ENTER INTO HIS GATES
Drawing of Church entrance, with "1878-1958" in banner]
THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHMaxton, North Carolina
“KNOW YE THAT THE LORD HE IS GOD: IT IS HE THAT HATH MADE US, AND NOT WE OURSELVES; WE ARE HIS PEOPLE, AND THE SHEEP OF HIS PASTURE. ENTER INTO HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING, AND INTO HIS COURTS WITH PRAISE . . .”
Photo of Presbyterian Church congregation]
PREPARED FOR THE EIGHTIETH ANNIVERSARY MOMECOMING CELEBRATION
OCTOBER 19, 1958
History of the
First Presbyterian Church
Maxton, North Carolina
By EDWARD M. LaMOTTE and the HOMECOMING HISTORICAL COMMITTEE:
R. Fairley Morris, Chairman
John B. McCallum
G. P. Henderson
Mrs. McBryde Austin
Mrs. Lacy Williams
“Enter into His Gates with Thanksgiving . . . .”
The miracle of God's Church is ever witnessing to us. Through years of persecution and apathy His Church has stood. Earth's mightiest forces, her Kings and Empires, have faded. For almost two thousand years the Church of Jesus Christ has stood, spreading the seeds of eternity from the quiet Judean hillside to the teeming twentieth-century metropolis.
- “O where are kings and empires now
- Of old that went and came?
- But, Lord, Thy Church is praying yet,
- A thousand years the same.”
As voices sing of the glory and triumph of the Universal Church, our faith is strengthened. God is at work in history. His Spirit is at work in the great city cathedral, in the far-flung missionary frontier, and in the small village church. Jesus said, “I am with you always, even until the end of the world.” He is working through the hands and feet, the minds and voices of His people—and this is the miracle of God's Church: He is closer than hands and feet. He is in our hearts.
This history will tell a human story: the dreams and faith of men and women, the warmth of friendships. It may recall to mind the sweet anthem of a choir, the joy of a wedding, the hope and sadness at a graveside, the thrilling influences of belonging to the eternal fellowship of God. It will tell a victorious story, for the Church is Christ—seeking, challenging, comforting His people through the years. The history of the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton becomes a part of the greatest story ever told, because it reveals the Power and Love of God, working through human clay. He is the Saviour of the past, the present, and the future. The Eternal King is leading on. Let us pause, then, to draw from the refreshing waters of the past. Let us see that this ground with which we have become so familiar is HOLY ground.
- “Be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name.
- For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting:
- And His truth endureth to all generations.”
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES
Phillip F. Howerton — Moderator 1958-1959
P. O. Box 839
Charlotte 1, N. C.
September 5, 1958
The First Presbyterian Church
My dear fellow-Presbyterians:
What an honor it is to be asked to express a word of greeting to your great church on the occasion of your eightieth anniversary!
In this word of greeting I speak for the entire Presbyterian Church in the United States. It has been my privilege to know something of your church for many years, as three of your former pastors are close friends of mine, James Appleby, John McKinnon, and our present beloved pastor here, Lee Stoffel. Also, I have known of your former distinguished pastor, Dr. Halbert G. Hill, a former Moderator of the General Assembly and a friend of my father.
For some years, it has been my pleasure to have business connections in Laurinburg, Maxton, Fayetteville, and Lumberton, and my judgment is that the Presbyterians of your area are indeed the “Select of the Elect.”
May I wish for your church many years of service in advancing the Kingdom of our Saviour on earth. The example you have set for the brethren throughout the Southern Church is indeed inspiring and one that many other churches could well emulate. You have honored our Master in carrying on the great Scottish tradition of which you are the beneficiaries.
May God's richest blessings be upon each member during this happy and momentous occasion.
PHILIP F. HOWERTON, Moderator
98th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in the U. S.
UNION THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
Richmond 27, Virginia
Office of the President
September 8, 1958
To the Members
The First Presbyterian Church
Maxton, North Carolina
My dear Friends:
It is always a significant time when a Church is aware of the excellence of its history. Certainly, by this occasion which celebrates the eightieth anniversary of the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton you will appreciate again that “goodness and mercy” have followed the Church during all these years.
Everyone who is concerned for the effectiveness of the Church's witness to the grace of God and the privilege of Christian discipleship is grateful for the splendid record of the Maxton Church. Occupying a place of distinction in a community associated with Presbyterianism over many years, the work of that Church has reached out through its sons and daughters who have given themselves to service in this country and overseas, and through your prayers, and the loyalty of the members of the Church who have supported our denomination in its efforts to obey the Command of Christ.
Union Theological Seminary is grateful for the comradeship which it has had with the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton, and extends most cordial and prayerful good wishes upon the occasion of this anniversary.
May the splendor of the Church increase and enable the Church to progress and accomplish a ministry that is even more excellent in the years that lie ahead.
JAS. A. JONES, President
THE HIGHLANDERS ...
- “The Hielanders! Oh! dinna ye hear
- The slogan far awa? . .Oh! I ken it weel;
- It's the grandest o’ them a’!
- ‘God bless the bonny Hielanders!
- We're saved! we're saved!’ she cried
- And fell on her knees; and thanks to God
- Flowed forth like a full flood-tide.
- It was the pipes of the Highlanders!
- And now they played Auld Lang Syne.
- It came to our men like the voice of God,
- And they shouted along the line.”
In 1560 John Knox brought Presbyterianism to Scotland. After five years studying with John Calvin in Geneva, this religious reformer returned to his beloved homeland, preaching the sweeping doctrines of Calvinism. Seldom has a man so imprinted himself upon a nation as did Knox upon the people of Scotland. Deeply sincere, yet harsh anl dogmatic, he carried the Sword of Truth through the Moors and Glens and “neither flattered nor feared any flesh.” Long after his death, Presbyterianism continued to be the creed of the “established kirk” and the mold of Scotch character. The reforming light that Knox raised in Scotland shines today wherever the Gospel is perached; it glimmers in the cathedrals of Edinburgh or the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton, through the hearts of the sons and daughters of Knox, wherever they have the Faith of their Fathers.
One hundred and eighty-five years after John Knox introduced Presbyterianism to Scotland, a large migration began from the “heather and Lochs” to the flatlands of the Carolinas. During the intervening years, several significant actions had taken place which caused this migration. In 1685 James II, of the Scotland Stuarts, had become King of England and Scotland. James adopted the viewpoint that a King could make and unmake the law by his own will. By his actions, James, a Roman Catholic, threatened the monopoly of the established Church of England. In 1688 a son was born to James II and baptized into the Catholic faith. The possibility of an indefinite line of Catholic rulers in England caused the country's leaders to unite in opposition against their stern and forbidding King. James II was forced to flee to France, where he died in 1701. William and Mary, sympathetic with English liberties, came to the throne, and the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688, with its limited monarchy, Parlimentary supremacy, Constitutionalism, and toleration of dissenting Protestants, was accomplished.
Yet, after 1688, sections of England and Scotland chafed under the new regime. A minority of the wealthy soon began to control the Parliament of England. The Scots particularly were critical of the mounting national debt and were dissatisfied with the oppressing rule by the great noblemen and big businessmen. Casting about for some solution, many Scots centered their hopes in a restoration of the exiled Stuart Kings. The son of James II, who had been born in 1688, was now living in France. Hailing him as “James III”, his followers felt he could become the King if he would only give up his Catholic religion. In 1715, James the Pretender decided to take matters into his own hands. Returning from France, he invaded England, gathering
help from the Highlanders. However, when it came to a showdown, the memories of Stuart oppression before 1688 seemed worse than the strong rule of Parliament. The rebellion of 1715 failed because of this lack of solid support. But the idea would not die. By 1745, the Pretender's son, Charles Edward, invaded England and aroused great enthusiasm among the Highlanders. Dashing and attractive, “Bonnie Prince Charlie” supplied the leadership to rally his followers. The “Young Pretender” and his Scottish troops marched toward London, singing as they went:
- “Oh, Charlie, he's a fine young man,
- And Charlie he's a dandy:
- And Charlie he will kiss the girls
- Whenever it comes handy!”
At Derby, England, 80 miles north of London, they were halted. Crushed, but not completely defeated, the “Young Pretender” tried to regroup his scattered forces back in Scotland. The government of England, however, was determined to destroy the seeds of counter-revolution. Nothing less than destruction of the Highlanders’ patriotic and nationalistic spirit would do! The Duke of Cumberland followed the “Young Pretender” and his armed followers into Scotland. In 1746, about five miles from Inverness, Cumberland slaughtered the fugitives in a bloody battle fought on the Culloden Moor. “Bonnie Prince Charlie” escaped, but the English government moved into the Highlands with an iron fist. The social system of the Scots was wiped out. The clans were broken up. Many were banished from their homes. An oath was required of the Scotchmen which was severe in its implications:
“I do swear as I shall answer to God at the great day of judgment, I have not, nor shall have in my possession any gun, pistol or arm whatsoever, and never use tartan plaid or any part of the Highland garb; and if I do so may I be cursed in my undertakings, family and property; may I never see my wife and children, father, mother or relative; may I be killed in a battle as a coward and lie without Christian burial, in a strange land, far from the graves of my forefathers and kindred—may all this come across me if I break my oath.”
Courageously, the Scots had fought for what they recognized to be right. Now, just as courageously, many believed that they would have to leave their native land. As they interpreted the times, it was a choice based on necessity: their hope for future happiness, prosperity, and freedom of conscience.
The “new world” beckoned. Since 1607 settlements from Europe had been growing on the Atlantic shores of North America. In 1746 the large migration began. The clans sadly turned their backs on the beloved “Scotia” of William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, “Bobby” Burns, and John Knox, and sailed for the shores of the Carolinas.
It was no accident that Carolina was their destination. Colonial governors of North Carolina at the time of the 1746 migration were of Scotch descent. Moreover, since the late sixteen-hundreds, Scotchmen had slowly been moving into the Carolina colonies for economic and religious reasons. The Scotch had maintained a colony at Stuart's Town at Port Royal, South Carolina, where a Presbyterian Church was ministerel to by Rev. William Dunlop from 1683 to 1686. In 1732 forty Scots from counties Down and Antrim in Ireland received a
grant of land on Black River, South Carolina. This later became the settlement of Kingstree. As early as 1729 a few Scottish families had settled along the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.
When the large immigration of 1746 began, the Carolina back-country was largely uninhabited and undeveloped. The sea-coast towns of Wilmington and Charleston were growing rapidly. It was to these ports that the boats of the Highlanders came. Most of the newcomers desired to move inland because of their agricultural interests and the availability of land. Traditionally clannish, the settlers pushed up the Cape Fear to find their kinsmen who had preceded them. A settlement at the head of navigation on the Cape Fear grew into the town of Campbellton, today the city of Fayetteville. Expanding out from this central location, the Highlanders moved into all of southeastern North Carolina. The expansion was slow and difficult, for the rivers had to be forded, the swamps were deep and thick, and sickness and wild animals were foes to be reckoned with. How different from the beauty of Scotland was this unexplored, swampy land! To plow their fields and look forward to the next day took faith and courage.
Several hundred of the Highlanders made their way south of Campbelltown, or Cross Creek as it became known, into the Rockfish Creek area, then gradually into the denser area on each side of the Raft Swamp, Drowning Creek, and the Lumbee River. As the Highlanders pushed into the territory of present-day Robeson County, they found some English settlers located in the southern section, and some isolated but friendly Indians located along the banks of the “Lumbee.” It was far from encouraging country. There were no roads worthy of the name until about 1800. There was not an official post office in the area until after 1800. The country was a wilderness.
In 1790, forty-four years after these waves of immigration, the Federal Government of the new “United States” conducted the first census. The population of Robeson county was listed as 5,356. A map of the county was drawn to accompany the census, and many familiar names appear—McEachern, McGeachey, Blue, McMillan, McNeill, McLean, Campbell, Buie, Curry, McSwain, McLeod, McPhail, Gilchrist, McLauchland, McFarland, Sellers, and McNair. When the census-taker got to the names of Daniel McIntyre and Daniel McGirt, he was obviously overcome by “Macs’, and put down the telescoped name “Daniel McIntigart”. There seems to have been some religious opposition by the people to the census on the Biblical grounds that Moses had taken a census of the heads of families of the children of Israel as he left Sinai for that long journey through the wilderness, and all the heads of families, except Joshua and Caleb, had died before reaching the Promised Land.
These Highlanders brought with them courage and ability to do hard work. Something else also came: the faith in God, so firmly implanted in their forebears by Knox, was burning in their hearts.
The fire was there, but it burned low without leaders. An appeal was sent by the Highlanders to the Presbyterian Synod of Pennsylvania for a minister to lead them in worship. In 1755 Reb. Hugh McAden arrived on horseback from Philadelphia. The problems of proclamation and organization were many to this first missionary. Mr. McAden held a first service at the home of Hector McNeill “near the bluffs on the river above Cross Creek.” He wrote in his journal: “On Sabbath January 25, 1756, I rode to Hector McNeill's (of the Bluff) and preached to a number of Highlanders—some of them scarcely knew one word that I said, the poorest singers I ever heard in all my life.” The minister
did not speak Gaelic and the Scotch did not know English. The spirit was often willing, but the flesh was weak. On January 29 Mr. McAden “preached to a small congregation, mostly Highlanders, at Alexander McKay's on the Yadkin Road, who were much obliged to me for coming and highly pleased with my discourse. Though, alas, I am afraid it was all but feigned and hypocritical, for they stayed around the house all night drinking and carousing.”
Returning to Pennsylvania, Mr. McAden spoke to Rev. James Campbell about the great spiritual opportunities and needs of the Cape Fear area. Mr. Campbell had been born in Argleshire, Scotland, and felt a natural interest in the North Carolina Highlanders. He arrived in 1756 and immediately began organizing churches near Cross Creek, at the Bluff, Barbecue, and Longstreet (all organized in 1758 at Bluff Church). He became the first Presbyterian minister to settle in North Carolina, preaching throughout the Cape Fear Valley until his death in 1780.
Mr. Campbell visited the Robeson County “wilderness” in his ministry, preaching at Raft Swamp near present-day Antioch Church. The Highlanders had organized about 1770, and it was the first Presbyterian Church in the county. Since 1746, “Camp Meetings” had been held in central locations of the area before Church buildings were erected. For some time before 1797, religious meetings were held seven miles south of Raft Swamp in a little Scotch community near Lumber River. The meetings continued and the Centre Church was officially organized. In that year, as a member of Orange Presbytery, the Church called Mr. John Gillespie as Pastor. As population was growing in Robeson County, other Presbyterian Churches were being organized—Ashpole Church, near Rowland, in 1796; Philadelphus Church, near Red Springs, is 1796; and St. Pauls Church, in 1799.
The little Light that glimmered so faintly in the dark days of 1750 was now beginning to glow distinctly.
Four hundred yards north of the present Centre Church is an ancient burying ground. The oldest marked grave in that cemetery is dated 1781. During this same year General George Washington swept down into Tidewater, Virginia, surrounded Lord Cornwallis, and brought the Revolutionary War with Great Britain to a victorious conclusion. While the new nation was coming into being, a log structure was built directly across the road from the cemetery to serve as the first Centre Church building. It was in this log building that the Presbytery of Fayetteville was organized on October 21, 1813, being formed out of the old Presbytery of Orange. Since 1770, the Presbytery of Orange had covered all of the territory south and west of the North Carolina-Virginia state line. Appropriately enough, a son of Centre Church was elected the first Moderator of the Presbytery. Rev. Malcolm McNair, who was born in the Centre community in 1776, had become Pastor of the Church in 1802. He preached the sermon to the little handful of delegates, using as his text II Chronicles 6:18: “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?”
Following Mr. McNair's death in 1822, others carried on the message of the Gospel. An unusual Robeson County minister was Rev. John McIntyre, who had been a delegate at Centre when Fayetteville Presbytery was organized. Mr. McIntyre, a native of Scotland, had come to North Carolina in 1793. His son died during the voyage over, and his wife died within a year after their arrival. His daughter married Rev. A. H. Scott, and together they founded the famous Agnes-Scott
College of Decatur, Georgia. Mr. McIntyre entered the ministry when he was 57 years of age, and was still preaching after he had passed the century mark. He died at the age of 103, having served most of his ministerial life at various churches in Robeson County. Rev. Duncan McIntyre preached at Center during 1828-1829.
In 1828 a second Church building was erected, after the original was destroyed by fire. Rev. Archibald McQueen served as Pastor until 1837. The Church dominated the social life of the times, and her discipline was quick and sure. The Session disciplined members brought before it on “intemperance charges”, and for “riotous and disorderly conduct”, or for participation in “dancing parties”. The sentences might be literal excommunication: “. . . Resolved that he be suspended until next October, or longer, if he fail to bring forth fruits meet for repentance . . .”
Rev. John R. McIntosh became pastor of Centre Church in 1838. Two years later, in 1840, Mr. McIntosh and Mr. John Gilchrist, a lawyer and early advocate of education in the County, established Floral College for women. The college buildings were located in a large grove beside the Church. The founding of the college was a significant achievement, less than 100 years after the 1746 immigration, and at a time when there were only three other colleges in North Carolina: The University of North Carolina (1789), Davidson College (1837), and Wake Forest College (1838). In carrying on an old Scotch custom of building Church and School together, the tradition was given a new twist, for Floral College was the first chartered college for women in the state. In the entire south, it was one of the first colleges for women. The Presbyterians of North Carolina had organized Davidson College for their men three years earlier, and now the Highlanders of Centre Church blazed the trail in higher education for women. Yet the influence of the Cape Fear Scots in education reached out beyond their immediate area. In 1794 Rev. David Kerr, the Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Cross Creek, became the first President of the State University at Chapel Hill. In 1832, as a result of a meeting of Fayetteville Presbytery at Center Church, the Donaldson Manual Labor School and Academy was organized. This school was operated at Fayetteville until the Reconstruction Period. Dr. Luther McKinnon, but also President of Davidson College in 1885. Other sons of Centre gave their lives in the ministry—Daniel C. Henderson in 1831, and a son of Centre Church, became not only a leader at Floral College, Duncan McBryde in 1854.
John McIntosh was selected as the first president of Floral College and John Gilchrist was named president of the Board of Trustees. Other trustees included Daniel McKinnon, Dr. John Malloy, Malcomb Smith, Peter McEachin, Rev. Archibald McQueen, Col. John McNeill, Col. John C. McLaurin, Dr. Angus D. McLean, W. A. Sellars, and Malcomb Purcell. Floral College's first class of eight girls was graduated in 1843. The catalogue of 1848 lists sixty-four students from North Carolina, twenty-four from South Carolina, three from Alabama, and one from Florida. In 1855 Rev. Daniel Johnson succeeded Mr. McIntosh, working with the college until the Civil War temporarily closed its doors in 1861.
Rev. Frederick K. Nash began his work in the Centre Church in 1846, the centennial anniversary of the Highland immigration. During his pastorate, which lasted until his death in 1861, the church enjoyed its greatest period of growth and influence. The present building was constructed in 1850. Mr. Nash's family was distinguished and he was an
outstanding leader. His grandfather had been the second Governor of North Carolina and his father was Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. In 1852 Centre was the largest Church in Fayetteville Presbytery, with 354 members. Mr. Nasn's ministry reached out to the Negroes of the vicinity, who would climb a flight of stairs to worship in the Church's “slave gallery”. In 1859 the Church membership was 487, incluling 139 Negroes. In 1852 the first Sunday School department was organized, with Daniel McKinnon as Superintendent. Statistics alone can never tell a story, for this was a period of spiritual revival and rededication. Large numbers were added to the Church on profession of their faith. At one session meeting thirty-four persons were received. At times the entire congregation that filled the building would be on their knees confessing their sins, pleading forgiveness, and rededicating their lives to the Lord. The bold preaching of the Word of God, in the tradition of John Knox and the Reformers, had been blessed with many fruits of the Spirit.
In 1861 war clouds were gathering in North Carolina. Abraham Lincoln had been elected President of the United States in 1860 on a ticket pledging the preservation of the Union. The South, which demanded her rights on the question of her social system and way of life, felt threatened by the government's use of force. South Carolina had already seceded from the Union and was mobilized for war; yet. North Carolina and other Southern states loved the Union and had no desire to fight. Carolinians, including the Highlanders, had fought for their new country against Great Britain in 1776, and the ties were still strong. The neutrality reached a climax when President Lincoln called for volunteers from North Carolina to fight against the South Carolina insurgents. No matter how the Tar Heels felt about the Union, they could not raise the sword against kin in their sister state. North Carolina seceded, and the Highlanders of the Cape Fear Valley threw themselves into the war effort, heart and soul.
While the Home Militia was being organized and the younger men were marching off to fight at Fort Fisher or in Virginia, the Presbytery appointed Mr. Nash chairman of a committee to sever its relation with the Northern Presbyterian Church. One hundred and six years earlier a paper had been drawn up, appealing to the Presbyterian Synod of Pennsylvania for a minister. Now a paper was drawn up for purposes of separation from the assembly of churchmen who had sent Hugh McAden riding down on horseback in 1755. Mr. Nash was a commissioner to the 1861 meeting at Augusta, Georgia, where the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church was organized. This great leader died on December 31, 1861. His congregation inscribed on his memorial stone: “We Loved Him.”
By 1865 the South lay in comparative ruin. The war had drained her young men, and the farms and fields were in poor condition. The Negroes had been freed, but they were not educated for immediate emancipation. In addition, from 1864-1874, Robeson County had the unique “reign of terror” of Henry Berry Lowry and his outlaw band to contend with. Law and order were at a standstill, and armed marauders were roaming the roads. General Sherman's “bummers” came through the heart of Robeson County in their military advance from Columbia to Raleigh. Some of the “Yankee” troops stood guard around Centre Church while others were patrolling the territory anl ransacking Floral College. Those at Centre merely scribbled their names and other remarks in old Church record books. From the spelling, it looked as if the “Yankey boys” could have used a little of the
- “We are the Yankey boys
- that fears no noys
- The man that reads this
- will find out that we are
- in for guarding churches
- and not tear them up
- Union Forevery!”
Other churches were not so fortunate.
The Reconstruction era brought heartbreak in many ways. Heroic efforts were made to revive Floral College in 1866. The Centre community recognized the value of the College not only in education but as an influence for culture and piety. Dr. Luther McKinnon, Rev. John H. Coble, Col. John G. Blue, Jesse R. McLean, J. L. McLean, and Rev. Archibald Baker gallantly worked to keep the College open. The College was without money and the common difficulties of the day made the task almost hopeless. Prices on all foods and supplies were high. The College continued with varying success until 1878, when the doors were closed for the last time.
In 1874, Rev. Joseph Wilson, pastor of the Wilmington Presbyterian Church, visited Floral College and spoke to the students. His tall 17-year old son, Woodrow, a student at Davidson College, visited the campus with his father. Woodrow Wilson went on to become the twenty-eighth President of the United States, the architect of the League of Nations, and the great Prophet of international cooperation and world peace. These were destiny-shaping years for leaders on many levels. Living in the Centre community during these Reconstruction days were two individuals whose lives were to affect hundreds. One was Angus Wilton McLean, destined to become one of North Carolina's greatest Governors during the nineteen-twenties. The other was Elizabeth Ann McRae, who in 1889 would help unite Women's Missionary work in the Southern Presbyterian Church. Her educational work in the mountains of western North Carolina would lead to the founding of Lees-McRae College at Banner Elk.
The twilight of Reconstruction days witnessed the beginnings of a new era. New shadows were playing on the familiar scenes. The effects of the Industrial Revolution were beginning to be felt throughout the nation. Villages and towns were springing up all over Robeson County. The rural church, nestling in a grove of trees with its belfry visible through the tops, would no longer be the social and cultural center of the county. The “meeting place” would now be the trading centers near the railroad depots or at the crossroads, where the people were building homes, stores, and churches. Three miles south of Centre Church the little village of Shoe Heel had appeared about 1860. In June, 1875, the Session of Centre Church, moderated by Rev. Archibald Baker, met and reported “After much consultation, the Session agreed unanimously to give all the aid and encouragement in their power to the building of a Presbyterian Church at Shoe Heel depot.”
The Light that had glimmered so faintly in the dark days of 1750, and that had begun to glow at the beginning of the nineteenth century,
was now burning as a part of the Light of the World. Through strong arms and minds the Highlanders had cut their way through swamps and underbrush, had reached out to build the foundations of their homes, their churches, and their schools. Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, stamped with the influence and prayers of a Knox, a Campbell, a McNair, a McIntosh, or a Nash, the Scots had reached out with evangelism and education to build the foundations of their eternal Souls.
From such tradition—pregnant with stern morality, creativity, pride, and prayer—the Presbyterian Church at Shoe Heel depot was born in 1878.
Never could she forget, never would she want to forget, these influences.
- ‘Hope ’springs exulting on triumphant wing’
- That thus they all shall meet in future days,
- There ever bask in uncreated rays,
- No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
- Together hymning their Creator's praise,
- In such society, yet still more dear,
- While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere.”
“The God-blessed Macs Saved The Day”
- ‘Knee-deep’ from reedy places
- Will sing the river frogs.
- The terrapins will sun themselves
- On all the jutting logs.
- The angler's cautious oar will leave
- A trail of drifting foam
- Along the shady currents
- Away down home.”
—John Charles McNeill
When the Highland Scots began to push into Robeson County, they found a twisting river cutting through its heart, which the Indians had named the “Lumbee”. Wandering about in her solemn swamp, the Lumbee was the sanctuary for the coon, the ’possum, and the wildcat, as well as the “river frogs” of John Charles McNeill's “Away Dwon Home”. “. . . The reflection of flags and reeds and rushes ripple below her banks and the yellow of the gravel-bottom in shallow places darkens gradually to the black depths.” It was a swamp-land of honeysuckle, of gum and cypress, of water-grasses, and marsh. Lying southwest of the Lumbee was Shoe Heel Creek, which, like the larger river, flowed into the great Pee Dee River on its route to the Atlantic.
Between the huckleberry swamps and marsh land of Shoe Heel Creek on the west and south and the Lumbee on the north lay the land where the village of the “. . . God-blessed Macs . . .” would eventually arise. In the early eighteen-hundreds this vicinity was a favorite camping site for the wagon trains on their east-west routes. The area was situated about midway between the seaport supply city of Wilmington and the western Piedmont counties . Shade trees and water were available, and the farmers who lived in the vicinity were friendly. The covered wagon trails followed the general route of the old Rockingham-Lumberton road, which was the major east-west artery through Robeson in the nineteenth century. Several of the traveling families decided to settle at the camp site, including the Burns brothers, the Lineberries, and the Steeds. Other wagon-train families stopped to settle; sons moved in from the outlying farms to participate in the community trade; and the village of Shoe Heel was born.
In 1859 railroad tracks were laid from Wilmington through the village and on to “Old Hundred”, a few miles to the west. The Civil War stopped the completion of the railroad, but it was in use during the war, the big “iron horses” hauling supplies and troops to the Confederate coastal defenses. A great impetus to the little community was the completion of the railroad to Charlotte in 1874. A depot was constructed and Shoe Heel became the important trading center of the area.
Stores began to spring up, including a carriage and harness shop, a general mercantile store, and a millinery shop. The first row of business houses was built facing the railroad, and this area, where the dirt read to Centre Church crossed the railroad to Charlotte, became the village square.
By 1874 Shoe Heel had grown slowly to include 200 people. The ravages of the Civil War Reconstruction era were drawing to a close, and each new year was bringing material prosperity and population growth to the village. In February of 1874 the North Carolina Legislature incorporated Shoe Heel. These community pioneers had initiative and vision. They immediately set about constructing drainage ditches and employed a surveyor to lay off the town one mile square.
The majority of these early Shoe Heel settlers were direct descendants of the Highland Scots, and staunch Presbyterians. Feeling the need for a Church in the community, a growing desire was evident within the Centre Church membership to establish a daughter Church in Shoe Heel. As early as June, 1875, the Centre session was meeting prayerfully to discuss the matter: “The question of a Presbyterian Church at Shoe Heel coming up, after some conversation on the subject . . . . the session agreed to meet in the pastor's study on Monday, June 28th . . . . to consider the same.” At the ensuing meeting the Centre session . . . . “agreed unanimously to give all the aid and encouragement in their power to the building of a Presbyterian Church at Shoe Heel depot.” With such a show of cooperation and fellowship, a spirit of optimism and vitality permeated the organizers of the new Church. Yet, it was more than a spirit of fellowship and optimism; this was the Spirit of God at work!
On October 23, 1878, twenty-nine men and women met in the old McKay building near the village square to draw up a petition requesting Fayetteville Presbytery to establish a Church in Shoe Heel.
“Shoe Heel, N. C.
“October 23rd, 1878
“We, the undersigned respectfully petition the Presbytery of Fayetteville to appoint a committee to organize a Church at this place, believing that the best interests of the Church and growth of Presbyterianism will be secured thereby.
|“J. S. McQueen||D. M. Currie||John Allan MacLean|
|Martin McKinnon||E. F. McRae||A. M. McLean|
|H. C. Alford||George B. McNeill||R. McCaskill|
|J. B. Weatherly||D. S. Morrison||W. J. Carter|
|Alex MacRae||D. M. McCormac||A. McL. Morrison|
|B. J. McCormac||Archie Patterson||C. E. McQueen|
|B. F. McLean||Minnie McQueen||J. W. Campbell|
|S. Smothers||A. A. McKinnon||Sarah McDonald|
|J. C. McLean||Mrs. J. C. McCaskill||Mrs. S. Smothers”|
|Mary V. McLean||J. C. McCaskill|
That moment, and the days that immediately followed, must have been exciting as, for a second, time stood still, and the old gave way to the new. There is always a human thrill in blazing a new trail, yet we are brought to our knees with the deeper realization of the timelessness of Christ's Church. His Spirit has always preceded us. It is we who change: He stands triumphantly changeless.
After the petition had been signed, Colonel E. F. McRae was delegated to deliver it to the fall meeting of Presbytery, which would convene at Goldsboro the following day. Tradition says that Col. McRae rode all night, arriving in Goldsboro, ninety miles away, late the next afternoon.
“Father Hector” McLean, the great preacher at Antioch Church for fifty-six years, presented the petition “ . . . praying for the organization of a Church at Shoe Heel, Robeson County, N. C.,” to the Presbytery. The Church governing body then appointed a committee composed of Rev. McLean, Rev. Archibald McQueen, who had been ministering at Smyrna and Ashpole Churches, and Rev. H. G. Hill, Pastor of the Fayetteville Church, along with ruling Elders Archibald McMillan and A. S. Baker, “ . . . to carry out their wishes if the way shall seem clear . . . .”
The old McKay building served as the assembly hall for town meetings and, as there were no church buildings, it also became a temporary hall of worship. If the walls of the building could but speak, they would tell of the first worship service held by the Shoe Heel Presbyterian Church on December 19, 1878. The Presbytery's Committee met with the small congregation, and the service began when Dr. Hill sought God's guidance in solemn prayer. The Committee then proceeded officially to organize the Church and receive the charter members, most of whom had been members of Centre Church. The twenty-six charter members were:
|W. D. Baldwin||Rod McCaskill||Miss Mary A. McNair|
|Mrs. Antress Burns||John C. McCaskill||Robert M. McNair|
|Miss Catherine A. Currie||Angus C. McLean||C. E. McQueen|
|E. M. Currie||Miss Carrie McLean||A. McL. Morrison|
|Mrs. Kate E. Currie||James C. McLean||D. S. Morrison|
|W. J. Currie||Mrs. Margaret McLean||Miss Katie Morrison|
|J. D. Croom||Mrs. Mary A. McLean||Mrs. S. H. Morrison|
|O. J. Jackson||Miss Lizzie McNair||Miss Celestia Patterson|
|H. W. McArn||Miss Charlotte Patterson|
The service continued as the congregation elected Church officers. On the first ballot, Mr. Rod McCaskill, Mr. D. S. Morrison, and Mr. William J. Currie were selected ruling Elders. Mr. McCaskill and Mr. Morrison had both been Elders at Centre, and Mr. Morrison had been Clerk of the Session, a position which he continued at Shoe Heel. Mr. John C. McCaskill, Mr. James C. McLean, and Mr. J. D. Croom were elected as Deacons. These first Elders and Deacons were then ordained and installed in office.
Rev. Hector McLean arose and led the congregation in the Apostolic Benediction:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.”
The faith and truth embodied in those words has come ringing down
through the years as a benediction to the spiritual heirs of the founding fathers.
On December 26, the congregation met to elect the first trustees. The Session minutes record: “There was a Divine Service this evening by Rev. David Fairley after which a meeting . . . . was held for the election of Trustees . . . . The following persons were unanimously elected . . . . J. D. Croom, W. D. Baldwin, E. L. McCormac, R. M. McNair, and D. M. McCormac . . . .”
Having thus been established, the little Church pushed forward toward the high mark of the calling of Christ. “Divine Service” was held in the McKay building whenever guest ministers could be secured. In April, a joint meeting was held with the congregation of Centre Church. The two churches unanimously agreed to issue a call to Rev. Roger Martin, then preaching at Lexington, N. C. The call stated the salary as “nine hundred and fifty dollars . . .”, with $550.00 to be paid by Centre anl $400.00 by Shoe Heel. A few weeks later, the session met and received the first members to join the Church after its organization. “Mrs. Sallie McCormac and Miss Minnie McQueen appeared before the Session, and were examined on their religious experience, when, having made a satisfactory profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they were admitted to the sealing ordinance of the Lord's Supper.”
Roger Martin arrived at Shoe Heel in September, 1879, to begin his work with the mother and daughter churches. Mr. Martin, one of several brothers to enter the ministry, was born in Richmond, Virginia. His early education was at the Potomac Academy, and later at the University of Virginia. As a young man he was a member of the Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond, long pastored by that eminent southern theologian, Dr. Moses Drury Hoge. Undoubtedly, the example and preaching of Dr. Hoge influenced his decision to become a minister. Dr. Martin studied theology privately, and was ordained in 1872 as pastor at Thaxton, Virginia. He served this charge until 1876, when he became stated supply at Lexington, N. C. When Rev. and Mrs. Martin and their young children, Roger, Jr., Mona, and Alexander, became a part of the Centre-Shoe Heel Community in 1879, the Church work was in a difficult period of transition and required real faith and vision. The membership at Centre had decreased to 166 communicants. Since the Civil War, the Negroes had withdrawn their membership and begun building their own churches. A large block of the remaining members had withdrawn to form the Shoe Heel Church, and in the intervening year others followed in their footsteps. Meanwhile, the little daughter church was experiencing the ordinary difficulties of program organization, budget planning, and expansion.
