History of Highland Presbyterian Church
The history of Highland Presbyterian Church is a record of the devotion and hard work of its members throughout the years of the church’s existence. When the Building Fund Committee set out on its formidable campaign in 1958 to obtain funds to build a new $550,000 Sanctuary, it was the same indomitable spirit that motivated a small group of Presbyterians to establish the church in 1911. The request for the establishment of a new church was introduced at the spring meeting of the Presbytery of Fayetteville at Laurinburg, North Carolina on April 13, 1911. The session minutes record that an “overture was presented from certain members of the Presbyterian Church, resident in the Haymount section of Fayetteville, requesting that a commission be appointed to visit that community, inquire into the feasibility of organizing a church there, and to organize the church if it be deemed advisable.”
|The request was granted and the following commission was appointed: Rev. A. W. Crawford, Chairman, Rev. J. B. Cockran, Rev. A. R.. McQueen, Ruling Elders Lock Shaw of the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, and A. L. James of the Laurinburg Church.
The commission held a meeting on June 5, 1911 in the Graded School Building in Hay Street in Fayetteville. A formal petition signed by thirty-nine residents of the Haymount section of Fayetteville asking that they be organized into a church was presented. The petition was granted and the church was formally organized. Members of the church set out immediately to locate a place to worship. They obtained use of the old Buieville Academy, located on the street later to be named Oakridge Avenue. The first service was held there September 24, 1911, and was conducted by the Rev. R. C. Reed, D. D., of Columbia, South Carolina. Various ministers served temporarily until a full time pastor could be obtained. The church was originally named “The Haymount Presbyterian Church” a name descriptive of the community it was to serve. A few months later, however, it was felt the name should be changed and members were asked for suggestions. Mrs. W. B. Malloy, thinking of the Highland Scots, submitted “Highland Presbyterian Church.” This name was accepted by the congregation, and the change was formally approved by Presbytery on April 17, 1912. Soon after the organization, a building committee was appointed. At a meeting of the congregation on March 13, 1912 minutes record that “the trustees were instructed to purchase from Mr. L. Gentry at a price not to exceed $1575 a lot, 114 x 300 ft. on Hay Street extended, on which to erect a church building.” Plans were begun for the new church.
Eighteen months later the new building was ready for services. The determination and resourcefulness of those early members of Highland is illustrated by the story of how the women of the church got down on their hands and knees and tacked down the carpet in the new Sanctuary. It was an enthusiastic congregation that progressed in a body from the Buieville Academy building to the new church on Hay Street to begin service that Sunday morning, September 7, 1913. The entire Sunday School formed the group which marched to the new building as the choir sang “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.” At that time the church membership totaled 60 and the Sunday School enrolled was 93.
Total contributions for the year ending March 31, 1913, the first year for which records were kept, amounted to $5,291. During the first few years a house located in Clarendon Street was rented by the church for the minister’s home. In 1919 this house and a large lot was sold and a new manse was erected on the corner of Clarendon and Spring Streets. This house was sold in 1951 and the present manse, located at 520 Valley Road, was purchased.
Ten years after the construction of the church, it became necessary to enlarge the building. In 1923, while the Rev. S. K. Phillips was pastor, additional Sunday School rooms, a kitchen, parlor and offices were added. Special services observance of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the church were held on October 18 and 19, 1936.
As membership and activities at Highland grew, the need for expanded facilities became more insistent. The church purchased additional property on Hay Street, Highland Avenue and Arsenal Avenue during the 1940′s. An enlargement proposal was adapted in 1941 and plans were being made to begin study of this project when the war began, forcing postponement of the expansion. In order that funds might be available when building could begin, a Building Fund committee was appointed. An initial gift of $1,000 had been made to the building fund in 1939 from the estate of Miss Annie K. Evans. In the fall of 1945 a Building Committee was appointed and directed to select an architect. They selected Thomas and Wagoner of Philadelphia, PA, specialists in church architecture, to draw the plans.
