190 Years and Counting!

This month we will celebrate 190 years as a church! That’s a long time!

On July 15, 1827, First Presbyterian was officially organized as a Presbyterian church with two elected and ordained elders among nine members who had been meeting in a log house south of town. During the first few years growth was slow. However, in 1832, the church added 24 new members and began to grow.

By 1840, this increased membership led to the construction of a one room, rectangular brick building on the site of the church today. The only remaining portion of that building is the wall between the sanctuary and the office suite. In 1869, a house for the minister was built located on W. 3rd Ave. just behind the Sanctuary.

In 1862, the first Foreign Mission work was organized under the Rev. Dr. Frontis Johnston. The first Sunday School in Davidson County was started in 1867 with John H. Welborn as superintendent. A Christian Endeavor society was organized in 1891, and “children’s societies” were started under the leadership of Mrs. John H. Grey and Mrs. John H. Welborn in 1900.

Our church began “out post” missions in 1912 in the Dacotah Mills area and in 1924 on Cotton Grove Road. In 1936, these two groups united to become Second Presbyterian which then formed its own mission which later became Fairmont Presbyterian Church. In the 1940's another mission was formed on South Main Street which later became Meadowview Presbyterian Church.

The current administrative wing of the church was added in 1928, and the portion of the building which includes the current parlor area and elementary classrooms were added in 1947. The old manse was torn down and a fellowship area was added in 1955. 1963 saw the renovation and enlargement of the sanctuary. The kitchen was added along with the youth basement in 1989. The sanctuary was painted and updated in 1990. The whole church, with the exception of the sanctuary was completely remodeled and renovated in 2004, and the new preschool / adult education building was constructed.

The church has been served by 33 ministers in its 190 year history. The longest tenure by one pastor was 18 years by the Rev. Frontis Johnston (1859-1876). The shortest tenure was one year by The Rev. Thomas T. Owen (1843).

It is clear that we have had a meaningful and important ministry to our community for many years. There are so many more important ministries to remember: The beginning of Meals On Wheels, Davidson Medical Ministries, Crisis Ministry Shelter and food bank, and many more. If I were to write a comprehensive history it would be a full book.

In just 10 years, we will be celebrating our bicentennial as a church. While it seems like a long time away, the years will go by quickly. We are at the beginning stages of preparing for a grand celebration, and so we would like to form a task group who will begin to pull together a written and photographic history of the church. If you love history and would be interested in participating, please contact Emmy Floyd.

We each stand on the shoulders of those who went before us. We are stewards of this precious ministry which we will pass on to more generations to follow. We are blessed to be one link in the historical chain we know as First Presbyterian Church.

May you be blessed this summer!
Your friend and pastor,
Pastor Lee