On September 28, the dignified new pastor, of medium height and size, and sporting long “side-burns” in the orthodox style of the day, opened his first session meeting with prayer. Mr. Rod McCaskill was chosen delegate to attend the approaching meeting of Presbytery, and Mr. D. S. Morrison was selected to represent the Church at the next meeting of the Synod. Strangely enough, these first delegates’ names are listed in the faded Presbytery Minutes as representing “Quehele Presbyterian Church”, for in 1879, the citizens of Shoe Heel had decided to change the name of their town to “Quehele”, the more melodic old Indian name for the creek. However, in 1880, the name was just as abruptly changed back to Shoe Heel. In addition to these appointments. Mr. Morrison was instructed “. . . to procure a book for the use of Session.” From this time until January 29, 1880, the firm, clear script of Session Clerk Morrison was inscribed in this book. During the next
year, the first of the Charter Members departed when Mr. Morrison died. His successor wrote “. . . W. J. Currie was elected Clerk in place of our lamented and beloved brother D. S. Morrison whom it has pleased the great Head of the Church to take to Himself. . .”
In April, 1881, the first Session report was presented to Presbytery. The number of communicants was listed as 34, seven infants had been baptized, and there were 75 children in the “Sabbath School”. Economically, the times were still difficult, but the pastor's salary had been paid, and Church support for the various causes was good. The Shoe Heel Church felt honored when Mr. Martin was chosen as Moderator of the Presbytery in 1881.
There were other signs of growth and increasing efficiency. During 1879, Mr. Gilbert Patterson, Sr., presented two acres of land to the Church. Immediately, plans were started toward the erection of a building. A sturdy wooden building, designed to duplicate the appearance of the mother Centre Church, was completed in the summer of 1880. This original Shoe Heel Church was located on the site of the present building. These were the days of horse-and-buggy transportation and the familiar “hitching post” stood beside the Church. A huckleberry swamp bordered on the west of the Church property. The building was a cooperative venture of faith and there was no indebtedness. On July 22, 1880, the first service was held in the Church when Miss Alice McBryde of Shoe Heel was given in marriage to Mr. John D. Austin of Polkton, N. C.
In his pastoral relations, Mr. Martin was a man of stern, uncompromising convictions. Especially was he a staunch advocate of temperance, and very outspoken in his pulpit utterances on this subject. Some historians believe that the times in which he lived needed such a man, and that “Mr. Martin came to the Church for such a time as this”. During the 1880's, Shoe Heel had a number of saloons. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, running from Florence, S. C., to Fayetteville, was completed through Shoe Heel in 1884, adding immensely to the town's trade. Once a gay group from Bennettsville, S. C., passing through Shoe Heel, stopped long enough to quench their thirst. Seeing a dignified gentlemen walking down the road, a member of the party innocently inquired as to the whereabouts of the nearest saloon. Lightning flashed from the gentleman's eyes, and, to the young man, it must have sounded like thunder roared when Mr. Martin curtly replied, “Hmph! Has it come to the day when the preacher has to direct people to the whiskey saloons?” Mr. Martin was largely instrumental in driving the saloons out of Shoe Heel and Robeson County—the first county in the state to vote “dry”.
The Session records indicate that during Mr. Martin's pastorate many persons were interviewed and several disciplined by the session because of intoxication. These were times when the Church Session strictly interpreted it as their duty to exert control and discipline over the Church membership. Looked on from the perspective of time, mistakes were undoubtedly made, but “. . . extreme conditions called for drastic action on the part of the church, for the sake of the offender as well as to maintain the respect of the world for those principles for which the church stood.”
As the Church membership slowly grew and the responsibilities increased, new officers were elected. In 1882, Dr. David McBryde and Mr. E. F. McRae, who had taken the original 1878 petition to Goldsboro, were elected Elders. Two years later the names J. C. McCaskill and
William Black appear on the records as Elders. Both of these men were to serve their Lord in significant ways. Mr. McCaskill was interested in the Foreign Mission work of the Church, and increasingly supported this work financially. William Black was a young lawyer who had just moved to Shoe Heel. His name was destined to be emblazoned on the pages of Church History as one of the greatest evangelists in the Southern Presbyterian Church. Mr. W. D. Baldwin (1882), Mr. J. A. Patterson, and Mr. A. McL. Morrison (1884) were added to the office of Deacon.
In July, 1884, the Church Choir was effectively organized and Mr. J. J. Patterson was elected Leader. Mr. J. S. McRae, the Assistant Leader, Mrs. Margaret Elizabeth McNair, Miss Jessie B. McRae, Miss Fannie McBryde, and Mr. William Black were among others singing to the glory of God.
By March of 1885 the Church had grown to a membership of fifty, with 65 in the Sabbath School department. Mr. Martin, in his 1885 report to the Presbytery on the state of religion, said: “The pastor preaches regularly every Sabbath. The congregations are good . . . attendance of the members regular. The pecuniary obligatiins to the pastor are met, though not always promptly. . . We have also a weekly service, consisting of a prayer meeting and lecture which is generally very well attended. Our Sabbath School is an interesting one and is in a healthy, flourishing condition. We regard our Church also as in a vigorous and hopeful state. The Sabbath is generally well observed by our members. . . We know of no serious Sabbath desecration among the members of the Church, such as visiting, riding out, or traveling on the Sabbath. . . Parents are disposed to do their duty in teaching their children at home the Catechism and the Word of God. We observe a monthly concert of prayer for Foreign Missions. Parents present their children for baptism. The officers and members of the Church have been faithful in their mutual relations and we believe there is peace and harmony among us. We hope that our Church is growing in knowledge, spirituality, and numbers. We take up weekly collections for the benevolent objects recommended by Presbytery. This is made a regular part of worship. . . Suitable provision is made for the poor wherever there is need.”
Roger Martin accepted a call to the Beth Shiloh and Allison Creek Churches of Bethel Presbytery, South Carolina, in the late spring of 1885. In October the Martins left Shoe Heel, the Church having grown “in knowledge, in spirituality, and numbers. . .” Later, Mr. Martin served the Mallard Creek Church of Mecklenburg Presbytery from 1892 until his death in 1900. When the Martins arrived in Shoe Heel in 1879, their son Alexander was eight years old, and their daughter Mona was also very young. Alexander later attended Davidson College, graduating with a Master's degree in 1898. He received his Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1901, shortly after his father's death. His first pastorates were in Summerville, S. C., and the Westminister Church of Charlotte. He became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Rock Hill, S. C., in 1908, and began his ministry with the Oakland Avenue Church of Rock Hill in 1913. He was a respected and influential South Carolina Church leader until his death in 1931. Presbyterian College of Clinton,S.C., awarded him the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1915. In December, 1928, Dr. Martin returned to Maxton, speaking at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the birth of the Shoe Heel Church. Alexander's sister, Mona Martin, gave her life wonderfully to Christian service, becoming a Foreign Missionary to China.
In December, 1885, the Session met to plan a congregational meeting so that a new Pastor might be secured. Meeting with the Elders was
Rev. D. C. McIntyre, a visiting Presbyterian minister from Canada. Rev. McIntyre preached at Shoe Heel throughout the winter and spring of 1886. Other guest ministers aided the Session in the work of the Church, including Rev. H. G. Hill of Fayetteville and Rev. Andrew M. Watson of Mecklenburg Presbytery. The little Church continued to seek a successor to Mr. Martin and on December 1, 1886, a stated supply pastor was secured. His name was Halbert Green Hill. The children of Israel had found their Moses! His was a name destined to be raised and illumined with the passing years until it shone like gold throughout the Southern Presbyterian Church.
Shoe Heel's population had grown to 314 in 1886, and she was preparing to enter her period of greatest growth. The huckleberry swamps were being cleared away, the marsh lands were being filled in, and new homes and stores were being built. Since 1880, education had been an important factor in the community. In 1881, Mrs. David McBryde taught in a school built by Mr. A. J. Burns. Others conducted private schools, including Miss Meddie Stewart, who built a school house in 1888 and taught for five years. The first public school was erected about 1881, with Mr. Luther McLean as teacher. One of the teachers in this one-room school was Mr. James Gray, who had just graduated at Davidson College. After teaching for several years in North Carolina, Mr. Gray moved to Bristol, Tennessee, and began a hosiery mill. As a result of his success in Bristol, he became a Southern leader and philanthropist. In the late nineteen-thirties, Mr. Gray presented Davidson College with a quarter-million-dollar library building which bears his name. Another famous teacher was Miss Hattie McBryde, whose strong influence remains a model in educational circles today. Shoe Heel had a military company, one of the early Captains being William Black, and the village even had a band, called the “Silver Star”. When the north-south Coast Line Railroad came through in 1884, making Shoe Heel a real rail center, the band played and the military company marched in a big parade. By 1884 the village had two churches, with the organization of the St. Paul's Methodist Church. One of the daughters of this sister church, Miss Sallie Lou McKinnon, went on to achieve national Methodist leadership. Her family moved their membership from Centre Church to St. Paul's when the Church was organized. She served as a Foreign Missionary to China and later became Executive Secretary in charge of Foreign Missions in China, Brazil, Europe, and Africa. She also served on the National Council of Churches’ commission on International Relations. Seven years later, in 1891, the Baptist Church, which has served the community with vigor and enthusiasm, was organized at a meeting held in the Presbyterian Church. A Young Men's Christian Association led by Captain William Black was established in the town in the early 1880's, and became a vital influence for moral growth.
There were many individuals at work for the material and spiritual growth of Shoe Heel during these early years—and most of their names began with “Mac”’. Because of the preponderance of “Macs”, William Black, William Currie, and Captain Blocker proposed to Mayor B. F. McLean in the spring of 1887 that the name be changed to Mac's Town—later shortened to “Maxton.”
After the North Carolina Legislature made the new name official in March, the Church Session adopted the title, and on June 6, 1887, the “Session of Maxton Presbyterian Church met in regular monthly meeting and was opened with prayer by the Moderator, Rev. H. G. Hill. . .”
Greater days lay ahead for the town of the “God-blessed Macs”. Truly God had blessed His people. He had founded anl established His Church and its influence was reaching out into the village. Now He had provided a great leader for His people whose voice only death could silence thirty-seven years later.
Dr. HALBERT GREEN HILL
- “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel
- this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying,
- ‘I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath
- triumphed gloriously. . . . The Lord is my
- strength and song, and he is become my
- salvation: he is my God . . . . who is like
- unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who
- is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful
- in praises, doing worship? . . . Thou in thy
- mercy hast led forth the people which thou
- hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in
- thy strength unto the holy habitation . . .
- The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.’ ”
—Selections from Exodus 15HALBERT GREEN HILL . . .
- “That man hath perfect blessedness
- Who walketh not astray
- In counsel of ungodly men,
- Nor stands in sinners’ way;
- Nor sitteth in the scorner's chair:
- But placeth his delight
- Upon God's law, and meditates
- On His law day and night.
- He shall be like a tree that grows
- Near planted by a river,
- Which in his season yields his fruit,
- And his leaf fadeth never. . .”
—Selected from Psalm 1, Page
3, pocket-edition “Songs and Hymns for the Worship of God”, Published 1867 by the Committee of Publication, and carried by Dr. Hill from December 4, 1886, until his death.
“Finally, my brethren, we must go forward to obey God, and to enjoy His promises and favor. . .”
Sermon, “The People of God Must Go Forward”, preached at Maxton, June 10, 1894.
Many institutions and places claimed the life of Halbert G. Hill, but none so intimately as the Maxton and Centre Presbyterian Churches. Many influences have shaped and moulded the Maxton Presbyterian Church, but none so profoundly as the Word of God preached from her pulpit by Halbert G. Hill for over thirty-seven years.
When Dr. Hill was born in Raleigh, N. C., on November 20, 1831. Andrew Jackson was serving at the seventh President of the United States, and there were only twenty-four states in the Union. The family of thirteen children moved to Milton, N. C., just south of the Virginia
line below Danville, Virginia, when Halbert was a young boy. In Milton he attended the private schools of the day until he was twelve. When he was thirteen years old, he went to work in a department store, familiarizing himself with every aspect of the business, including the work of the janitor, bookkeeper, and cashier. While working in the store, the young boy became convinced that he needed futher training and education. Bravely, he reviewed his studies and saved his money while teaching school for a year, then applied for entrance to Hampden-Sydney College of Virginia. Young Halbert grew in the Christian influences of this old Presbyterian College, developing the keen mind that God had given him, graduating in 1857 as honor man and valedictorian. He completed the full college course in three years. From 1857 until 1861 he was Principal of a Female Seminary in Clarksville, Virginia, and during the time he was married to Miss Wharey of Virginia. Then tragedy struck.
His young wife, to whom he was devoted, suddenly died. The 30-year-old professor, in his grief and mourning, was forced to wrestle with the deeper implications of life and death. Many years later, while comforting the suffering and sorrowing among his own people, Dr. Hill would read from his book of “Psalms and Hymns.” On the most worn and thumb-marked page of the little book are these words, which flow like a memory of his own experience:
- “When I can trust my all with God,
- In trial's fearful hour,—
- I bow resigned beneath His rod,
- And bless His sparing power,
- Oh! to be brought to Jesus’ feet,
- Though trials fix me there,
- Is still a privilege most sweet;
- For He will hear my prayer.
- Then, blessed be the hand that gave,
- Still blessed when it takes;
- Blessed be He who smites to save,
- Who heals the heart He breaks.”
The young professor was so moved by the Spirit of One who “heals the heart He breaks” that he dedicated his life to his Lord and entered Union Theological Seminary of Virginia, then located in Hampden-Sydney. Those were dark days for Union Seminary. With the country in war, there were only 22 students enrolled. On May 12, 1862, the Faculty reported “. . . of the students enrolled, the Board will find present at this time only the following, viz: Messrs. Wharey, Barnett, Flournoy, and T. M. McCorkle, all of whom were in the service of their country, were made prisoners at Rich Mountain last summer, were released on parole, and have not been exchanged. The remainder left the Seminary in March under the urgent call of the government for more troops, and are all, or nearly all, now in the army.”
The President of the Board of Trustees during this year was Rev. Drury Lacy, and the great minds of such professors as Robert L. Dabney, Benjamin Mosby Smith and Thomas E. Peck stimulated and influenced the thinking of young Hill.
Following his interrupted theological study, H. G. Hill was licensed by Orange Presbytery in April, 1862. That same year he entered the
Confederate Army as a Chaplain of the Thirteenth North Carolina Regiment. The Civil War had a staggering effect on mid-nineteenth century American morality and religious life. On the war frontiers, fathers and sons were often hundreds of miles away from religious influences for the first time in their lives. Temptations were many, and Chaplains were few. Nevertheless, the Spirit of God worked through the tension of the times so that many boys were led to Christ. The Chaplains were always busy with their limited supplies and limitless faith. Undoubtedly, Halbert Hill was one of the most energetic—preaching the gospel whenever possible, passing out religious tracts, praying with and encouraging the soldiers and officers. The work of the Confederate Chaplains Corps was not in vain. Typical of similar instances which occurred throughout the war years was a note penned in the Centre Church minutes of June 19, 1864, which states that “three soldiers from the Centre community who were encamped with the Army of Northern Virginia, had made a profession of their faith to their Chaplains, and at their own request, and on the written recommendations of the Chaplains, they were received into the Church”. These soldiers were Captain Robert Lilly, John A. McCall, and McKay McKinnon.
By 1864, the south was drinking the last dregs of military defeat. Rev. Hill, his health broken by the war, returned to North Carolina, and became Pastor of the Hillsboro Presbyterian Church. While there, he taught in a school run by two ladies known as the “Misses Nash and Kollock School.” He met and married Miss Kirkland of Hillsboro. In 1867, Rev. Hill preached as Stated Supply at the Oxford and Grassy Creek Churches. His year at Oxford was a busy one, for he was also Principal of the Oxford Female Seminary, and he organized the First Presbyterian Church of Henderson, N. C. The Henderson Church, with about 500 members today, has long been a strong influence in this area. Among its list of distinguished ministers is Dr. James A. Jones, a native of Laurinburg, who became President of Union Theological Seminary in 1956. Mr. Samuel T. Peace, in his interesting history of Vance County entitled “Zeb's Black Baby,” writes of Dr. Hill's visit to the town: “One history of the First Presbyterian Church of Henderson, author not known but suspected, says ‘. . . by 1868 it (Henderson) had a dozen stores. That spring Rev. H. G. Hill of Milton preached to the Presbyterians in the Methodist Church—his text being, “And Lot pitched his tent towards SODOM.” At which service it was decided to organize a Presbyterian Church,’ in Henderson.”—1
In 1868, Rev. Hill became Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church at Fayetteville. This Church had its beginning as early as 1755, and was organized in 1800. Many outstanding Ministers such as John Hall Morrison, the first President of Davidson College, have served the Church, and Dr. Hill was one of the greatest. His pastorate lasted eighteen years and the Church developed and grew. He was a pioneer in Home Missions work throughout Fayetteville Presbytery, and became Chairman of the Home Missions Committee in 1868, serving in that important office over fifty years. He was elected a Trustee of Union Theological Seminary in 1872, serving that developing institution more than fifty years. While he was a member of the Seminary's Board of Directors, the move of the campus from Hampden-Sydney to Richmond was accomplished in 1898, thus opening the way for greater growth and service. Dr. Hill's ability and leadership was recognized by the Church, and he was elected Moderator of the Synod of N. C. which met at Salisbury in 1881. That same year, Davidson College honored him with the Doctor of Divinity[note]
Degree. These honors and responsibilities only made him a more loyal and devoted worker for the Church and its people. During these years he was a guest preacher all over the Presbytery and Synod—Portsmouth, Va., and Baltimore, Md., Henderson, Wilmington, Rockingham, Lumberton, Salisbury, Laurinburg, Raleigh, Morganton, Newton, Oxford, Reidsville, Concord, and numerous other churches. When he visited Raleigh, he was invited to preach at the State Penitentiary.
Dr. Hill kept a record book of every sermon and address. Meticulously careful, he numbered each service and each sermon, recorded the text, the subject, the date and location, the occasion, the number of times he had preached the sermon, the type of sermon, the size of the congregation, and “remarks”. Thousands of lines of information were recorded in several such books. In the section entitled “remarks” he faithfully reported the weather conditions, and thus “mild afternoon,” “pleasant day”, “bright hot day”, “cloudy night” and “threatening rain” appear with regularity. Other notes appear, such as “25 inquirers” after a sermon on “The Righteous and the Wicked.”—2
Dr. Hill was fifty-four years old on November 20, 1885. He yearned to turn the successful work at Fayetteville over to younger hands. The hand of suffering was to rest strangely on this man's personal life. His second wife having died, he had married Miss Kate Shepherd of Fayetteville, who also died within a few years. His two sons, both promising young men, and his daughter Annie were to die during his own life time. In 1886 he began making plans to “retire”, desiring to locate in a Church where he could work and preach up to his own dying hour. During August and September of 1886, Dr. Hill preached in Charleston, S. C. His congregations were large in the churches, and on one hot Sunday, he went outdoors and preached “on the lawn”. He spoke about Christ wherever he could, in private homes, in the Charleston Orphans House, as well as in the Churches. On August 30, the famous Charleston earthquake occurred, with tremors felt throughout the Carolinas. At that time, about 9 o'clock, nearly everyone in Shoe Heel was attending a revival meeting being held in the Old Methodist Church. The tremors were strong, and terror was so great that many persons jumped out of the Church windows. A Negro woman cooking for the McCaskill family was so frightened that she lost control of her mind. In Charleston a number of people were killed and eight million dollars worth of damage was done. The day before, August 29, Dr. Hill had preached his sermon, “The Righteous and the Wicked,” before a “small” congregation. In his next entry, September 5, he wrote, “Large congregation . . . after Earthquake”, when he preached on “Drawing Near to God”.
In August, while Dr. Hill was preaching at Charleston, the Centre and Shoe Heel Churches met. Both had been without a minister since the departure of Roger Martin ten months previously. An official call was extended “. . . to Rev. H. G. Hill, D. D., for his services. . . from October 1, 1886 to October 1, 1887. . .” This great Church leader, with a wealth of experienced years behind him, came as Stated Supply for twelve months and remainel as Pastor for thirty-seven years. For the little village, these were to be years of marvelous contact with one of the “grand old men” of the Church.
Halbert G. Hill was no stranger to Maxton. In 1878 he had been appointed a member of the Presbytery Committee to organize a Church at Shoe Heel. He had opened that meeting with prayer. On several occasions he had been invited back to Shoe Heel to preach, and the[note]
records indicate that he visited the little village in 1880, in 1883, and in 1885, speaking at the evening services. In June and July of 1886, just after leaving the Fayetteville Church, he preached regularly at Shoe Heel. Dr. Hill knew the Centre and Shoe Heel people well. He was a leader whom the people would follow because they loved him and admired him.
On Sunday, December 5, 1886, while snow and sleet were falling outside, Dr. Hill preached his first sermon at Shoe Heel after having begun his permanent work. His subject was “Following Christ to Serve Him.”
Physically strong and ram-rod straight until his dying day, Dr. Hill was powerful and tender. His sermons were lengthy, in the style of the day, sometimes lasting over an hour. As a speaker, his logic was forceful and penetrating, and he knew the value of choosing the pungent word to express his thought. He loved to preach, and would lead the ordinary Sunday service, preach at an outpost in the afternoon, then preach at an evening service. His prayers were eloquent, and amounted to sermons in length and logic. In a typical Sunday, counting his prayers, he would preach six sermons. In addition, he conducted prayer services on Wednesday and supplied other pulpits in the Presbytery on weekdays. An older member of one of Dr. Hill's congregations recalled, “In those days we didn't get to preaching very often—because of bad roads and only two services a month—but when we went, we really had preaching!”
Verily, they “had their preaching!”
For over one thousand five hundred Sundays the old gentleman stood in the Maxton pulpit thundering the righteousness and mercy of God. The Spirit of God used his logical words and deep sincerity to sow and reap the fruits of the Kingdom.
During 1887, Dr. Hill had purchased the old Steward Hall of Floral College. Seeing the need that the old college had filled and recognizing the necessity of Christian education for women of the Cape Fear area, he became convinced that the college must be re-established. In 1889, under his leadership, the old charter was revised, and groundwork began to be laid for the opening of the College. For several years efforts were made to raise the necessary operating funds, but eventually the project was discontinued. The Lord uses many hands to build his houses, and the labors of Dr. Hill were not in vain. He had kindled the desire for a wonan's college. In 1896 the Presbyterian Church built on this groundwork in establishing Flora Macdonald College, nine miles from old Floral campus, at Red Springs.
In 1888 there were five Presbyteries of the Synod of North Carolina: Orange, Concord, Mecklenburg, Wilmington, and Fayetteville. As John G. Garth says in his history of Home Missions, “Here was a state with a million and half population and over two dozen counties with no Presbyterian Church in them. At least one-half of the people were in no church at all. In 1881 a resolution was introduced in synod to recognize the vast need of evangelization in North Carolina. At last in 1888 the synod did take action and the present enterprise of Synodical Home Missions was born . . . ” At this time “. . . the sainted H. G. Hill, pastor at Maxton for over thirty-seven years, was agent of Sustentation. Synod then called the heads of its committees ‘agents’ ”—3. Dr. Hill was a member of the new Home Missions Committee of the Synod of North Carolina from 1888 until his death. In July, 1889, the Maxton Church appointed J. C. McCaskill and J. D. Croom “to solicit funds from the congregation for the Presbyterian Evangelistic Work ”
Mr. W. J. Currie had tendered his resignation as Clerk of the Session in July, 1887, and Mr. E. F. McRae succeeded him. Four new deacons were elected: Mr. R. M. McNair, Mr. John Sumter McRae, Mr. Murphy McNair, and Mr. A. H. Currie. The Session was regularly sending delegates to Presbytery and Synod, as well as to the Presbytery's “Sunday School Convention” and the “Robeson County Bible Society.” Organization continued to be improved. In September, 1887, it was “. . .ordered that this Session hold a quarterly meeting in connection with Deacons, at which time the Treasurer of the Church shall present an itemized statement of finances for the past quarter.”
When Dr. Hill arrived at Maxton and Centre in 1886 he found a member of his Centre congregation at work trying to organize and unite ladies’ missionary societies in the Churches of Fayetteville Presbytery. Elizabeth Ann McRae was bravely facing indifference and actual hostility on the part of some who felt that there should be no women's organization in the Churches. Wisely, Dr. Hill counseled and encouraged “Miss Lizzie” to continue her task. With his respected voice raised to support her, Mrs. McRae secured Presbytery's consent to organize all of the local women's societies into “The Ladies’ Missionary Union” in 1889. This unity greatly facilitated the work, and laid the foundation for continued improvements. Certainly this was one of the first effective movements for unity in the Southern Presbyterian Church women's work.
Dr. Hill was chosen a delegate to the 1889 General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church meeting at Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was elected Moderator of the Assembly, the highest honor of the Church. His name was joined with those of Benjamin M. Palmer, Robert L. Dabney, William Swan Plumer, Moses Drury Hoge, Thomas E. Peck, Joseph R. Wilson, anl many other distinguished and dedicated leaders in the cause of Christ.
The Session reported at the end of the 1889 Church year that there were 75 communicants. Certainly this was one of the smallest churches ever to have its Minister become Moderator of the General Assembly. The report continued “. . . During the Pastor's absence religious services are habitually maintained by the Elders.” Another line reads “. . . the numerical increase has not been so great as we desired.” God had planted the desire, and now He would give the increase.
In June of 1889 a layman evangelist arrived in Maxton. His name was W. F. Fife, and, ironically, he called himself a “converted drummer.” All Christians of the community joined hands to work together. The meetings lasted several weeks, growing in momentum and enthusiasm until a great religious revival was taking place before their eyes. The business men of Maxton established a fifteen-minute noon prayer meeting. On one July Sunday morning, thirty-seven people joined the Presbyterian Church. At the end of 1890, the membership of the Church was 120, an increase of 45 communicants in one year. The 1890 Sessional Report glows with joy and thanksgiving. “. . . There was a very special outpouring and manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit last June and the interest has continued in great measure. . . The minister is very faithful and the Elders and Deacons are also very much interested in their respective duties. . . The Church is out of debt and is in a better condition than ever before. . . The deportment of the members is such as would indicate a growth in grace. Every Church officer labors in Sabbath School either as teacher or scholar. . . and the school is larger (156 members) and better than ever before. Catechetical and Bible[note]
instruction is given . . . in Sabbath School. Most of the heads of families hold family worship. We have had only one or two destitute cases and they were promptly attended to . . .” A final comment by the Session says “. . . We are not making proper efforts for the instruction of the colored people.” When the Spirit of God works in the hearts of men, he not only pours out blessings on their labors, but he points the way to future service.
In 1890, the thankful Session considered their great Moderator, and the “. . . Delegate to Presbytery was authorized to have the call of the Pastor changed as to salary so as to read $600.00 instead of $550.00”! That same year the Synod purchased the Barium Springs Hotel, five miles south of Statesville, N. C., to establish an orphans’ home. In 1891, 28 children came to the home, and a work began which was to be especially dear to Dr. Hill's heart. He was made a member of the original Board of Regents, and served faithfully as Chairman and Board Member for thirty-four-years, supporting the Orphanage financially and prayerfully.
Before 1890 a Men's Missionary Society was functioning in the Church. On February 19, 1890, the session appointed “A committee of three, consisting of J. C. McCaskill, A. H. Currie, and W. J. Currie to increase the membership of the Men's Missionary Society.” Some of the faithful Sunday School teachers and workers during these years were E. F. McRae, Dr. David McBryde, Miss Hattie McBryde, J. C. McCaskill, J. D. Jowers, O. S. Hayes, J. S. McRae, Miss Sallie McBryde, Miss Meddie Stewart, Mrs. Anstres Burns, J. D. Austin, Mrs. K. E. Currie, Mrs. R. McCormac, Miss Fannie McBryde, Mrs. Mary McNair, Mrs. Alice Austin, Miss Ida McNair, Miss Addie Burns, Dr. J. D. Croom, William Black, Robert D. Croom, S. H. McKinnon, Miss Mary H. Patterson, Miss A. E. Patterson, Mrs. E. M. Baldwin, and Miss Amanda McLean. In April, 1892, the Session paid tribute to the women of the Church, “. . . Our Female Missions Society is energetic, active, and quite successful in raising funds for Foreign Missions.”
At a congregational meeting held on February 5, 1893, Mr. J. D. Austin was elected an Elder. Thirty-seven-year-old Elder William Black had reached a decision to “bear aloft the banner of the Cross” and had been licensed to preach by Fayetteville Presbytery on January 17. This dynamic young man immediately entered upon his duties as an Evangelist in Union County, N. C. On March 1 he tendered his resignation to the Session as Superintendent of the Sunday School, and a “. . . resolution of the appreciation of his services was adopted.”
Just as one outstanding lay leader of the Maxton Church was answering the Call of God to leave, another was arriving. At that same meeting of the Session, Mr. Gilbert B. Patterson was received into the membership of the Church from Elizabeth City, N. C. He was immediately offered the Sunday School leadership that Captain Black had just vacated.
William Black was born in the “Wakulla” section of Robeson County in 1856. His grandfather was the famous Rev. Archibald McQueen, who had studied and practiced law and medicine before deciding to become a minister. As a boy “Willie” had attended Robeson County
Academies and the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Academy. Later he decided to study law, and was graduated from the Dick and Dillard Law School at Greensboro, N. C. He was licensed by the State Supreme Court in 1881, and opened his office in Maxton. Personally attractive, he was quickly recognized as a keen and talented young man who was devoted to his Lord. In 1884, when only 28 years of age, he was elected an Elder in the church. He was active in the community, becoming Captain of the “Maxton Guards” military company, legal attorney for the town, and Director of the very active Y. M. C. A. He was a member of the Church Choir, and served as Superintendent of the Sunday School. The Maxton Church lost a valuable leader, and the Church of Jesus Christ gained a dynamic preacher when he went to Mecklenburg Presbytery in 1893. He has been called the greatest evangelist in the history of the Synod of North Carolina.
The evangelistic life of William Black reads like a story from the Acts of the Apostles. The North Carolina Home Mission field that Dr. Hill and other Synod leaders were so concerned about in 1888 was ripe for a man who could preach the Word that is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” Maxton's William Black was that man. Truly, the fields were white with harvest and the Lord had lifted up the eyes of the laborer.
His name first appeared in the minutes of Synod which met at Tarboro in October, 1893. The result of his meetings in Union County and one meeting in Stokes County electrified the Presbytery. One hundred and fifty-four people had been added to the Church during his preaching of a few months. By October, 1894, he was preaching throughout the entire Presbytery, which then extended to Asheville and the mountain sections beyond, supported financially by two young Charlotte merchants, the Belk Brothers, destined to be among the greatest philanthropists in the Southern Presbyterian Church. In 1893 the Synod's Home Missions Committee elected William Black superintendent of North Carolina Home Missions. In 1894, he made a report to the Synod meeting at Greensboro that 526 additions had been received into the churches by the expanded evangelistic work, while three new churches had been organized and five buildings had been built. In 1895, 483 new members were received, and 629 more members were added in 1896.
William Black threw his whole heart and soul into the evangelistic work in 1897, resigning the Superintendency to become General Evangelist for the Synod. In 1898, Rev. A. K. Pool became his first assistant and singer, serving until his death the following year. During the two years work of this faithful team, one thousand seven hundred and nineteen professions of faith were recorded. During 1899 Dr. Black conducted 23 evangelistic meetings, and one of these was in his beloved home church. This was not the only time Dr. Black returned to Maxton, and during his services the Lord used this son of the Church to quicken many hearts. Two names particularly catch our attention. One name is John Allan MacLean who, years later, while Pastor of the great Ginter Park Presbyterian Church of Richmond. Virginia, would write: “. . . It was while listening to a sermon preached by the Rev. William Black in a little church in Maxton, North Carolina, that this writer, while still a boy, got his first real vision of Jesus Christ—and has loved Him to distraction ever since . . .” The other name is Lillian Austin, whose heart was stirred by Dr. Black when she was a very young girl. She served her Lord on the Korean Missionary Field for twenty years.
Dr. Black's yearly reports to the Synod on the hundreds of additions to the Church became a feature of the meetings. In 1906 his work showed 1133 professions of faith, $1400 raised for Synod's Missions, $2050 raised for church erection, and 276 persons promising to hold family worship. In addition, he held successful meetings in other Synods. In 1907, 27 meetings were held with 1149 making public professions. In 1908, Rev. George W. Belk joined Dr. Black as assistant evangelist, and the meetings continued unabated. God continued to pour His Spirit upon their efforts in a marvelous way. When Synod met at Greensboro in 1913, a 25-year summary was presented, showing that since 1888 “15 counties had been occupied, 81 churches had been organized, 24,043 professions of faith had been made, and 12,966 additions had been made to the Presbyterian Church.” There was much cause for rejoicing and thanksgiving to God.
Thousands continued to be added under the expanding evangelistic program of Synod's Home Mission Committee. For Dr. Black there was no time for personal glory—there was great work always remaining to be done, and the time was growing shorter. His eyesight was beginning to bother him. By 1920, when he was 64 years old, he was almost totally blind, yet he worked on. He went back and forth through the state preaching the Word of God, and additional multitudes were converted and came to the Church of Christ. “Few men could preach as he did; fewer still could lay before men the eternal “either—or” as clearly and tenderly as he did.” Every year he was unanimously elected, and though offered larger salaries in other places, so great was his love to the people he was serving that he refused to leave. In 1915, at the Gastonia Synod meeting, Dr. Black offered a resolution to build at Montreat a home for workers of the Synod so that they might attend the summer conferences. Today, the beautiful William Black Home stands in Montreat as a memorial to this great man, and it is in use each year by North Carolina people who attend the conferences.
Dr. Black was 70 years old in 1926. He continued to preach powerfully, and hundreds were being touched by his ministry. He was familiarly known all over the state, and in other states. On November 23, 1927, he was stricken while conducting a meeting at Bluff Church, near Wade, North Carolina. “What was uppermost in his life was on his lips in death, for those with him as he was dying heard him say with his last breath:
‘I must answer the roll call, but the work will go on’ ”
Carrying out his wishes, his family brought his remains to Maxton, where his funeral was conducted in the Church. “Eternity can only tell the great amount of good that this man of God was able to do for his Master.”
Through these colorful years of Dr. Black's evangelistic ministry, his aging pastor and Church looked on with joy and with pride. His successors worked with renewed dedication, Mr. John D. Austin becoming Clerk of the Session in 1899, and Mr. Gilbert Patterson continuing as Superintendent of the Sunday School and becoming a ruling Elder in 1907. Mr. Patterson, who was at one time associated with William Black in law practice, served the Church faithfully. He was an outstanding Christian leader in many lines of endeavor. In political circles, he was a leader of the 1898 “Red Shirt” campaign, which returned North Carolina to Democratic control. He was elected to the State General Assembly in 1899 and 1901. He served his state for two terms as a member of the United States Congress beginning in 1903. In the latter election, he was trying to unseat John D. Bellamy of Wilmington, and the opposition was
terrific. A churchman entering politics is spared no abuse by those who would defeat him. In the 1902 Fayetteville nominating convention, one of Mr. Patterson's political opponents, fighting wildly to elect Bellamy, shouted to the assembled delegates an obvious parody of a beautiful church hymn:
- “All hail the power of Bellamy's name
- Let Patterson prostrate fall.