By March 1950 the first phase of the new plant was completed, consisting of an Educational Building, Chapel, Library, Church Parlor, Kitchen, Offices and a
Fellowship Hall. Cable Construction Company of Greensboro, NC was the contractor and the total cost was $337,227. By April 1957 the debt had been paid and a Dedication Service was held on April 28 of that year. Dr. Samuel Howie was minister during this period.
Since the auditorium in the original church was inadequate, worship services were held in the new Fellowship Hall, beginning in the fall of 1950. The old building, however, was used by the newly organized Holy Trinity Episcopal Church while their church was under construction.
In 1954 the old building was torn down and the usable material given to Sherwood Presbyterian Church, located on Highway 87 South, to be used for the erection of an Educational Building. The pews were given to the Lillington Presbyterian Church. With the old Sanctuary razed, the site cleared, and the church free of debt, plans were made for the second phase of the building program, the erection of the new Sanctuary. In December 1959 a contract for general construction was awarded to Player, Inc. of Fayetteville. On December 20, 1959, following the morning worship service, a Dedication Service was held on the church grounds where the Sanctuary was to be built. The minister and choir led the congregation from the Fellowship Hall to the site, all singing, “Oh, Come All Ye Faithful.”
Construction began immediately and the building was completed early in September of 1961. The Dedication Service was held on September 10, the first Sunday the Sanctuary was occupied. Of true colonial architecture, it is designed with a spacious portico adorned with six imposing columns. Rising 148 feet above it is a beautiful slender spire housing Schulmeric bells. Seating more than 700 people, the nave is designed with high vaulted ceiling, wide center aisle, two aisles at the sides, two transepts, and a divided chancel. Impressive hand-fluted columns add to its beauty. The pulpit, lectern, and baptismal font are adorned with appropriate Christian symbols. The console of the three-manual pipe organ is placed immediately behind the pulpit. At the top of the reredos is a broken arch. In the space thus provided is a hand-carved seal of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. The outstanding feature of the reredos is the slender cross under which there are six hand-carved symbols of wood portraying Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the earliest Christian symbols – a fish and a boat. The center of emphasis in the Sanctuary is the beautifully carved communion table, placed just under the cross, and visible to every worshiper. Built for the Glory of God, the new church was the crowning achievement of fifty years of love and sacrifice.
|In the 80′s, Scottish Heritage Sunday was started at the church to celebrate our Scottish heritage. It included tartan bearers, carried by members with Scottish heritage and a bagpiper playing on the front lawn and leading the procession of the tartan bearers in the Sanctuary. In the fall of 1986, the 75th Anniversary Year, under the leadership of Dr. Robert W. Gray, Pastor, a Capital Funds Campaign was launched to raise funds to renovate and refurbish the church. Pledges, to be paid over a three-year period, were received for over $650,000. A Refurbishing Committee was appointed to administer this task.Dr. J. Ernest Johnson became minister of Highland on September 15, 1990. The 90′s was a decade that saw the expansion of such programs at Highland as The Presbyterian Women and Highland Men, The Highland Youth Program, The Stephen Ministers, The Senior Adults (the Flingers), Vacation Bible Schools, the Children’s Programs, the Adult Sunday School Program, and numerous other opportunities. During Dr. Johnson’s tenure The Rev. Keith Riddle and The Rev. Robert Snyder have served as Associate Ministers. In 1998, Steven R. Gibson came to Highland as Director of Music Ministries and instituted a number of musical opportunities and programs within the church.
In the spring of 1999, a Committee of Twelve was established by the Session to work with an architect to develop drawings for expanding the church facilities. WKWW Architects of Charlotte was hired to complete the plans over the next eighteen months. In the fall of 2000, a Capital Campaign was held with a goal of raising $5,000,000 over the next four years. Construction of the project was awarded to Player, Inc. as builders for the sanctuary project in 1961.
Among the notable events of this period were the celebration of the church’s 85th Anniversary with the burying of a time capsule in the front yard, the visit of the Chaplain of the US Senate, the opening of the Bridges Center, and the service held the evening of September 11, 2001.
