The heritage of the Presbytery of Carlisle goes back to the old Donegal Presbytery, which the Synod of
Philadelphia formed in 1732. After the Old Side/New Side controversy was settled in 1758, the
Presbytery of Donegal was dissolved. All the churches on the west side of the Susquehanna River were
placed into the new Presbytery of Carlisle on May 22, 1765.
Since then the Presbytery of Carlisle has had its borders redefined several times. Presently, the presbyteries in Pennsylvania are defined by county lines. Carlisle includes Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Juniata, Lebanon and Perry counties. Carlisle is one of the 16 presbyteries in the Synod of the Trinity.
Carlisle’s first executive presbyter, the Rev. George Evans, was called in January 1964. He served until 1990 and was named executive presbyter emeritus. Called in July 2005, the Rev. Dr. Mark Englund-Krieger now serves in this capacity.
Mission and social justice have been central to the mission and ministry of the Presbytery of Carlisle. Over the years, it has supported youth camping programs. Along with Northumberland and Huntingdon Presbyteries, the presbytery helps support and sponsor an intergenerational camping ministry.
Supporting pastors after retirement was an important focus. Presbyterian Homes, Inc. was started in the presbytery and several of their facilities are within Carlisle’s bounds, including Greenridge Village and Carroll Village.
In the 1970s, out of a call to serve Vietnamese refugees, the International Service Center was born. It is still located in Market Square Presbyterian Church. Also in Harrisburg, Downtown Daily Bread continues to serve the homeless and poor as part of Pine Street Presbyterian Church.
Developing new faith communities within the Presbytery of Carlisle has been important. Although the presbytery is always called to new expressions of mission and ministry, it celebrates that many congregations in the presbytery have a faithful heritage going back to the colonial days of America.
In response to the need for disaster recovery in 2005, Lend A Hand was created as a ministry of the presbytery and has helped in these efforts in New York, Iowa, Mississippi and locally. Lend A Hand has sent trips across the United States and helped to coordinate some medical missions to Haiti. When Hurricane Lee brought devastation to Pennsylvania, Lend A Hand was instrumental in helping with cleanup and recovery efforts in its own backyard.