- Bring forth the royal diadem
- And crown Bellamy lord of all.”
The use of such parody must have grated on Presbyterian Patterson's ears. Needless to say, Mr. Patterson won the election, and went on to represent the congressional district with honest and efficient government. He served as an Elder in the Maxton Church until his death in 1922.
Not long after the turn of the century, the Synod of North Carolina established summer conference grounds at Montreat. Men such as Charlotte's James Robert Howerton and Gastonia's R. C. Anderson worked to build up this Church center, and Dr. Hill was a Trustee of the Board of Managers from the beginning, serving until his death. Today this conference ground is beautiful and highly developed, and has been used by God to bless thousands of lives.
As the years passed, Dr. Hill continued to assume new duties and responsibilities. In 1904 he became Editor of the Sunday School Department of the “Presbyterian Standard”, writing faithfully in that Church newspaper for twenty years. There was always a touch of the poetic in his soul, and in the book “Bluebird Songs of Hope and Joy” he joined with his brother, Mr. William L. Hill, to write “Songs From the Manse”.
In 1901 the membership of the Church was 180, and the pastor's salary had been increased to $700.00. Mr. M. G. McKenzie and Mr. A. A. McLean, father of Governor Angus Wilton McLean, were added to the Church Session, but the Church lost a valuable family when the Murphy McNairs moved to Winston-Salem. The children of this family went on to outstanding careers as Christian laymen. In June, 1901, a concerned Session had a circular printed and sent to the homes of the members “concerning worldly amusements.” In September, 1902, it was ordered that an infant class be taught in the Church parlor,” and Mrs. Mark Alford and Miss Mary H. Patterson were appointed teachers. (Mrs. Mattie Brown Baldwin's faithful work with the “Cradle Roll” Department began during these years.) In a few years the name Maggie McKinnon appeared as teacher of the “Beginners” Sunday School class. With rare love and devotion, “Miss Maggie” “began the beginners” until the nineteen-forties, and hundreds of children found a friend while they were learning of Jesus Christ.
The Maxton Church supported and built up the music department from the beginning. The Church music was considered a vital part of the worship of God. Mrs. Margaret Elizabeth McNair was the first church organist, serving until her death in 1892. Other organists and choir leaders in these early years were Mrs. J. B. McNatt, Miss Mary Patterson, and Miss Hallie Austin. Later many names would be added to this list. In 1897, Mrs. R. M. Williams played the music for her first church service at the age of seventeen. On Sunday, May 18, 1958, she played for her 10,000th service. During those sixty-one years “Miss Annie” has also played for weddings, funerals, Sunday School services, and special evangelistic services. During these early years she played
for visiting evangelist W. W. Orr, and in the summer of 1958 she played for his grandson, Kenneth Orr, when he served the Church as Summer Assistant Pastor. As a tribute to her musical ability, she was asked to join William Black's trail-blazing evangelistic team, and played music which aided many of his special meetings.
Mr. W. J. Currie resumed his work as Clerk of the Session in 1903, and continued in this duty until 1921. In 1903, “ . . . H. C. Alford, A. H. Currie and Dr. J. C. Croom were appointed a committee to put into operation the Envelope system of finances”. During November of that year, the church mourned the loss of Elder David McBryde. The Session wrote “ . . . (We) are most grateful to God for Dr. McBryde's Christian grace and shining example manifest in our Church and community . . . (We) honor his diligent study of the sacred Scriptures. (We) will ever cherish his memory and endeavor to emulate his virtues. (We) express deep sympathy with his bereaved family and commend them to a Covenant-keeping God . . .”
On June 10, 1907, something of a church numerical record was set as 36 young people joined the Church from a communicants’ class. In 1907 Mr. L. L. McGirt and Hon. Gilbert Patterson were elected Elders. The membership of the Church, spurred on by the large number of young people, continued to grow. In 1908 there were 233 communicants, and two years later the Church had 249 members.
The Maxton of 1910 was one of the most prosperous and fast-growing communities in southeastern North Carolina. Her two railroads had made her into a large cotton market, and in 23 years her population had grown from 312 to 1500. Automobiles were beginning to be used and the downtown speed limit was 6 miles an hour. There were two banks, The Bank of Maxton and the Bank of Robeson. There were between 25 and 30 mercantile establishments, and the firms of White and Gouch, J. W. Carter, J. B. Weatherly, and Currie and Patterson were trading centers of Robeson and Scotland Counties. There were two hotels. The Maple Shade Inn and the McRae House, which catered to the large railroad traffic. Dr. A. B. Croom was operating a two-story hospital building near the train station. The town had a good graded school, and soon a new brick building was to be built. On the southwestern edge of the town, a beautiful building was being erected in the best architectural styles of the day, to serve as a Methodist College for women. The Elba Manufacturing Company of Charlotte was building a large cotton seed oil and fertilizer plant in Maxton, at that time the largest oil mill east of the Mississippi River. There was a good electric light system, telephones had been installed, and the town had recently installed a system of water works. As the Lumberton ROBESONIAN reported at the time, “ . . . the place is hardly shy in anything that one would expect to find in a town much larger.”
In the midst of this period of growing wealth, the Presbyterians of Maxton constructed the present Church building. Repairs had constantly been made on the first building, but the expanding congregation was feeling the need for a new structure as early as 1904. The beautiful new building was completed in 1906 at a cost of $16,002.42. On October 3, 1906, the first sevice was held in the Sanctuary, when Miss Florence Wooten was married to Mr. Sylvester Brown MacLean. At weddings, Dr. Hill was at his eloquent best, and the ceremonies are remembered for their beauty and devotion. By May of 1910 the building had been paid for, and the dedicatory services were held. Dr. Hill's warm friend, Dr. Walter W. Moore, the great President of Union Theological Seminary, preached the sermon before a large and overflowing congregation.
Halbert G. Hill was 80 years old on November 20, 1911. He remained as straight and strong as ever, but the Maxton and Centre churches had grown sufficiently to tax a far younger man. To assist the great old gentleman with the two churches, the Sessions called Mr. William Baird McIlwaine, Jr., to become co-pastor in 1912. Dr. McIlwaine, a native of Petersburg, Virginia, graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1905, and continued his studies at the University of Virginia until 1907, when he entered Union Theological Seminary, receiving his divinity degree in 1910. He came to Maxton from the Asheboro and Thomasville, North Carolina, Churches, which he had served through 1911. The twenty-seven-year-old “youngster” and the eighty-one-year-old “soldier of Christ” worked side-by-side. Dr. McIlwaine's influence in Maxton was to be especially felt by the young people, who appreciated his youth and vitality.
The younger people of the Maxton Church were adding imposing chapters to the book of Christian service begun by Alexander and Mona Martin and William Black. Many spiritual influences were at work in the hearts of the young people, drawing them to the service of Christ. Through the years, Dr. Hill “ . . . occasionally preached sermons on the call of the gospel ministry”. On January 21, 1912, the Session asked Dr. Hill and Mr. John C. McCaskill “ . . . to get up a suitable letter of introduction and recommendation to the Secretary of Foreign Missions for Miss Lillian Austin, who is going as our Foreign Missionary . . .”
Lillian Austin was a very young girl when William Black led evangelistic services at Maxton in 1899. She joined the Church at the conclusion of these services, and, although she did not dream it at the time, she was beginning a marvelous life of service for her Lord which would carry her to Korea and into contact with thousands of people. Dr. Hill urged the little children to study and learn the Catechism, and years later, she would recall and use this valuable Bible training as she worked with the eager peoples on the missionary frontier. “Miss Lill” graduated from Flora Macdonald College when only eighteen and successfully taught school for two years before she felt the strong, impelling calling of the Lord. The summer after her second year of teaching, she and some friends went to a series of Church Conferences being held near Asheville, N. C. Having no vital personal interest in Foreign Missions, other than the fact that her family had a missionary heritage, she and her friends chose to attend the Foreign Missions Conference because of the attractiveness of its people. While she listened to the brief testimonies of these radiant, joyous Christians, she realized, with typical honesty, “. . . there was no reason why I should not be a missionary”. She returned, and the question of missionary service kept turning over in her mind. The Master tugged at her heart, and life around her strangely seemed to shape her future steps. Attending a party, ironically enough, she was given the part in a game as the “foreign missionary”! When she made her decision to follow her Lord's call, a faith and peace entered her soul which guided and blessed her steps day by day, and which made her life a blessing to all who have come in contact with her.
In 1912, “Miss Lill” left the United States, following inspiring consecration services at Chattanooga, Tennessee, and sailed for Korea. Her headquarters was the city of Chunju and her work in the Evangelism and Education departments encompassed a 75-mile area. In 1912 many Koreans had never heard of Jesus Christ. The Lord used her zeal and ability to spread the redeeming and quickening Gospel to a people in need. In 1937, after twenty-five years of service, “Miss Lill” came home to a Church that had been made much more aware of the integral
work of Foreign Missions in the program of God's people. Since her return, she has lived among us, teaching the children of the Church, praying, counseling, always radiant with the peace of God.
Young John Allan MacLean decided in 1915 to abandon his promising law practice and enter Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. Since those days when, as a little boy, he had heard William Black preaching so wonderfully of Jesus Christ, John Allan MacLean had grown into a talented and attractive young man. He served as a court reporter for a time, then attended the University of North Carolina, graduating from the Law School. He chose Fayetteville for his law office, and was enjoying what looked like the beginning of an outstanding legal career when he, too, felt the tap of a Divine Hand on his shoulder.
John Allan MacLean graduated from Union Seminary in 1917, and entered the Chaplaincy, becoming a First Lieutenant with the 315th Field Artillery, 80th Division, American Expeditionary Forces. When the World War came to an end, he stayed abroad for a year, studying at the University of Edinburgh in 1919. Dr. MacLean accepted a call to the Morganton, N. C., Presbyterian Church in 1920, serving until he was called to Greenwood, S. C., in 1923. Four years later he began a remarkable ministry at Ginter Park Church in Richmond, Va. The Ginter Park Church was then located in Schauffler Hall, on the campus of the Seminary, and in a real sense he was Pastor of the Seminary family for almost thirty years. Today, Dr. MacLean continues his wonderful ministry at Melbourne, Florida. His book of sermons, “The Most Unforgettable Character I've Ever Met,” is beautiful in language and powerful in impact. Following World War Two, Dr. MacLean suggested that the Christians of America unite to aid stricken and defeated Japan. Within the framework of the World Council of Churches the International Japanese Christian University came into being. John Allan MacLean has been honored with the Doctor of Divinity degree by Hampden-Sydney College.
Another young man who was a member of the Maxton Church during his early, formative years was Murdoch McLeod. In 1913, Murdoch was 17 years old when he and his family moved from Maxton and transferred their membership to the Shiloh Church. After graduating at Davidson College in 1922, Murdoch McLeod entered Union Theological Seminary of Richmond, securing his degree in 1925. His first pastorate was a long and useful one at Pinehurst, N. C. In 1925 he went to this important resort center, and when he left in 1934 to answer the call of Westminster Church of Nashville, Tennessee, the Pinehurst Church had grown spiritually and materially. A beautiful new building was erected during his ministry. Dr. McLeod was pastor of the Westminster Church until his death in 1940. Southwestern of Memphis honored his outstanding work by presenting him the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1937.
The Spirit of God continued to pour out His blessings on the work of the Church with her young people. In 1915, “. . . the Session took formal action approving the pledging by certain officers and Sunday School classes financial assistance to Mr. Wilburn A. Nicholson, a member of this Church, in the prosecution of his studies at Union Theological Seminary”. Mr. Nicholson had come to the Maxton Church after graduation from Davidson College in 1912. During 1915 he had decided to enter the ministry, and the Maxton Church rallied to support him with prayers and money. Upon graduation from Union Seminary, he studied at the University of North Carolina for a year, then began his work as Pastor
of the Unity Church in Concord Presbytery. His duties carried him to Cooleemee, N. C., and then to educational work and as stated supply in Wilmington and Fayetteville Presbyteries. In 1929 he became minister to the Pineville, N. C., Presbyterian Church, remaining there until 1937. Since that date he has served at Oakland, Va., and Crossnore, his ministry being useful and effective wherever he has been. He is now living in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
There were yet other hearts to feel the call of God. One of these was Sylvester B. MacLean, who, in 1925, when he was 45 years of age, began a pastorate at the Wilmore Presbyterian Church of Charlotte which was to last until he was honorably retired in 1942. Mr. MacLean's story is the more amazing because he left an eminently successful law practice, in which he had risen to the rank of Solicitor of the Ninth Judicial District of North Carolina. Mr. McLean had studied law at the University of North Carolina from 1901 to 1903, and he began a practice in Maxton during 1904 which was to last nineteen years. He was an outstanding Christian lawyer, and served his Church faithfully, being elected Elder in 1913. However, the same call that had caused his younger brother John Allan MacLean to leave the law practice in 1914 also came to his heart. He heard the call and yielded himself to the service of the Lord, ministering to the Wilmore Church for seventeen years. Yet, the story does not end there. In 1906, Mr. MacLean was married to Miss Florence Wooten, this marriage being the first service held in the newly erected Church building. One of the children born to this couple was Thomas Wooten MacLean, who was almost eleven years old when his father moved to Mecklenburg Presbytery in October, 1921. “Tommy” MacLean went on to graduate from Davidson College in 1932 and Union Theological Seminary in 1940. He did postgraduate work at the Divinity School of the University of Toronto in 1940, and was with the University of North Carolina Department of Social Studies in 1941. From 1941 until 1946 he served as Pastor of the Warrenton, Virginia, Presbyterian Church. He is now Pastor of the growing Avondale Presbyterian Church of Charlotte and is doing an outstanding work.
On September 10, 1922, the Session met with “ . . . Mr. Robert Lee McLeod, Jr., (who) . . . stated that it is his intention to enter the ministry and that he desired to be taken under the care of Presbytery. The Clerk was instructed to write a letter to Fayetteville Presbytery stating that Mr. McLeod is a worthy young man. . .” Young “Bob” McLeod was born into a fine Christian home, and grew up in the Maxton Church. He graduated from Davidson College in 1923, and entered Louisville, Kentucky, Presbyterian Theological Seminary. During the summer of 1924, when old Centre Church was without a minister, “Bob” McLeod served as acting pastor. Following his graduation at Louisville, he did postgraduate work at the University of Edinburgh, Columbia University, McCormick Theological Seminary of Chicago, and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1926 he became assistant pastor at the Highland Church of Louisville, Ky., and the next year began his pastorate at the First Presbyterian Church of Grenada, Mississippi. He became Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Winter Haven, Florida, in 1931, and in 1937 the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., invited him to become Secretary for Annuities and Legacies, with offices in New York City. He continued his remarkable leadership there, and in 1938 he was inaugurated President of Centre College at Danville, Kentucky, a Presbyterian College founded in 1819. At Centre College, President and Mrs. McLeod were very popular with students and townspeople alike, and his work helped to build up the College. As his program for improvements and expansion was getting under way, World War Two began, and in 1943 he resigned to become a Chaplain in the United States Navy.
Following his war service, Dr. McLeod has served as Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, St. Joseph, Missouri, and of the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Presbyterian Church. He is presently serving as Chaplain at Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri. Dr. McLeod was honored with the Doctor of Divinity degree by Maryville College in 1939. In 1950 he was elected Moderator of the Synod of Missouri.
The Lord was calling many to be with Him, in the midst of the service and outreach of the Church. In 1913, death came to Colonel E. F. McRae, who thirty-five years before had carried the petition to Presbytery requesting that a Church be established at Shoe Heel. The Session's tribute to this brother Elder said “. . . His removal from us has caused sorrow, not only in our body, and in his large circle of kindred and friends, but in the community in which he lived, and in the state which he faithfully served . . .” Dr. J. D. Croom, another of the Church's twenty-six charter members, died in 1914. He was elected an Elder by the congregation and was to have been installed on March 30, 1913, but the serious illness which eventually culminated in his death kept him from taking office. The Session wrote “. . . in the departure of Dr. J. D. Croom, Sr., the community has lost a valued citizen, the medical profession an honored and skillful member, and the Church an esteemed and efficient officer . . .” On September 2, 1916, Mr. John McCaskill “. . . after a very brief illness and very suddenly . . . departed from this life in the 85th year of his age.” The Session Records continue, “He was long identified with the business interests of Maxton and with the improvement of the town and community. He was a regular attendant at the service of sanctuary and the weekly prayer meeting. In declining years he spent much time in the diligent and prayerful study of the sacred Scriptures. He was universally esteemed for his wisdom, generosity, liberality, beneficence, and active Christian piety.” New leaders picked up the Cross and carried on: Mr. J. B. McCallum, Sr., Mr. Sylvester B. MacLean, and Mr. J. Plumer Wiggins becoming Elders in 1913, and Mr. J. Lacy McLean, Mr. R. D. Croom, Sr., Mr. A. H. Currie, and Mr. John S. McRae being elected in 1921. In 1913, Elder Gilbert Patterson presented an individual communion set to the Church.
As early as 1911 the congregation had met to consider building a manse. In 1913 a lot was purchased and the erection of the building was begun. During the spring of 1915 the manse was occupied by Dr. McIlwaine's family.
An interesting example of the Church's continuing outreach occurred in 1912. On August 12 “. . . a committee, consisting of Sylvester B. MacLean, J. P. Wiggins, H. C. McNair, and the Rev. McIlwaine, was appointed to arrange . . . for mission work in the village of Alma”. Alma was a little community about one mile from Maxton which had grown up around a saw mill. By 1912 a number of unchurched people were living there, and the Presbyterians desired to reach out to them. Through succeeding pastorates the work was carried on and many lives were drawn closer to Christ.
October, 1913, was the centennial anniversary of the founding of Fayetteville Presbytery. The Session passed the following resolution “. . . that Maxton Church send its good wishes to the parent Church, Centre, on this the occasion of the celebration in that Church of the founding there of the Presbytery of Fayetteville one hundred years ago and offer to assist . . . in the entertainment of guests or in any other way that Centre Church may desire.”
The activities and scope of Church organizations expanded with the
growth of the women's missionary societies. In 1913 there were 38 members of the H. G. Hill Missionary Society, 30 members of the Lillian Austin Missionary Society, and 8 members of the Emma J. McRae Society. In addition, the “Covenanters”, an organization for men, had 22 members, and the youth organization, the “Penny Gleaners”, had 21 members.
During August of 1916, Rev. McIlwaine accepted a call to the Mizpah Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Va. Maxton had grown fond of the McIlwaine family, and the Session wrote: “We, the members of the Maxton Presbyterian Church . . express our deepest regret at the departure of Mr. McIlwaine and his estimable family and assure them of our love. We are deeply grateful for the faithful service rendered by him to his Church and community . . .” Dr. McIlwaine served at the Richmond Church until 1921, when he became Pastor of the Westminister Church in Charlotte. In 1928, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Maxton Church, he returned to preach in the evening service and to participate in the ceremonies. Recently, in recalling memories of Maxton, he wrote: “One of the most vivid recollections I have is one that has brought from me and from others peals of laughter. I was pastor of Westminster Church, Charlotte. I was invited to preach at the Sunday evening service of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary. I put into the preaching my whole heart. Everybody, of course, was cordial. The “Presbyterian Standard” came out the next week with a long account of the affair, giving probably a page to the historical address of Alex Martin (son of Roger Martin). The the article concluded with this line, ‘At the evening service the Rev. Wm. B. McIlwaine, Jr., of Charlotte, preached acceptable.’ ” That same year Hampden-Sydney College honored him with the Doctor of Divinity degree.
In 1931 Dr. McIlwaine became Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, Va., and in 1941 he answered a call to the Second Presbyterian Church of Petersburg, Va. In a letter to the Maxton congregation, Dr. McIlwaine said:
“. . . During my pastorate in Maxton . . . I was a young man . . . Most of those I knew and loved in those olden days are gone . . . Those years are beyond the memory of most of your present membership or residents . . . My own memories are of kindnesses and of long-suffering with the very young man, and of happiness on my part . . . I trust you will all have a blessed experience as you celebrate together the eightieth anniversary of the founding of the Maxton Presbyterian Church.”
On October 22, 1916, the Maxton congregation met to call a new copastor. Rev. Eugene L. Siler accepted the call and came to Maxton in early 1917. Dr. Siler was born in Franklin, N. C., and graduated from Davidson College in 1837. He received his divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in 1890. Dr. Siler's early ministry included pastorates at Caldwell, Texas; Sharon Church, Charlotte, N. C.; Wadesboro and Morven, N. C.; Lexington and Durant, Mississippi; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; High Point, N. C.; and Toccea, Georgia. From 1910 until 1917 he was Pastor of the Montreat and Black Mountain, N. C., Presbyterian Churches, and it was from these churches that he accepted the Maxton call in 1916.
The United States entered the World War on April 6, 1917. Until the armistice on November 11, 1918, the nation participated actively in the war effort, working, in the words of President Woodrow Wilson, “to make the world safe for democracy.” Two sons of the Maxton Church gave their lives in the cause. The Session met on November 17, 1918,
and paid tribute to their memory:
“This page is affectionately inscribed sacred to the memory of two of our members who have made the Supreme Sacrifice, losing their lives in their country's service.
Ernest L. Austin and Murdoch McRae
The former dying at Camp Humphrey, Va., Oct. 4, 1918
The latter dying at Camp Jackson, S. C., October 3, 1918
Soldiers of their Country and soldiers of the Cross”
During the ministry of Dr. Siler the musical witness of the Church continued to grow. Mrs. Siler and daughter Ruth Siler, both musically talented, Mrs. D. C. McIver, Mrs. J. S. McRae, and Miss Cammie McCaskill, all contributed their interest and abilities. In March, 1919, the congregation took another forward step when a meeting was held “. . . to consider the matter of installing a pipe organ in this church”.
In March of 1920, Dr. Siler wrote a letter to the President of the Ladies Auxiliary, thanking the ladies for their splendid work during the year, and expressing the appreciation of the officers of the Church for the Auxiliary's faithful efforts. The Women's Auxiliary had grown out of the Missionary Societies. The Women's Missionary Society was organized in January, 1886, and met at first under the gallery of the old Church on Sunday mornings. Later it met in Miss Hattie McBryde's school house, and frequently in the homes of different members. Early leaders of the Society were Mrs. Anstress Burns, Mrs. J. A. McLean, and Mrs. Emma McRae. The name of the society was changed to honor Dr. Hill, and leaders during these years included Mrs. M. B. Alford, Mrs. L. R. Kirkpatrick, Miss Lizzie Patterson, and Mrs. J. O. McClelland. During 1917 the Women's Auxiliary took the place of the Missionary Society. The Young Women's Missionary Society, first named for Emma J. McRae and later for Lillian Austin, was also merged into the Auxiliary. Leaders of the Women's Auxiliary during the years immediately following the merger were Miss Elizabeth McNair, Mrs. J. S. McRae, Mrs. R. M. Williams, Mrs. J. P. Wiggins, Miss Flora McKinnon, Mrs. Lacy McLean, Mrs. Lacy Williams, and Mrs. D. C. McIver.
As Dr. Hill approached his ninetieth birthday, the Maxton Church made plans to honor their great pastor. In February of 1920 Elder Sylvester McLean, who was soon to enter the ministry, requested that the Session take steps “. . . toward publishing some of the sermons of Dr. H. G. Hill.” In October the Church requested that a stenographer be secured “. . . for Dr. Hill, so that he may be able to write and preserve for future generations some of the results of his long and accurate thinking . . .”
On Sunday, November 20, Dr. Hill celebrated his birthday by preaching a vigorous sermon. An article appeared in the Charlotte Observer entitled, “A Sermon At Ninety”. The author, Maxcy L. John of Laurinburg,
“There occurred at Maxton in the Presbyterian Church yesterday, the most unique and unusual service ever in this section, when its pastor, Rev. H. G. Hill, D.D., preached on the 90th anniversary of his birth, and received from the congregation a a gift of one crisp new dollar bill for each of the years he has lived — 90 in all. This has been the custom annually for several years, to make this presentation of the birthday gift; but on yesterday there seemed a greater interest than usual, and many from afar attended, and many were the messages sent for that occasion.
“The most wonderful thing was not the love and affection of the congregation for their pastor, surpassing as that is, for the past 35 years, but the wonderful discourse of the nonagenarian on that occasion. He conducted the full service as usual, and arising when ready for the sermon, took a few minutes in choicest and most modest language to tell his audience that this was the 90th anniversary of his birth, and the 36th year of his pastorate had been entered into this fall, and that he had completed more than 59 years in the ministry. He then stepped to the reading stand and took his text, and standing apart about two feet from it for the most part, he went straight into the subject of his text and for more than an hour with the choicest language, and sometimes poetic, always strong and clearly logical without a single discursive thought, with no reminiscence, no incident narrated, he preached a clear logically unfolded sermon, strong in reasoning, clear in thought, concise in statement, approaching step by step in regular orderly progression to the conclusion of his argument, preaching Christ and His revelation of Himself to men, backing up almost every statement with the most apt quotation from Scripture, almost always with the author or book given, generally with the chapter and often the verse, with a statement of the words relied upon, covering almost the whole of the Scriptural Revelation of Christ and his attributes as known from the word of God. Never once did he refer to any note or other help, for indeed he did not place his spectacles to his eyes once during the whole time he was speaking. His voice was full, clear, firm and resonant throughout; and when he had been speaking 68 minutes, he raised his hand and said ‘Let us pray,’ following with a short prayer of surpassing beauty. The sermon will stand out with every one who heard it as one of the great sermons preached in our day.
After the most tender and loving tribute possible, the gift was handed him. His reply to it was begun in these words:
‘There has been enough appreciation of the living. I think of those who are not here, but whose labors in this community are with us today.’
For about 20 minutes the most tender and touching eulogy was delivered by him touching upon the upstanding and outstanding men and women now dead, whose works live in the community, not confining himself to his own denomination. He mentioned quite a number by name, and spoke of the significant traits of each in passing. And the service, all too short, was over. It was a blessing and a benediction to be there.”
The post-war era ushered in during the 1920's was a difficult transitional
period in American history. Not only were there new and dangerous moral problems developing in the United States, but many people in war-torn Europe were literally starving to death. The money, example, and voice of the Church of Jesus Christ had to reach out to help! Indicative of this concern are Maxton Session minutes in 1920 and 1921. At one meeting of the Session, an Elder “. . . suggested that there were a number of men in the community that he felt it the duty of the Session to endeavor to interest . . . more actively in the affairs of the Church.” Again, in December 1920, the Session decided to send one-half of its Christmas “White Gift” collection “. . . to assist the starving children of Europe.” The other half was to be sent to the committee of Christian Education to assist worthy young people with an education. In June of 1923 “. . . A committee from the Women's Auxiliary, Mrs. John Sumter McRae and Mrs. Sallie McBryde, met with the Session and asked their cooperation in sending a colored girl to the Stillman Institute, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for training. The girl wishes to be a missionary to Africa. . .”
An interesting discussion took place in October, 1921, when a Sunday School class petitioned the Session concerning the use of grape juice in the communion service. The letter to the Session stated:
“We the members of Class number 15, feeling that we are voicing the desire of a majority of our Church members, petition you, our governing body, to use unfermented grape juice in the sacrament of our Lord's Supper.
“The partakers of this supper should thereby be strengthened and enabled to grow in grace and the spiritual knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . we feel that our present custom of using wine may make it a stumbling block in someone's way. . .”
The custom of the Church in the past had been to use either fermented or unfermented grape juice, yet the vision of the class was effective, and in April, 1922, the Session moved “. . . that the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, to be celebrated next Sunday, unfermented grape juice be used. . .”
During February, 1923, it was decided to hold communion services each quarter, instead of twice a year.
In January 1922, Elder Gilbert B. Patterson died. In expressing its great sense of loss, the Session recorded: “. . . No interest in life was closer to his heart than the welfare of this Church, and he was always willing to aid by his means and influence every movement for the advancement of the Master's Kingdom here and throughout the world. No longer will we have the benefit of his wise counsels in our work. No longer will we be cheered by his genial presence in our gatherings. No longer will his wise leadership point out the way, when we come face to face with difficult problems. His faith in Christ was strong and his reverence for the Word of God was marked. When ever he found a “thus saith the Lord” . . .the matter was ended with him. . .
- ‘Soldier of Christ! Well done!
- Praise be thy new employ,
- And while eternal ages run,
- Rest in thy Saviour's joy.’ ”
Mr. Angus H. Currie, who had become a Ruling Elder in 1921, was
called “. . . . to the church triumphant in December, 1923. The Session mentioned their “deep appreciation of his work in this Church, first as Deacon and Treasurer for many years, and afterwards as Elder. He always had the interests of the Church deeply at heart, and gave to her unstintedly of his time and substance. . . We pray that his mantle may rest upon some of the younger generation who will soon be bearing the burden and heat of the day. . .”
Three new Elders “of the younger generation” had been elected in February, 1923. Their names were: Daniel A. Patterson, James E. Morrison, and McKay McKinnon. During 1923, Elder J. Lacy McLean became Clerk of the Session.
As the new year 1924 dawned, Dr. Hill was in his ninety-third year. For thirty-seven years he had shared the sufferings, the tears and the joys of the people. To the young children of the Church he seemed to be a veritable ageless saint. One young member recalled she was twenty years old before she learned that the expression “old as the hills” did not refer to Dr. Hill and his brother William.
The eccentricities of the sainted Doctor were numerous. Those who heard him preach recall vividly his pecular habit of patting his foot to the rhythm of his expressions. He believed in “expressing” his love for the brethren, and the female members of the congregation were liable for a kiss, not only at weddings, but wherever they met him! He kept a small volume in which he dutifully recorded the prices of goods in various trading stores. As the years went by, the prices of changed—but not Dr. Hill's original price list! Although the merchants of Maxton sometimes came out on the short end of the deal—they loved him and were thankful for his presence. At the slightest indication he would preach a full-length sermon for any occasion. Once, a guest minister was visiting Maxton and preaching in the Church. After the service, Dr. Hill was in a member's home and was asked what he thought of the sermon. Acknowledging the strong points of the address, he continued, “. . . but if I had been preaching the text, I would have handled it this way, . . .” whereupon he proceeded to launch into a full-scale sermon in the living room, which lasted over an hour. In Dr. Hill's pastoral visits, he was forever dropping in unannounced at meal time. The people always received him with open hearts and looked forward to his return. One evening he was dining with a Church family which had recently installed an electric floor-button to signal the entrance of the maid. Dr. Hill was called on for prayer before the meal began. In typical fashion his prayer was serious and expressive—yet the little children gathered round the table were doubling up with stifled laughter. The foot was thumping rhythmically up and down—right on top of the alarm button! The puzzled servants were entering and leaving with regularity—and the old Doctor prayed right on.
In the later years the congregation was keenly sensitive about their aged minister's health. Yet Sunday after Sunday there was no sign of affliction. It was his custom to have a hymn in the service during which the congregation was seated. One Sunday, after announcing the hymn, Dr. Hill sat down. Suddenly, he was seen to be leaning forward in the chair. He had an agonized expression on his face and was bending his arm so as to place his hand against the small of his back. One member of the congregation saw him, and jumped forward to the pulpit. As the hymn was being sung, others rushed to the front to be of help. When they reached the pulpit chair, anxiously inquiring if they could help, Dr. Hill looked up and thundered, “There is nothing wrong with me. My suspenders just broke. . . ”
On January 6, 1924, Dr. Hill preached at Centre Church during the morning service. The congregation noticed that he was somewhat bothered by a severe head cold, but there was no undue concern over his condition. Following the service, he made plans to preach at the Harmony Schoolhouse that afternoon.. The weather was bitter cold, and it would be necessary for him to ride a route of several miles in an open touring car. He knew that in his physical condition the trip might be dangerous. Yet, the strong self-discipline that had carried him from the janitorship of a department store in Milton to the Civil War battlefields, and through 62 years of ministering to churches, would not desert him at the last. He was ill when he was brought home, and soon pneumonia developed. Nine days later he was dead. Early on the morning of January 15, in his last breaths, he pronounced the benediction. Heads were bowed, and the hearts of the great and small skipped a beat.
From all over North Carolina and the south telegrams and letters began to arrive, pouring out words of tribute and praise to the village pastor, “. . . One of the great men of the Church—anywhere. . .”
In Maxton a young girl, missing the presence of her friend, shut her door and “cried all day. . .”
In Richmond, in Montreat, on the Home Missions frontiers of North Carolina, in the offices of Church publications, in the cottages of the little orphans at Barium Springs—many hearts knew that a friend had gone.
The officers of the Maxton Church, most of whom had grown from boyhood to manhood with this man, wrote with heavy hearts:
“For many years . . . he has lived and labored in this part of the Master's vineyard, and during all these years he has been an able and faithful expounder of the word of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
During these years he has gone in and out among us, rejoicing with those who rejoiced and weeping with those who wept. He loved his people . . . . . . .
Our prayer is that we may be as faithful to our trusts as he was to his, until the Master shall say to us, as He has already said to him, ‘enter ye into the joy of the Lord.’ ”
Sadly, on January 16, the people of the area gathered for the simple funeral services. The body was placed in front of the church altar, where it remained from eleven o'clock until two-thirty in the afternoon. Mrs. R. M. Williams, Mrs. E. L. Siler, Mrs. D. C. McIver continuously, softly, and sweetly played hymns on the organ he loved so well.
Hundreds of people reverently marched by the casket and for the last time viewed the mortal remains of one whom they loved.
Following a short service in the Church, the body was removed to Centre Church. Local ministers of other churches in the community all attended in a group. Dr. William Black, Dr. McIlwaine, and Dr. Siler conducted the final service, and the officers of Maxton and Centre Churches acted as pall bearers. As rain fell in Centre Churchyard, the clay was poured in atop the casket, and Halbert Green Hill had gone to be with Him “who heals the heart he breaks. . . ”
An era had come to an end. The rain ceased, and a ray of sunlight broke through the clouds. A new era was being born.
“Know ye not that there is a great Prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel. . .”
“ . . . SEE, HIS
- “Onward; Christian soldiers,
- Marching as to war,
- With the Cross of Jesus
- Going on before:
- Christ the Royal Master
- Leads against the foe:
- Forward into battle,
- See, His banners go.”
—Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould
On January 23 1924, a memorial editorial was penned in the PRESBYTERIAN STANDARD honoring “The Grand Old Man of the North Carolina Synod”, . . . “a ministry scarcely without a parallel in any Church.”
“Few of us”, said the Editor, “can read the record of such a life, stretching back over 92 years and witnessing the changing history of our country, through wars and the horrors of Reconstruction days, and during all that time leaving his impress upon his people and the church at large without feeling ashamed of our own life, at best barren of much fruit . . .
- He was a man, take him for all in all,
- I shall not look upon his like again.”
Tributes continued to pour in. Poems, from as far away as Louisiana, beautifully praised the memory of a life dedicated to God.
In Memoriam -— H. G. Hill
- A righteous saint has gone to rest,
- Has joined the souls in Heaven blest.
