A Bicentennial History • 1820 – 2020
The First Presbyterian Church of Athens, Georgia
A Bicentennial History • 1820 – 2020
The Presbyterian Church in Athens, Georgia, was founded on Christmas Day 1820 by a group of twenty-one men and women under the guidance of the Reverend Dr. Moses Waddel, who was at that time serving not only as stated supply pastor to the new church but also as president of the University of Georgia. In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of this event, members of the church’s bicentennial committee have put together a carefully researched, thoughtfully written, artfully designed history of the church, its people, and its programs—the many ways its congregation in the past and at the present time strive, according to its mission statement, “to create a community where people seek the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rejoice in worship, and go forth sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world!”
The book, some 400 pages in length, presents not only a serious, scholarly account of the historic and vital church but also a collection of attractive, reader-friendly inserts, sidebars, and illustrations that tell intriguing, inspirational, sometimes even provocative stories to capture both the history and the heart of the oldest church in the city of Athens.
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To place your pre-order, please follow the directions for one of the two ordering options. (If you need assistance, please e-mail or call the church office):
2) Fill out and print the pre-order form here, then mail it with a check to the church office:
185 East Hancock Avenue
Athens, GA 30601
Description: 382 pages of text together with black-and-white and full-color images throughout
Format: 8½ by 11, hardcover
Price: $45.00 per book pre-ordered and paid by February 15, 2021 ($55.00 per book after February 15, 2021)
NOTE: According to the best-laid plans of mice and men (and there is actually a mouse-like creature hidden away in one of the stories contained in the book you’re being asked to order), First Presbyterian Church of Athens, Georgia: A Bicentennial History, 1820-2020 was to be available early during the 200th anniversary year so that church members could use it as a directory to all of the activities and events scheduled in commemoration of the bicentennial. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and a whole series of lesser difficulties postponed production, but the delay also allowed the authors and editors to continue researching and writing, making this an even finer book than it might otherwise have been. It is now slated for delivery early in 2021.
A Shared Story: The Origins of a College, a Community, a Church • “Cromwell of the Classroom”: Moses Waddel, Presbyterian Patriarch of the South • The Founding and First Decades of Our Church: 1820-1865 • The Founding Members • Alonzo Church • Nathan Hoyt • Tom Cobb Catches the Spirit • Our First Church Buildings and the Building of Our Church: Architectural Timeline 1820-1865 • Organ War: How a Presbyterian Woman Stole a Jewish Organist from the Episcopal Church • From the End of the Civil War into the Twentieth Century: 1866-1906 • J. DeWitt Burkhead • Charles Whitmarsh Lane • Julius Walker Walden • Spreading the Gospel: The Establishment of Churches and Chapels in Outlying Areas • Repairs and Renovations between 1866 and 1906 • The Pew Plaques Remaining in First Presbyterian Church • The Pastorate of Dr. E. L. Hill (1907-1949): A Centennial Celebration, the Great Depression, and Two World Wars • Eugene Lott Hill • The First Foreign Missionaries Supported by First Presbyterian Church • Architectural Changes, Repairs, Additions, and Improvements between World Wars I and II • The Pastorates of Harmon Ramsey and William Adams: The 1950s, ’60s, and Early ’70s • Harmon B. Ramsey • William A. Adams • Acquiring Property in the 1950s, Building during the 1960s • The Pastorate of Charles Hasty: From the Mid-1970s through the Mid-1990s • Charles R. Hasty • The Tinsley-Stern House: Its History and How It Became Part of Our Church • The Legendary Kentucky Mission Trips • Into the Twenty-First Century with Dr. Glenn Doak • W. Glenn Doak • Building for the Future: Renovations at the End of the Twentieth Century, Additions and Improvements during the Twenty-First • First Presbyterian Church in Its Bicentennial Year • A Caring, Sharing Congregation: Mission and Outreach from First Presbyterian Church • The Music Program at First Presbyterian Church • First Presbyterian Weekday School • Presbyterian Women: A History of Service
Principal Writers and Editors
Ronald “Ron” L. Bogue • J. Thomas Bowen • Richard B. Lane • Sam Thomas
Roy Bell • Laura Bennewitz • Nancy Bunker Bowen • Elizabeth “Betsy” Canfield • Kitty Donnan • Ann Dunn • Nonie Hale • Elaine Johnson • Ann Jones • Fran Lane • Milton Leathers • Courtney Pittman • Hilary Shuford • Elizabeth Poland Shugg • Susan Stone • Tom Wilfong
First Presbyterian Church Trivia, Just to Whet Your Appetite
- The Presbyterian Church of Athens—it wasn’t called First Presbyterian until almost 1900—was founded on Christmas Day 1820 by a group of thirteen women and eight men. Let’s hear it for the ladies!
- Our first church structure, dedicated in 1828, was built on the campus of the University of Georgia on land deeded to the church by the university and the state. The Holmes-Hunter Academic Building now stands where the original Presbyterian Church in Athens was located.
- Our first full-time pastor, Nathan Hoyt, served for thirty-six years. Two of his sons, Thomas Alexander Hoyt and Henry Francis Hoyt, were also Presbyterian ministers; and his granddaughter, Ellen Axson, was the first wife of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
- E. L. Hill served as pastor for forty-two years, his tenure including the church’s centennial celebration, the Great Depression, and both World Wars. Sadly, young as he is, current minister Ryan Baer will reach retirement age more than a decade before he can match Dr. Hill’s record.
- Although we’ve had more musicians than pastors (only eleven) during our two-hundred-year history, a couple of them— John Pendleton Campbell (organist, 1888-1908) and Tom Granum (minister of music, 1985-2011)—each served for more than twenty-five years. At least neither of them got caught up in anything like the “Organ War” (also known as the “Cobb & Craig War”) that rocked our church just before the Civil War. (You’ll have to buy the book to get the real skinny on that unique controversy!)
- The installation of Martha Stone as an assistant pastor of First Presbyterian Church in 1968 made her the first female minister ordained in the Synod of Georgia—and among the first two or three in the whole PCUS.
- Not one, not two, but three major building projects occurred at First Presbyterian Church between 1998 and 2010. The common denominator in all these ambitious undertakings was our full-time volunteer, elder, church-member, contracting supervisor Smith Wilson.
- Where else but the First Presbyterian Church Weekday School could four-year-olds learn all about ovoviviparous reptiles and Francisco Goya’s painting of Manuel Osorio Manrique De Zuñiga (“A Child with His Pets”)?
- This list could go on and on, but we want you to buy and read The First Presbyterian Church of Athens Georgia: A Bicentennial History, 1820-2020. Incidentally, the fact that our congregation has always worked toward “sharing the love of Christ with Athens and the world” means that our book is not exclusively for First Presbyterians. As the epigraph to our book declares:
Next to the history of the University,
the history of the Presbyterian Church
comes nearest to being the history of Athens.
—William Sylvanus Morris, Strolls about Athens, 1912