A Centennial History
Horses, mules and bicycles were the standard modes of “fast” travel around town when Spartanburg Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was organized in 1905. Its founding men typically sported mustaches and galluses, its founding women long dresses and high-
Despite awesome changes in travel, dress, communications and lifestyles, church members today embrace the same historic creed and mores as their forebears. The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church has a history spanning more than two centuries, rooted in the Protestant Reformation (hence the term “Reformed”) and the Church of Scotland.
In February 1902, Dr. William Barkley Lindsay and Rev. Boyce Hemphill Grier visited Spartanburg, South Carolina. Dr. Lindsay at that time was a Presbyterian pastor in Woodruff and Wellford; Rev. Grier was pastor of Bethel Church in Ora. The two ministers arranged for a service to be held March 16 in the Spartanburg Business College, which had rooms in the Cleveland Building on Magnolia Street. Dr. Lindsay conducted the service. Unfavorable weather resulted in a low attendance of only 18 worshipers. Two weeks later, 35 people attended the second service. After this, the Magnolia Street School building was used as a place of worship. Dr. Lindsay preached twice a month to the new congregation until the end of the year, when Synod sent him to take charge of a mission church in Memphis, Tennessee.
From 1903 to 1905, the congregation was served by supply preachers. Rev. J.P. Martin of the United Presbyterian Church and Dr. John Walter Good each served for several months. Dr. Good, at the time a student at Erskine Theological Seminary, went on to become a college professor, department head and campus minister. He also wrote two books: Studies in the Milton Tradition (1915) and The Jesus of Our Fathers (1923).
These men were followed by Rev. Thomas Wylie Hayes, who pastored the Spartanburg congregation for about two years. During this time, there was no formal organization.
In early Summer 1905, Second Presbytery assigned Dr. Arthur Jones Ranson to Spartanburg. Dr. Ranson and his wife Kate had four children, one of whom, Arthur Jones Ranson Jr., was born in Spartanburg and himself would become a Presbyterian minister.
As a result of Dr. Ranson’s labors, a request was made for an official organization of the new congregation. This was effected September 12, 1905, in the YMCA building on Magnolia Street. Rev. B.H. Grier, one of the men who had initiated the work three years earlier, preached on that day. At the organizational meeting following the sermon, 21 individuals were entered into the record as charter members: Mrs. Lilla Neel Vernon, Mrs. Mattie B. Neel, Mrs. Mary J. Martin, Mrs. B.K. Hardin, Mrs. A.J. Ranson, Miss Mary Ranson, Miss Catherine Jones, Miss Eula May Caskey, Miss Nannie J. Coan, Miss Edith Martin, W.F. Patrick, W.D. Wright, Mrs. Mary S. Black, Mrs. Lula E. Turner, Miss Fannie Morrow, Sam Orr Black, Hugh S. Black, Eugene Purdy, John T. Compton, W. Ernest Turner and Mrs. W.L. Bryson. D.C. Smith was elected as elder.
The charter event concluded with communion and a prayer of thanksgiving by Rev. J.W. Shell, pastor of Bethel Methodist Church in downtown Spartanburg.
Five new members were added in the coming months, and a lot was purchased at the corner of Main and Advent streets for the establishment of a brick church building. Construction began in Autumn 1908 and the church was completed during the winter at a cost of approximately $10,000. The first service in the new facility was a prayer meeting March 3, 1909. On April 4, the formal opening day, three services were held. Dr. James Strong Moffat preached in the morning, Dr. Gilbert Gordon Parkinson in the afternoon and Dr. J.H. Pressly in the evening. Dr. Moffat was president of Erskine College (1907-
Early in 1910, Dr. Ranson went to India as a missionary. Dr. William Hemphill Millen supplied the pulpit until the end of the year. Millen was a veteran ARP minister known throughout Synod as “the apostle to the country church”; Spartanburg was the only non-
Dr. William Allan Macaulay, at the time a recent Erskine Seminary graduate, served the Spartanburg Church from 1911 to 1916. During his tenure, the church construction debt was paid. Dr. Moffatt preached at the April 27, 1913, dedicatory service. By that time, 113 members had been received into the church; 42 had been given letters of transfer to other churches, leaving a membership of 71.
The dedication service program listed the following church leaders in 1913:
Treasurer: J.D. Andrews
Elders: J.D. Andrews, J.E. Castles, J.R. Delvin
Deacons: L.K. Brice, R.W. Castles, J.T. Wright, W.L. Roseborough, T.C. Lester
Ushers for 1913: Lowery Blakely, Hugh Black, Watt Castles, Luther Brice
Sabbath School: W.A. Macaulay, superintendent; J.D. Andrews, assistant superintendent; Mrs. I.E. Harris, secretary/treasurer
Teachers: Mrs. H.R. Black, Mrs. J.A. Brice, Miss Lalla Martin, W.T. Hipp, J.D. Andrews, J.R. Delvin, assistant J.W. Murray
Dr. Macaulay left in 1916 to answer a call to service at the Greenville Church. Rev. J. Rogers Hooten served from 1917 to 1919. This was during World War I, when economic conditions were difficult for many Americans. For a time, the Hooten family had to use the church basement for their living quarters.
Rev. Samuel Walter Haddon, an Antreville, South Carolina, native who had served as an ARP minister for almost 40 years, was sent to Spartanburg by Synod and served until 1921. After his departure because of ill health, Dr. Mark Brown Grier, grandson of a 19th-
In January 1922, Dr. Gilbert Lawson Kerr was sent to the church as stated supply. In 1926, the congregation became self-
Dr. David Gardiner Phillips, a veteran minister and long-
Rev. Ebenezer Gettys, a missionary at home on furlough from the Punjab in India (now Pakistan), supplied the pulpit for several months. Rev. Forrest William Sherrill, a 1932 Erskine Seminary graduate, supplied during the Synodical year 1933-
In 1934, it became necessary to ask help from the Home Board again. At the May meeting of Synod, Rev. James Renwick Kennedy was assigned to the work. A Chester, South Carolina, native and graduate of Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, Rev. Kennedy had just turned 24 when he began his pastorate here. The church again became self-
During Autumn 1940, the church extended a call to Rev. Francis Torbit White. A native of Blackstock, South Carolina, he was a son of Rev. John Alexander White, an ARP minister and one-
Rev. Harry Clifford White, a native of Hickory Grove, South Carolina, began his pastorate here in 1968. The next year, the church was relocated to its present campus at 1801 Skylyn Drive. Subsequently, a new manse was purchased on Winfield Drive. Rev. White served the congregation until his death January 5, 1995.
Rev. White also was an Army and National Guard chaplain, retiring in 1986 with the rank of lieutenant-
Rev. James Coad Jr. supplied the congregation for a year after the death of Rev. H.C. White. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Rev. Coad is both a Navy and Army veteran who, after graduating from Columbia Seminary in Georgia in 1957, served churches in Georgia and Arkansas and was a missionary in Mexico for five years. After his retirement in 1991, he continued to supply churches in the Carolinas. He was Synod moderator in 1997.
In June 1996, Rev. Peter Anthony Waid began his pastorate at the Spartanburg Church. A native of Smithfield, North Carolina, who grew up in the Japanese mission field where his parents worked, Rev. Waid is a grad-
The church’s year-
Compiler’s Note: This brief historical outline is based on ARP Synod records and on the writings of Miss Agnes Coleman, a long-