- So near he lived to Spirits here,
- So near to Heaven, ah, so near,
- That only heart-throbs kept him here,
- And angels watched his steps with care,
- And hovered always, lest a tear
- Should mar the sunshine of his face
- So radiant with heavenly grace,
- So filled with love and cheerfulness,
- So filled with life and happiness
- That, like a wave of perfume rare,
- We felt his presence in the air;
- And like the echo of a song
- His Spirit lingered, tho’ he'd gone.
- He smiled, and the radiance of his face
- Lent sunshine in the darkest place;
- He spoke, and the firmness of his voice
- Helped weary wanderers to rejoice;
- He prayed, and so fervent was his prayer
- That holy angels paused to hear,
- And as he raised his voice in song
- The angels caught the melody.
- They met his spirit in his song,
- And bare his soul up to his home,
- And there, through all eternity
- Will ring the charming melody.1
1—“M. B.,” Lumberton, N. C.
Perhaps the tribute Dr. Hill would have appreciated most came from the Negro sexton of the Church. In a letter dated February, 1924, he wrote:
I have been sexton of the Maxton Presbyterian Church for 13 years, and I spent a good deal of that time with Dr. H. G. Hill, especially the last 12 months of his life. I drove his car, and was at his service at all times, and never a man loved another as I did Dr. Hill . . . Words cannot express what it has meant to me to be in the presence of such a grand and noble man. He led me in the way that I will never depart from. My grandfather was sexton of the Church at Fayetteville for 35 years, including the 18 years that Dr. Hill served the Church. Although I be but an humble sexton. I am hoping to meet with Dr. Hill in the great beyond.
Your humble servant,
Who was to carry on for the Lord? On whom would the Lord cast his mantle? The Lord breathes the breath of Life into a man, and when He takes that breath away, the work of the Church goes on to new generations and to new situations. No man is indispensable, for, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it . . .” The Holy One of Israel is the Builder and Leader of the Church, and His banners always go forward.
Significantly, Dr. Hill had toiled for 52 years as a trustee of Union Theological Seminary, aiding the training of young ministers. Now from that institution was to come a steady stream of men whose lives were to enrich the Maxton Presbyterian Church and carry on the ministry which Roger Martin and Halbert Hill had begun in Shoe Hill. A few days after Dr. Hill's death, Union Seminary's administration wrote: “. . . The flag over the tower of Watts Hall was at half staff last Tuesday in memory of Dr. H. G. Hill, oldest of the Seminary's alumni, dean of North Carolina ministers, and director of the Seminary for 52 years. When he had served the institution in this capacity for 40 years, his associates on the board presented him with a very handsome loving cup. It was an unforgettable feature of that commencement when this veteran of 80 stepped forward as spryly as a boy and sprang up on the platform to respond to the felicitations expressed by the spokesman of the board. The scene was repeated year before last when he was 90 years old and had been present at 50 consecutive annual meetings of the board — his associates presented him with 50 gold dollars. Himself a graduate of the Seminary, he cherished for it a deep and abiding love, and, appreciating fully its vast importance to the work of the Church, he served it with intelligence, fidelity, and zeal for more than one half a century.”
Throughout the forty-six years of the Maxton Church, four men had served in pastoral connection, and all had received benefits of the training of Union Theological Seminary. Roger Martin, who was an Elder in the Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond before entering the ministry, had been influenced by the friendship of Dr. Moses Drury Hoge, one of the great sons of Union. Dr. Hill was intimately connected with Union, as student and trustee, and the two associate pastors, Dr. McIlwaine and Dr. Siler, received their training at Union. Over the next thirty-four years, beginning in 1924, six other Union graduates would follow in their footsteps to serve the Church.
The Church's great earthly leader was now dead, but God did not leave His people comfortless. Christ is the Royal Master, and He had said, “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom . . .” New faces and new voices would appear over the years, as the Lord led a brilliant succession of pastors to Maxton. These next thirty-four years would be seasons of spiritual refreshment, continued outreach and growth, as the Lord poured Blessings on His Church.
In the Book of Second Kings is the interesting story of the death of the great Prophet Elijah, and the succession of Elisha to his Prophetic role. “And it came to pass . . . that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me . . . And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha
saw it, and he cried, ‘My father, my father’ . . . And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him. . . And when the sons of the prophets . . . saw him, they said, The Spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha . . .”
The first man to pick up the mantle of Halbert G. Hill had been standing close by his side at death.EUGENE LEON SILER
Since 1917, the presence of Eugene L. Siler, his wife Laura Prince Siler, and daughter Ruth, had graced the Maxton community. As associate Pastor, he had worked faithfully and efficiently. His relation to Dr. Hill had been especially close. One of the last acts of Dr. Hill was his attempt to finish writing the weekly Sunday School lesson of the PRESBYTERIAN STANDARD. Finding himself too weak to write, he called for Dr. Siler and dictated comments, urging his faithful associate to “. . . outline and finish the article.” The article appeared in the newspaper the day after Dr. Hill's death, under his name, having been completed by Dr. Siler. His ability was recognized outside the bounds of the Maxton congregation. Since 1917 he had served as Stated Clerk of Fayetteville Presbytery. From 1923 to 1926 he was temporary Clerk of the General Assembly. In 1925 his alma mater, Davidson College, honored him with the Doctor of Divinity degree.
On January 30, 1924, Elders W. J. Currie, R. D. Croom, J. S. McRae, D. A. Patterson, J. E. Morrison, McKay McKinnon, L. L. McGirt, and J. P. Wiggins of Maxton met in solemn session with Elders A. H. White, W. W. McGirt, Rory McNair, J. W. Sinclair, A. McKay, and Dan McArthur of Centre. After words of thanks for God's leadership had been expressed by Elder William McGirt of Centre, this Session decided to end the grouping relationship that had existed for forty-five years between the mother and daughter churches. Seventeen days later, the Maxton congregation extended a call for the full-time Pastoral services of Dr. Siler. That same year, Centre Church secured the services of Rev. W. L. Foley. The close spirit of fellowship between the Maxton and Centre Churches continues to this day, each drawn together by history, family relationships, and the Love of Jesus Christ.
The Church had grown to a membership of 297 in 1924, with 277 enrolled in the Sabbath School. Attendance figures were compiled, which showed an average of 150 attended the Sunday morning worship, an average of 100 attended the Sunday evening services, and an average of 50 attended the Wednesday evening prayer meetings. The choir continued its splendid work, and the Session extended their official thanks. The Christian Endeavor Young People's Society and the Men of the Church were active, each conducting two worship services during August, 1924. The Session was even discussing the possibility of erecting a Religious Education Building for the expanding work of the Sunday School department.
In December of 1924, friends of Dr. Siler were becoming quite concerned over the serious turn his eye disease was taking. Because of this disease, he had been forced to resign as Stated Clerk of Fayetteville Presbytery in September, and would soon have to retire as clerk of the General Assembly for the same reason. Dr. Siler went to Washington, D. C., for special treatment, and returned before Christmas somewhat improved.
A memorial Tablet to Dr. Hill was unveiled on July 27, 1925. The
Centre congregation worshipped with Maxton on that Sunday, and Dr. A. R. McQueen, a life-long friend of Dr. Hill, preached the sermon, Dr. William Black and Dr. William McIlwaine were both invited back to have a part in the Dedication Service.
During Dr. Siler's absence in August, 1925, a young Union Seminary student was secured to guide the Church program. His name was James C. Wool. This first of a long line of distinguished summer assistants went on to outstanding service. He became Executive Secretary and Stated Clerk of Granville Presbytery in 1946, was honored with the Doctor of Divinity degree by Davis and Elkins College, and is now Secretary of Home Missions in the Northern Alabama Presbytery, living in Guntersville, Alabama.
Dr. W. W. Orr, of Charlotte, famous Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church leader, led evangelistic services at Maxton in April of 1926. Thirty-two years later, his grandson, Kenneth Orr, would serve the Church as Summer Assistant Pastor. The Church was growing numerically, and by the spring of 1927 there were 360 communicants. Meanwhile, Dr. Siler had met with the Session and privately informed them “. . . that on his recent visit to Washington his oculist had found that his eyes were not improving as he had hoped.” The doctor advised Dr. Siler “that he should give up active work in the ministry, that the strain was too much for his eyes. Dr. Siler requested that he be allowed to resign as Pastor within a few months . . .” Yet the Session did not want him to retire, and they requested that he remain with them as Pastor. Dr. Siler's cheerful attitude in the midst of his own physical suffering was a wonderful witness to the Church.
His pastoral and preaching duties were increasing as the Church grew, yet he gave himself unsparingly. Shortly after his decision to remain in Maxton, the work of establishing a Presbyterian junior college in Fayetteville Presbytery got under way, and he threw his renewed energies into this task.
Elder James E. Morrison moved to Greensboro and Elder L. L. McGirt moved to Greenville, S. C., in 1927. Mr. Rory McNair, who was a Ruling Elder at Centre, became an Elder in the Maxton Church in July, 1926. Working closely with their faithful Pastor, the Session began to make plans for the fiftieth anniversary of the Church. Mr. W. J. Currie, Mr. McKay McKinnon, and Dr. Siler were chosen a committee to secure a history of the Church. Another committee was reorganized to work toward the publication of selected sermons from Dr. Hill's files.
While plans were being made to thank God for the first fifty years of the Church, events were taking place in the Synod of North Carolina which were to have a direct effect on Maxton. A movement had gotten under way by several leaders to establish a Christian college for boys within the bounds of the Synod. Dr. William Black, in the years of his great evangelistic work, had recognized the need for a college to serve the youth of the hundreds of Churches he had been instrumental in organizing. He began to speak of this need to others. Actually, Dr. Hill, who had led in the establishing of a college for women, also sensed the need for such a school. Rev. R. A. McLeod. Stated Clerk of the Synod of North Carolina and superintendent of old Elise Academy, was another who felt the strong need for a Presbyterian College in the area. The great “Merchant Prince” of the South. William Henry Belk, of Charlotte, expressed himself as interested in a school “. . . where the average boy may obtain an education under Christian influences at moderate cost . . .” Mr. Belk was speaking for hundreds of other Presbyterians in the state when he said. “If such a school were established,
many boys would receive an education who might not otherwise be able to do so . . .”
The movement began to crystalize. In September of 1927, the Elise Academy Trustees presented an overture to Fayetteville Presbytery, seeking authority to establish a junior college. On September 28, Fayetteville Presbytery resolved, “. . . we recognize the need of a junior college for men and recommand that such an institution be established as soon as possible . . .” Several communities in the Synod presented sites for the college, and plans began to be made for its establishment.
From the beginning, the influence of Maxton was strong in the college story. William Black, who had been one of the strong advocates of the college, and Elder J. Plummer Wiggins, Dr. Siler, and Mr. Robert L. McLeod, Sr., devoted layman of the Maxton Church, figured strongly in the college's establishment.
Two days before Fayetteville and Mecklenburg Presbyteries met in Maxton to discuss the establishment of the college, Dr. Black died. It was in keeping with the nature of his life that he was enthusiastic about the founding of a college to educate youth. As one who had known him since the 1870's said: “. . .I would sum up Dr. Black's life in the words of Jesus, ‘Wist yet not that I must be about my Father's business,’ for all his life was filled with work for the Master.” In his last service, November 19, 1927, Dr. Black and his singer, Mr. Andrew Burr, sang together, “Eternity Is Near”. The gates of eternity were unfolding for him as he sang.
The first mention of the College in the Session records occurs in November, 1927, when Mr. J. P. Wiggins “. . . gave the Session full information about what has been done by the committees from Fayetteville and Mecklenburg Presbyteries in regard to the establishment of a Junior College for Boys. These committees have issued a call for a joint meeting of Fayetteville and Mecklenburg Presbyteries to be held in our Church on November 29th. The clerk was instructed to write letters to the State Clerks of both Presbyteries expressing our pleasure that they are to meet in our Church and telling them that we are expecting them to be our guests as long as they may be in Maxton . . .” On December 11, the Session decided to invite Synod to hold their next regular meeting at Maxton.
John G. Garth wrote in November, 1927, “What may be the forerunner of another great institution of the North Carolina system of Christian Education was the meeting of the two largest Presbyteries in the General Assembly, Fayetteville and Mecklenburg, at the Scotch town of Maxton . . .”
In February, 1928, the Maxton Session appointed a committee “ . . . to draw up a resolution expressing the unanimous approval of the Session towards the movement to establish a Junior College for Boys, and pledging our wholehearted support to the undertaking, this resolution to be addressed to the Synod at the called meeting to be held here in Maxton on February 21st . . .”
This special session of the Synod resolved to establish the school and to accept the offer of the Methodist Conference to sell the Carolina College property. The school was named the Presbyterian Junior College, and was placed under the control of the Synod. Plans were made to hold the next regular Session of the Synod of North Carolina in October at Maxton, so that the Synod might continue the organization of the Junior College.
These two 1928 meetings of the Synod in Maxton were signal occasions for the Maxton Church, occuring in her semi-centennial year. At the called meeting in February the Moderator was Dr. R. A. Dunn of Concord, and 151 delegates were in attendance. At the regular meeting on October 9-11. Rev. William B. McIlwaine, former Maxton co-pastor, was requested to preach the opening sermon. Rev. Lacy L. Little, D.D., was elected Moderator, and 316 Ministers and Ruling Elders were in attendance. Dr. Siler extended a cordial welcome to the members of the Synod. A report was presented by the Committee on Thanks:
“The Synod of North Carolina hereby expresses its thanks to the citizens of Maxton, Laurinburg, and other nearby places . . . It would also thank especially the Pastor, officers, and members of the Presbyterian Church of Maxton for the gracious way in which the body has been received and cared for during its meetings. To the ladies providing lunch, the newspapers giving publicity, the stores offering conveniences and to all others who have contributed to the success of this meeting of the court of the Church of God . . .”
In the midst of these exciting events, the Church celebrated its Fiftieth Anniversary. On Sunday, December 16, 1928, appropriate and impressive exercises were held. All former members were invited to be present on this homecoming day, and many took advantage of the opportunity. Four of the living charter members were present and occupied front seats. They were Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Currie, Mrs. Dougald Leach, and Mrs. Kate McLeod. Only one of the original signers of the organization petition was present, Mr. J. A. McLean. Two of the sons of the Church, who are now ministers, were present and took part in the Service — Rev. S. B. MacLean of Charlotte, and Rev. John Allen MacLean of Richmond, Virginia.
Rev. Alexander Martin, D.D., pastor of Oakland Presbyterian Church, Rock Hill, S. C., son of Rev. Roger Martin, first pastor of the Church, preached the sermon at the morning hour. His subject was “The Year of Jubilee”.
Dr. W. B .McIlwaine, the only living former pastor of the Church, preached at the evening service upon the subject. “Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever.” He referred to the many changes in the Maxton community since he had been a resident and drew a striking contrast between the things that change and the eternal things that do not change, exhorting his hearers to live more for the eternal things.
At the morning service the Centre congregation worshipped in Maxton, and in the evening all the Maxton Churches joined in a union service. At the celebration Elder McKay McKinnon read the Semi-Centennial History, and Rev. S. B. MacLean gave an address on the officers of the Church. The Church Choir provided excellent music, and the day was an inspiring one for the little village church which had been used so mightily by God.
A great name in the history of the Church departed from the “Church visible” in March, 1929, with the death of Senior Ruling Elder William J. Currie. The Session called him a man who “. . . has magnified his office and has been faithful to every trust committed to him and faithful in every relation of life. Wonderfully versed in the Scriptures and familiar with the great doctrines of the Church. . .
“While his health has been failing for some time, it was nevertheless a shock to the community to hear last Saturday morning, March 16,
that he had passed away. He was 83 years of age and had been a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church for over sixty years, first in the old Sandy Grove Church, then for a few years in Centre Church, and for over 50 years in . . . Maxton.
“In May, 1924, he represented this Presbytery in the General Assembly at San Antonio. Texas, making the long trip there and returning with no discomfort, and thoroughly enjoying both the trip and the meeting of our highest Church court. He was born in Robeson County in 1846, the son of John Calvin Currie and Margaret K. Currie. He enlisted in the Confederate Army at the age of 18 and served throughout the war . . .”
As the 1929 Church year drew to a close, the Church membership stood at a new high of 361. During the year the Church had contributed over six thousand dollars toward the establishing of the new Junior College and the trustees of the school, among whom were J. P. Wiggins, R. L. McLeod, Dr. Siler, and Murphy McNair, had been working toward the opening in September, 1929.
The summer was one of preparation. In June the new President, Rev. Randall Alexander McLeod, and his wife arrived in Maxton. President McLeod was also the Stated Clerk of the Synod. Others of the original faculty moving their memberships to the Church were Mr. Charles Hunter and Mr. and Mrs. R. G. Matheson. A “College Club” was organized in the community, with Mrs. John S. McRae as one of the leaders, to aid the work of the infant school. In early September, the first student arrived and immediately joined the Maxton Church. His name was Barney Ellis MacLean, and he is now a distinguished Presbyterian Minister in St. Louis, Missouri.
At the September, 1929, Session meeting, the Elders and Minister “. . . ordered placed on record . . . deep appreciation of the faithful and successful efforts of one of its members, Mr. J. Plummer Wiggins, in securing the Presbyterian Junior College for men in our town. His labors have been untiring, and his zeal and enthusiasm have been an inspiration to us all . . . May he live long to see the fruits of his efforts in the lives and character of young men who shall receive a Christian education within its walls.”
On September 12, the little College swung open its doors. Several articles in the PRESBYTERIAN STANDARD and SCOTTISH CHIEF best describe the excitement and enthusiasm of those days.
The Presbyterian Junior College for Men formally opened with an exceptionally interesting, impressive and inspiring program. The exercises were held in the college auditorium, which was well filled with Maxton citizens and friends of the college from other communities.
Rev. Watson M. Fairly, D.D., of Raeford and a member of the Board of Trustees, presided.
The program began with the doxology, followed by the invocation by Dr. Fairly. After a song by the entire audience, Rev. R .A. McLeod, President, gave an inspiring talk preceding the Scripture reading. Mr. McLeod pledged himself and the college to the work of the Lord, emphasizing the fact that the development of Christian principles and study of the Bible would be the outstanding aim of the college.
Dr. Fairly complimented the work of Mr. McLeod in the selection of the faculty and Mr. McLeod responded with appreciation of the co-operation shown by the people of the community, the Board of Trustees, and the backing of the Synod of North Carolina. Members of
the faculty were presented and were enthusiastically greeted.
Professor Clyde L. Green, superintendent of Maxton Schools, also made a welcoming address and pledged the support of the public schools. An anthem, “Awake”, was sung by a number of the young girls of the town, following which Dr. Fairly presented J. P. Wiggins, president of the Bank of Robeson, Maxton, who as Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Trustees is said to have done more than any other one person to make possible the Junior College. The audience rose in tribute to Mr. Wiggins’ splendid work.
On September 27, the College held a “public reception”, and the
PRESBYTERIAN STANDARD covered the meeting in an article, “Presbyterians of North Carolina Gather At Maxton To Give Sendoff To New School”:
. . . Hundreds of people from all over the state bearing congratulations and good wishes for the continued success of this new institution arrived in Maxton . . . Dr. Watson M. Fairly said the Trustees were delighted with the way the College had started and introduced Rev. R. A. White of Mooresville. Dr. White, a Trustee of the College, referred to his friendship for the late Doctor Hill and said that because of him he had always expected something good to come out of Maxton. Dr. White said, “The best thing that Maxton has ever done fo the State of North Carolina is the organization of the Junior College. It is peculiarly necessary in the day in which we live . . .” President Charles G. Vardell brought greetings from Flora Macdonald College and humorously expressed his satisfaction that a nearby institution had been organized to train young men as husbands for his girls.
Rev. S. B. MacLean of Charlotte, formerly of Maxton, brought congratulations from Mecklenburg Presbytery. “My heart's desire is realized”, said Mr. MacLean, who from the beginning has been an ardent worker for the College.
The high mark of the program was reached when Rev. Lacy L. Little, D.D., moderator of the Synod of North Carolina and Missionary to China, said, “I bring greetings from the Synod to the youngest member of the fine galaxy of Presbyterian institutions in North Carolina . .”
A few weeks after these happy 1929 events, the financial roof of the nation caved in. The economy of the entire country collapsed, and the effect on Maxton, the Church, and the young College was tremendous. The next ten years were to be extremely difficult for all private colleges, and especially would this be true for the infant Junior College which was just learning to take its first steps when buckled by the adversary. Yet the Lord had great use for this little School which the Maxton Church had played such a strong part in founding. The depression years were followed by the period of the Second World War, and these years were in turn followed by three years of War in Korea, all tending to handicap the expansion of the College. Men stuggled to keep the College going, some literally giving their lives, and the work continued and grew. Hundreds of young men have gone through her doors, many going on to positions of distinction in the ministry, education, medicine, law, business, and other realms of service. One of the present leading possibilities for Governor of North Carolina, Terry Sanford, trained within her walls. About fifty men have gone from her doors to full-time Church service. Hers has been an outstanding accomplishment of faith with limited resources, many boys receiving an education who might not otherwise have been able to do so, and the College has remained consistently faithful to the
ideal of Christian education. The College has made a distinct contribution to her area, and the future holds even greater possibilities of service. In 1960 the dreams of the founders, and all those who faithfully labored over the years, will be more than fulfilled when the College moves to a new five-million-dollar campus six miles away, near Laurinburg. There it will form the nucleus for the men's division of the new consolidated Presbyterian College of North Carolina, merging with beloved Flora Macdonald College of Red Springs, which Dr. Hill's efforts had helped to start, and another outstanding Presbyterian Women's College, Peace, of Raleigh.
From the beginning, the relationship between the Junior College and the Maxton Church was close. Many students joined the Church and many more worshipped and enjoyed fellowship in her sanctuary and homes. An article in a September, 1930, copy of the Scottish Chief reported: “Maxtonians who attended Church Sunday morning found plenty of evidence that the Student Body has increased at Presbyterian Junior College. At the Presbyterian Church, where more than one half of the students attend Church, it was necessary to ask Church members to give up their pews and move to another part of the Church so that the students could sit en masse. Maxton people were glad to see the new faces and to welcome the old students back to Maxton. . .” The doors of the Church were open to college students and faculty, and the college community participated in and enriched the Church activity for over thirty years.
The early years of the great depression of 1930 were critical ones. The Maxton Session met and reduced the budget, cutting operating expenses to a minimum. Dr. Siler urged that his salary be reduced, and the Session sadly agreed. Yet, the Church had great duties to fulfill to the many destitute and needy around her—and, somehow, money and supplies were scraped together to help the poor of the community.
The musical work of the Church was especially effective during Dr. Siler's pastorate, since the Siler family was musically talented. Mr. and Mrs. Crosby Adams of Montreat, Dr. Siler's pastorate before he came to Maxton, led special services of music in November, 1929. Mr. Adams directed the choir and Mrs. Adams presided at the organ. The musical service of these two dedicated and famous musicians was inspiring, and the main auditorium was full both morning and night. The P. J. C. boys joined in with the musical program, and many were quite talented. In October, 1929, a “large congregation at the Church in the Pines, Laurel Hill, was delighted with the splendid rendition of two beautiful sacred numbers by a choir of 20 voices from the Maxton Presbyterian Church. . .” The choir work of Miss Emma Jones deserves special mention. Miss Jones, now Mrs. Samuel Young of Henderson, N. C., was a school teacher in Maxton whose leadership and ability in all artistic and musical performances was marked. Her creativity in the annual Christmas “White Gift” services was especially effective.
In April, 1930, the Church and the College entertained Fayetteville Presbytery.
The Young People of the Church, supplemented by the college boys, developed an improved organization. In 1929 Miss Elizabeth Neal McNair was chosen District President of the Young People's Societies, and in 1930 Barney Ellis MacLean became President of the Fayetteville Presbytery Young People's Society. Some of the active members of the Young People's group were John Luther McLean, James Wiggins,
Louise G. McCallum, Catherine Campbell, Rebecca Campbell, Helen Williams, Margaret McLean, Angus Medlin, Gilbert Medlin, Estelle Easterling, Rachel Easterling, Virginia McCaskill, Alice Mae Drennan, Mary Elizabeth Knight, Hazel Knight, Clara Knight, Louise McLeod, Iver McIver, Pat Baldwin, Archie Smith, Lois McClelland, Ned Croom, and Jane MacKinnon. Barney MacLean, Badger Johnson Dan McCormick, Harry Fisler, M. J. McDonald, W. L. Baker, John D. McInnis, Glenn Auman, Case McInnis, Alex McIver, David F. Blue, John Gilbert Hudgins, and Jack McIlwinen were student members from P. J. C. George P. Henderson, young athletic coach at the College, was an active worker with the group.
The Church continued to secure great men to lead its special Evangelistic services. Dr. James I. Vance, considered one of the most talented speakers in the Church, preached at Maxton, beginning on May 8, 1931, Mr. John Sumter McRae, Jr., led the singing and Mr. Marshall A. Thompson effectively handled the publicity. Visitors came from the surrounding area to hear this great theologian.
In Presbyterian Junior College's first graduation class, 1931, were two young men who had joined the Maxton Church. These two — Barney MacLean and David Blue, would go on to serve as Presbyetrian ministers.
Barney Ellis MacLean continued his studies at Presbyterian College, Clinton, S. C., and graduated from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1936. He was Pastor of the First Church, Anson, Texas, until 1938, when he became Pastor at Sherman, Texas. In 1944 he went to the Second Presbyterian Church of Danville, Ky. While in Kentucky he was elected moderator of the Synod, and was honored by Centre College with the Doctor of Divinity degree. He is now pastor of the large Southampton Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, Missouri, and was selected a delegate to the U. S. A. General Assembly in 1958. In May, 1958, he returned to Maxton to preach the Commencement Sermon at Presbyterian Junior College.
David Fairley Blue, Jr., completed his college work at Davidson and studied at both Union and Columbia Theological Seminaries for his divinity degree. His first pastorate was at South Fayetteville, N. C., and in 1941 he went to the Bluff Church near Wade, N. C. He is now at West Avenue Church, Gastonia, N. C. Two other members of the class — Charles H. Watts and Claude Pepper — also went into the Presbyterian ministry. Although not members, they worshipped and worked in the Maxton chucrh.
On January 4, 1932, the Maxton Church and friends of Presbyterian Junior College were shocked by the sudden death of President McLeod. He and his young family had been friends of the Church since his arrival, and the Session wrote of its “. . . high regard and appreciation of the life and service of Rev. R. A. McLeod, the beloved President . . . who was so suddenly summoned into the presence of his Master on January 4th . . . His life and labours in our Church and community for more than two years were a great blessing to us, and we thank God for giving him to us for even a short while . . .”
At the request of Dr. Siler, the Session called a congregational meeting on September 25, 1932, in order that a letter from the Pastor might be read to the congregaion:
To the Congregation of the Maxton Presbyterian Church
My dear Friends:
No one will ever know how deep is the sorrow of my heart which I experience in asking you to consent to the dissolution of our pastoral relation. The more than 15 years during which we have been so closely and affectionately bound together makes it a very trying ordeal to me. I love my dear people and wish it were possible for me to live out my remaining days among you and continue to minister to you as long as God might give me strength; but for at least two years I have had the full determination to ask that at this time I might be relieved of the strain of the regular pastorate . . . I have made this a matter of most earnest prayer and believe I have the leading of the Spirit. I am convinced it will be best for me and for the Church that this step should now be taken. Therefore, I earnestly request that you will unite with me in asking Fayetteville Presbytery to dissolve our Pastoral relation effective December 1st, and allow me to labor as Stated Supply wherever God in His Providence shall open the way.
I am still in most vigororous health, and my ordination vows would not permit me to cease preaching the everlasting gospel, even if I wanted to; but I love to preach, and pray that God will give me strength and opportunity to do so for a good many years to come. I shall not seek a regular pastorate, as it is the strain of the regular pastorate and the constant and tremendous appeal to my sympathy, found in the pastoral relation, which, I am convinced, is detrimental to my eyes, in the special kind of eye disease with which I have been afflicted for more than eight years. Whatever arouses my sympathy seems to be the very worst thing for my eyes. No true pastor who loves his people as I do mine can possibly withold his sympathy when his people are in trouble — their troubles are my trouble, and when they suffer I suffer with them.
As long as time lasts, the memory of your many kindnesses to me, and the love I have for my many friends, not only in my own Church, but in the entire town and community, will ever remain with me and my thoughts of Maxton will always be loving thoughts, and I shall often ask our Heavenly Father to bless you in every way which may be in accordance with His will.
Your sincere and devoted Pastor,
Eugene L. Siler
The congregation voted to concur in Dr. Siler's request and Ruling Elder McKay McKinnon rose to offer resolutions:
“. . . That we wish to record our deep love for Dr. Siler and our appreciation of his splendid labor as our efficient co-pastor from May 1, 1917, until January 15, 1924, and for his untiring labor and devotion to our Church as our beloved Pastor from January 15, 1924, until the present time . . . As a preacher of the Word of God, he has been helpful, inspiring, and at all times faithful . . . As a Pastor he has been loving and kind and many have been helped by his sympathy and prayers. As a citizen of this community he has ever done his full duty, encouraging those things that were best and boldly condeming those that were not . . . Our prayer is that wherever he and his beloved family in God's Providence may cast their lot, the richest blessings of God may attend them.”
Resolutions were also adopted by the Session honoring Mrs. Siler, “. . . beloved wife of our beloved Pastor, for the splendid work she has done in our Church, and especially her services as Director of the Choir and assistant organist. Our Church has always enjoyed very excellent music and during the years of Mrs. Siler's residence here, her willing and untiring efforts have contributed much to the success of the choir. Now that she is to leave with her husband for other fields of labor, we wish to assure her of our love and esteem and our best wishes for many more years of usefulness in the work of the Church.”
The night of November 27, 1932, was the “Farewell Service” to Dr. Siler and his family. Dr. and Mrs. Siler and daughter Ruth moved to Davidson, where he was honorably retired. Dr. Siler served as supply preacher for churches until his death on May 2, 1947, at Statesville, N. C. Mrs. Siler preceded him in death on March 6, 1947. Ruth Siler married Mr. J. P. Johnston, and she is now teaching music at the Thornwell Orphanage in Clinton, S. C. In a recent letter, she wrote: “. . . We had fifteen happy years in Maxton among those fine people . . . My Father offered his resignation to the Church when he found that he had serious eye trouble, but the Session would not accept it until several years later when he offered it again, knowing that a regular pastorate was injurious to his eye trouble. He continued to supply churches of different denominations for many years after his retirement and kept a partial eyesight until his death. He read the Bible through for each year of his life . . . My Father and Mr. J. P. Wiggins were instrumental in getting the North Carolina Synod to buy the property for the Maxton Presbyterian College. He persuaded the Synod to meet in Maxton, in order to interest the Synod in organizing a Junior College there. He also interested Mr. Belk in contributing to the College.
“I have never heard my Father speak a cross word, and he never lost an opportunity to witness for the Lord. The last words he uttered before losing consciousness and soon after passing to his eternal home, were these. I had said, ‘Papa, you are just a saint on earth,’ and he said, ‘Far . . . far . . . ’ I said, ‘You mean, far from it? He answered with the sweetest smile, ‘Yes’. Then he went to sleep to awake in his eternal home.”JAMES M. APPLEBY
On October 23, 1932, a committee, composed of Mr. John S. McRae, Mr. McKay McKinnon, Mr. R. D. Croom, Mr. C. L. Green, Mr. J. B. McCallum, Jr., Mr. R. L. McLeod, Mr. C. S. McIntyre, Mrs. R. M. Williams, and Mrs. Lacy Williams, was appointed to seek the services of a Pastor.
This ministerial committee wrote to Dr. Ben R. Lacy, President of Union Theological Seminary, on October 29:
“Our committee would appreciate very much any suggestion that you might give in helping us to secure a pastor for our Church . . . The committee feels that it is the general wish of the congregation to call a young man to our Church. The work among the young people of our Church and among the students of The Presbyterian Junior College is a primary consideration.
“We have had the name of Rev. James Appleby presented, in an informal way, as a young man who would be worthy of consideration . . .”
Dr. Lacy promptly replied:
. . . “it gives me pleasure to tell you something about Rev. James M. Appleby.
“Mr. Appleby is now studying in Scotland and will complete his residence work in the University of Edinburgh in December and will sail for America on the 12th of that month. This should bring him back to North Carolina shortly before Christmas. As Mrs. Appleby was Miss Elizabeth Allen of Raleigh, I have no doubt but that will be their first stopping point after arriving in this country . . . His present address is 28 Scotland Street, Edinburgh, Scotland . . .
“Mr. Appleby is the son of the Superintendent of the Schools in Florence, Alabama. I have met Mr. and Mrs. Appleby, Sr., and they are people of culture and refinement. Young Appleby himself made himself a fine record at Davidson, devoting his time somewhat largely to scientific courses and intending to become a chemist. However, he was so definitely interested in religion that he was prevailed upon to be the Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. after his graduation and during two years most acceptably filled this position. He then saw the importance of religious work and entered the Seminary where he was not only outstanding in his classes but also in his ability to preach and influence young people. He was awarded one of our fellowships which assisted him in his study abroad. I cannot be too enthusiastic about Mr. Appleby. He not only has a good mind but a heart that embraces all whom he can serve. From the point of view of his intelligence, ability to speak, interest in people, and success in handling them. I do not know of a young man whom I would place above him.”
Mr. John McCallum, Jr., was delegated to write the young pastor and there began a series of cordial exchanges between the two. The first letter from Mr. Appleby was dated December 7, 1932:
“My dear Mr. McCallum:
“Your letter of November 26 reached me today. Thank you for it and the kind invitation to preach in your church on some Sunday in January . . . I know you regret losing Dr. Siler, and I hope God will guide your congregation in the choice of one who is to take his place. This has been a great year of opportunity for us, and we leave with many happy memories, but naturally we are eager to get home and down to some work for the Master. Surely such an age challenges every follower of His.
“Thanking you again for your letter and for your kind wishes, and with the prayer that He whose birth we are soon to celebrate will fill each member of your congregation with His Presence, I am
“James M. Appleby”
On March 23, 1933, after a unanimous call had been extended by the congregation, Mr. Appleby wrote from Raleigh, N. C:
“My dear John:
“We just returned from Richmond today and I found your letter and the list of Church members. Thank you for your kindness. I am so glad to get this list, and I hope before long to know each of them personally. I suppose by now books and
furniture are descending upon you. One week from today — Maxton will be our home!
A grateful Maxton received “Jim” and “Lib” Appleby with open arms on April 1, 1933—and soon discovered the young couple to be filled with the Spirit of God. There was a burden of personal sorrow in their hearts, for his father had died while they were en route from Scotland to begin his first pastorate. The Pastor was dynamic in his impact, and Mrs. Appleby's work with the young people gave them a new spirit of fellowship. “Know each one of them personally” he did, and the Maxton congregation began to look forward to his frequent pastoral visits. Everywhere he went he brought a ray of happiness: everything he touched was made more in the likeness of the Master. A young member of the congregation said, “I would rather go riding with him, play tennis with him, and talk with him . . . than anybody I know.”
