Rev. Stanley Layton has become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Ellerbe. He was examined by the Central Carolina Presbytery on Nov. 27, 2012, and he and his family relocated to Ellerbe during the last week of December 2012. He assumed his duties as pastor Jan. 1, 2013, following the retirement of Rev. James Watson. Mr. Watson faithfully served the pulpit at Ellerbe for a tenure of 15 years.
Layton received his undergraduate degree from Auburn University in 1984. He held the position as an insurance auditor for 11 years before being called to the ministry. In 2001 he graduated from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He has served as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Picayune, Miss., for the past 11 years.
His wife, Virginia (Ginny), also received her undergraduate from Auburn University and a master’s degree in English from Boston University. She has taught English and ESL at the college level and is a licensed Kindermusik Instructor.
First Presbyterian Church of Ellerbe is one of the oldest churches in Richmond County with an unbroken history of 210 years. The church was organized in 1803 and was named Harmony Presbyterian Church, according to church members. In 1855, the church moved to a large building located on the once famous Ellerbe Springs Camping Ground, one mile north of the present location. By request the name was changed to Ellerbe Springs Presbyterian Church in 1888.
During the Civil War, northern soldiers slept in the old church at Ellerbe Springs and took the communion set and used it for cooking purposes. It was later found in the woods behind a member’s home, except for one goblet. The lady member returned the set to the church and it was placed in a display cabinet in the vestibule of the church.
In 1924 a new church building along with a manse to house the preacher was completed on the property of what is now the corner of Third and Ballard Street, Ellerbe. The church has remained at this location. The name was changed to Ellerbe Presbyterian Church and in 1963 changed to First Presbyterian Church, Ellerbe. In 1986 a major renovation of the church sanctuary was completed. In 1958 an educational/fellowship hall was built and 2007 a new fellowship hall/gymnasium was completed and dedicated.
In 1983 the Northern Presbyterian USA and Southern Presbyterian USA united into one. At this time the congregation at First Presbyterian Ellerbe voted to withdraw and in 1985 united with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).