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University Presbyterian Church is a member 
of the Presbyterian Church in America.

2010 E. Wisconsin Ave, Las Cruces, NM88001
Phone: 575.522.0828 
Fax: 575.522.0175

University Presbyterian Church will celebrate it's Jubilee on January 29th, 2009! We are the youngest of the Reformed Presbyterian Churches, General Synod and the last of those congregations planted in the United States of America in 1959. Today we enjoy the company of those congregations that make up the Presbyterian Church in America.

The following is excerpted from A History of University Presbyterian Church (1959-2001), by Sara Collins Emerick.  To obtain a copy, email here.

University Presbyterian Church met officially for the first time January 28,1959 , following many gatherings for prayer. The following Sunday, in the home of Oscar Black, Sunday school classes began.  On February 22, at a meeting officiated by Dr. Hobart Bennett, pastor of Hillside Bible Presbyterian Church of El Paso , the corporation became a congregation. On March 1, the congregation asked for admission to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, General Synod, and was officially received on September 5. This denomination found its roots in the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland as Covenanting Presbyterian who immigrated to the American Colonies in 1752 to escape persecution from Stuart kings in England and Scotland .  By 1774, they had formed the first presbytery of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Paxtang , Pennsylvania .  

On March 16, 1959 , University Presbyterian Church called its first pastor, Dr. Clare Cardy.  Dr. Cardy, a graduate of Washington University ( St. Louis , Missouri ) and Dallas Theological Seminary, assumed his role on April 12.  Under his leadership, on May 31, the congregation broke ground for its sanctuary atop the hill east of New Mexico State University .  The ‘A-Frame,’ as it is now known, became the new home of University Presbyterian Church on December 20, 1959 .  By 1963, when Dr. and Mrs. Cardy were called to another minister, University Presbyterian was frantically searching for additional Sunday school space, which led to construction of the fellowship hall with a nursery and three classrooms.   

In the fall of 1963, Rev. Roger Shafer, a graduate of Hope College and Gordon Divinity School , accepted a call to follow Ron Simpson, who served University Presbyterian during the summer of 1963 while he completed his degree at Dallas Theological Seminary.  Rev. Shafer oversaw growth in membership at UPC from 124 in 1963 to 185 two years later.  Along with Rev. Harry Meiners, Rev. Shafer helped in the planning of a new work in Alamogordo , New Mexico , the Alamogordo Chapel.   

In 1965, at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain , Tennessee , the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, General Synod, merged with another Reformed body, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  Just four years prior, in 1961, the latter body had changed its name from the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod, in order to distance itself from the Bible Presbyterian Church faction of 1956.  The new body was called, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES), and experienced nearly immediate growth.  

In 1966, the 53 members of the Alamogordo Chapel dissolved into the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Alamogordo. In November, Rev. Shafer resigned and Rev. Meiners stepped in as the interim pastor. The Third Annual Missionary Conference was held December 1-4, with a visit from Rev. and Mrs. Gordon R. Taylor from India .  

In April of 1967, UPC extended a call to Rev. Theodore Martin.  Rev. Martin was a graduate of Montclair Teacher’s College and Covenant Theological Seminary, the seminary of the RPCES.  Seth Dyrness was ordained at his home church in Quarryville , Pennsylvania , and returned to Las Cruces to serve as Minister to Students. The Fourth Annual Missionary Conference, November 9-12, was led by Rev. Donald J. MacNair, Executive Director of National Presbyterian Missions.  

On July 1, 1970 , Rev. Martin resigned and, three months later, God sent Rev. Leonard Van Horn to UPC . Though average Sunday attendance had somewhat flattened, in 1971 many young men were preparing for years of future ministry by coming under care of the presbytery, including current UPC ruling elder, David Moon, MTW missionary to Africa, Paul Meiners, and the current senior pastor, John Pickett.    

In June of 1973, the College Heights Christian School was born out of a prayer meeting.  This school continues to overflow with the ministry of the Oscar Black family to the educational needs of children in Las Cruces .  In October of this same year, God sent Rev. Robert “Scottie” Scott to assume pastoral leadership of UPC , years marked with missionary visitors from all over the world (Saudi Arabia, Peru, Japan, Korea, Jordan, Mexico, etc.), a growth in new visitors of UPC who became members, and dynamic summer camps.  

In 1979, Rev. Scott’s desire to build a Family Life Center began to come to fruition as building permits were issued and construction began in 1980.  This building proved to be an enormous benefit to UPC , as well as the College Heights Christian School .  Sadly, this building was destroyed by fire in July of 1992.  Also during 1979, under the leadership of former Assistant Pastor, Don Neidigk, UPC planted Providence Presbyterian Church in northern Las Cruces . This desire to plant churches became a vision of the session, which by the following year was supporting missions in Phoenix , Arizona , Wheatridge , Colorado , and the Westminster Study Fellowship Mendham, New Jersey . Rev. Scott, himself, resigned from ministry in 1981 to serve church planting ends in Perth , Australia .  Dr. Robert Rayburn commissioned Rev. Scott for this work in August of 1983.  

The pulpit was ultimately filled in April of 1982 by Rev. Randall “Randy” Martin.  Rev. Martin, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, came to Las Cruces from McLean Presbyterian Church in Virginia . He led UPC through great changed in the denomination, as well as great growth in Sunday morning attendance.  

In 1982, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, was joined to and received by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).  Prior to this, there were Reformed churches in the Southwest that had sought membership with the PCA, and conversation about a union began back in 1979, but the actual Joining and Receiving was a significant event. Up to this point, the RPCES consisted of 189 congregations, 25,673 communicant members, and 482 ministers.  From its beginning as a break from the Bible Presbyterian Church, the RPCES had experienced growth in its membership by more than 400 percent!   