On April 3, the Session met at the manse, “opening with prayer by the new pastor, Rev. James Appleby. . .” Plans were discussed for securing Dr. Albert Sydney Johnson, revered Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, for evangelistic services in October. In June the Pastor introduced the idea of a Summer Bible School in Maxton, and the Session moved that the “. . . Pastor use his own judgment as to the matter. . .” Thus was begun the program of the Daily Vacation Bible School, which has had an effective witness in the life of the Church.
A unique function began about this time in connection with the Church. Deacon R. Fairley Morris brought some watermelons to a meeting of the officers, and, at the conclusion, invited all to “enjoy some old-fashioned hospitality”. This fellowship was so enjoyed that it grew into an annual mid-summer feature. At first, the “cuttings” were held at the Church, in connection with prayer services. Later, as more and more people attended, the scene was shifted to the Merris farm, near Maxton. Each summer several hundred people from Maxton and surrounding areas, people of many Churches, would gather for food, fellowship, and worship. These “watermelon cuttings” had grown to be such an event that they were featured in a CHARLOTTE OBSERVER article on the occasion of the Silver Anniversary.
During July of 1933, Elder Lacy McLean moved his membership to the Charlotte Meyers Park Church. A letter of appreciation was drawn up by the Session expressing appreciation for his faithful services as Stated Clerk, Mr. Robert D. Croom was elected to succeed him as Clerk of the Session.
Mr. John McCallum, Jr., son of Elder J. B. McCallum, and Mr. Robert G. Matheson, who had been elected President of Presbyterian Junior College after the death of President McLeod, were selected as Ruling Elders in July, 1933. New vigor came into the Church, as Mr. Appleby worked side by side with the Elders and members. Plans were made to hold a “Retreat” for the officers of the Church to discuss the work of the Church. In April, 1934, a “. . . full discussion of the Church's spiritual and physical needs was led by the Moderator. A committee was appointed to investigate repairs on the Church buildings. It was agreed that systematic visiting among the congregation by the Church officers, going in pairs each six months, was necessary. . .” The Young People's organization
was growing, with Mrs. J. O. McClelland as the new advisor, and the Women of the Church continued their effective work.
Miss Lillian Austin, on furlough from her missionary duties in Korea, was honored by the Church in 1934 before returning to her field. The Lord was using this daughter of the Church, and all Christians in Maxton were thankful for her life.
Plans got under way to invite Dr. Ben Lacy, President of Union Seminary, to conduct evangelistic services in the Church. This great and much-loved man came to Maxton to preach during March of 1935. While he was here, he was so impressed with the consecrated labors of James Appleby that he decided to keep a close eye on this young minister. Eleven years later he was to call Dr. Appleby as Director of Field Work and Evangelism at Union Seminary.
Mr. Appleby was in constant demand to lead evangelistic services at nearby churches. In October, 1934, he was granted leave of absence to go to Roberdel, N. C. In April, 1935, he held services at Vass and Manly, N. C. In October, 1935, he held services at Olivia, N. C., and in September, 1938, he was granted leave of absence to hold a meeting at Dunn, N. C. In addition, he was a frequent speaker at local and nearby Civic Clubs and Church organizations.
During October, 1934, Mr. Clyde L. Green, the Superintendent of Maxton Public Schools, Mr. LeRoy B. Martin, Sr., and Mr. Henry Cottingham were elected Ruling Elders. Extensive painting and repair work was done on the Church building in the fall of 1934.
Rev. P. Cary Adams had been elected President of Presbyterian Junior College in the summer of 1934, and he and his family arrived in Maxton to begin the school year 1934-1935. Mr. Adams came from the Pastorate of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church at Wilmington, N. C. The Adamses actively entered into the work of the Maxton Church. Rev. Appleby's zeal in ministering to the College students had influence on many a young boy's life in attendance at P. J. C. from 1933 to 1939. Among the young men who entered the ministry were David A. Bowles, Manson B. Tate, Donald McInnis, William Howard Boyd, Francis T. Washburn, Leonard McIntyre, James B. McLeod, Burke Kerr, and Charles Parrish. Three of these young men joined the Maxton Church: Ted Stixrud, who entered Foreign Missionary Service; Leonard McIntrye, until recently Presbyterian minister at Bluffton, Ohio; and James Burt MacLeod, who has served pastorates at Gloucester, Virginia; Sharon Church of Charlotte; and North Wilkesboro, N. C. A number of students were drawn closer to Christ through Mr. Appleby's friendship and visitation, several being baptized during his ministry. In 1937, the student body dedicated its yearbook, THE BAGPIPE, to Rev. Appleby:
- “To one who, in spite of his youth, is a member
- of the Board of Trustees of our college.
- To one who, because of his youth, is interested
- in the youth of this college.
- To one who, because of his work as a minister
- and student, has helped fashion by precept and
- example the aims of a good college.”
The Church continued its spirit of close cooperation and fellowship with the other Churches of Maxton: “On motion, which was duly carried, it was decided that on Sunday night, December 9th, this congregation worship with our Methodist brethren at St. Paul's Church in recognition
of the return of Rev. W. L. Clegg as Pastor for the ensuing year.” Several years later, “The clerk was instructed to write a letter of appreciation to Rev. Leppard of the Maxton Baptist Church for his services in our community during his pastorate in Maxton. . . It was decided to dispense with our next Sunday night service in order to worship with the Baptists in the last service to be led by Mr. Leppard before his departure. . .” Certainly, one of the fruits of the Spirit of Christ is increasing fellowship, and with the loving example of their young pastor and his wife in their midst, the Maxton congregation was challenged and uplifted to new levels of friendship and spiritual communion.
The Alma Mission work continued to grow, and there were 55 enrolled in the Sunday School during 1934. A small worship building was being constructed at Alma in connection with the Methodists, and the Church joined in the financial support of this Christian project which went beyond denominational lines. During the Sunday evenings of June and July, 1935, union services were held with the Methodist and Baptist Churches, the loose offerings going for payment on salary of a Bible teacher in the public schools.
In the spring of 1935, Dr. Lacy and Dr. Walter L. Lingle, the President of Davidson College, conducted special evangelistic services. It is interesting to notice that Mr. Appleby was “granted leave of absence to attend the Sprunt Lectures at Union Seminary. . .” Throughout his ministry, Mr. Appleby attended these lectures, led by world-famous Churchmen and theologians, and the tradition has been largely carried on by succeeding ministers.
1934 saw two younger members of the Church move to new communities. They were Louise McCallum Purcell and Malcolm P. McLean, Jr. Mrs. Purcell, daughter of Ruling Elder J. B. McCallum, had been a valuable and active member of the Church. “. . . Elder McKay McKinnon was instructed to write a letter to Mrs. Purcell expressing the appreciation of the Session for her useful services while here. . .” Mr. McLean went into private business, which has today grown into the world-famous McLean Trucking Company of Winston-Salem.
A “Pastoral Letter” was sent to the congregation in January, 1935:
“Dear Fellow Members:
“After much thought and prayer, your Pastor and Elders send you this letter of greeting and friendly exhortation. We trust you will receive it in the kindly spirit in which it is sent, and as if it were sent to you individually.
“Prevailing conditions in all walks of life today make it hard to live a Christian life. The drag is definitely and continuously downward, and oftentimes the tide seems to be running strong against the principles of Christ, whose Name we bear. Yet, there never was a time when the world more needed the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a day when every professed follower of Him should prove his loyalty by living a professed Christian life. The line of separation in character and conduct between the Christian and the godless should be sharp and distinct. To this end we lovingly, but earnestly, entreat you to give due attention to your Christian character and conduct. The world judges the Church and even Christianity by you. We therefore call to your attention some of the things which are cutting the spiritual arteries of Christians and are thereby
robbing them of the joy of salvation.
“The neglect of the means of grace by so many in our congregation gives us grave concern. Experience and observation prove that the Christian life cannot successfully be lived by those who habitually neglect attendance on the regular worship of the Church, the study of the Bible, private prayer, and Christian service. You united with your Church in solemn covenant, pledging yourself to attend its services, to pray for its members, to give to its full support, to protect its name, to reverence its building, to honor its officers, and to maintain its permanence. You owe it your endeavor and sympathy, your sacrifice and prayers. When you neglect its services, you injure its fair name; you lessen its power; you discourage its members; and you chill your own soul. Your soul is in even more deadly peril when you neglect private prayer and the daily reading of God's Word. When you fail to give the “cup of cold water” in the Master's Name, you have failed in your discipleship to Him. The real Christian is one who regularly uses the means ordained of God for the nourishment of his spiritual life. We warn you against neglecting them. Anything that tends to draw the soul away from fellowship with Christ, or that impairs the influence of Christ, should be studiously avoided. We call to your attention the desecration of the Sabbath Day which is all too prevalent. One cannot expect the godless world to honor it, but certainly one has a right to expect the Christian to “remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”. We likewise urge you to be careful in the selection of the movies which you and your children attend. If Christian people generally would refuse their support to indecent and immoral pictures, there would be a vast improvement in the whole industry.
“Intemperance is increasing alarmingly, and the situation in our own congregation is particularly distressing. The liquor traffic has ever been an aggressive enemy of character, the home, the state, and the Church. For a Christian to have any part in it creates a scandal for his Church. We bear our solemn testimony against this evil. We urge you to refrain from this and all other forms of intemperance.
“Humbly we challenge you to join with us in a renewed and more complete dedication of ourselves to Christ and to the principles of righteousness which He taught. As helpers together, let us labor for the coming of His Kingdom.
“James Appleby, Pastor; R. D. Croom, Henry Cottingham, C. L. Green, L. B. Martin, J. B. McCallum, Sr., J. B. McCallum, Jr., J. S. McRae, Rory McNair, McKay McKinnon, D. A. Patterson, J. P. Wiggins, Elders.”
John Sumter McRae, Jr., was appointed Choir Director in March, 1935, replacing Mrs. V. A. Sydenstricker of the College faculty. Efforts were also being made for a junior choir composed of the younger children. Professor Henry Holliday, of Presbyterian Junior College, served as organist during Mrs. R. M. Williams’ absence in 1935, with Mrs. J. C. McCaskill serving from July 1 until October 1, 1936.
The Men of the Church had been reorganized, with Professor Charles Hunter of Presbyterian Junior College as President. In September, 1935,
a basket supper was held under their auspcies on the Church grounds. The energetic young Pastor was at his best in group fellowship of this sort. His warm greeting and sincerity pervaded the atmosphere, melting the heart of the reserved or dignified. His spirit of wit and humour was never absent, and the groups which he frequented found themselves laughing at their troubles. This spirit was catching, and the young people loved to be with him, offering to assist him in Church duties just to be near. At Young People's Conferences in Red Springs, where he was a frequent speaker, the boys and girls would hang on his every word, their affection for his vivacious spirit aiding them to lend an attentive ear. In the summer of 1938 he was one of the featured Young People's speakers, with another young preacher. Peter Marshall, at Massanetta Springs, Virginia.
In March, 1936, Mr. Appleby secured the services of Mr. Henry Ruffner Lowman, Jr., a middler at Union Theological Seminary, as summer assistant. Now Dr. Lowman, this young man went on to serve churches in Nitro, West Virginia; Staunton, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; and the Mt. Horeb Church, Grottoes, Virginia.
Dr. Donald W. Richardson, Professor of Missions and Comparative Religion at Union Seminary, led special services in May, 1936.
Mr. Johnny McCallum, Jr., became Clerk of the Session in April, and on April 6 he was requested by the Session “to write to Mrs. F. E. Coxe, retiring president of the Auxiliary, congratulating the Auxiliary upon their work during the past year”. Never was there the need to “reorganize” or “challenge” the work of the women. They were a challenge to the rest of the Church, and words of congratulations and thanks were always in order.
Plans were made in October, 1936, for the celebration of the founding of the Southern Presbyterian Church, which had been established on December 4, 1861, in Augusta, Georgia. Two separate committees were appointed — one to treat the history of the Assembly, with Mr. J. S. McRae as Chairman, and the second to deal with the history of the local Church, with Mr. McKay McKinnon as Chairman. In the local history presented on that date, the author listed a series of things for which the Maxton Church was grateful to God. After listing ministers and their wives who had served the Church, and sons and daughters of the Church for whom they were thankful, the History continued:
“We are grateful to God for that Christian band of women who through all the years of this Church's existence, first through the Foreign Missionary Societies and later through the Women's Auxiliary, have kept the great cause of Missions, both Foreign and Home, so close to the hearts of this people. With pardonable pride we feel safe in saying that no Church of this size, either in Fayetteville Presbytery or the Synod of North Carolina, has a more loyal, intelligent, or faithful band of workers than this Church has in its Women's work.
“We are grateful to God for our Young People's activities in this Church. These young folks are organized under the plan and direction of our church and are adding much to the success of it. At the present time one of our young workers, Jane McKinnon, is President of the Presbytery's Young People's League.
“We are grateful to God for our Sunday School's usefulness which is a vital part of our Church organization.
“We are grateful to God for the part our Church has had in the establishment of Presbyterian Junior College and for the inspiration of the College students in our services and for the splendid cooperation of the members of the faculty, many of whom have been and now are members of our congregation.
“We are thankful to God that ministers of such ability as Dr. William Black, Dr. W. W. Orr, Dr. James I. Vance, Dr. Albert S. Johnson, Dr. Ben R. Lacy, Dr. Walter L. Lingle, and Dr. Donald W. Richardson have assisted in evangelistic meetings in this Church.
“We are grateful to God for the memorials that have been given our Church by families and individuals as loving remembrances of their loved ones who have labored in this Church.
“We are grateful to God for that beautiful sight that occurred in this Church one Sunday morning a few years ago when every member of one Sunday School class under the leadership of Mrs. E. L. Siler united themselves with this Church.
“We are grateful to God for our Mission Sunday School at Alma that is doing such fine Christian work under the splendid leadership of Ruling Elder Henry Cottingham.
“We are grateful to God for the fine spirit of Christian fellowship that exists now and has always existed between the Christian Churches of this community.
“We are grateful to God for the beautiful sight on Thanksgiving morning when six infants were presented by their parents, all members of our Church, and received the ordinance of Infant Baptism.
“For all these Blessings and many more, we are Grateful to God, and to Him we give the Praise.”
Mr. Appleby was in Richmond, Virginia, from January until April, 1937, studying at Union Seminary on work leading to his Doctor's Degree. During his absence, Rev. P. Cary Adams of Presbyterian Junior College supplied the pulpit and served as Acting Moderator of the Session. In March the Ruling Elders, led by Mr. McKay McKinnon, expressed their appreciation to Mr. Adams “. . . for the splendid service to the congregation during the three-month absence of our pastor. . .”
As early as 1924, the congregation had recognized and discussed the need for greater Sunday School space. The depression, beginning in 1929, stopped any moves to construct a Religious Education Building, but financial conditions had improved enough by 1937 for a discussion of the situation. Under Mr. Appleby's leadership, it was decided to call a congregational meeting to consider “. . . plans for the erection of a new Sunday School building.”
On January 10, 1937, the meeting was held and the Building Committee presented its report. First, the architect's proposed plan was submitted to the congregation. Sunday School Superintendent John Luther McLean then presented a letter from the teachers of the Sunday School expressing their feeling of need for such a building. A general discussion followed, in which talks were made favoring the building by John
McKinnon, Mrs. L. B. Martin, Sr., Mrs. McBryde Austin, Mrs. R. A. McLeod, Mr. J. B. McCallum, Jr., Mr. F. E. Coxe, and Mr. John S. McRae, Sr. Since no opposition was expressed, the motion was made and carried that a Sunday School building be constructed. The members of the Building Committee were: J. B. McCallum, Jr., Chairman, F. E. Coxe, John Luther McLean, Franklin L. Hyndman, McKay McKinnon, Ernest P. Williams, R. L. McLeod, Miss Maggie McKinnon, Mrs. McBryde Austin, Mrs. L. B. Martin, Sr., and the Pastor.
On March 14, Mr. A. Hensel Fink, architect, of the Philadelphia firm of Wenner and Fink, was introduced to the congregation. The progress of the committee was reported in detail, and the committee was authorized to solicit funds. When one half of the estimated amount of fourteen thousand dollars was reached, the committee was to let contracts and proceed with construction.
Mr. J. Wilson Rowe, Jr., of Union Theological Seminary arrived in June to begin his duties as summer assistant. Rev. Rowe has since served churches in Lexington Presbytery, Virginia; in Stockton, Alabama; in Radford, Virginia; and Bedford, Virginia. He is currently at Union, West Virginia.
From April 28th through May 9th, 1937, Rev. John R. Williams, Presbyterian evangelist of Atlanta, Georgia, conducted services in the Church. At the Session meeting on May 11, “. . . the motion was made and duly carried authorizing a pastoral letter to all members of the congregation who signed cards during the recent meetings held by Mr. Williams, signifying their desire to live Christ-like lives.”
That summer, Mr. Appleby organized a two-week Daily Vacation Bible School, which was held in cooperation with other pastors in town. Plans were also made, through a committee composed of Mr. Appleby, Mr. McKay McKinnon, Mr. Danny Patterson, and Mr. Roy Martin, for the men of the Church to give a barbecue in honor of the ladies of the Church.
Three young people were preparing to go into full-time Christian service during these years, Miss Jane McKinnon, Mr. James Sprunt Mann, and Mr. John R. McKinnon, Jane McKinnon, after graduating from Maxton High School, had attended Presbyterian Junior College and Flora McDonald College. She entered enthusiastically into Church work and served as President of the Fayetteville Presbytery Young People's Organization. She was trained as a Director of Christian Education, and aided Dr. Appleby both at Maxton and Anderson, S. C. She also worked in the Columbia, S. C., Presbyterian Church. Today she is Mrs. Thomas Oldroyd and is living in Columbia, South Carolina. John R. McKinnon was a very young boy when Mr. Appleby arrived in Maxton. He was living in the home of Miss Maggie McKinnon, where he was receiving devoted Christian training. Mr. Appleby immediately befriended the little boy and a close relationship began between the two. In the summer of 1938, following his graduation from high school, John McKinnon was attending Church Conferences at Montreat and the idea of entering the ministry became more fixed in his heart. He entered Davidson College, graduating in 1942. He was immediately called into the United States Army, and took part in the heavy fighting of the Pacific theatre of operations. Following his discharge, he entered Union Seminary, graduating in 1949. He had served as pastor at Kingsport, Tennessee, only a short time when he was called back into active duty as an Air Force Chaplain. Following his release, he became the very popular pastor of the Cheraw, S. C., Presbyterian Church. He is now Pastor of the historic First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, N. C., and as a dedicated, talented minister he
is being greatly used. One of his children, James, is named for Dr. Appleby, and another, Margaret, is named for Miss Maggie McKinnon, both of whom had such a strong influence in his life. James Sprunt Mann was the son of Rev. John O. Mann, the Director of Religious Education for the Synod of North Carolina, who lived in Maxton from 1935 through 1938. James’ older brother, Jack Mann, was on the faculty of Presbyterian Junier College. After graduation from Davidson College. James Mann entered Union Seminary, completing his work in 1949. He has served as Stated Supply in Abingdon Presbytery, Virginia; Pastor of the Fifth Creek and Bethesda Church in Concord Presbytery, North Carolina; and Pastor of the Williamston, South Carolina, Presbyterian Church.
In 1936 the Church historian had recorded: “We are grateful to God for our present energetic, scholarly and spiritual Pastor, Rev. James Appleby, and our prayers are that the Lord in His wisdom may use him for the upbuilding of His Kingdom in this community for many years to come. . .” In December, 1937, Mr. Appleby received a call from the Tazewell, Virginia, Presbyterian Church. He requested that the Church consider his resignation, and a congregational meeting was called. On December 19, the congregation met, with Elder McKay McKinnon as Moderator. Ruling Elder J. B. McCallum, Jr., made a statement, “giving reasons why the congregation should not concur with the Pastor in his petition to Presbytery, and made the motion, which was seconded, that we do not join in this request for dissolution. Mr. F. E. Coxe then read a Resolution from the Board of Trustees of Presbyterian Junior College, expressing a very earnest desire that the Pastor remain in this charge and that the congregation would urge that his relationship not be dissolved. Mr. McCallum's motion was then voted on and unanimously the congregation declined to join with our Pastor in his request to the Presbytery. . .” In the meeting at Presbytery, in addition to the sincere resolutions adopted by the Maxton congregation, J. B. McLeod, then a freshman at P. J. C., spoke, urging that Mr. Appleby remain in Maxton because of his outstanding work with the college boys.
The strength of the expressions urged Mr. Appleby to remain, and the work went on in Maxton. Plans were made to invite Dr. Edward Mack, Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Introduction at Union Seminary, to conduct an officers’ training school. A church newspaper was produced, serving to interest the congregation in the work of the Church. Dr. Frank Crossley Morgan, formerly minister at Augusta, Georgia, was invited to hold evangelistic services in April, 1938. Every means of evangelistic witness was used; stamps were purchased, with the words “Attend Church Regularly”, and given to selected business houses to be used on outgoing mail.
Since two Ruling Elders, Mr. J. P. Wiggins and Mr. H. M. Cottingham, had moved from Maxton, new Elders were elected in January, 1938. Mr. Frances E. Coxe and Mr. Roger Martin McGirt were chosen, both men rendering loyal service to the Church. Mr. McGirt, previously of the College faculty and then Principal of the Maxton Public Schools, had been named for the first Pastor of the Shoe Heel Church, Rev. Roger Martin.
Over the years the Church had maintained mission work at various locations in the area. The Alma Mission work had begun after the turn of the century, as had the work begun by Dr. McIlwaine at the community of Midway, south of Maxton. Both of these endeavors had borne fruit. In later years the Church had begun mission work at Turnout, the site of an old race track, northwest of Maxton. This work was discontinued
in February, 1938, when the Baptist Church resumed their former work in that field. Yet the Church continued to reach out into other Home Mission areas: “. . . the following Elders were appointed by the Pastor: . . . McKay McKinnon, as to whether Sunday School at Presbyterian Junior College is practical; R. M. McGirt to investigate Harmony section; F. E. Coxe to investigate the Indian field; L. B. Martin to investigate the McEachin section . . .” In October, 1938, the Session assumed responsibility for mid-week prayer services at Alma.
In March, 1938, the Pastor wrote letters of appreciation for the Session to Mr. John Luther McLean, retiring Sunday School Superintendent, and to Mrs. Lacy Williams, retiring adult adviser to the Young People of the Church. Mr. McLean is now an outstanding Church layman and businessman, living in Lumberton, N. C. Mr. McKay McKinnon was elected to succeed him, and Mrs. F. E. Coxe was elected Young People's Adviser. A new name appears in the minutes, when Mrs. R. D. Croom, Jr., was elected director of the Junior Choir. Mrs. Croom, blessed with a marvelous singing voice, has used her talents through the years to add to the musical witness of the Church.
The summer of 1938 was a busy one for Mr. Appleby. Rev. P. Cary Adams had resigned at P. J. C., and the Trustees had asked Rev. Appleby to serve as President until a full-time executive could be secured. P. J. C. students Dick McMillan, later dying as hero in the second World War, and James B. McLeod, now an outstanding Presbyterian minister, had volunteered their services, and were working in the mission outposts adjacent to Maxton. In addition, Mr. and Mrs. Appleby had been blessed with a baby girl, Elizabeth, who was baptized on May 3, 1938.
Mr. Carl Stark, a junior at Union Seminary, arrived in June to begin his duties as assistant pastor. In August, Mr. Stark, James McLeod, and Dick McMillan met with the Session and reported of their work during the summer. The Session expressed its strong appreciation for their work.
Hidden in the paragraph of the Session minutes for September 13, 1938, were lines which unknowingly served as a prelude for days of the immediate future, “. . . The motion was made and duly carried that a letter be written to the commanding officer of the air base camp inviting all the officers and men to attend our Church while in town. . .” In just three years the whole world would be plunged into the most terrible war of its history, and already the nation was beginning to enlarge its armies and hold training maneuvers. The Maxton Church was destined to be a center of worship for thousands of soldiers training in the war.
On that same day, “. . . McKay McKinnon, Chairman, J. B. McCallum, Jr., and F. E. Coxe were appointed a committee with the Pastor to arrange for the laying of the cornerstone of our new Religious Education Building. . .” The Pastor, Committee, and congregation had worked hard and effectively, and now the dream had become an impressive reality. October 30 was the day for the laying of the cornerstone, and it was a thrilling service in the history of the Church. Following a brief congregational worship, whose theme was found in the Call to Worship, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth . . . Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it”, the ceremony of the cornerstone was conducted, with Mr. McKay McKinnon presiding. “All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name!” was sung by the Church, and Mr. John Luther McLeon led in prayer. Then greetings were presented by the various departments of the Church. Little Beth Appleby represented the Cradle Roll, and Jimmy Patterson spoke for
the Beginners’ Department. Nancy McKinnon brought greetings from the Primary Department, Sara Alice Austin from the Junior Department, and Flora Elizabeth Currie from the Intermediate Department. Russell Hellekson returned from Davidson College to represent the Senior Young People's Department, and from the Adult Department, Mrs. Howard Hasty spoke for the Women, and Mr. Luther McNeill for the Men. Benny McKinnon brought greetings from the Young People of the Church, Mrs. McBryde Austin from the Women's Auxiliary, Mr. John B. McCallum, Jr., from the Trustees, Mr. Howard C. McNair from the Diaconate, and Mr. J. B. McCallum, Sr., from the Session. In addition greetings were sent from the Presidents of Flora McDonald College, Dr. Henry C. Bedinger; Davidson College, Dr. Walter L. Lingle; Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Ben R. Lacy; and Presbyterian Junior College, Rev. Louis C. LaMotte.
Messages were extended from the General Assembly, Hon. Willis M. Everett, Moderator; the Synod of North Carolina, Dr. Watson M. Fairley, Moderator; Fayetteville Presbytery, Rev. H. R. Poole, Moderator; and the Director of Religious Education in the Synod, Dr. J. O. Mann, Director. Reading these greetings were Mrs. Lacy Williams, Dr. Robert D. Croom, Jr., Mr. Carl H. Stark, Mr. J. O. Mann, Jr., Mr. F. E. Coxe, Mr. Roger M. McGirt, Mr. C. L. Green, and Mr. B. W. Gentry.
Speaking for the sons and daughters of the Church was Miss Bessie MacLean, and for former ministers, Mr. McKay McKinnon. The Pastor, Rev. Appleby, made a few closing remarks, the laying of the cornerstone was accomplished, and the congregation sang ::The Church's One Foundation”. After the Benediction, dinner was served on the grounds.
In December the Session turned the Christmas service on Sunday night before Christmas over to the junior choir, which was under the direction of Mrs. L. D. Rice. At the same time, it was decided that no service would be held on Christmas night, as the Young People of the Church planned to go caroling. It was the custom of Rev. and Mrs. Appleby and other adult advisers to accompany the young people on their caroling tours, and the greatest joy many of the people got out of the tour was teasing Mr. Appleby about his singing attempts. As one person said, “. . . there were many things Jim Appleby could do, but one thing he couldn't do was carry a tune. . .” Dr. Appleby always joined in with the fun, and it was even suggested that a trio be organized, composed of Elder “Shorty” Green,, “Mac” McKinnon, and Mr. Appleby — all of which meant hilarity for all concerned, as none of these wonderful men could make more than a “joyful noise. . .”! Such was the spirit of warm friendship and understanding that existed between the congregation and its Pastor.
On February 7, 1939, the Session “voted to place a tablet on the door of the primary room of our new Sunday School building, stating that the room was furnished in the memory of J. W. Carter, III, by his father, and a letter be written to his father thanking him for this gift. . .”
During August, 1938, Rev. Louis C. LaMotte, Executive Secretary of the Thornwell Orphanage in Clinton, S. C., accepted the Presidency of Prebyterian Junior College. In January, 1939, Rev. LaMotte and his family arrived in Maxton.
Evangelistic services were held in April, led by Rev. Ted Mercer, minister from Savannah, Georgia. On April 7, 1939, the Session held its regular monthly meeting, and James Appleby presented his resignation in order to accept a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Anderson, S. C.
The congregational meeting to consider the Pastor's request was called
to order on April 16. “. . . Following the statement by Mr. Appleby . . . the motion was made by Mr. McKay McKinnon that the congregation concur with the Pastor in his request to Presbytery to dissolve his relationship with this Church. . .” On May 2, 1939, the Session sadly held its last meeting with the young Pastor who, in the words of an older member, “. . . had come into Maxton like a tornado and gone out like a hurricane. . .” Miss Lillian Austin met with the Session and “the motion was made and duly carried that our Church go on record to support either fully or partially one or more missionaries on our foreign fields. . .,” the missionaries to be recommended by a committee meeting with Miss Austin. The Session also requested that Carl Stark of Union Seminary begin his summer work by May 21st “. . . so there will be no break in our services after our pastor leaves to take up his new work. . .” Elders L. B. Martin, Sr., and C. L. Green were put in charge of the outpost mission work while the Church was without a regular Pastor. Ruling Elder McKinnon was chosen to act as Moderator of the Session.
At the end of the meeting the Pastor and Elders stood and while joining hand sang “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.” McKay McKinnon then concluded this inspiring witness to the binding love of Christ by leading in prayer “. . . thanking God for the relationship of our Pastor and the Church and asking His continued blessing upon this Church and upon our Pastor and his family in their new work and new home . . .”
Thus ended six of the happiest years in the history of the Maxton Presbyterian Church.
Twelve days later, a signed resolution was presented to Dr. Appleby:
“Mindful of the exceedingly close Christian fellowship that has at all times existed between each member of our Session and our beloved Pastor, Rev. James Appleby, and also realizing the great amount of good that he has accomplished during these six years that he has served us and our community so faithfully as minister and friend, each of us as individuals wishes to express to you our personal love and esteem, and wishes for you and all those dear to you God's richest blessings—always.”
Dr. Appleby went on to distinguished service in the Church of Jesus Christ. His pastorate at Anderson lasted until 1946, when he accepted the new position of Director of Field Work and Evangelism at Union Theological Seminary at the urging of Dr. Ben Lacy. He has served as Moderator of Fayetteville, Piedmont, and East Hanover Presbyteries: Chairman of the Council on Evangelism of the General Assembly; and President of the Richmond, Virginia, Ministerial Union. He has been selected a member of such vital church committees as the Executive Committee of the Virginia Council of Churches; the Executive Committee of the Board of Christian Education of the Southern Church; the Special Study Committee, Educational Task of the Ministry, for the Southern Church; and Representative from the Presbyterian Church in the United States on the Joint Committee for the Revision of the Book of Common Worship.
In addition to his undergraduate membership in Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa, Dr. Appleby was chosen National President of Gamma Sigma Epsilon Chemical Fraternity. He is the author of SCIENCE AND RELIGION and THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH, and has written various Sunday School Lesson Materials. His alma mater, Davidson College, honored him with the Doctor of Divinity degree in
1949. In 1955, Dr. Appleby was a Research Fellow at Yale University. As Director of Field Work and Evangelism, he fills an important position at Union Seminary with great zeal and ability. Two children—Mary Ann and James—have been born to Dr. and Mrs. Appleby since they left Maxton.
In a letter to the congregation, Dr. Appleby wrote:
“My dear friends:
“Truly, ‘I do thank my God upon every remembrance of you—for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.’ That first day for us was twenty-five years ago, and in that quarter of a century, many changes have been made and many faces whom we loved are now lost for awhile; but the testimony of the beloved Maxton Church goes on from strength to strength.
“On this occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the founding of this congregation, you have my prayers and very best wishes. I trust the succeeding years will bring a deepening of the faith of all the members of the congregation and a greater loyalty to the Church—the body of Christ, and a growing desire to witness by lip and life to the saving power of God in Jesus Christ.
“Mrs. Appleby and Beth, who was born in Maxton and who represented the Cradle Roll at the occasion of the laying of the cornerstone of the Religious Education building, would join me in love for you.
“And now may the Lord bless you and keep you and cause His face to continue to shine upon you.”JOHN H. McKINNON
Mr. Carl Stark, of Union Seminary, worked closely with the Session during the summer months of 1939, and in his last service, on August 23, the following resolution was read:
“Whereas, Mr. Carl Stark has efficiently and energetically served our Church most acceptably as Supply Minister during the summer of 1939, and Whereas the time has now arrived when it is necessary that he leave us for futher preparing himself for the Ministry; Therefore, Be it resolved, That we extend to Mr. Stark our deep appreciation for his splendid services and wish for our friend and fellow worker in the Master's Kingdom God's richest blessings as he continues the work that he loves so well.”
Carl Stark graduated at Union in 1940, and began his pastoral duties at Lansing, N. C. He served as a Chaplain from 1944 until 1946, when he became Pastor at Pilot Mountain, N. C. Dr. Stark is now ministering in Burlington, N. C.
The Church had grown to a membership of 407 in 1939. A committee composed of Mr. F. E. Coxe, Mr. McKay McKinnon, Dr. R. D. Croom Jr., Mrs. McBryde Austin, Mr. R. L. McLeod, Mr. Roger M. McGirt, Mrs. R. M. Williams, Mr. James L. McNair, Jr., and Mr. J. B. McCallum, Jr., had been acting since April to secure a Pastor.
In their travels over the South, a tall, young minister from Cairo Georgia, vividly impressed the committee. On July 22, 1939, the Session “. . . . decided . . . that we change the regular Wednesday night prayer service to Tuesday night . . . so that we may hear Rev. John H. McKinnon, Jr.”
John (Jack) McKinnon was a native of Tampa, Florida. In 1928 he entered Davidson College, graduating in 1932 with an outstanding record. He was one of the most popular students in the College, and was admired and respected as a campus leader. Interestingly enough, some of his classmates during those Davidson years were living in Maxton when he arrived: Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., was a Deacon in the Church, and John O. (Jack) Mann, Jr., Charles Little, and H. S. Brown were on the College faculty. At Union Theological Seminary his ability was recognized when he was awarded a fellowship for post-graduate work. In 1935, following his graduation from Union, he studied at New College, University of Edinburgh, Scotland. During 1936 he continued his theological work at the University of Teubingen, Germany. That same year he was called to his first pastorate at the Cairo, Georgia, Presbyterian Church.
Maxton was deeply moved by the ability of this young minister. He carried himself with a grace and peace that only Christ gives; he spoke with a beauty, simplicity, and depth that only sincere consecration gives; he lived with a patience, joy, and love that only faith in God gives. “There was a radiance about him, and when he moved into your presence . . . you felt that, somehow, Christ was present also . . .”
At a congregational meeting on July 23, “. . . Mr. Roger McGirt, representing the correspondence committee, recommended that Mr. John H. McKinnon . . . be called . . . The motion was carried by unanimous vote. Elected as a commission to prosecute the call before the Presbytery in Georgia were Mr. J. B. McCallum, Jr., Mr. McKay McKinnon, Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., Mr. James L. McNair, Jr., and Mr. R. L. McLeod, Sr. . .”
