The origin of the First Presbyterian Church of Plainsboro is considered to be on November 17, 1879, with the laying of a cornerstone of the building that is now part of the Fellowship Hall. At the time, however, it was called the Evangelical Church of Plainsboro and was not affiliated with any Presbyterian denomination due to its founding minister, The Reverend John Miller (1819-1895), being forced to resign from the New Brunswick Presbytery.
John Miller graduated from Princeton College in 1836 and from the seminary in 1841. At the time, Princeton seminary was the leading voice of conservative Old School of Presbyterians. The rise of the less doctrinal, more evangelical New School caused major dissension within the denomination. When Miller was transferred to the Presbytery of New Brunswick in 1874 after 30 years of ministry, he began to publish works that questioned fundamental doctrines. He was tried for heresy by the presbytery, and his conviction was upheld. Rather than recant his views, he withdrew from the presbytery. As a consequence, churches he founded in Plainsboro, Monmouth Junction, New Brunswick and Princeton, while basically Presbyterian in faith, were not affiliated with other area Presbyterian churches.
In 1878 Reverend Miller had started holding services in the Old Bethel Church, but when local Presbyterian clergy objected, he moved his services to the village one-room school. His leadership resulted in construction of the original wood frame church the following year. Concerned that his church would not survive after his death, he obtained admission to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for himself and his churches in the mid 1890’s. It was not until 1906, when the Cumberland Presbyterian and Presbyterian Church USA united, that the Miller churches became part of the Presbytery of New Brunswick.
By the time Plainsboro Township was founded in 1919, this was the sole functioning church in Plainsboro for many years and had a close connection with the township as it was the only church within four miles at the time. It was truly a community church, becoming the center of social as well as religious life of the community for much of this century.
A flyer from 1932 with plans for a new building recognized the Plainsboro Church as essential to the success of the community’s purposes of cooperation, solidarity, and morality. The erection of this new building was considered a matter of community interest and pride. Indeed, those who led the building project were leaders in Plainsboro governance and business: John V. B. Wicoff, H. W. Jeffers, and H. A. Stults.
The present sanctuary replaced the original small church in 1933, and the addition of the enlarged Parish Hall, Library and other meeting area in 1984 made possible a much more active church program, and space for the Plainsboro Presbyterian Child Care, several AA groups and other organizational use. Currently, a high percentage of new residents in Plainsboro belong to non-Christian religions. The ethnic diversity of the present-day community has enriched the congregation as the church continues to adapt to these modern changes and accommodate diverse traditions.