Begun by UPC in 1979, in 1983 Providence Presbyterian Church in Las Cruces extended a call to Rev. Richard Smith. Providence ultimately dissolved in 1985 with many of its founding members returning to UPC . 

In 1984, Rev. Dan Young was called by UPC to serve as a Youth Director.  These years of Rev. Martin’s leadership were characterized by great growth in Sunday morning attendance (now 280-325) and great vitality in the Evangelism Explosion program, training no fewer than 13 evangelists in 1986.  In 1987, Rev. Young followed a calling to missions and, in January of 1989, departed for Cuzco , Peru , a city visited by Rev. Martin in 1991. Upon his move to Peru , Rev. Young’s role at UPC was filled in January of 1988 by Rev. Richard “Rick” Smith as Minister to Families. Rev. Smith served through 1989, when Rev. Kris Lundgaard joined UPC as pastoral intern in December.  

In 1989, Rev. Randy Steele began a church plant work in Las Cruces called, Faith Presbyterian Mission.  This work began with ten families from UPC and support from the PCA local sending body, Mission to North America (MNA). Rev. Mark Cary was ultimately called as their pastor.  

UPC , long involved in world missions, sent the first team to Eastern Europe (then Prague , Czechoslovakia , but now Beius , Romania ) in June-July of 1991. It was also during this year that Rev. Lundgaard became an Assistant Pastor.  July of 1991 marked the completion of Rev. Martin’s ministry at UPC , as he headed West to pastor a church in California .  Rev. Lundgaard served in his absence as Associate Pastor.  

In 1992, upon the dissolving of Faith Presbyterian Mission, Rev. Mark Cary, came on staff at UPC for six months. Also in 1992, UPC extended a call to Rev. John Pickett, who was installed as Senior Pastor in August.  

In 1993, still struggling to find the educational space lost with the destruction of the Family Life Center in July of the previous year, UPC constructed a temporary Sunday school facility and Fellowship Hall down the hill from the sanctuary using donated mobile homes. This facility is still in use. It was also in 1993 that the Long Range Planning Committee gathered to consider a statement of vision for UPC . The following year saw the expansion of the UPC campus with the purchase of additional land to the east.  In May of 1997, UPC began construction of what is now the current sanctuary, and the first service was held on Easter Sunday, 1999.  It was later in that year that Rev. Lundgaard resigned as Associate Pastor.  

1998 marked the first year of a new ministry model in which five leaders were approved to lead the five ministry areas of UPC : Discipleship, Kingdom Expansion, Fellowship, Foundations, and Worship. It was also in December of this year that Doug Coyle was called as Assistant Pastor. In 1999, Rev. Mike Biggs came alongside UPC to become the Campus Minister to New Mexico State University (NMSU) as a minister of Reformed University Fellowship, the campus ministry of the PCA.  Rev. Biggs served to grow this ministry through 2001, when he accepted a call to plant a church in Norman , Oklahoma .  In 2000, UPC extended a call to former senior pastor Rev. “Scottie” Scott to function as an assistant pastor to serve the Kingdom Expansion Ministry Development Team.  

In the absence of Rev. Biggs, Rev. Shaynor Newsome accepted a call to minister to the NMSU campus with RUF, beginning his ministry in 2002. The year 2003 saw the addition of Rev. John Jones as Assistant Pastor.

Pastors of University Presbyterian Church      

1959-1963 Dr. Clare E. Cardy, Organizing Pastor 
1963 (summer)   Rev. Ronald Simpson, Interim Pastor
1963-1966 Rev. Roger Shafer, Sr. Pastor 
1966 Rev. Harry Meiners, Interim Pastor
1967-1969    Rev. Theodore Martin, Sr. Pastor
1969-1972    Rev. Leonard Van Horn, Sr. Pastor 
1973-1981 Rev. Robert Scott, Sr. Pastor  
1982-1991  Rev. Randall Martin, Sr. Pastor
1991-1992 Rev. Kris Lundgaard, Associate (Interim) Pastor
1992 -  2013 Rev. John Pickett, Sr. Pastor  
2013 -  Present
Rev. Patrick Tebbano, Sr. Pastor

Other Ministers:
1967-1971 Rev. Seth Dyrness, Minister to Students  
1972-1973  Rev. Donald Neidigk, Assistant Pastor (intern)
1977- 1978 Rev. Peter Vaughn, Assoc. Pastor
1984-1987  Rev. Dan Young, Assistant Pastor to Youth
1988-1989   Rev. Rick Smith, Minister to Families
1989-1997 Rev. Kris Lundgaard, Assoc. Pastor
1992  Rev Mark Cary, (former Pastor of Faith 
Presbyterian Mission)
1998-2001   Rev. Doug Coyle, Assoc. Pastor
1999-2003 Rev. Robert Scott, Assistant Pastor for 
Kingdom Expansion
1999-2001 Rev. Mike Biggs, NMSU Campus Minister
2002-2009  Rev. Shaynor Newsome, NMSU Campus 
Minister
2003-2006  Rev. John F. Jones, Assistant Pastor
2007-2013 Rev. Patrick Tebbano, Associate Pastor
2009-Present  Rev. Sid Druen, NMSU Campus Minister
2010-Present  Rev. David H. Linden, Assistant Pastor
2013-Present  Rev. John Pickett, Assistant Pastor
2013-Present  Rev. Patrick Tebbano, Lead Pastor
2013-Present  Rev. Stephen Yates, Pastor of Youth and Family Ministry
2013-Present  Rev. Ben Coppedge, NMSU Campus Minister

 

UPC©2011