In August, the new Pastor arrived in the “town of Macs,” and “. . . Ruling Elder McKay McKinnon was authorized to invite the other Churches in town to worship with us at the night service of September 1st, which is the first night service to be led by Rev. John McKinnon, Jr., our new Pastor . . .”
The congregation decided to aid in the financial support of foreign missionaries Miss Margaret Wood and Rev. and Mrs. L. O. McCutchen. This motion was made to the congregation by Mr. McBryde Austin, brother of Miss Lillian Austin, who had returned to Maxton from the Mission Field because of her health.
Ruling Elder John Sumter McRae's long and useful life was ended on September 7, 1939. The Session expressed “. . . gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the Christian life of this good man, who has served the Church faithfully and capably for more than fifty years, serving as a Deacon from 1887 until 1921 and as a Ruling Elder from 1921 until his death . . .”
Even as Rev. McKinnon preached his first sermon in Maxton, Radio Berlin announced that Adolph Hitler's Panzer Divisions had invaded the helpless nation of Poland. Great Britain and France declared war on Germany, and the Second World War had begun. The United States managed to stay out of this conflict until December, 1941, but many of the young people to whom the Pastor was preaching would soon be in war service, and several would make the Supreme Sacrifice. It was a time filled with tensions and fears, and more than ever before people
needed to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jack McKinnon proclaimed that Gospel in strong and beautiful manner throughout these years of conflict, and the Spirit of God used him to reach the hearts of hundreds.
He was called to hold special evangelistic services throughout the area, at Philadelphus and Varina Churches in 1939, in Ashe County in 1940, at McPherson Church and Parkton Church in 1942. In addition, he spoke at the Leadership Training Schools and at Flora Macdonald College, along with addresses and sermons to Maxton institutions and organizations. In 1940, he was the featured speaker at the Centre Church Homecoming Celebration.
The Church lost a valuable son when John Luther McLean moved to Lumberton, N. C. Mr. McLean, now an Elder in the Lumberton Church, has been a leader in Men's Work of the Synod of North Carolina, serving as a Synod officer, and as President of the Men of Fayetteville Presbytery.
The students of Presbyterian Junior College were invited to Maxton homes for dinner and visiting in February, 1940, under the direction of the Session. In addition, the P. J. C. boys were annually entertained at a welcoming party under the auspices of the Young People.
Miss Bessie MacLean and Mr. J. W. Carter presented material gifts to the Church in early 1940. The Session wrote a letter of thanks to “Miss Bessie” for “. . . her works and gifts in fixing up our Church Reception Room,” and to Mr. Carter “. . . thanking him for his gift of the fine piano to the Primary Department of our Sunday School.”
Special Thanksgiving Day Services continued as a tradition of the Church, and Mr. McKinnon introduced the communion services on each New Year's eve.
Sunday School workers during these years included Mrs. J. C. Baldwin, Miss Maggie McKinnon, Mrs. R. A. McLeod, Mrs. LeRoy Martin, Jr., Miss Ruth McLeod, Mrs. F. E. Coxe, Gaston Drennan, Miss Elizabeth McConnell, Mr. Roger McGirt, Mrs. Louis C. LaMotte, Mrs. J. O. McClelland, Mrs. McBryde Austin, Mrs. Evalyn Morgan, Mr. Johnny McCallum, Mr. F. E. Coxe, Miss Ann McKinnon, Mrs. F. L. Ball, Mrs. R. M. Williams, Mr. B. W. Gentry, Mr. J. L. Currie, Mr. Martin McKinnon, Mr. Mills Kirkpatrick, Mr. LeRoy Martin, Jr., and Mr. McKay McKinnon. Mr. Dave Campbell was Superintendent at the Alma Sunday School. Among those teaching at Alma and Hill Memorial Sunday School were Denver Blevins, William Baker Young, and Charles Parrish, three P. J. C. students who would go into the Presbyterian Ministry, and Miss Lucy Worth McLeod, Miss Katie Mac Kirkpatrick, Miss Mary McKinnon, Mrs. E. A. Hellekson, Miss Mable Sinclair, Mr. C. B. Martin, and Miss Prudence Ray. On June 25, 1940, the Session wrote letters to “. . . Charles Parrish, Denver Blevins, and Bill Young, college students, expressing appreciation to them for their splendid work in the Mission Schools the past year.”
In the Presbytery Study Booklet for 1940, Home Missions In Fayetteville Presbytery, the Chapel work of the Maxton Church was held up as an example:
“About two miles southeast of Maxton, as the railroad follows its straight line down to the sea, is the little community of Alma. A veneer plant, the few little homes which house its workmen, and a small, white chapel — that's all there is to Alma. But no, there is more than that, for there are the people. When the mill is silent on Sunday, and the afternoon has started its journey toward the horizon,
the strains of an old familiar hymn can be heard as the people lift their voices to God in praise.
“If you were to visit the chapel on a Sunday afternoon you would find twenty-odd Sunday School scholars. The Superintendent is a faithful deacon in the Maxton Church. The organist is one of its most consecrated young women, and she also teaches the children's class. And the young man teaching the adult class is a student at Presbyterian Junior College. Every other Sunday there is a preaching service conducted by the pastor of the town church. Sometimes there is an extra student from the College who has come along to offer one of the prayers.
“The chapel at Alma once belonged to another denomination. But somehow the work was allowed to be discontinued. For a long number of years Sunday afternoon found the chapel as silent as the deserted veneer plant. Then a Presbyterian Elder who lived nearby began creating a hunger for worship and instruction as he dropped suggestions here and there among the people. Finally came the request on their part for a work to be started. It's always better when it comes from the people themselves. There was no place to meet except in the home of that Presbyterian Elder, for the chapel meanwhile had been bought by the mill and was being used for other purposes. After a time a vacant house, centrally located, was secured. The work was divided between the Presbyterians and the denomination which had originally started the chapel. But after a while the others discontinued the work, and soon it was a Presbyterian mission full-time. And when the officials of the mill saw that the work was in earnest, they gave the building back to the people. That all happened four years or so ago, and the Alma Chapel continues its ministry today.
“If you've spent any time at all within the boundaries of Fayetteville Presbytery, you must have heard of Dr. H. G. Hill. When he died in 1924, he was completing his thirty-seventh year as pastor of the Maxton Church and the nine-third year of his long and useful life. The Sunday before his death he occupied his pulpit as usual! Hill Memorial Chapel, just northwest of Maxton, is a living monument to the life of Maxton's great preacher. It is the younger of two mission works conducted by the town church.
“About two years ago, two splendid young ministerial students at Presbyterian Junior College, working under the direction of the Session of the local Church, made a thorough survey of the outskirts of the town, with a view to establishing a mission point if the need should be indicated. The results of that careful survey showed that there were several families without church affiliation living near an abandoned race track. When questioned, the people expressed a desire of having a Sunday School started in their community. And it began in the shed of a tobacco barn! After several months of Sunday afternoon Sunday School and twice-a-month preaching, a week of special services was held. The seed had been well sown and carefully nurtured, so the harvest was truly plenteous. The baptismal service in that rude tobacco
barn shed was a thrilling experience for the Session of the town Church, for on the Sunday following the revival meeting twenty-five were received into the Church on their profession of faith in Christ. The significant thing about it all was that just two miles from a town which is distinctively Christian was virgin soil.
“About this time the Church in town was completing a new educational building. One of the Men's Bible classes which had been using a weather-boarded tent in the Church yard for a classroom, offered it to the people of the Mission. In a few days they came in a truck and hauled it away to the old racetrack. A small strip of land was secured, a new roof put on, and the neatly painted little chapel stands at the crossroads today. Its pews were made by hands eager to serve a newly-found Christ.
“A full program is conducted at Hill Memorial. The Sunday School is superintended by one of the students from the College. He also takes time to go out each Thursday night for a prayer meeting service. Another college boy teaches the adult class. One of the children's classes is taught by a Maxton young person and the other by one of the Church's fine women. The Young People's organization furnishes volunteers to play the little organ. And on Sunday nights these young converts are meeting for prayer and Bible study and providing their own teaching. Something of their enthusiasm can be seen from the fact that on the Sunday before this article was written forty people, plus the little brown dog who is a regular attendant, crowded the chapel. During the summer months a more comprehensive program is put on in the chapels. The work is under the direction of a Seminary student. Vacation Church Schools, recreational programs, and social activities mark the life of both communities.
“And so two communities are being served, and the Pastor and people of the Maxton Church are finding that their own lives are being enriched through the joy of taking Christ to others.”
Mr. Howard C. McNair and Mr. Franklin L. Hyndman were elected Elders in April, 1940. Members of the Board of Deacons during these years included Mr. R. F. Morris, Mr. E. P. Williams, Mr. C. S. McIntyre, Mr. D. B. Campbell, Jr., Mr. James L. McNair, Jr., Mr. D. McBryde Austin, Mr. John Sumter McRae, Jr., Mr. L. W. McKinnon, Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., Mr. E. A. Hellekson, Mr. J. D. Medlin, Mr. J. M. Patterson, Mr. O. G. Drennan, and Mr. L. B. Martin, Jr. Through the years the Deacons performed their important duties with skill and devotion. Special mention should be made of the several Treasurers of the Church, including Mr. J. D. Medlin, Mr. A. C. McKinnon, and Mr. J. D. Medlin, Jr.
In addition to Charles Parrish, Denver Blevins, and Bill Young, other college boys who worshipped in the Maxton Church during the years of Rev. McKinnon's ministry also went into the Presbyterian ministry. Among them were Clyde G. Browne, Samuel L. Sapp, Homer Spencer, who is now a Foreign Missionary in Mexico, Thomas Stixrud, another Foreign Missionary, Arnold B. Poole, Cecil Callis, and Fitzhugh Read. Many of these boys worked in the Home Mission Chapels of the Church.
A son of the Church, Charles Kirkpatrick, was also attending P. J. C. at this time. He later entered the Presbyterian Ministry, and is currently the popular Pastor of the Forest City, N. C., Presbyterian Church. He is following in the tradition of his father, Rev. G. F. Kirkpatrick, who was a beloved Pastor of Centre and Smyrna Churches for many years.
During the summer of 1940, Mr. Robert B. McNeill was the extremely popular Assistant Pastor. On September 1, “the Clerk was instructed to write Mr. Rob McNeill, summer student assistant pastor, expressing our pleasure and appreciation for his services . . .” “Rob” McNeill graduated from Union Seminary in 1942, becoming Student Worker in The Maxwell Street Church, Lexington, Ky., in 1942. He was Student Worker at the University Church, Austin, Texas, in 1945, and became Pastor of the Fairfield Highlands, Alabama, Church in 1946. Following a pastorate at Jacksonville, he is now the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Georgia. A few years ago an article by Rev. McNeill on the contemporary South and the racial question was featured in Look Magazine.
The young Maxton Pastor “took unto himself a wife” on November 30, 1940. The Session minutes of November 17 record, “Due to Mr. McKinnon's expected absence because of his approaching marriage, the Clerk was instructed to secure a minister for the Thanksgiving Service and for all services of the Church and both Missions during his absence . . .” On November 28: “The motion was made and duly carried that our Pastor be granted leave of absence for as long as he desires and that it not come off his summer vacation . . .” There was a note of sadness in the midst of the happiness: “The clerk was instructed to convey to Mr. McKinnon this action of the Session and also to express to him the sympathy and love of the Session during the recent illness and death of his father . . .”
Maxton excitedly welcomed its Pastor and his bride, the former Miss Ethel Begg. Mrs. McKinnon had been serving as Director of Christian Education in the Myers Park Presbyterian Church of Charlotte, and she became a loyal co-worker with her husband in the duties of the Church.
In 1941 two officers moved to new communities: Deacon James L. McNair, today a valuable leader in the Laurinburg Church, and Elder Roger Martin McGirt, who, with his wife, had added much to the life of the Church, to Lenoir, N. C.
F. Ray Riddle, Jr., served the Church as Summer Assistant in 1941. At the end of the summer, “The Session expressed to Mr. Riddle its appreciation for the very fine work that he has done during the summer months.” Rev. Riddle completed his Union Seminary training in 1943, and became Pastor of the Lakeview Church of New Orleans, La., that same year.
In July of 1941 the Maxton Church entertained Fayetteville Presbytery.
On August 9 plans were being organized for the Church Homecoming Day, to be held in October, 1941. “The Pastor reported on Homecoming Progress . . . It was decided to invite all former Pastors of this Church and all sons of this Church who are now in the ministry to take part in the Homecoming Service . . . McKay McKinnon was appointed chairman of the historical committee with our Pastor to be in charge of the Memorial Service . . . It was decided to have a picnic dinner to be in charge of the Auxiliary and Diaconate . . .”
The War in Europe continued to endanger the peace of the United States, and the government stepped up the training of its armies. Maneuvers were held in the vicinity of Maxton during the fall months of 1941. Troops were quartered 2 miles east of Maxton, on the Lumberton highway. The Churches of Maxton attempted to reach out the hand of fellowship to these men, and on September 9, “A general discussion was held looking to the entertainment of the soldiers stationed here . . . and a tentative plan of the three churches was endorsed.” In December, after the troops had left, “The Pastor was requested to express the Session's appreciation to the President of the Auxiliary for the Sunday night socials for the soldiers . . .”
On Sunday morning, Decmeber 7, 1941, the Session met at 10:40 a. m. to receive “. . . John Hunter LaMotte, after due examination, into the membership of this Church . . .” As the Session was meeting, Japanese war planes were attacking Pearl Harbor and Hickham Field, Hawaii. President Roosevelt immediately declared war and Christians of America went to their knees in prayer. Ahead were over four years of suffering for the entire world. There would be many changes in Maxton, as her sons and daughters went off to war, and a huge United States Air Force Base, the largest Glider Base in the world, was built one mile northwest of the community. As many as 25,000 soldiers were stationed at the Laurinburg-Maxton Air Base at one time, after its construction in the summer of 1942. Many of these soldiers would participate in the historic “D-Day” Normandy invasion of Europe on June 6, 1944. To them the war was an actuality, and the Churches of the Laurinburg and Maxton area were crowded with uniforms. The Maxton Church, under guidance of Rev. McKinnon and the Women's Auxiliary, welcomed the soldiers, and began a series of Social Hours, which became a popular tradition with the thousands of boys far away from their homes. A map of the United States was placed in the Church, which showed that soldiers from all over the country had worshipped and fellowshipped for a few hours in the Maxton Presbyterian Church. Many were comforted by the Gospel in times of sorrow or fear, others were challenged in times of temptation. Thus, the Maxton Church came peculiarly face-to-face with the World War effort.
In crowded living conditions, the citizens of Maxton opened their homes to the soldier families. Presbyteran Junior College, which remained open during the war with only a handful of civilian students, opened its dormitory building to the families. New stores and business activity centered in the Maxton area, as the community experienced its greatest growth in population since 1910.
Scores of the young people of the Church entered military service, and the Session purchased “ . . . Testaments, as needed, to send to all members of our Church as they enter our country's service.”
In February, 1942, Rev. McKinnon was elected Moderator of Fayetteville Presbytery. The cooperative community spirit of the churches continued..
“. . . It was decided that we participate in a Union Service at the Baptist Church on next Sunday night instead of our regular evening service . . .,” and in 1943, “The motion was made and duly carried that a letter be written to Rev. Mr. Jenkins of the Methodist Church, expressing our regret at his leaving and our sincere appreciation for his work with us here. . . It was decided that we dispense with our Sunday night service in order to worship with the new pastor . . . Rev. Carlos Womack . . .”
Richard R. Gammon was Summer Assistant Pastor in 1942. Dick Gammon graduated at Union Seminary in 1943, and began his Pastorate at Chinquapin, N. C. Rev. McKinnon preached the Sermon at his Ordination and Installation service. In 1945 he was temporary Supply at the Highland Church of Fayetteville, N. C., and during that same year he became Pastor of the First Church, Dunn, N. C. From Dunn, he went to the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, Tennessee. He is now Pastor of the First Church, Greenville, N. C.
Ruling Elder Franklin L. Hyndman died in March, 1942, and a resolution of respect was drawn, “Whereas, in the providence of Almighty God, Franklin Lyon Hyndman, beloved friend and fellow-Elder in this Church, was called from his earthly activities to his eternal home on the morning of March 27, 1942; Therefore, Be it resolved . . . that his removal from us creates a profound sadness in our hearts . . . that we recognize in his passing from our midst a great loss to the work of Christ in this Church . . . to all who knew and loved him personally as a total and unselfish friend . . .”
On May 12, 1942, another faithful Church Elder, Mr. Daniel A. Patterson, was called to his eternal home: “. . . We give thanks unto the God and Father of all men . . . for the long and fruitful life of His Servant . . . for his faithfulness in regularly attending public worship, for his deep faith in Christ as His Saviour and Lord . . . for his kindness to little children . . .”
The construction of the Air Base in 1942 necessitated the temporary interruption of the work at Hill Memorial. The government built a Base Chapel near “Skyway Terrace” personnel center, and after the war, the Home Mission work would continue on an expanded basis in “Skyway Chapel.”
In August, 1942, the Session wrote a letter to Miss Maggie McKinnon “commending her for her long and faithful service as teacher in our Sunday School. . . .”
September, 1942, saw renovation work proceeding in the sanctuary of the Church. New floor finish, carpets, and draperies were added, in addition to other major improvements While the work was going on, Church services were held in the nearby Maxton Theatre. Mr. H. C. Cousar and Mr. J. E. Morrison were elected Elders during August.
The Religious Education Building was officially dedicated on November 22, 1942, and the Session invited former pastor James Appleby and his family to attend. The building was a great aid to the Sunday School Department. The kitchen and recreation rooms were proving particularly convenient for the work the Church was accomplishing with the thousands of Air Base soldiers.
A special offering for the American Red Cross was taken in December, 1942. “It was decided to accept the offer of the Maxton Music Club to put on a program at a union meeting of all the churches on Sunday night before Christmas and at that time to take a special offering for Red Cross . . .” Less than two years later, a son of the Maxton Church and member of the Session, Mr. Johnny McCallum, Jr., volunteered his services with the American Red Cross, and went overseas to work with United States soldiers.
Rev. McKinnon's work with the soldiers, as well as the full-time Church work, had assumed large proportions by January, 1943. The Church urged that an assistant to the Pastor be secured “. . . to do part-time Church work and part-time Soldier work . . .” In May,
1943, Miss Mildred McKeithan of Florence, S. C., accepted work as Director of Christian Education. In a few weeks, Miss McKeithan found it necessary to terminate her work, and the Church secured the services of Miss Sarah Lacy of Mt. Clinton, Virginia, as Director of Christian Education in April, 1944. Miss Lacy's work with the Church was outstanding, and she contributed significantly to the witness of the Church during the busy war years.
Mr. Connolly C. Gamble, Jr., served the Church as Summer Assistant Pastor in 1943. Following his graduation from Union Seminary in 1945, Mr. Gamble served as a Naval Chaplain until 1946, when he became Pastor of the Whitmire, S. C., Presbyterian Church. Dr. Gamble is now Director of Continuing Education and Assistant Librarian at Union Theological Seminary.
From November 28 through December 12, 1943, Gypsy Smith, Jr., celebrated Evangelist, conducted special services with great effectiveness. At the end of the Church year, April 1944, there was much to be thankful for as the officers of the Church prepared for the new year. Letters of appreciation were written to the Ladies Auxiliary, Mrs. McBryde Austin, President, who were doing such fine work with the soldiers, and to the Board of Deacons, Mr. L. W. McKinnon, Chairman, for their splendid work. Mr. F. E. Coxe was elected Clerk of the Session, succeeding Johnny McCallum, who had entered Red Cross war work. It was also decided to continue evening worship services through the summer because of the large numbers of soldiers and visitors in attendance. During the warm summer evening chairs were placed on the lawn beside the Religious Education Building, and the worship services were held outdoors. The picture yet remains in the minds of many worshippers of the beautiful summer sunsets glowing through the huge trees on the Church grounds, as the strains of “Day Is Dying in the West” or “Now the Day Is Over” were sung by voices representing many communities and states.
The sorrow of the War days reached into the hearts of Maxton, with such promising young men as Currie McLeod and James Eugene Morrison, Jr., giving their lives for their country. Currie was the son of Rev. and Mrs. R. A. McLeod, having grown up in the Maxton Church since his father arrived as President of P.J.C. in 1929. James was the son of Ruling Elder and Mrs. J. E. Morrison. On Sunday evening, April 21, 1946, a Memorial Service was held in the Church for all members who died in the service of their country.
Plans were made in July, 1944, to send Christmas gifts to the service men and women of the Church. One phase of the regular Order of Worship was the Pastor's prayer for peace. The prayers of the Church were with her young people, wherever they were in war service.
In 1919, the church had dispensed with regular worship due to the serious influenza epidemic, and in 1944 a severe poliomyelitis epidemic was raging. On August 23, “The Session voted unanimously to send a letter to parents encouraging them to conduct religious training of the children while Sunday School is not being held . . . due to the polio epidemic . . .”
John H. McKinnon had been Pastor of the Maxton Church five years in September, 1944. He and Mrs. McKinnon and little Miss Margaret McKinnon were loved and admired in the community and Presbytery. Many words of praise have been spoken about Dr. McKinnon's preaching ability, but none so unique as those of a young member of his Maxton congregation who would faithfully attend evening services and go soundly to sleep to the notice of the smiling congregation and Pastor. One
evening, after being roused from his slumber, the little boy stopped as he shook the preacher's hand and said:
“Mr. McKinnon, you preach such soothing sermons”!
An older member of his congregation used to watch him speak in prayer service as he stood in front of the artist's idea of Christ. “How much they looked alike,” she thought to herself. “Jesus Christ must have been like this man when he was on earth . . . patient . . . considerate . . . loving . . . gentle . . . strong . . .”
On January 7, 1945, the Session sadly instructed its delegate to Presbytery, meeting on January 16 at Presbyterian Junior College, “. . . to concur with Rev. John H. McKinnon in his request . . . that his relation with the Maxton Presbyterian Church be dissolved in order that he may accept a call to the First Presbyterian Church, Concord, N. C. . . .” On January 28, Dr. McKinnon met with the Session for the last time, and he presented a communicants’ class of eleven members to be admitted to Church membership. Two of the members of that class are now studying for the ministry, and one other member is married to a Presbyterian minister. At the same meeting, Dr. James Henley Thornwell, beloved Christian gentleman and grandson of the famous Southern Presbyterian theologian, was received into the membership of the church.
Dr. McKinnon's pastorate at Concord was wonderfully blessed by God. He is now the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Knoxville, Tennessee, and is one of the outstanding ministers in the Southern Presbyterian Church. He is past Moderator of the Synod of Appalachia, and has been honored by his alma mater, Davidson College, with the Doctor of Divinity degree. The McKinnons are now the proud parents of two daughters. Christine James having been born after they left Maxton.
In a letter to the Maxton congregation, Dr. McKinnon wrote: “The occasion of the eightieth anniversary of the First Presbyterian Church, Maxton, North Carolina, is surely a time of rejoicing that in God's Providence the Church has been permitted great length of days. A fine tradition has been achieved during these fourscore years. As the Church's history is reviewed, all of the best of the past is brought into fresh focus. Such should be a strong challenge to its people to plan and to work for an even worthier future. The strength and wisdom of maturity carries with it the responsibility of a better stewardship. With confidence in God and a stronger commitment, that better stewardship can be rendered.
“Mrs. McKinnon joins me in affectionate greetings at this time. We are grateful for the years during which we were permitted to serve in the work of Christ through the Maxton Church and to share in so many generous ways in the life of its people. It is our prayer that each of you may be found within God's purpose and be kept by His grace.”
THOMAS LAYTON FRASER
Ruling Elder C. L. Green was elected acting Moderator of the Session and McKay McKinnon assistant Moderator, in the absence of a Pastor. Miss Sarah Lacy remained with the Church as Director of Christian Education, and her work aided the program during this transitional period. Others rallied around, with Mr. Murphy McGirt becoming Superintendent of the Sunday School, and Mrs. Mayme McQueen, Mr. Hugh Drennan, Mrs. O. W. Ferrence, Mrs. Margaret Crofton, Miss Mary Katherine McQueen, Mr. G. P. Henderson, Miss Lillian Austin, Mrs. F. L. Black, Mr. H. C. Cousar, Dr. L. C. LaMotte, Miss Mary Margaret Sinclair, Mrs. C. S. McIntyre, and Dr. J. H. Thornwell assuming responsibilities in the Sunday School Department. The Session instructed the Moderator to write Mr. McGirt a letter of thanks on January 17, “. . . for the work of installing a stoker in the Church.” In June, 1945, Miss Lacy took part as a counsellor at the Young People's Conferences in Red Springs, and during July a joint Bible School was conducted by the Maxton Presbyterian and St. Paul's Methodist Churches. On July 1st, Dr. James Appleby visited the Church and conducted communion services. In September, the Session was making plans for Religious Education Week under the guidance of Miss Lacy, and the outreach of the Church continued. “. . . Ruling Elder McKay McKinnon called attention to several persons who have moved into the community, who are Presbyterians, and who should be united with our Church . . .”
The World War ended in August, 1945, and, momentarily, all heads were bowed in prayers of thanksgiving. Directly ahead lay difficult years of change: the Army Air Force Base would suspend operations, Church membership would continually fluctuate, and all over the nation adjustment from a war to peace economy would affect business and living conditions. As thousands of soldiers were leaving the Laurinburg-Maxton Base, hundreds of veterans were returning to their homes in Maxton, or were arriving from many communities to enter Presbyterian Junior College. In 1946, the enrollment at P. J. C. skyrocketed to almost 600.
Since February, 1945, a committee to nominate a new Pastor had been active. On August 12, “. . . Ruling Elder McKay McKinnon reported as Chairman of the Pulpit Nominating Committee, that the Committee desired to recommend a Pastor . . .” The congregation unanimously called Rev. Thomas Layton Fraser, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Vineland, New Jersey, and on October 1, Mrs. Ruth Fraser and daughters Marie and Ellen were received into the Church.
Layton Fraser was a native of Hinesville, Ga., and was one of two sons to enter the ministry. Following his graduation from Davidson College, where he was a classmate of Maxton's “Bob” McLeod and Johnny McCallum, he entered Union Theological Seminary. Mr. Fraser received his Divinity degree in 1926, having led a busy life as student and member of the Union Seminary Review staff. His first Pastorate was at the First Church, Mt. Vernon, Ga., during which time he was married to Miss Ruth Gibson Brown of Sweet Hall, Virginia. In 1930 he received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Biblical Seminary of New York City, having been called to the First Church, North Haledon, New Jersey. From 1932 to 1940 Rev. Fraser was Pastor of the First Church, Edgewater. He began his service at Vineland in 1940, receiving the call to Maxton in 1945.
A sincere, dedicated man, Mr. Fraser won many friends after his
arrival in Maxton. He was gifted with a lovely, powerful singing voice, which he used for the glory of God. Frequent were the Sunday evening services in which he was called on to sing the familiar Church hymns. Remembered clearly is the picture of a beloved Elder in the Maxton Church enjoying the music, and after each song was finished, saying, “. . . Preacher, sing just one more . . .” In addition, Mr. Fraser was a man who took off his ministerial frock and played with the young people of the Church. In Daily Vacation Bible School, he broke up many a friendly softball game with a home run. Once, the awed young people chased the ball down and found that he had hit it from the middle of the Church driveway over the top of Dr. J. O. McClelland's home. Mrs. Fraser and her three young girls were popular with Maxtonians. In 1957 daughter Ellen married Mr. David Ross, who is now studying for the Presbyterian Ministry.
On October 16, 1945, the Session requested Presbytery to change the name of the Church to the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton, so as to avoid technical complications with other Presbyterian Churches of the immediate Maxton area.
Mr. Fraser and the Session emphasized work with the Young People, and a special Youth Budget Plan was endorsed. A Junior Choir was organized, which participated in the morning worship services. A Junior sermon was preached every Sunday especially for the children. Plans were adopted for a Visitation Evangelism program in January, 1946. On Friday night, December 28, 1945, a Homecoming Church Supper and Church Birthday Celebration was held, all former servicemen being especially welcomed.
Early in 1946 Miss Sarah Lacy was dismissed to the Cook's Creek Presbyterian Church of Mt. Clinton, Virginia. This consecrated Christian young woman had done a splendid job as Director of Christian Education and Director of the Choir. When she was married in October, 1951, the Session requested that the Deacons “. . . purchase a Bible as a wedding gift for Mrs. Sarah Lacy Miller, embossed with the name. Mrs. Sarah Lacy Miller, from the First Presbyterian Church, Maxton, N. C., October 12, 1951 . . .”
Mr. L. W. McKinnon and Mr. R. F. Morris were ordained and installed as Ruling Elders on March 17, 1946. The Session made plans for the Church “. . . to join in the three-hour union service on Good Friday, from 12 o'clock noon to 3 o'clock p. m. . .”
During April, 1946, Miss Audrey Brunkhurst arrived from the First Presbyterian Church, Staunton, Virginia, to begin her duties as Director of Christian Education. The Session appointed a committee “. . . to write a letter of appreciation to Mrs. M. P. James for her effective work as President of the Women's Auxiliary of our Church.” The Memorial Service for young people killed in the World War was held on the evening of April 21.
A building Committee for the Church had been elected in the spring of 1946, as some desire had been expressed to remodel the sanctuary of the Church. Architectural sketches were studied, among them a plan which would place the chancel on the northern side of the Church, formerly the overflow auditorium, with a seating capacity of almost 400. The Session met on September 8, 1946, and “. . . at the request of the Board of Deacons, it was ordered that a congregational meeting be called for September 15th . . . for the purpose of recommending to the congregation that plans be made to conduct a canvass for raising funds for the purpose of remodeling our Church . . .” As the plans progressed it was realized that, due to the difficult financial times, it
would be impossible to proceed immediately with the canvass and the renovation. Three years later the Church again considered renovation plans, which resulted in the beautiful sanctuary completed in 1949.
Elder and Mrs. Francis E. Coxe moved to Blenheim, S. C., in 1946, and Mr. McKay McKinnon was appointed to express “. . . . the appreciation of our Church for their efficient and faithful service . . .”
The tradition of Church Family Night Suppers was continued and enlarged during these years. Many guests, including P. J. C. boys, were present during these events. Some of the College boys were teaching in the Sunday School Department, and a number of those worshipping in Maxton are now Presbyterian ministers, including Thomas A. Guiton, S. York Pharr, Phil Dunford, Odis McNeill, and Grady E. Dixon.
Plans were made in October, 1946, to carry on Mission work at the abandoned Base Chapel under the direction of Rev. Alva M. Gregg of the P. J. C. faculty. “On motion duly carried, the Session voted to meet at Skyway Terrace on Sunday, October 20th . . . to confer with a committee from the Base for the purpose of arranging to have regular services at the Chapel near Skyway Terrace.” On October 20th, the following resolution was unanimously passed: “That an outpost Chapel be established at Skyway Terrace . . . Ruling Elders J. B. McCallum, Sr., and Fairly Morris were appointed a committee from the Session to have charge of this work.”
A familiar and friendly face was missing when the Session met on January 1, 1947. “The Moderator appointed a committee to draw up resolutions for Ruling Elder McKay McKinnon . . . concerning the valuable service he rendered our Church . . .” “I guess no one loved the Maxton Church like ‘Mr. Mac’,” a member said recently. He loved her people, her Pastors, her traditions, her Lord. He recognized human faults, but he was always present to say a good word; and the people and Pastors loved him for his spirit. Following his death, prayer services were held in the Church. When the members were called on for prayer, the tears made spoken words impossible, and the Lord heard the silent prayers of thanks for his life. He died at a critical hour in the Church's history, and his leadership and patient spirit were sorely missed. The Session expressed itself as “. . . keenly aware of the distinguished and able service rendered by their brother and co-worker to his beloved Church, to his community, and to his state. From March 30, 1913, to February 18, 1923, he served as a Deacon of this Church. He then served as an Elder up to the time of his death. He served as Superintendent of the Sunday School for a total of sixteen years. His love and loyalty to his family and friends were obvious to all who knew him. Because he was tactful, energetic, courteous, and kindly in his contacts, he enjoyed the friendship of many men, women, and children. His life has been an example of courage and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest ideals of his church . . .”
On May 18, 1947, Miss Audrey Brunkhurst resigned as Director of Christian Education to enter Foreign Missionary service. “The motion was made and carried that Miss Brunkhurst's resignation be accepted with deep regret and that the Clerk of the Session, R. F. Morris, write her, expressing our appreciation for the excellent work done by her as Director of Christian Education and Director of the Choir for the past year.” On June 4, “. . . Motion was made and duly carried that Miss Audrey Brunkhurst be approved as a Foreign Missionary and that a letter of our approval be sent to the Executive Committee of
The summer of 1957 was a busy time for the Church. The congregation
cooperated in gathering clothing for Church World Service, and Mr. Fraser was granted absence of six weeks to continue his graduate study and writing. Several of his study books had been published, including “God and His People” and “With Savior and Friend”, the latter having translated versions for use among Spanish-speaking peoples. In July, the Skyway Chapel purchase was accomplished, with Elder L. W. McKinnon reporting “. . . that the deal was closed with the War Assets Administration for the land on which Skyway Chapel is located, consisting of approximately 3.3 acres for $100.00 and that the Treasurer of the Church be requested to pay this amount, in addition to the $550.00 donated by Mr. Odis McNeill of Broadway, N. C., a ministerial student at P. J. C. . . . The Clerk was instructed to write Mr. McNeill and thank him for his generous donation . . .” Odis McNeill, having joined the Maxton Church, graduated from P. J. C. in 1948. After his college and Seminary training he became Pastor of the Helvetia, West Virginia, Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Fraser taught a class of Bible at Presbyterian Junior College in 1946-47, where he was very popular and successful with the students. Presbyterian College of Clinton, S. C., sought his services as Head of the Department of Bible in 1947, and in September he resigned from the Pastorate of the Maxton Church to take up his new work. He has been Professor of Bible at Presbyterian College for eleven years. In the early nineteen-fifties he earned his Doctor of Theology degree at Union Seminary, writing his thesis on the subject, “Christian Life Service”, which is a thorough treatment of the possibilities of Christian service specifically written for the college student. In September, 1958, Dr. Fraser wrote to the Maxton congregation, “Very best wishes to all of you. I hope that the celebration of the Church will be successful and very worthwhile . . .”ERNEST LEE STOFFEL
Mr. C. L. Green was elected acting Moderator, and on September 21 a congregational meeting was held “. . . to elect a Pulpit Committee to call a Pastor . . .” Rev. David Alex Bowles, former P. J. C. student who had just come to the College as Professor of Bible, was called by the Session to guide the work at Skyway Terrace.