A ground breaking was held for the first phase of construction on Sunday, April 29, 2001. By the fall of that year, the first phase of the renovation was completed and the new elevator lobby was dedicated on Sunday, November 11, 2001.
The dedication of the Highland Recreation and Learning Center, which includes a recreation center with a gym, walking track, and fitness facility, a new library, three new elevators, expanded music and rehearsal space, adult, youth, and children’s classroom space, a new lobby, and a new kitchen and fellowship hall, was on Sunday, September 14, 2003. The Highland Learning Center, with a Montessori program, daycare, and innovative playground, a Recreation Ministry, with a variety of activities, and the Highland School of the Performing Arts, with classes for all ages, will occupy the new facility. In addition, the space beneath the Sanctuary has been transformed through the creative insight of Director of Children’s Education, Libby Rogers, into Son Valley, a multi-sensory learning environment for children. God continues to bless the congregation of Highland Presbyterian Church and its Ministry.
From its founding in 1911 to present day, Highland Presbyterian Church has observed many special days. Sunday, September 14, 2003, Dedication Day for the Highland Recreation and Learning Center, was one of those special days.
A capacity crowd of Highland members and their guests attended the eleven o’clock service which opened with the congregational hymn “The Church’s One Foundation.” Dr. Johnson delivered an inspirational sermon entitled “Looking Back and Moving Forward.” Music for the morning included selections by the TrebleMakers (Children’s Choir), the Chancel Choir, and the Highland Praise Choir, supported by bells, brass, timpani and cymbals.
Following a dramatic presentation by the Highland Performing Arts, directed by Susan Tolar-Walters, HPAC Director, entitled “Highland Beginnings,” the congregation, led by the children of the church, processed to the new Highland Recreation and Learning Center where a service of dedication was held in the new gymnasium. Annabel Pender was Director of the Learning Center at that time. A new Montessori School was also added to the Highland Learning Center. At the conclusion of the service, all in attendance gathered in the newly-renovated Fellowship Hall for a covered dish lunch. Tours of the new and renovated facilities were provided following the noon meal. Those in attendance were given medallions as keepsakes of this special occasion when the Highland Recreation and Learning Center, dedicated to “the physical, mental, and spiritual health of all who enter,” was officially opened.
On March 1, 2006 Cathy Wilson joined the staff of Highland as Director of Music Ministries; Brent Stapleton joined the staff on October 1, 2006 as Church Organist and Dr. Ewart “Doc” Wyle joined in March 2007 as Parish Associate.
The congregation, under Dr. Johnson’s eighteen years of leadership, has experienced a 50% growth, with the congregation now numbering just over 1100. The ministry and outreach of the church have expanded to include mission trips to Mexico and Appalachia. “Operation InAsMuch” continues to reach out into the surrounding community touching peoples’ lives. The Highland Tutoring Ministry helps to ensure success in school for the children of the area and the Thanksgiving Meal, served in partnership with the Salvation Army, provides over 1200 meals to the greater Fayetteville community. Highland provides organizational help to the effort known as Samaritan’s Purse, with the congregation filling more than 500 shoeboxes that join over 25,000 boxes from the larger faith community. Highland also hosts Interfaith Hospitality at the church several times a year.
In September, 2007 a new service, a praise and worship service, “Second Mile,” was added on Sunday mornings at 8:45 am. The Rev. Chip Stapleton, who joined the staff as Associate Minister to Youth and Families on July 2, 2007, leads this service along with Dr. Johnson. Peg Gledhill was hired in August, 2007 as Praise & Worship Leader. This service has been successful in recruiting new members, who want a more casual rather than traditional service.
Alecia Paschal was hired in January 2008 as Director of Highland Learning Center. The Rev. Eric Spoon was hired in September, 2010 as Associate Pastor of Youth and Ministries.
In October 2011, we celebrated our 100th Year !
And so, the journey continues. .
“May all who enter tread with thankfulness the courts of the Lord’s house,
and, in reverent assembly bow with devotion, prayer, and praise before
the great Head of the Church, to whom be glory and majesty dominion,
and power, both now and ever more.” AMEN.
Former Ministers of Highland