Pastor

Rev. Charles SimsĀ 

Church Staff

Dotty Lessley
Clerk of Session/Children's Leader

Alaina Bearde
​Administrative Assistant

Francine Mack
Nursery/Custodian

Betty Gillum
Organist/ Choir Director

History


As early as 1901 the Presbyterians of the village of Sylacauga, through the Presbytery of North Alabama, began to look forward to the establishment of an organized church here. Mrs. Mary Brown was the person most interested in this effort. She was instrumental in getting Rev. A. B. Curry, D.D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, to visit Sylacauga. He was impressed with the possibilities of growth in this area, and proposed to Mrs. Brown's son, Mr. John Brown, that he build a chapel for services, and that the Presbytery would furnish a preacher. However, before the plan could be put into operation, Dr. Curry accepted a call to the Second Presbyterian Church of Memphis, Tennessee. So the matter was dropped.

The second effort at a church organization occurred in January, 1903, when the A. K. McLeod family moved to Sylacauga from Goodwater. Soon after their arrival a meeting was held, evidently with Dr. Mack, the evangelist for North Alabama Presbytery, in charge. The charter members of the new church were: Mr. and Mrs. A. K. McLeod, Mrs. Mary Brown, Miss Margaret McLeod, Miss Angie McLeod, Mr. R. Nall McLeod, Mr. John Prather, and Mr. Tom Irwin. Mr. A. K. McLeod, assisted by Dr. J. M. Smith, a young physician from Nixburg, Alabama, led the Presbyterian constituency to decide to secure a tent for special services. Dr. Smith became ill with typhoid fever and was sent to his home in Nixburg, where he later passed away. The Methodist Church gave permission for Dr. Mack to hold the services in their church. This meeting was held in July. A number of other people joined the group at these meetings. There is no record of these members by name, because the original minute book was lost when Mr. Milner took it to Presbytery in 1907.

The original officers of the church were: Mr. A. K. McLeod, and Mr. John Prather, elders; and Mr. Fred Prather and Mr. W. J. McLeod, deacons. The first pastor was Rev. Frank Marston, who was pastor of the Goodwater church. He was called for half time. The services were held in the auditorium of the high school building.

Early in 1904 the Women's Auxiliary, under the leadership of Mrs. A. K. McLeod, bought a lot on the corner of Spring Street and Norton Avenue, which became the permanent location of the church. Much of the success of the new church was due to the zeal, perseverance, and consecration of Mrs. McLeod. During the entire remainder of her life, she put an unprecedented amount of energy, faith, and prayer into the growth and expansion of the church and all its facilities. To the Women of the Church she left the heritage of devotion to God's Kingdom through the work of their organization. Throughout the years they have been very active and intent about advancing the work of the Master through the avenue of this church.

The next move was made by the officers of the church in constituting themselves a building committee, with Mr. W. J. McLeod as chairman. The committee met and staked off the ground for the new building. Without a dollar in the treasury for the work, but with great faith, and the promises of God, they determined to build a Presbyterian church. Mr. Frank Kaup was the owner of a large lumber mill, and Mrs. Kaup was a most enthusiastic worker of the church. When Mr. Kaup was asked about furnishing the lumber for the new building , he consented to do so, and also made a large contribution of lumber. The members of the church and the friends of the church contributed as liberally as they could, and materials necessary to complete the building were secured. Mr. Sim McLendon was employed to construct the building. He and his helpers worked so well that by the first of August, 1904, the church was ready for occupancy. There were times when funds ran low. Mr. McLeod told of once when there was not enough money for another payroll. The daughter of Mr. John Smith of Nixburg gave him a check from her father for $100. At another time Judge Ernest Hammett of Talladega came to the rescue and raised the funds to plaster the building. There was a great joy in the hearts of the little congregation when they dedicated the building to the Lord.

By 1922, the congregation had begun to realize that the building was inadequate, and they had started a Building Fund. In November of 1922, Rev. J. C. McQueen, who had served as a missionary in Africa, was called as pastor. He suggested that the evening offering be added to the Building Fund. Mrs. S. E. Thomas was treasurer of this fund. During the six years that he was pastor of the church, he and the congregation worked and planned to increase the fund for a new and more permanent church building. Mr. McQueen resigned in February, 1928, to accept the pastorate of the Bay St. church in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

On September 1, 1928, Rev. J. E. Hixson was called as pastor. He was an excellent organizer and in a few months he convinced the congregation that with the funds on hand, and those which might be raised among members, and the neighbors and friends of the church, they could, with the help of the Lord, build a new brick building. The pastor and the officers were the building committee. A financial campaign was put on in a downtown office on December 1, 2, and 3 and every one was given an opportunity to subscribe. The loyal fellowship among the churches of the town was shown by the large number of contributions from members of the other churches.

The old rectangular frame building was razed in a week's time. The windows were given to a group of colored people who were building a new church. The first brick was laid on May 14, and the last one was placed on July 27. The new building was opened to the public on September 8, 1929, with a worship service at 3:30 p.m.

The first church building had been heated with two iron stoves, one near the right front corner, the other near the entrance at the left rear corner. On cold mornings, Mr. Fred Prather always went down to the church to see, personally, that there was sufficient heat to make the building comfortable. The new building was heated with steam. The auditorium, the balcony, and the rooms on the auditorium level were all completed. There were no funds with which to complete the basement. At first for several years the basement was used for Sunday School space, for young people's meetings, and for other get-together meetings with only the earth floor covered with sawdust. This worked very well for several years. One summer Mrs. E. S. Smith suggested that a Cement Shower be held. Each person took his supper and as much cement as he could and met in the church basement. There was enough cement for the basement floor. Eventually enough money was borrowed to finish all construction. The repayment of this debt spread over all the depression years, and into the World War II period. One Sabbath, when discouragement was deeper than usual, one of the deacons, Mr. Charlie S. Northen, saved the day by an impassioned appeal to all the members to try tithing. Not all of them agreed to accept this method, but such an increase of funds resulted that the debt was considerably reduced. At a later time, Col. Delbert Heinbaugh came to the rescue with the visual device of a poster, showing a thermometer, graduated in the amount of the debt. Much enthusiasm was aroused and the rising sum of the thermometer was watched with interest from Sabbath to Sabbath.