The Synod's Westminster Fellowship group meeting was held in the Maxton Church and College in October, 1947. Presbyterian college students from all over the state were in Maxton for three days, and Miss Sarah Little, Director of Synod's Office of Religious Education, wrote a letter thanking the Session for the hospitality extended to the group, rating the meeting as “. . . perhaps the best conference of college students ever held in North Carolina. . . .”
Presbyterian Junior College was engaged in an Endowment Fund Drive in 1947, and the Maxton congregation presented a gift of twelve thousand dollars to the College, to be paid over a period of years at six hundred dollars each year. This splendid gift materially aided the work of the College and recalled to mind a meeting of the Session in March, 1944, when the College was struggling to remain open during the war. At that time the Session recorded, “. . . if there be any undesignated benevolent funds in the Treasury at the close of the Church year a sum be given to Presbyterian Junior College . . . The Session puts itself on record as recognizing a special interest in and responsibility for Presbyterian Junior College and desires to express this interest in the observance of a suitable day each year to be known as P. J. C. Day, at which time an offering will be made for the College
. . .” The prayers and special interest of many Maxton individuals in the cause of Christian Education have not been in vain, as today they become a permanent part of the tradition of the new consolidated Presbyterian College.
Maxton has been fortunate in securing supply ministers during the absence of her Pastors. After Dr. McKinnon left in February, 1945, Rev. R. P. Walker, of Charlotte, supplied the pulpit for several weeks, and in the fall of 1947 Rev. Robert S. Boyd, of Laurinburg, preached to the Church. Both of these older men enjoyed long and fruitful careers, and their short period of service in Maxton meant much to the Church.
On January 11, 1948, Dr. James Appleby of Richmond, Virginia, led the morning worship services at the Church, and met with the Session. A young Union Theological Seminary couple, Lee and Betty Stoffel, were living in the Appleby home while Mr. Stoffel completed work on his Master's Degree. Often Dr. Appleby had spoken to Mr. Stoffel about the Maxton Church, and early in the year 1948 he presented the name of the young minister to the Maxton Pulpit Committee. On January 11, the Session moved that “. . . a congregational meeting be called for next Sunday, January 18, for the purpose of calling Rev. E. L. Stoffel of Bristol, Tennessee, to be our Pastor . . .”
As a boy, Ernest Lee Stoffel attended an outpost Presbyterian Sunday School near his Bristol, Tennessee, home. “At that time there was born his life-long determination to study the Kingdom of God and what the Bible says about it.” The sincerity and dedication of this man's life evidenced itself early, as he graduated from all the schools he attended with honors. He was a student at King College from 1942 to 1944, finishing his work under the College's accelerated was program. He entered Union Seminary in 1944, and in his 1945 summer field work he was assigned to the First Presbyterian Church of Knoxville, Tennessee. There he showed his versatility, as he worked in the Church, preached at outpost Mission Churches, and studied at the University of Tennessee. Shades of Dr. Hill! He returned to the Seminary, where he continued his excellent scholastic record, was appointed an instructor in Greek, married Miss Betty Carlyle Williams, who was President of the Assembly Training School's Student Body, and received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in May, 1947. In recognition of his ability, he was awarded a Seminary Fellowship, to continue his Master's Degree studies in 1947-1948.
Mr. and Mrs. Stoffel lived with the James Applebys, and Mr. Stoffel supplied the Waddell Memorial Church of Rapidan, Virginia. It was a happy arrangement for Maxton that these two families, both of whom have been used so effectively by God, lived together for a year. The Spirit of God led Mr. Stoffel to accept the call of the Maxton Church, and he began his duties on February 15, 1948.
Until June, when he completed his Master's Degree study at Union Seminary, Mr. Stoffel preached twice a month in Maxton. The Maxton Church well recalls the young minister's first sermon. The genuineness of his faith in Christ, the gentleness and power of his appearance, the poetry and drama of his sermon, as he spoke of faith in Christ in the midst of the vicissitudes of life, awakened and ignited the heart of the Church. His presence and his preaching rang with the authority of Christ, and the Church knew from the first that there was a great man of faith in her midst.
The Stoffels moved into the manse in June, 1948. Betty W. Stoffel, a gifted Christian woman, was a strong influence for good in the life of
Maxton. The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, she received her education at Agnes Scott College and Assembly Training School in Richmond. She was invited to membership in the North Carolina Poetry Society, and many of her poems appeared in various magazines and and newspapers. In 1954, MOMENTS OF ETERNITY, a book of her collected poems, was published by John Knox Press of Richmond.
Rev. Stoffel participated in the Church Young People's Conference at Flora McDonald College in June. During the summer months of 1948, the Session secured the services of Mr. Howatt Mallinson of Union Seminary to preach at Skyway Terrace. Mr. Mallinson graduated from Union in 1950, and began his first pastorate at Roberdell, N. C.
Mr. Johnny McCallum, who had recently returned to Maxton from his Red Cross duties, was elected Clerk of the Session in April, 1948. In August the Church entered into the Southern Presbyterian Church's Program of Progress. Also, renewed emphasis was put on tithing, and the Board of Deacons was requested to “. . . inaugurate a program of tithing among our people.”
Elders Rory McNair and L. W. McKinnon died during the summer, and resolutions were adopted by the Session honoring their memory: “Rory McNair served as Ruling Elder of this Church for twenty-two years, from July 11, 1926, until his death. He served as Ruling Elder also in Centre Church . . . and altogether had been an officer in the Presbyterian Church for a period of about fifty years . . . The Session feels keenly the loss of their brother and friend. . .”
“Mr. L. W. McKinnon served as Deacon in this Church from January 30, 1938, until he was elected Ruling Elder on March 17, 1946. He served as Ruling Elder until his death . . . he always manifested the greatest zeal and interest and love for his Church. He worked faithfully and hard on any work that needed to be done. . . .”
On September 26, 1948, Mr. D. McBryde Austin, Mr. C. S. McIntyre, Mr. E. A. Hellekson, and Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., were ordained and installed as Elders of the Church. All four of these men are greatly admired in the Maxton community. Dr. Croom's loyal medical service to the people of the area is in the direct tradition of our Lord Himself, who was the Great Physician. The Session met on October 6, and the work at Skyway Chapel and plans for remodeling the Church sanctuary were discussed. “The Moderator reported on the work at Skyway Chapel. Rev. Charles Parrish is preaching on first and third Sundays . . . and is visiting two afternoons a week.” The Session recommended “. . . to the Board of Deacons that the Church underwrite any unpaid expenses incurred at the Chapel. The Pastor will conduct services at 10 o'clock on second and fourth Sundays.” Plans were now definitely underway for the remodeling of the Church. There was a certain sadness in changing the old interior, for here was the scene of many happy and memorable days, and the pews in which many wonderful people had worshipped over the years. Yet, a fire had damaged the interior in 1947, and the architect's plans called for a modern plant, which would aid in the worship of God. The motion was made during this Session meeting “. . . that Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., approach Dr. L. C. LaMotte as to the use of facilities at Presbyterian Junior College for holding Sunday School and Church services during the time of remodeling our Church. . . ” From February until August, 1949, these services were held in the College administration building and auditorium.
Rev. Charles Parrish met with the Session on December 1, 1948. “. . . and made an encouraging report on the work at Skyway Chapel.” Charles Parrish had been a P. J. C. student from 1938 through 1940.
While in Maxton, he had worked with the Maxton Church as a teacher at Alma and Hill Memorial. Eight years later, he returned to teach Bible at the College, and also began working at Skyway Chapel for the Church. In his report, he showed that Sunday School attendance had reached as much as thirty-five, and that the average attendance was 23. “The staff of four classes consists of Miss Annie Neal McEachin, Don Covington, T. A. Fox, Mrs. Zeb Smith, Mrs. Charles Parrish, and Mrs. Annie Reagan. . . Bible study is conducted each Wednesday evening in the homes at Skyway Terrace by the Pastor. Future plans include a Sunday School Christmas program and an endeavor to reach young people of the Base area. . .” Don Covington went on into the Presbyterian Ministry, as did other P. J. C. boys during these years, including Jesse Parks, Alfred Thomas, Joe Stowe, C. C. Caldwell, Dolphus Allen, Dewey Herring, Jimmy Moss, now a Foreign Missionary, George Grissom, Fred McDaniel, and Lawrence Avent.
On Sunday, December 19, 1948, the congregation quietly remembered the founding of the Church. A note appeared in the bulletin, “Today is the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the Maxton Presbyterian Church. On December 19, 1878, a commission appointed by Presbytery, consisting of the Rev. Hector McLean, the Rev. Archibald McQueen, the Rev. H. G. Hill, and Ruling Elders Archibald McMillan and A. S. Baker, met in the old McKay Building in Maxton and organized the Church and received into the Church that day twenty-six charter members. We thank God for the faith of our fathers, for their works do follow them.”
Rev. Stoffel was “. . . granted leave of absence during the month of February, 1949, for the purpose of study at Union Seminary in Richmond. . .” Mr. Stoffel “. . . expressed his appreciation to the Session for leave of absence granted him . . . to enable him to finish work leading to his Th. D. degree. . .” When Dr. Stoffel completed his graduate work, he was the youngest man in the history of Union Seminary to receive the degree of Doctor of Theology.
Dr. Stoffel was invited to preach at numerous Churches and meetings. In 1949 he spoke at McPherson Church, in 1950 he taught in a Leadership Training School at Kingsport, Tennessee, preached at Lumberton, N. C., and led the Bible hour at Flora McDonald College. In 1951 he led services at Midway Church, and in February, 1953, he was guest preacher at the Davidson College series. He was also a frequent speaker at special occasions of the community and served as Moderator of Fayetteville Presbytery. A syllabus on the Book of Revelation was written by Dr. Stoffel and used by study groups throughout the Presbytery.
Teachers and officers in the Sunday School Department in 1949-1950 were Mr. Mills Kirkpatrick, Superintendent, Mr. J. L. Currie, Mr. W. Glenn Peele, Mrs. J. G. Baldwin, Mrs. J. M. Kirkpatrick, Mrs. M. F. McGirt, Mrs. R. R. Doak, Miss Lillis Cousar, Mrs. Kenneth Chisholm, Mrs. Glenn Crofton, Miss Lillian Austin, Mr. R. E. Hellekson, Mr. J. B. McCallum, Jr., Mr. Herman J. Preseren, Dr. J. H. Thornwell, Mr. O. W. Ferrence, Mrs. L. C. LaMotte, Mrs. R. E. Hellekson, and Mrs. E. L. Stoffel.
Mr. Johnny McCallum represented the Church and Presbytery as a delegate to the General Assembly, which met in 1949 at Montreat. Two delegates were sent to the Presbyterian Men's Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 4.
Two loyal members of the Session, Mr. Clyde L. Green and Mr. LeRoy B. Martin, Sr., died in 1949. Both Mr. Green and Mr. Martin had become Elders in 1934, and they served the Church with enthusiasm and faithfulness.
Mr. Green served as superintendent of Maxton Public Schools for many years and was retiring as Superintendent of Robeson County Public Schools when he died. His former students at Maxton High School honored his memory by presenting his portrait to the school.
As the day drew near when the remodeled sanctuary would be opened, “It was decided for the Moderator to appoint a committee to consider and prepare possible plans for the first service. . .”
The new sanctuary was opened in September, 1949, and a large congregation was present, including many guests from the community and neighboring towns. The building was beautiful in appearance and modern in every detail. The divided chancel was placed on the western side of the Church, with new, comfortable pews facing in that direction. The Board of Deacons installed air conditioning, and the Robert L. McLeod family presented a new pipe organ in memory of Mr. McLeod, Trustee of the Church, who had died in 1942. Other memorial gifts were presented. In September, the Clerk was instructed to write to Mrs. J. I. Sutphen and Mr. A. T. McLean, thanking them for the gift of the beautiful silver cross to our Church:
“The Session of our Church has asked me to express to you and to your families its deep and heartfelt appreciation for the gift of the beautiful silver cross recently received and placed in our new Church auditorium. The love and generosity which prompted this gift is appreciated as much as the gift itself. We are very proud of the fact that you feel yourselves a part of us and it is our sincere wish that you may, whenever possible, be present that we may enjoy the privilege of worshiping together in this beautiful place of worship.”
Mrs. Sarah McKinnon Hensey presented a chalice to the Church inscribed with the name of the Church. Others presented gifts and money in helping to build this House of Worship.
The date for the dedication of the organ was set for November 27, 1949, so that Dr. Robert L. McLeod, Jr., son of the Church and son of Mr. R. L. McLeod, Sr., could be present. Dr. Ben R. Lacy, President of Union Theological Seminary, was the speaker at the Dedication Ceremony. Memories went back to 1910, when another President of Union Seminary, Dr. Walter W. Moore, had preached at the Dedication of the original sanctuary. That evening Dr. Charles Vardell, Jr., of Flora McDonald College, conducted an organ recital. It was a happy and auspicious day for the Church, and a large congregation was present, praying for God's guidance in the continued work of the Church.
Maxton was particularly pleased when the new sanctuary was displayed as a model design by Church architectural firms.
On September 12, twelve members of a communicants’ class became active members of the Church. “. . . Miss Lillian Austin, teacher, met with the group and the Session commended very highly the teaching and the preparation of this class by their teacher and their Pastor. . .” Again on October 1, 1950, a communicants’ class of ten members was presented and “Miss Lil” was “. . . commended for her diligent effort in the preparation of this class and for her work in the past years . . . consecrated work and effort in preparation of the young people of our Church not only for this class but classes in years past. . .” Dr. Stoffell was also commended for his influence and work with the young people.
On Sunday evening, October 23, 1949, Dr. C. Darby Fulton, Executive
Secretary of the Board of World Missions, spoke in the Church. Foreign Missionary Rev. E. H. Hamilton spoke to the Church on Sunday evening, December 11, 1949.
Mr. J. D. Medlin, Treasurer of the Church, met with the Session on December 7 and reported concerning the progress of the Building Fund. The Session commended him for his diligent and faithful work as Treasurer.
The Pastor and the Session changed the form of the Sunday evening service. “. . . from a regular preaching service to a more varied program of teaching and music. . .” Dr. Stoffel introduced a visual education schedule for the year beginning January 1, 1950, the Church having previously purchased a motion picture projector. He introduced the plan of “Talents, Incorporated” to the congregation on Sunday, December 11, 1949. In a service broadcast over Radio Station WEWO, Laurinburg, the congregation actively participated in a program based on the Parable of the Talents. Silver dollars were placed on a table at the front of the Church, and members of the Church “. . . received the Lord's money”, going out to invest the Talents to the Lord's glory. Many returned with their Talents doubled.
Rev. Charles Parrish met with the Session on January 4, 1950, to report on the Skyway Chapel Work .Plans were discussed for a religious survey of Skyway and Maxton, and Mr. Parrish stated that attendance fluctuated at the services between 15 and 60.
On March 25, 1950, a Visitation Evangelism Program was conducted, lasting until March 30. During the spring of 1950, 32 persons were added to the Church. On March 15, “. . . the Clerk was requested to write a letter of appreciation to Miss Ann Elizabeth McKinnon for her recent service as organist of the Church. . .”
In June, 1950, Mr. Jerry C. McCann, of Union Seminary, arrived to begin his work as summer assistant. Mr. McCann met with the Session in July and reported on the work at Skyway Chapel. “In general, the attendance at Sunday School and Church services has not been too encouraging . . . the results of the recent Vacation Bible School, with an average daily attendance of 50, were most encouraging . . . Mr. McCann reported an average attendance of about 25 at Church and 35 on the Sunday School roll. . . On motion Mr. McCann was commended for his diligent work there. . .” Rev. Jerry C. McCann completed his work at Union Seminary and is today Pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Wrightsville Beach, N. C.
Mrs. W. H. Stewart, Jr., resigned as Church secretary during the summer, and “The Clerk was requested to write a letter to Mrs. Stewart thanking her for her service to the Church.” Mrs. Russell E. Hellekson accepted the Church Secretary's job in September.
Plans were made looking forward to the Church's participation in the Presbytery's October Evangelistic Program. An Evangelistic Committee was appointed, with Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., as Chairman. On October 4, “Ruling Elder R. D. Croom, Jr., announced the plan of the Men of the Church Visitation at Skyway in preparation for the Evangelistic services. Cottage prayer meetings are planned prior to the series of services . . .” Dr. S. E. Howie of Fayetteville was the visiting preacher for the services, which began on October 22.
The Session was pleased to grant Dr. Stoffel an absence on the last Sunday of November, 1950, so that he might “. . . attend services in Bristol. Tennessee, when his father is to be ordained and installed as
Elder in the Church. . .”
On January 2, 1951, the Session met at the manse “. . . following a birthday supper given . . . in Dr. Stoffel's honor . . .” Plans were made to honor Mrs. Annie McRae Williams “. . . for her faithful and loyal service as organist. . .” The Church presented a watch to Mrs. Williams as a taken of the congregation's appreciation.
Fayetteville Presbytery met in Maxton on April 17; and the Maxton Church and Presbyterian Junior College entertained the Synod of North Carolina in October, 1951, just as they had twenty-three years before, in October, 1928.
New sons of the Church were entering Christian service during these years. On April 4, 1951, “. . . John Hunter LaMotte appeared before the Session . . . and requested that he be taken under the care of Presbytery as a candidate for the Presbyterian Ministry . . . he was sincerely congratulated and commended for this most important decision that he has made. . .” Edward A. McLeod, upon his graduation from the University of North Craolina, where he had been President of the Y. M. C. A., entered Union Theological Seminary. He is now the capable and popular Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Morven, N. C. John LaMotte completed his college training at Davidson, and entered Union Theological Seminary. Following his graduation in 1937, he was awarded a Seminary Fellowship and studied at the University of Montpellier, France. He is now the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Chatham, Virginia.
In January, 1953, Edward LaMotte was taken under the care of Presbytery and in August, 1953, Glenn A. Crofton, Jr., was received under the care of Presbytery. These two sons of the Maxton Church are now Middlers at Union and Columbia Theological Seminaries, both studying for the Presbyterian Ministry. In addition, two daughters of the Church, Miss Ann McLeod and Miss Jean Morris, were married to Presbyterian ministers during those years.
The Church honored teachers, department heads, and advisors of the Sunday School on Wednesday evening, April 18, 1951. Mr. Mills Kirkpatrick, Mr. O. W. Ferrene, Mrs. L. C. LaMotte, Mrs. Florence Hellekson, Mr. Johnny McCallum, Miss Lillian Austin, Mrs. Margaret Crofton, Mrs. Mills Kirkpatrick, Mrs. Murphy McGirt, Mr. Russell Hellekson, and Dr. J. H. Thornwell were awarded service certificates following the family night dinner.
Mr. David W. Taylor, son of Dr. H. Kerr Taylor, arrived from Union Seminary in June, 1951, to work as Summer Assistant. Miss Sally James was secured to help as Church secretary during the summer months. Rev. David Taylor is now a Presbyterian Pastor in Bristol, Virginia.
Mr. John H. Crabtree began his duties as Choir Director in September, 1951. Blessed with a lovely tenor voice, Mr. Crabtree guided the choir through the summer of 1954, when he resigned from the faculty of Presbyterian Junior College to complete work on his Doctorate degree. The special music programs at Christmas and the Easter Cantatas were especially enjoyed during these years. Mr. and Mrs. Raymond H. Dawson, of the College faculty, joined the Maxton Church in September, 1951. In 1953 Dr. Dawson was selected as a member of the National Council of Churches’ Committee on International Relations. At a meeting of the Committee that year in New York City, Maxton was well represented, with Miss Sallie Lou McKinnon, Mrs. Murdock McLeod, and Dr. Dawson all members of the group, and all having important connections with the “town of the God-blessed Macs.”
On December 12, 1951, the Session drew up an overture to present
to Fayetteville Presbytery:
1. The article in the Apostles’ Creed — “He descended into Hell” — is confusing to many of our people,
2. The article is not essential to salvation,
3. The Presbyterian Hymnal has omitted the article,
4. The interpretation of the article according to the answer to Question 50 of the Larger Catechism is covered adequately by the succeeding article, “The third day He rose again from the dead”,
5. The ommission of the article and its omission from the answer to Question 50 of the Larger Catechism would not change essentially the answer to the question, “Wherein consisted Christ's humiliation?”
The Session of Maxton Presbyterian Church respectfully overtures Presbytery:
1. To omit the words from the answer to Question 50 of the Larger Catechism: “Which hath otherwise been expressed in the phrase, ‘He descended into Hell.’ ”
2. To continue to print the article in the Apostles’ Creed in the back of the Confession of Faith with an explanation of our Church's interpretation of it at the bottom of the page; but that it also be stated that use of the article in affirmations of faith be optional.
Fayetteville Presbytery approved the overture and sent it on to the General Assembly of the Church.
The Baptist congregations of Maxton were engaged in building programs during 1952, and in January, “The motion was made that we offer the use of our Church to both Baptist congregations for afternoon services. . .”
During the spring of 1952, plans were made for Dr. Stoffel to exchange pulpits with a Scottish minister in the summer months. The exchange was made with Rev. James Bremner, Pastor of St. Paul's Newington in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Maxton Church, although missing her popular young Pastor, was happy for him to take advantage of this opportunity. While in Edinburgh, Dr. Stoffel continued his studies at New College in the University of Edinburgh. There he studied under Dr. James Stewart, the famous Scottish theologian. In the summer months the Stoffels made weekly tape-recorded broadcasts through facilities of Radio Station WEWO, Laurinburg, covering their activities in the land of John Knox and the Highlanders.
Rev. James Bremner will never be forgotten by Maxton. Large crowds came to hear him preach and went away thrilled by the ability of this humble Christian who spoke with the rolling “bur-r-r” of his native Scotland. Dr. Stoffel had appointed Committees, composed of Mr. C. S. McIntyre, Mr. J. B. McCallum, Jr., Mr. E. A. Hellekson, Mr. R. F. Morris, Mr. H. C. Cousar, Mr. McBryde Austin, and Mrs. R. D. Croom, Jr., to assist the summer Pastor, enabling Mr. Bremner and his attractive wife and daughter to visit Montreat and other places. On a trip to Scotland in 1958, Dr. L. C. LaMotte visited the Bremners in Edinburgh, and they sent their love to the Maxton Church.
Dr. and Mrs. Stoffel were welcomed back to Maxton in September, 1952. In Maxton, the Stoffels were blessed with the birth of their first two children, Bobby and Betty Lee. One Sunday morning when Bobby was still a small baby, the Pastor's sermon was suddenly interrupted by the strong cries of a tiny voice from the adjacent Church Parlor. The smiling congregation recognized the voice of authority. Dr. Stoffel, not at a loss for a moment, brought the house down when he replied to the situation, “I have always thought that young man has the voice to become quite a preacher. . .” Today the Stoffels are proud parents of four attractive and promising children.
Mr. Murphy F. McGirt and Mr. Otto W. Ferrene were installed as Elders on November 23, 1952. Both Mr. McGirt and Mr. Ferrene had been loyal Deacons for several years, and members of the Church since the early nineteen-thirties. In 1955 Mr. Ferrene left Maxton and the College faculty to become Vice-President of Presbyterian College, Clinton, S. C., in their financial development campaign. This past year he and his family have returned to Maxton. Mr. McGirt's business has brought him in contact with people all over the state, and he is admired for his Christian character.
Mrs. Andrew Williamson accepted part-time work as Church Secretary in December, 1952.
The ministry and preaching of Dr. Stoffel were used powerfully by God in Maxton. In a sermon entitled “The foolishness of Preaching,” preached by Dr. Stoffel in 1956 at Charlotte, he concluded:
“. . .‘For it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.’ To Save them that believe! Remember we have to do with something here that has eternal proportions. The preacher does not stand in a place of idle, academic interest. He stands between Heaven and hell — because God in His wisdom chose to put him there. Let him stand, splendidly unchained except by the love of his Christ. For there he must stand, like a ‘defenced city or an iron pillar’ and bravely proclaim that Jesus is Lord, until God takes the trumpet from his lips.”
By the “foolishness of preaching”, the Lord used Lee Stoffel in Maxton to spread the “Good Tidings” of Salvation and to challenge and inspire the hearts of His people.
On December 28, 1952, “Our pastor requested a meeting of the congregation to be called for the second Sunday in January to join with him in requesting Presbytery to accept his resignation, effective February 15, 1953. . .” The Stoffels left for Florence, Alabama, in February, 1958. One of Betty Stoffel's poems, As the Heart Remembers Spring, written to a member of the Maxton Church, applies to the memories that Maxton has of this dedicated young couple:
- “. . . you have been as selfless
- In the gracious things you do
- As the sun that shares it kisses,
- As the night that shares its dew,
- You have planted roses
- In lives that lay so bare,
- You have sown encouragement
- To those who knew despair.
- By spirit's inner beauty
- In every lovely thing,
- You will be remembered
- As the heart remembers spring.”
In 1955, Dr. Stoffel became Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, N. C. He has been honored with the Doctor of Divinity degree by Davidson College and King College. During his ministry in Charlotte, he has written two books, HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER, The Meaning of Citizenship in the Kingdom of God, and THE STRONG COMFORT OF GOD, “. . . a book which gives the layman a well-rounded, Biblical theology that will stand the stress of day-to-day existence. . . .” HIS KINGDOM IS FOREVER was dedicated.
To the Session and the Congregation
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH MAXTON, NORTH CAROLINA
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH FLORENCE, ALABAMA
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
in gratitude for their help and encouragement
In September, 1958, Dr. Stoffel wrote:
“The present Maxton Presbyterian Congregation has entered into the proud heritage of 80 years of service in the name of Christ. Those of us who have had a part in that service are grateful. A Ministry begun in this Church is always sustained by the remembrance of a congregation that knows how to strengthen and encourage.”CHARLES L. DONNELL
Dr. Robert D. Croom, Jr., was named acting Moderator of the Session. In June, Mr. William B. Kennedy of Union Seminary arrived to serve as Summer Pastor, Mr. Kennedy, a brilliant preacher and pastor, made a great impact on the life of the Church. His influence on the young people of the community was especially impressive. Following his graduation from Union, Mr. Kennedy was awarded a Seminary fellowship, and he studied at Yale University. Today, Dr. William B. Kennedy is the Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Union Seminary, where he is highly regarded by his colleagues and the students. It is interesting to notice that Dr. Kennedy, Dr. Gamble, and Dr. Appleby, of the Seminary Faculty, have all served the Maxton Church. A daughter of the Maxton Church, Mrs. Mary Patterson Johnson, now of Lumberton, has been one of the leaders in the “Friends of the Seminary” movement, which has so furthered the work of the Seminary.
At a congregational meeting on May 21, 1953, Mr. Charles Donnell was unanimously called to the Pastorate of the Church. “Letters of commendation were read by Rev. C. M. Gibbs from Dr. Ben R. Lacy, Jr., President of Union Theological Seminary; from the Stated Clerk of Orange Presbytery. . . ; and from Princeton Seminary. All of these commended Mr. and Mrs. Donnell for their outstanding leadership, sincerity, and fine character. . . .”
Rev. Charles L. Donnell, the Pastor of the Meadowside Presbyterian Church of Greensboro, N. C., accepted the call of the Maxton Church and arrived in July, 1953. He was educated in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the University of North Carolina. He entered Union Theological Seminary, where he was an extremely popular student, being elected President of the Student Body during his senior year. Following his graduation, he accepted the call of the newly organized Meadowside Church. Here he literally helped to “build” the church building. The former Director of the Y. M. C. A. at Greensboro has described how fond the people of Meadowside were of their young minister, “who rolled his shirtsleeves up and helped lay the foundations. . .” Rev. Donnell studied at Princeton Theological Seminary in 1953, working on his Master's degree, and it was from Princeton that he was called to Maxton.
Charles and “Candy” Donnell (the daughter of Rev. C. J. Hollandsworth of Norfolk, Virginia) were a popular young couple in Maxton. Their spirit of humility, sympathy, and friendship was an example to the Church and community. Rev. Donnell loved the people of the Church, and in times of illness or anxiety he was always present to comfort and encourage. He was a strong influence with the young people, who appreciated his happy and optimistic disposition. He always had a kind and encouraging word to say, standing for what he believed with a sympathetic and loving attitude for those around him.
Mrs. Malcolm Gillis was employed as Church Secretary in September, 1953.
Rev. Donnell was granted absence to hold a series of services at Smyrna Church in October. During the fall of 1954, he conducted services at Philadelphus. In September, 1954, he conducted special services at Buffalo Church. In April, 1955, he was the guest preacher at Oakdale Presbyterian Church, Virginia.
A committee was formed, with Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., and Mr. Johnny McCallum representing the Session, “. . . to consider the holding of a series of evangelistic services. . .” The Session recommended that this committee coordinate the spring Church services with the College Religious Emphasis Week. The Evangelistic Committee invited Dr. Carl Pritchett, of Anderson, S. C., to lead the 1954 spring services, Dr. Frank Hall, of Wilmington, N. C., to preach in the spring of 1955, and Dr. Warner Hall, of Charlotte, N. C., to lead services in the spring of 1956.
The Session, in November, 1953, recommended “. . . to the Deacons that our Church present to each couple, one or both of whom are members of our Church, a Bible . . . when married in our Church and by our Pastor. . .”
The Maxton Church entered into the discussion by the Southern Presbyterian Church on the question of union with the Northern Church. In November, “. . . the Moderator was authorized to order six books on the Plan of Union for use in studying the plan. . .” In January, 1954, the Session requested “. . . that Dr. Price Gywnn be secured to present both sides of the plan of union to the congregation. . .” On Sunday night, May 23, 1954, Dr. S. H. Fulton, the beloved Pastor of the Laurinburg Presbyterian Church, spoke to the congregation on the Plan of Union.
The pulpit of the Maxton Church has always been free, so that the Pastor might preach his understanding of the Gospel. At the time of the 1954 General Assembly resolution calling for the abolition of segregation, there was general discussion by many churches in the South, Rev.
Donnell preached a powerful sermon on the Christian and race relations. Members of the Church, including those who differed in interpretation, congratulated the Pastor on his courageous stand. The Lord works through the hearts of His people in the pulpit that is “. . . . splendidly unchained . . .” May the pulpit of the Maxton Church ever remain free!
The Session decided, in February, 1954, “. . . that public notice be given showing our appreciation for the work of the Young People and of their leaders, Mr. and Mrs. Andy Williamson. . .” In March, “A report was made that the young people are to make a survey of the unchurched of the community. . .” A Deacon's Fund was established by the Church in March, 1954, “. . . to take care of the charity cases of the Church and community.”
A son was born to Mr. and Mrs. Donnell in the spring of 1954, and on June 20, Mrs. Donnell's father, Dr. C. J. Hollandsworth, baptized little Robert Lindsay Donnell at the morning service.
Mr. Holmes Rolston, III, of Union Seminary, was welcomed as Summer Assistant Pastor on June 2, 1954. Mr. Rolston was an excellent young preacher, being invited to speak at Cheraw, S. C., and Red Springs while serving the Maxton Church. In September, a resolution of thanks for his summer work was recorded by the Session. Mr. Rolston graduated from Union Semniary in 1956 and was awarded a Seminary Fellowship. In 1957 he studied at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Mr. Crabtree resigned as Choir Director on August 22, and a public letter was read to the congregation:
The Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton wishes to take this opportunity to express to you and Ann the deep appreciaion which we feel for your ministry of music to this Church during the past three years. We are sure that we speak for the entire congregation when we say that your ministry of music has been a rich blessing to this Church and has been not only a source of enjoyment, but of spiritual enrichment and strengthening for all of us. . .
Among the voices which aided the musical witness during these years was Mr. Robert Tolar, of Lumberton, N. C., whose rich baritone solos were enjoyed by the congregation. On September 5, Mr. Lawrence Skinner, of Flora McDonald College, accepted the position as Choir Director.
Mr. Russell E. Hellekson and Mr. Mills Kirkpatrick were elected Ruling Elders on October 24, 1954. Mr. Hellekson and Mr. Kirkpatrick had both been active in the Church as Deacons and Sunday School workers. Mr. Hellekson, the son of Ruling Elder E. A. Hellekson, had also directed the Young People's activities of the Church. Mr. Kirkpatrick is the son of Dr. G. F. Kirkpatrick, former minister of the Centre and Smyrna Churches.
The “Forward With Christ” movement of the Southern Presbyterian Church “. . . with its goals and attainments covering 1955-’56-’57 . . . with special emphasis on our local Church goals. . .” was endorsed by the Session in January, 1955. A committee was appointed to head this work in the Church, composed of Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., Evangelism; Mrs. Glennie McCormick, World Missions; Mr. William Johnson, Education; and Mr. Murphy McGirt, Stewardship.
Elder Murphy McGirt was elected a Commissioner to the General Assembly, meeting at Richmond, Virginia, on June 2, 1955.
In April, 1955, the Women of the Church made plans to start a nursery in the Church during worship hours.
Dr. B. Frank Hall, Pastor of the Pearsall Memorial Presbyterian Church of Wilmington, conducted successful Evangelistic services during April.
The Session mourned the death of Ruling Elder John B. McCallum. Sr., in 1955, and drew up resolutions of respect: “On the 10th day of April . . . God in His infinite wisdom, understanding, and love, called John B. McCallum, Sr., to his reward in Heaven. He served the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton as an Elder for forty-two years, and was the oldest Elder at his death. . .”
Fayetteville Presbytery established Camp Monroe during 1955, and the Maxton Church played its part in this important project which today serves youth and adult groups. “. . . The motion was made and duly carried that the committee on Camp Monroe be given as much time as necessary — to be worked out with the Pastor — in a regular morning service to present their cause to the congregation.”
The Synod of North Carolina was making great forward steps in Christian Education in 1955, with plans culminating in the founding of a consolidated Presbyterian College, to carry on the traditions and dreams of Flora McDonald College, Peace Junior College, and Presbyterian Junior College in improved facilities. The Maxton community joined with Laurinburg, and the towns worked together to locate the college in the immediate area. The Maxton Church took an active part in the campaign, with a committee appointed by the Session. The beautiful new campus is now being designed by architects, to be located south of Laurinburg.
In addition to the various financial drives for P. J. C., Flora McDonald, Davidson, Queens, Barium Springs, Camp Monroe, and other Presbyterian institutions, the Maxton Church had pledged three thousand dollars to Union Seminary in December, 1953, to aid in the development of the Seminary.
The Church continued to reach out to serve the community, voting to sponsor the Explorer Group of the Boy Scouts in November, 1955, and including one hundred dollars in the budget for the work. In June, 1956, the Session approved a one-hundred-dollar gift to the Maxton Community Recreation Fund, requesting the Men's Bible Class to raise the money.
As a 1955 Christmas gift, the church presented Rev. and Mrs. Donnell with a television set. On January 4, 1956, the Session commended “. . . the Pastor for his excellent work and spiritual leadership as evidenced by reports from our congregation and our own personal knowledge.”
Plans were made by the Worship Committee to purchase the new Presbyterian Hymnal in 1956. Mrs. J. C. McCaskill presented the church a gift of 150 Hymnbooks, carrying on the tradition of liberality and interest by members of the congregation.
