The members of Marks Creek Presbyterian Church are awaiting the worship service on Nov. 6, as they will be observing the 150th anniversary of the founding of the church.
Several former ministers of the church will participate in that service, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. These include Ladd Brearley, Roy Coker, Nels Falk and Paul Beasley. Ken Goins, CLP, is the current pastor of the church. There will be a reception following the service. Former members and friends of the church are invited to attend. In addition, the church is planning several special activities throughout the coming year to mark the milestone.
Marks Creek Presbyterian Church was organized at its present site near Hamlet on Nov. 2, 1861, by a commission from the Fayetteville Presbytery. Randolph McDonald was elected as the first ruling elder, according to Goins. Also elected were Daniel W. Campbell, whose family gave the land on which the church was built, and Daniel Currie. The site is at the head of Marks Creek. There were 28 members in the church at that time.
The church had been organized even earlier in 1820 one mile southeast of Hamlet on land which is now the home of James and Alene Hampton. No other known records exist for this early congregation. It is known, according to Goins, that some of the members left the area and settled in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
“The first church structure was a large one-room building of heart pine donated by members and friends and built with volunteer labor,” said Goins. “There were two doors and two aisles whereby men entered and sat on the left and women did so on the right. There is a rock cairn on the grounds to indicate the spot on which the original pulpit stood. Rev. Andrew McMillan served as the first minister. The first deacon, John Wilkes, was elected in 1879.”
Goins said the present brick structure was completed in 1938. The Fellowship Hall wing was completed in 1950. The Education wing was added in 1972. The renovation of the sanctuary was complete in 1973 and a long-desired steeple was added in 1997. Recently, new stained glass windows were installed due to the generosity of the families in the church.
“Landscaping both sides of the sanctuary lawn has added to the beauty of the grounds,” said Goins.
The Sunday School was organized in 1927, with an enrollment of 32. At present, the active membership of Marks Creek Presbyterian Church is 95. Due to the increase of younger children, the Session has created a Children’s Church program staffed by the younger couples in the church on a rotating basis.
The Women of the Church, now called Presbyterian Women, have been active in church and community activities since 1928. At present there are two active circles. There is a plan of rotation by which the women provide meals for bereaved families.
The Men of the Church were very active in the 50s and 60s with many projects. Several members attended events at the Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly levels.
“This group continues to be active, enjoying their fellowship meals and devotional programs and participating in various mission trips to storm-ravaged areas with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance,” said Goins. “At the present time, descendants of the old founding and sustaining families still serve the Lord in this place. Entering 2011, Marks Creek Presbyterian Church celebrates 150 years of God’s grace by continuing to serve Him in the community and across the world,” he said.
The Marks Creek Church Cemetery land was given by the Campbell family as well. The cemetery is maintained by donations from those who have family members buried there and by other generous friends, as well as funds from the church treasury. Rules and by-laws established by the Session guide the cemetery committee.
“There is a perpetual fund to assist as needed for the future care of the cemetery,” said Goins. “It is a beautifully-kept resting place for the bodies of those who have been called to God’s eternal kingdom.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 43, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.