Our Story

The History of St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

Merging Two Pasts Into One

St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church traces its origins in Wilmington, N.C. back to 1817 with the establishment of the present First Presbyterian Church--our "mother church" which is currently located at 3rd and Orange Streets. 

The History of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

On November 21, 1858, the ruling Fayetteville Presbytery approved the founding of the Second Presbyterian Church, a "colony church" of First Presbyterian, consisting of 14 charter members including two influential Scottish immigrants--Alexander and Jane Dalziel Sprunt, who immigrated from Scotland to Wilmington in 1851.

The first building for our congregation was located on Chestnut Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets and still is in use by the Chestnut Street Presbyterian Church. The congregation at Second Presbyterian Church flourished until 1862 when it became inactive due to the chaotic conditions of the Civil War and the yellow fever epidemic raging in Wilmington at the time. The congregation was reactivated ten years later on January 2, 1872, with the building of a new church located near the corner of Fourth and Campbell Streets.
By June of 1888, the Second Presbyterian congregation decided to build a new main church building directly on the corner of Fourth and Campbell Streets. This new building was dedicated on June 12, 1889 and by the following September was officially renamed St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.  The building remains today as the current Brooklyn Arts Center.

The History of the Church of the Covenant Presbyterian

In 1902, First Presbyterian Church felt the need for a congregation in Wilmington's then eastern section. On January 6, 1917, the cornerstone was laid and construction was completed by December 1917 at the corner of 15th and Market Streets. Following the construction, the Church of the Covenant was officially organized on January 6, 1918.

In 1944, during World War II both congregations from St. Andrews and Church of the Covenant agreed to merge into the current St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church. 

Our Historical Presence

Second Presbyterian Church

Second Presbyterian was established in 1858 at 712 Chestnut St. between 7th and 8th Streets. Today, it is the home of Chestnut St. Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.--the oldest African-American church in the state of North Carolina.

St. Andrews Presbyterian Church

Second Presbyterian temporarily closed during the Civil War and the following yellow fever epidemic. The congregation reopened in 1872 and relocated near the corner of 4th and Campbell Streets.  In 1888, a new building was constructed at the corner of 4th & Campbell Streets and was renamed St. Andrews Presbyterian.  Today, it is home to the Brooklyn Arts Center

Church of the Covenant 

Church of the Covenant Presbyterian was officially organized on January 6, 1918, located at the corner of 15th and Market Streets. In 1944, St. Andrews Presbyterian and Church of the Covenant agreed to merge into our current congregation called St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church. For more than 80 years, our congregation has remained at this current location.

Forging new roads...

At St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. we are more than our historic buildings--we are a people committed to inspiring others to love Jesus by staying faithfully present in our community.  Our congregation maintains partnerships with community programs like The Freedom School, Communities in Schools, the Carousel Center, Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, Vigilant Hope Coffee Roasters, and many others to ensure that our surrounding community is a thriving and inclusive environment for all.

Lord, prepare me...

Our Sanctuary is over 100 years old and plays host to life's most sacred moments. From the joys of baptisms and weddings to the celebration of life, our sanctuary provides a unique space for holy comfort and gathering. 

Scottish Presbyterian Heritage

Solemn League and Covenant

Key historical Scottish figures from left to right:

Alexander Henderson (center figure, far left panel)
Lord Balmerino (arms raised, left second panel)
John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale (center panel)
James Graham, Marquis of Montrose (standing in teal, right second panel)
Archibald Johnston of Wariston (standing in purple, far right panel)
George Gillespie (standing in brown, far right panel)
The stained-glass window located in our sanctuary was installed during the construction of the Church of the Covenant in 1917. This window represents our Scottish Presbyterian heritage and inspires our unselfish devotion to Christ. Placed in memory of founders, Alexander Sprunt and his wife Jane Dalziel Sprunt.

This work of art is more than 100 years old and depicts the 1630 covenant signed by those who rebelled in St. Giles against the ruthless King Charles I who, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, attempted to force Scotsmen to conform to the English Anglican Church Prayer Book.

Knowing their uprising would be accountable even unto death, the Scots bound themselves together in a Solemn Covenant, swearing to stand firm in their Presbyterian belief that Christ was King above all others. Soon almost all of Scotland had signed, some with their blood--as depicted in the second panel from the right.

Civil war broke out King Charles II was restored to the throne and a period of great persecution and suffering fell on the Presbyterians. This period in history was known as the "Killing Time" and the Scots who signed the Solemn League and Covenant were persecuted, tortured, and slain.  When William became king in 1688, the Covenanters found freedom to worship God according to their belief--nearly fifty years after signing the Solemn League and Covenant.

Our Sanctuary: Then & Now

Our sanctuary went through extensive renovations in 1957. The direction of the sanctuary was reversed by relocating the pulpit to its current spot with the congregation now facing 15th Street. A new pipe organ was installed, as well as central heating and air conditioning. A stone noting the conversion in 1957 can be seen at the sanctuary corner at 15th and Market Streets.

Before 1957


Pipe Organ

The current organ was installed on July 29, 1958, to replace the original organ which began failing mechanically. Our organ was built by Casavant Freres who has been making organs in the quiet Canadian city of St. Hyacinthe since 1879. It is that firm's Opus 2465. The original organ (Estey Organ Opus 1572) was installed when the church was built in 1917.

Our organ has more than 2.200 pipes spread over 50 ranks in the instrument and housed in two chambers on either side of the Gallery facing into the Choir Loft. The instrument is comprised of four "organs", swell, Great, Choir, and Pedal--played from a three manual console at the base of the Choir Loft.

FUN FACT: The pipes at the back of the Choir Loft are from the original organ and do not play--they are only decorative.

Tower Chimes

Standing 50-ft above Market St., our bells were installed in January 1924. At the time, they were the only set of tower bells in the Wilmington area and one of only 30 ever installed in the state of North Carolina.  Tower bells are either tubular or cup-shaped bells located high in a tower to project their sound throughout a community. Tower bells are much larger than handbells or organ chimes to facilitate sound projection.

 Our chimes were made by the J.C. Deagan Company in Chicago--the largest manufacturer of tower instruments in North America. Unfortunately, our tower chimes are currently not in operation. 

FUN FACT: Our chimes were made by the same manufacturer that created NBC’s famous three-note chime. 

Be a part of our story...

Join us every Sunday as we gather to worship together:

9:00 am Contemporary
10:00 am Sunday School
11:00 am Traditional

**Please note, during special occasions and holidays our worship times may change.
View our Saints Alive weekly newsletter for the most current worship schedule.