Standards highlight God’s providence as a cardinal teaching of scripture.
- This name is God-centered and emphasizes the character of God, while also being warm and underscoring God’s loving care and concern for His people.
- As a new church, we especially appreciate God’s providential dealings with us—His encouragement, His shepherding, His guidance—and we acknowledge that it is God who has built this church and brought us together.
- Providence—the belief in God’s sovereignty—is a characteristic tenet of Reformed theology, and hence identifies the doctrinal stand of our church.
- This name was unique, in that no other churches in Austin had this name.
The activities of our church in its early phase indicate that there was great responsiveness to sound biblical teaching and Reformed doctrine. A weekly Sunday evening study class on the Westminster Confession of faith evolved into an informal vesper service in 1986 and eventually into a regular Sunday evening worship service. Sunday School classes for children and adults were begun in February of 1983. The first Inquirers Class for new members occurred in 1984, and subsequent classes have been held through the years when needed. By the way, the original Bible study that gave birth to our church is still going on. The only difference is that the church now has several other Bible studies as well, at various locations in and around Austin. In addition, shorter-term evangelistic Bible studies have been held now and then.
Initially our church was in the Presbytery of the Dakotas, which at that time stretched north to south from the border of Canada to the border of Mexico. In January of 1986, for obvious geographical reasons, the southern half of this presbytery split off as the new Presbytery of the Southwest, encompassing the states of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Our church has hosted in Austin two meetings of the presbytery.