A line appears in the Session Minutes for February 8, 1956, which, in its simple ideal of Christian love, carries on the work of our Lord:
Prayer was held that all of the officers of the Church would pray for and otherwise help members of our Church who particularly need love and care, and upon request, a special prayer for one of our members was held.
March, 1956, was a busy month, with Dr. Warner Hall of Covenant Church, Charlotte, conducting Evangelistic Services. Sunday School Superintendent Russel Hellekson reported to the Session “. . . that both attendance and offering has shown a substantial increase during the past few months.” The Evangelistic Committee of the Church, with Mills Kirkpatrick as Chairman, “. . . was authorized to begin preparations for Evangelistic Services beginning with the Spring of 1957. . .” This Committee made plans to invite former Pastors James Appleby, John H. McKinnon, and Lee Stoffel to lead services in succeeding years.
On May 29, Mr. William Massey, of Charlotte and Union Theological Seminary, began his work as Summer Assistant Pastor. Bill Massey was another in the long list of capable and popular Seminary boys to work with the Maxton Church during the summer months. In August, a resolution of thanks was given to Mr. Massey, and “thanks was given by Mr. Massey for the courtesy and fellowship accorded him.”
During the summer, improvements were made in the Religious Education Building. The Session adopted the Rotary Plan for Church Officers, and this plan became official in a Congregational meeting on September 9.
Ruling Elder James E. Morrison died on August 1, 1956, and the Session paused to pay tribute and thank God for his life. “. . . The Church and community will miss this faithful and loyal member . . . His memory is a blessing. . .”
On October 13, another faithful Ruling Elder, Mr. H. C. Cousar, was called to his Heavenly home. “. . . his life with us was one of outstanding faith, love, devotion, and work for the cause of Christ . . . Our Church community and all who knew him have been greatly benefited by the example he set for Christian living, devotion, and service. . .”
Mr. Courtney Henderlite, a student at Presbyterian Junior College, and a member of the Maxton Church, met with the Session on November 14. “He made a statement concerning his boyhood and religious background, his purpose to become a missionary as his father is. . .” Courtney Henderlite is now continuing his education at Presbyterian College. A large group of P. J. C. students during these years are now preparing for the Presbyterian ministry in senior colleges. George B. Hutchins, Elinos A. Whitlock, Jr., James P. Barksdale, Jr., and Fred Currie are presently in Seminary training.
In December, 1956, Mr. James M. Patterson, Sr., Mr. James L. Currie, Mr. William A. Johnson, Mr. Ernest P. Williams, and Mr. Floyd James were elected Ruling Elders. All of these men, in their business and professions, are respected for their interest in the Church and Christian ideals.
Committee appointments were made on January 3, 1957. Members of the Religious Education Committee were: R. D. Croom, Jr., Chairman, Floyd James, Billy Dunn, Betty Snead, Paul Sullivan, and R. C. Holland. Members of the Worship and Music Committee were: Russell Hellekson, Chairman, J. L. Currie, Mrs. Murphy McGirt, and Isabel Jackson. Members of the Evangelism Committee were: Murphy McGirt, Chairman, J. L. Currie, Ann McKinnon, A. G. Williamson, and Freddie Croom. The Communion Committee: E. A. Hellekson, Chairman, D. McBryde Austin, J. B. McCallum, Jr. The Grounds Committee: R F. Morris, J. M. Patterson, Mrs. Mayme McQueen, and Mrs. Maude Correll. The Committee on Promotion of Assembly Causes: W. A. Johnson, Chairman, J. M. McNair, Mrs. Margaret McLaurin. The Pulpit Supply Committee:
Mills Kirkpatrick, Chairman, E. P. Williams, and C. S. McIntyre, Mr. R. F. Morris was elected Church Historian.
On February 8, 1957, “The Pastor and Ruling Elder W. A. Johnson reported on their attendance at Presbytery, giving in some detail the docket and actions of Presbytery . . . particularly regarding the favorable action taken permitting the election of women as officers in the Church. . .”
Beginning on March 31, Dr. James Appleby conducted Evangelistic Services in the Church and the College. Following the successful conclusion of these meetings, the Session met on April 10, and was requested by the Pastor to call a congregational meeting in order that he might accept a call to the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, Georgia.
Charlie and “Candy” Connell left Maxton on April 30, with the gifts and love of Church members. The Memorial Drive Church was founded on April 8, 1954, in the expanding suburbs of Atlanta, and is now making plans for future construction and development.
Mr. Donnell, in a letter to the Maxton congregations, said:
“Our years in Maxton were happy ones. They were years that are rich for us in memories of work and friendship in the First Presbyterian Church. We are grateful that God in His Providence permitted us to minister among you for a while.
“Although we had to leave many friends behind when we left Maxton, we are thankful that we did not have to leave your friendship, which we continue to treasure and enjoy.”JOSEPH W. WALKER
The Session Legan plans in the spring of 1957 to build a new manse for the Church. It was decided to purchase the Johnson property, beside the Church, as a site for the new building.
Mr. William Gordon, a rising senior at Union Seminary, became Assistant Pastor in May, and served the Church efficiently and zealously during the summer months. When he left in August, he was presented a departing gift as a token of appreciation for his work. The Session also presented Miss Maggie McKinnon a gift, recognizing the many summers she has entertained the Seminary boys in her home.
A committee continued to make progress on the manse. Mr. Murphy McGirt, the Acting Moderator of the Session, Mr. James Drennan, and Mr. James M. McNair sought professional advice on remodeling the Patterson property. At a congregational meeting held on July 28, 1957, and moderated by Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr., a Building Committee was elected , composed of Mrs. M. P. James, Mr. Murphy McGirt, Mr. J. D. Medlin Mr. G. P. Henderson, Mrs. G. P. McKinnon, and Mrs. Mayme McQueen. This Committee was authorized to employ an architect and consult contractors to make a complete study. The Secretary of the Southern Presbyterian Department of Architecture made recommendations to the committee.
On August 25, 1957, the congregation met to hear the report of the Pulpit Committee. Mr. Murphy McGirt, Chairman, represented the Committee in putting the name of Rev. Joseph W. Walker before the congregation.
Mr. Walker was unanimously called by standing vote.
Joseph Walker and Betty Jo Walker accepted the call of the Church, and arrived in September, 1957. They are the proud parents of little Miss Debbie Walker.
Mr. Walker, following his graduation from Davidson College and Union Theological Seminary, accepted the call of the Selma Presbyterian Church. Wherever he has gone, his work has been outstanding. In 1957, Mr. and Mrs. Walker spent a year in Scotland, while he continued his graduate studies at the University of Edinburgh.
Mr. Walker's remarkable leadership ability, and his kindness and true friendship have endeared him to the people of Maxton. As preacher and pastor he has been richly endowed by God. A thankful Elder recently voiced the congregation's feeling when he exclaimed, “. . . My! How the Lord has blessed us!” Mrs. Walker, the former Betty Jo McCormick of Rowland, is a graduate of Assembly's Training School. Maxton has come to love this happy and consecrated young couple, who are serving their Lord so faithfully.
A memorial flower container was given to the Church in September, honoring the memory of Bernard Mullins, Sr., a son of the Church “. . . who made the Supreme Sacrifice while in the service of his country.” That same month, Miss Ann Elizabeth McKinnon presented a silver flower urn to the Church.
Plans were begun for the celebration of the Church's eightieth anniversary. Mr. R. F. Morris was appointed Chairman of the Homecoming Committee, and the date selected for the occasion was October 19, 1958. Other members of the Committee were Mr. J. B. McCallum, Mr. G. P. Henderson, Mrs. McBryde Austin, Mrs. Lacy Williams, and the Pastor.
In October, the Session made the motion that financial support “. . . be made available to either two or three delegates from the Church to the Youth Fellowship Convention to be held in Lexington, Kentucky, during the Christmas Holidays. . .”
Mr. George P. Henderson, Mr. Andrew G. Williamson, Mr. W. Glenn Peele, and Mr. Otto W. Ferrene were elected Elders on October 13. Mr. Ferrene was re-elected to the Session upon his return to Maxton from Clinton, S. C. Mr. Peele, Mr. Williamson, and Mr. Henderson had all served as faithful Deacons. Mr. Henderson has extensive farming interests near Maxton, Mr. Peele is a Christian businessman of the community, and Mr. Williamson is an outstanding young lawyer.
On October 27, Mr. L. L. Biggs, Mr. Bob Misenheimer, Mr. Hubert McLaurin, Mr. Lawrence Morris, Mr. W. H. Stewart, Mr. B. C. McIntyre Sr., Mr. Sanford Lee, and Mr. Alton C. Greene were elected to the Board of Deacons, joining such faithful men as Mr. D. B. Campbell, Mr. Marcus Allen, Mr. Luther McNeill, Mr. Guy Misenheimer, Mr. R. C. Holland, Mr. LeRoy Martin, Mr. J. D. Medlin, Treasurer, and Mr. Marshall P. James, Chairman.
Dr. Robert D. Croom, Jr., was elected a Commissioner from Fayetteville Presbytery to attend the 1958 meeting of the General Assembly, held in the First Presbyterian Church of Charlotte.
The Church entered the Synod's 1958 Campus Christian Life Campaign, pledging almost one thousand dollars in financial support. This campaign is aiding the Presbyterian student work on college and university campuses
throughout the state.
In April, Dr. John H. McKinnon, former Maxton Pastor, arrived from Knoxville, Tennessee, to preach at the annual Spring Evangelistic services.
Mr. Kenneth B. Orr, Rising Middler at Union Theological Seminary, was welcomed to the Church in June, 1958. Mrs. Malcolm Gillis succeeded Mrs. Patsy Purcell Braddy as Church Secretary, and a note of appreciation was sent to Mrs. Braddy from the Session.
Under the direction of Kenneth Orr and the Pastor, the Church inaugurated a “United Youth Week” on July 20. Young people of all denominations, numbering over fifty, attended the evening programs of worship, fun, and fellowship. The study groups were divided into two sections, the Junior High group studying “The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ,” under the leadership of Elder Andy Williamson. The senior young people studied a course entitled, “Understanding Ourselves”, with the aim of attaining Christian maturity. Dr. John Daughtrey, of the College faculty, was the leader of this section. The young people enjoyed refreshments and organized recreation after the study sessions. Mr. Freddie Croom, of the Maxton Senior High Fellowship group, was elected Moderator of the Synod of North Carolina's Senior High Fellowship Presidents in 1958.
During the summer, progress continued to be made by the Manse Building Committee. A son and Deacon of the Church, Mr. Lawrence Morris, purchased the old manse property, and another son of the Church, Mr. Reginald McVicker, submitted proposed sketches of the new manse. The clearing of the site was begun, preceding the actual construction.
As the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton completes eighty years of service in the name Jesus Christ, the name of each Pastor has been recalled: Roger Martin and the days of old Shoe Heel, . . Halbert Green Hill, “the Grand Old Man of the Synod of North Carolina,” . . . William B. McIlwaine, . . .Eugene L. Siler, . . . James M: Appleby, . . . John H. McKinnon, . . . Layton Fraser, . . . Lee Stoffel, . . . Charles L. Donnell . . . and the present beloved pastor. Joseph W. Walker. Each of them has been different, each has been used by the Lord to serve the people of his time. To God be the praise.
“Except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it . . .”
In the midst of the season of Homecoming and rejoicing, Rev. Walker wrote to the congregation:
“Homecoming is a significant time in the life of the Church. It is a time when the ties that bind us together in Christ are strengthened. It is a time when we draw inspiration as we see the power of God working in the midst of His people. It is a time of renewal when in the midst of warm association and sacred memories we rededicate ourselves to the service of Christ in the present hour.”
“. . . we rededicate ourselves to the service of Christ in the present hour.” Fathers of 1878, sons and daughters of Knox and the Highlanders: Your children of 1958 are marching onward with the Cross of Jesus
going on before. . . . . . . . “. . . See! His Banners Go! . . .”
- . . . Brothers, we are treading
- where the saints have trod . . .
- . . . Onward, then, ye people,
- join our happy throng.
- Blend with our your voices
- In the triumph song:
GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR UNTO CHRIST THE KING“ . . . To All Generations”
“. . . Be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name. For the LORD is good; His Mercy is everlasting: And his truth endureth to all generations.”
— Psalm 100
“. . . God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. . .” Wise men laughed at the little band of first-century Christians. Men have always mocked the weak and small things of their day. Today, eighty years after twenty-six men and women organized a Shoe Heel Presbyterian Church in old McKay Building the First Presbyterian Church of Maxton remains small, in comparison with mighty institutions of the world.
Yet, Almighty God has chosen to work through a Carpenter's Son, a shameful Cross, a small village Church. Take an imaginary trip for a moment, visiting the Southland, Japan, Korea, Brazil, and Africa. See how the fingertips of the “weak things of the world” have reached out, remembering the words of Paul, “. . .He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Travel first to the quiet streets of little Maxton and peer into the homes of almost 400 members. Through the preaching of the Scriptures and the fellowship of the members, they have been drawn closer to their Loving Father. Travel to Midway, to Alma, to the Air Base, and other nearby areas, and you will see the results of work accomplished in years past. Proceed to Wilmington and you will hear a son of the Church preaching in the historic First Presbyterian Church. A few miles to the east, a former summer assistant is working in a growing Church. Go up the coast and you will find another former assistant in Greenville, N. C. Then on to the Henderson, N. C., Church, which was organized by Dr. Hill, and Oxford, N. C., where the great gentleman preached and taught school. Another former assistant pastor is at Burlington, N. C. Come south again into Fayetteville Presbytery and you reach the mid-south resort of Pinehurst. The lovely Church was built during the ministry of a son of the Church. At Fayetteville are Presbytery offices and the First Presbyterian Church, which Dr. Hill served for eighteen years. Five Maxton Pastors have served as Moderators of Fayetteville Presbytery. It was in this Presbytery that Mrs. Elizabeth McRae accomplished the unifying of Women's Work. The Maxton ladies entertained the Women of the Presbytery in the first meeting following their organization. Several Maxton young people have served as Presidents of the Presbytery Youth Work. A son of the Church has served as President of the Presbytery's Men's Organization.
Travel to the west and you will come to Pineville, N. C., which has been served by a son of the Church. At Morven, N. C., you will find a son ministering to the Church. In Charlotte, Dr. Lee Stoffel is Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, and a son of the Church is Pastor of the Avondale Church. Churches at Wilmore and Sharon, near Charlotte, have been served by Maxton sons. At Concord, a former Pastor has ministered, as has a son of the Church. In Gastonia, a son of the Church is now preaching. Further west, a son of the Church is preaching at Forest City. Barium Springs Orphanage bears the imprint of Dr. Hill's life. In the mountain town of Morganton is a pulpit formerly occupied by a son of the Church. A son of the Church served at North Wilkesboro. At Montreat, where Dr. Hill served as a Director for many years, is the beautiful William Black Home, built in memory of the great Evangelist. Here workers from all over the Synod spend summers at Church Conferences. A former Maxton Pastor ministered to the Montreat and Black Mountain Churches. One Maxton Pastor, Dr. Hill, and one son of the Church, Dr. Black, have served as Moderators of the Synod of North Carolina. A son of the Church is currently Moderator of the Synod's Senior High Young People.
Dr. Hill served as Moderator of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1889. Dr. Siler was Stated Clerk for the Assembly in 1924, and other Pastors have served on General Assembly Committees. A son of the Church blazed a trail of Evangelism throughout North Carolina and the South, many churches being founded through his ministry. Students from Presbyterian Junior College who have worshipped in the Maxton Church are now Pastors all over the Southland.
The story goes on as you enter South Carolina, visiting Williamston, Columbia, Rock Hill, Clinton, Anderson, Cheraw, Greenwood, and Thornwell Orphanage. In Georgia, Maxton has reached out to Atlanta, Columbus, and Columbia Theological Seminary. Go further south to Florida, into the communities of Melbourne, Winter Haven, and Fort Lauderdale. Turn west and proceed to Guntersville, Jacksonville, and Florence, Alabama. Then on to Grenada, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana. In the mid-west, Maxton influences have reached to Austin and Sherman, Texas; St. Charles, St. Louis and St. Joseph, Missouri. A son of the Church served as Moderator of the Synod of Missouri in 1950.
Travel back east and pause in Ohio, where a son of the Church is ministering in Bluffton. Then south to Danville, Kentucky, where a son of the Church served as President of Centre College, and another son was Moderator of the Synod of Kentucky. In Tennessee, visit in Columbia, Nashville, Kingsport, and Knoxville, where a former Pastor has served as Moderator of the Synod of Appalachia. A side trip should be taken to Union, West Virginia, and then on to Virginia. In Richmond visit Union Theological Seminary, served loyally by Dr. Hill, the Mizpah Church, the Second Church, where Roger Martin was an Elder for many years, Ginter Park Church, where a son of the Church served for almost 30 years and was Moderator of the Synod of Virginia in 1949. At Union Seminary, three members of the Faculty have served in Maxton, and Dr. Appleby is a former President of the Richmond Ministers Group and Moderator of the Presbytery, in addition to directing field work activity all over the South. Across the street is Assembly's Training School, which Dr. Hill helped to organize. Leave Richmond and visit Petersburg, Grottoes, Bon Air, Chatham, Warrenton, and Bristol.
Leaving the South, visit New York City, where a son of the Church served as Director of Annuities and Legacies for the Northern Presbyterian Church, and the wife of a son of the Church is a member of the
National Council of Churches’ Committee on International Relations.
Travel over the great oceans to Korea, Brazil, and Africa and you will find the results of work by daughters and sons of the Church in the Foreign Missionary program. In Japan the International Japanese Christian University was largely founded by a son of the Church.
Truly, the little village Church has been used by God.
Yet, in the words of Dr. Hill, “. . . the Church of Jesus Christ must go forward. . .” Thankful for the heritage of the past, the Church can enter into the assurance of the future. It is a great future, for “Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it,” and Jesus is the Head of the Church. It is an eternal future. Dr Appleby, in his book, THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH, says: “. . . the very nature of God is imperishable, incorruptible, undying. God is that and so is His Church . It belongs to a realm which is beyond the touch of death and decay . . . The Church, which goes back into the eternal past, will go onward into the eternal future, for said the Head of the Church, ‘The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ ”
On December 19, 1978, the Maxton Church will celebrate its Centennial Anniversary. Only the Lord knows what will happen in these twenty years. Certainly, the Church is to “watch”, “. . . for we know not what hour our Lord cometh.” During these years, the Cross of Leadership will be handed on to many new hands.
Who will carry on?
The possibilities and opportunities facing the Church of Jesus Christ in the centuries ahead are unlimited, “. . . the Fields are white with harvest. . .” May the spirit of the Maxton Church always be that of John Knox, when he prayed over four hundred years ago,
“Give me Scotland, or I die!”
In the early 1890's a young lawyer from Maxton left a meeting conducted by the great John R. Mott in Wilmington, N. C. He turned to a lawyer friend walking beside him and suddenly asked, “What are you and I doing creatively for the Lord?” William Black answered his own question, left his home in Maxton, and became the greatest Evangelist in the Synod of North Carolina.
In future years the Lord will be speaking to others. He does not always require that we leave our homes, but He does change our hearts. Lovingly, He is calling men, women, and children to be His servants in their homes, schools, professions, and churches. Who will carry on? Who dares fail to try!
- We come unto our fathers’ God,
- Their Rock is our salvation;
- Th’ eternal arms, their dear abode,
- We make our habitation.
- We bring Thee Lord the praise they brought,
- We seek Thee as Thy saints have sought
- In every generation.
- Ye saints to come, take up the strain
- The same sweet theme endeavor;
- Unbroken be the golden chain!
- Keep on the song forever!
- Safe in the same dear dwelling place,
- Rich with the same eternal grace,
- Bless the same boundless Giver.
—Thomas H. Gill
1958 CHURCH DIRECTORY
Miss Margaret Wood, R. N., Our Ministry in Brazil (Partial Support)
Joseph W. Walker, Pastor-Study Phone 247, Manse 52
Mrs. Malcolm Gillis, Church Secretary, Phone 319
Mrs. Lacy Williams, Pastor's Aide
Mrs. R. M. Williams, Church Organist
Mrs. R. D. Croom, Jr., Choir Director
David Leach, Jr., Sexton
|Permanent||Class 1958||Class 1959||Class 1960|
|D. McBryde Austin||J. L. Currle||R. D. Croom, Jr.||O. W. Ferrene|
|R. D. Croom, Sr.||R. E. Hellekson||E. A. Hellekson||G. P. Henderson|
|C. S. McIntyre||J. M. Kirkpatrick||J. B. McCallum, Clark||W. G. Peele|
|E. P. Williams||M. F. McGirt||R. F. Morris||A. G. Williamson|
|THE BOARD OF DEACONS|
|Permanent||Class 1958||Class 1959||Class 1960|
|D. B. Campbell||Marcus Allen||R. C. Holland||L. L. Biggs|
|A. C. Greene||M. P. James, Chm.||Hubert McLaurin|
|S. D. Lee||L. B. Martin||R. W. Misenheimer|
|Luther McNeill||B. C. McIntyre, Sr.||L. P. Morris|
|M. G. Misenheimer||J. D. Medlin, Treas.||W. H. Stewart, Jr.|
|M. P. James||J. B. McCallum||C. S. McIntyre|
|THE CHURCH SCHOOL|
|Glenn Peele||Assistant Superintendent|
|John Frank Moser||Secretary and Treasurer|
|Mrs. Mills Kirkpatrick||Children's Division Superintendent|
|Mr. Hubert McLaurin||Youth Division Superintendent|
|CRADLE ROLL||JUNIORS||MEN'S No. 1|
|Mrs. Mattie B. Baldwin||Mrs. Coit Whitlock||Mr. D. H. McQueen|
|Miss Lillian Austin|
|NURSERY||Mrs. Murphy McGirt||MEN'S No. 2|
|Mrs. George Campbell||Mr. L. L. Biggs, Pres.|
|Miss Linda Breeden||PIONEERS|
|BEGINNERS||Mrs. Russell Hellekson||WOMEN'S No. 1|
|Mrs. Hubert McLaurin||Miss Lilis Cousar|
|Mrs. W. A. Parnell||Mrs. Louis LaMotte|
|Mrs. Murphy McGirt||SENIOR YOUNG PEOPLE||Mrs. McBryde Austin|
|Mrs. Louis Speros||Mr. W. A. Johnson||Mrs. J. O. MacClelland|
|Mr. A. G. Williamson|
|PRIMARY||WOMEN'S No. 2|
|Mrs. Glen Crofton||Mrs. Vivian Dosh|
|Miss Annie Neal McEachin||Mrs. R. C. Holland|
|Miss Sarah McRae||Mrs. R. D. Croom, Jr.|
|WOMEN OF THE CHURCH|
|Mrs. W. M. Currie||President|
|Mrs. C. S. McIntyre||Treasurer|
|Mrs. Paul Sullivan||Secretary|
|Mrs. W. H. Stewart, Jr.||Historian|
|Mrs. L. B. Martin, Jr., Spiritual Growth||Mrs. W. A. Johnson, World Missions|
|Mrs. R. E. Hellekson, Christian Education||Mrs. L. L. Biggs, Annuities and Relief|
|Mrs. J. O. McClelland, Stewardship||Mrs. McBryde Austin, General Fund Agencies|
|Mrs. J. M. Patterson, Church Extension||Mrs. B. C. McIntyre, Social Activities|
|Miss Lillian Austin||Circle No. 1||Mrs. Hubert McLaurin||Circle No 4|
|Mrs. M. L. Correll||Circle No. 2||Mrs. Leon Owen||Circle No. 5|
|Miss Ann McKinnon||Circle No. 3||Mrs. W. G. Peele||Circle No. 6|
PRESBYTERIAN YOUTH FELLOWSHIP
|MEN OF THE CHURCH|
|G. P. Henderson||Institutional Representative of Explorer Post 440|
PIONEER FELLOWSHIP: Betty Kirkpatrick, President; Mrs. Martha Davis, Adult Advisor.
SENIOR HIGH FELLOWSHIP: Anna Kathryn Misenheimer, President; Dr. and Mrs. Lloyd C. McCaskill, Mrs. Otto Ferrene, Mrs. Paul Sullivan, Adult Advisors.
The Session, 1878-1958
The Trustees, 1878-1598
|R. M. McCaskill||L. B. Martin, Sr.|
|W. J. Currie||Henry Cottingham|
|D. S. Morrison||F. E. Coxe|
|Dr. D. M. McBryde||R. M. McGirt|
|E. F. McRae||H. C. McNair|
|J. C. McCaskill||F. L. Hyndman|
|William Black||L. W. McKinnon|
|J. D. Austin||R. F. Morris|
|M. G. McKenzie||D. McBryde Austin|
|Archibald A. McLean||Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr.|
|G. B. Patterson||E. A. Hellekson|
|L. L. McGirt||C. S. McIntyre|
|John B. McCallum||J. E. Morrison, Jr.|
|Sylvester B. McLean||H. C. Cousar, Sr.|
|J. Plummer Wiggins||Frank Murphy McGirt|
|J. Lacy McLean||Otto W. Ferrene|
|R. D. Croom||J. Mills Kirkpatrick|
|A. H. Currie||R. E. Hellekson|
|J. S. McRae||F. E. James|
|J. E. Morrison||J. M. Patterson|
|McKay McKinnon||J. L. Currie|
|D. A. Patterson||E. P. Williams|
|Rory McNair||W. A. Johnson|
|C. L. Green||G. P. Henderson|
|J. B. McCallum, Jr.||W. G. Peele|
|R. S. Matheson||A. G. Williamson|
|Dr. J. D. Croom||W. S. McNair|
|W. D. Baldwin||G. B. Sellers|
|E. L. McCormac||J. Lacy McLean|
|R. M. McNair||D. A. Patterson|
|D. M. McCormac||J. B. McCallum, Jr.|
|McKay McKinnon, Sr.||C. S. McIntyre|
|A. H. Currie||R. L. McLeod|
|J. S. McRae||M. P. James|
|S. B. McLean|
The Deacons, 1878-1958
|J. C. McCaskill||John Luther McLean|
|J. C. McLean||E. A. Hellekson|
|J. D. Croom||Dr. R. D. Croom, Jr.|
|W. D. Baldwin||J. D. Medlin, Jr.|
|A. McL. Morrison||L. W. McKinnon|
|J. A. Patterson||James L. McNair, Jr.|
|R. M. McNair||J. M. Patterson|
|J. S. McRae||O. G. Drennan|
|M. M. McNair||LeRoy B. Martin, Jr.|
|A. H. Currie||Lloyd W. Anderson|
|H. C. Alford||Luther McNeill, Jr.|
|D. A. Patterson||Murphy McGirt|
|H. C. McNair||Marcus Allen|
|Robert D. Croom||J. L. Currie|
|Angus C. McKinnon||O. W. Ferrene|
|McKay McKinnon||R. E. Hellekson|
|Rufus M. Williams||J. V. Henderson, Jr.|
|J. D. Medlin, Sr.||J. Mills Kirkpatrick|
|J. E. Morrison||Guy Misenheimer, Sr.|
|M. A. McQueen||Martin McKinnon|
|D. C. McIver||J. O. Mann, Jr.|
|B. W. Gentry||Glenn Peele|
|R. F. Morris||A. G. Williamson|
|Dan Martin||James Drennan|
|E. E. Chandler||Floyd James|
|C. L. Green||Billy Dunn|
|LeRoy B. Martin||J. D. McBryde|
|J. B. McCallum, Jr.||J. M. McNair|
|E. P. Williams||McKay Morgan|
|F. E. Coxe||L. L. Biggs|
|C. S. McIntyre||Hubert McLaurin|
|Luther McNeill, Sr.||Robert W. Misenheimer|
|Henry Cottingham||L. P. Morris|
|M. A. Thompson||W. H. Stewart, Jr.|
|D. B. Campbell||B. C. McIntyre, Sr.|
|McBryde Austin||A. C. Greene|
|John Sumter McRae, Jr.||S. D. Lee|
Dr. William B. McIlwaine, Jr., 1912-1916]
Dr. E. L. Siler, 1917-1932]
Dr. James Appleby, 1933-1939]
Dr. John N. McKinnon, 1939-1945]
Dr. T. Layton Fraser, 1945-1947]
Dr. Ernest Lee Stoffel, 1948-1953]
Rev. Charles L. Donnell, 1953-1957]
Rev. Joseph W. Walker, 1957-]
PASTORS OF THE CHURCH
FIRST ROW: Dr. William B. McIlwaine, Jr., 1912-1916, Petersburg, Va.; Dr. E. L. Siler, 1917-1932; Dr. James Appleby, 1933-1939, Richmond, Va.
SECOND ROW: Dr. John N. McKinnon, 1939-1945, Knoxville, Tenn.; Dr. T. Layton Fraser, 1945-1947, Clinton, S. C.; Dr. Ernest Lee Stoffel, 1948-1953, Charlotte, N. C.
THIRD ROW: Rev. Charles L. Donnell, 1953-1957, Atlanta, Ga.; Rev. Joseph W. Walker, 1957- ——; Maxton, N. C.
REV. ROGER MARTIN
No Picture Available
Dr. Alexander Martin]
Dr. William Black]
Miss Lillian Austin]
Dr. John Allan MacLean]
Dr. Murdock McLeod]
Rev. Sylvester B. MacLean]
Dr. Robert L. McLeod]
Dr. Barney Ellis MacLean]
Thomas W. McLean]
Mrs. Jane McKinnon Oldroy]
FIRST ROW: Dr. Alexander Martin; Dr. William Black; Miss Lillian Austin; Dr. John Allan
SECOND ROW: Dr. Murdock McLeod; Rev. Sylvester B. MacLean; Dr. Robert L. McLeod;
Dr. Barney Ellis MacLean.
THIRD ROW: Rev. Thomas W. McLean; Mrs. Jane McKinnon Oldroy.
Mr. Ted Stixrud]
Rev. Leonard W. McIntyre]
Rev. James B. McLeod]
Rev. John R. McKinnon]
Rev. Charles Kirkpatrick]
Rev. Odis M. McNeill]
Rev. Edward A. McLeod]
Rev. John H. LaMotte]
Mr. Edward M. LaMotte]
Mr. Glenn A. Crofton, Jr.]
FIRST ROW: Mr. Ted Stixrud; Rev. Leonard W. McIntyre; Rev. James B. McLeod; Rev.
John R. McKinnon.
SECOND ROW: Rev. Charles Kirkpatrick; Rev. Odis M. McNeill; Rev. Edward A. McLeod;
Rev. John H. LaMotte.
THIRD ROW: Mr. Edward M. LaMotte; Mr. Glenn A. Crofton, Jr.
Not pictured: Rev. Wilburn A. Nicholson; Miss Edmonia Martin; Rev. David F. Blue; Rev.
James Sprunt Mann, and daughters of the church married to Presbyterian ministers.
THE SESSION — 1939-1945
R. D. Croom, Sr., H. C. Cousar, Sr., J. B; McCallum, Sr., F. E. Coxe, Rev. John McKinnon,
Pastor; McKay McKinnos, C. L. Green, L. B. Martin, Sr., Rory McNair, J. E. Morrison.
THE BOARD OF DEACONS 1958
BACK ROW: L. P. Morris, R. C. Holland, W. H. Stewart, Jr., Rev. J. W. Walker, Pastor,
Luther MacNeill, Jr., B. C. McIntyre, Sr.
CENTER ROW: J. D. McBryde, James Drennan, Marcus Allen, M. P. James, J. D. Medlin,
Jr., L. B. Martin, Jr., Guy Misenheimer, Bob Misenheimer.
FRONT ROW: Sandy D. Lee, L. L. Biggs, A. C. Green, Hubert McLaurin, Billy Dunn, McKay
THE WALKER FAMILY
Rev. Joseph W. Walker, Mrs. Walker, and “Debbie”
THE SESSION — 1958
BACK ROW: F. E. James, G. P. Henderson, J. M. Patterson, Glenn Peele, M. F. McGirt,
E. H. Hellekson, R. D. Croom, Jr., C. S. McIntyre.
FRONT ROW: D. McBryde Austin, R. F. Morris, W. A. Johnson, A. W. Williamson, R. D.
Croom, Sr., J. B. McCallum, Jr., E. P. Williams, R. E. Hellekson, Rev. J.
W. Walker, Pastor.
Acknowledgment . . .
Appreciation is expressed to the Homecoming Committee in the preparation of this manuscript. From the beginning all members (Fairley Morris, Johnny McCallum, Mrs. Lacy Williams, Mrs. McBryde Austin, and “Doc” Henderson) have guided and encouraged. Other individuals of the congregation and community, particularly Miss Maggie McKinnon, Miss Bessie McLean, Miss Ann Elizabeth McKinnon, Mr. Robert D. Croom, Sr., Mrs. Alex White, Miss Lillian Austin, Mrs. R. M. Williams, Mrs. C. S. McIntyre, Mr. Henry McKinnon, Mr. Russell Hellekson, Mrs. J. O. McClelland, Mrs. Ruth Croom, Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Currie, Mrs. W. H. Stewart, Jr., Mrs. Janie McKinnon, Mrs. C. W. Hensey, Mr. Murphy McGirt, Mrs. Meddie Stewart McLeod, Mrs. R. L. McLeod, Mrs. Marcus Allen, Mrs. G. F. Kirkpatrick, and others have given time, pictures, and remarks.
Appreciation is also expressed to Rev. Walker and the various pastors and sons of the church who have cooperated so willingly in compiling material, to the Historical Foundation, Montreat, N. C., to the Union Theological Seminary Library, Richmond, Virginia, and to my parents.
Sources relied upon heavily for material include:
The Session Minutes of Maxton and Centre Churches; the 1951 80th Anniversary Edition of The Robesonian; the 1954 200th Anniversary Edition of The Fayetteville Observer; Mrs. R. A. McLeod's History of Maxton; Rev. G. F. Kirkpatrick's History of Centre Church; the files of The Laurinburg Exchange; the Presbyterian Junior College Library files of The Scottish Chief; The Union Seminary files of The Presbyterian Standard, The Christian Observer, Minutes of the Synod of North Carolina, Minutes of the General Assembly, Minutes of Fayetteville Presbytery; and Dr. J. G. Garth's Sixty Years of Home Missions in the Synod of North Carolina.
Mrs. Malcolm Gillis and Mrs. Grace Cosby, typists, Mr. Claude Adams, photographer, and Mr. Bill Evans, printer, have handled the technical production of the history.
Especial appreciation is expressed to previous church historians, Mr. McKay McKinnon, Mr. William J. Currie, and Dr. E. L. Siler, on whose labors we have built.
Acknowledgment . . .
Mr. Edward LaMotte, a Son of this church, in writing this history of the Maxton Presbyterian Church has freely given of his time and ability. In this he has rendered to his Church and to the Presbyterian Churches in this area an outstanding service. We wish to express to him the deep appreciation of the Church.
THE HOMECOMING COMMITTEE.