Presbyterian Church marks 120th year
By By LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
On Sept. 24, 1884, Evangelist W.H. Claggett unloaded his tent from the L&N Railroad and was set up for the first service of the Presbyterian Tabernacle. After the first sermon that evening, seven members were enrolled. The first charter members of the church were Mr. and Mrs. John Thomas Porter, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Harold, Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Neal and Mr. and Mrs. James M. Davison. When Mr. Claggett took down his tent, he left a church of 10 members.
In 1894, the church roll increased to 64. R.A. Mickle was pastor, and largely due to his efforts, a building was erected and on Sept. 1, 1889, the building was dedicated. At this point Brewton had a population of 2,000 and the Sunday school had 100 members.
The first vacation Bible school was held in 1927, and all children in the community were invited. It was the first offered in Brewton, and 118 children enrolled.
In 1950, the Rev. Eugene Poe was called to serve as the first full-time pastor for the church.
The church has always been mission conscious, welcoming missionaries and supporting their work. In 1981, Mr. Tom Neal took a group of seven church members to Brazil where they met with various church groups to see what work was being done in their area and to get acquainted with the Edward Lane Bible Institute.
Mrs. Minnie Smith, Mr. James Follin Smith Jr. and Mr. Robert Russell Smith gave a beautiful new organ in memory of Mr. James Follin Smith Sr. in 1987. In 2003, the church was blessed with a new piano in memory of Mrs. Bessie Mayo Fay and Mr. Thomas Malcolm Fay, by their three daughters, Mrs. Betty Fay Bopp, Mrs. Marjorie Luttrell and Mrs. Sara Fay Beckett.
The congregation of the church voted to become Presbyterian Church of America in 1991 rather than continue affiliation with the Presbyterian Church in the United States.
The church began with seven charter members and has continued for 120 years.
Rev. Jim Baird, a pastor of the church from 1960 to 1964 will be the guest minister at the celebration of the 120th church anniversary. The schedule is as follows for Oct. 24-26, Sunday, Oct. 24, 7 a.m., men's breakfast; regular service at 10 a.m. and family night supper at 5:30 p.m.; Monday, Oct. 25, light breakfast at 7 a.m., ladies luncheon at Mandy Cooper's at 11:30 a.m., light meal at 5:30 p.m. and services at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 26, service at 7 a.m., a light meal at 5:30 p.m and services at 6:30 p.m.