On Jan. 12, Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church will step 100 years back in time to offer its members, former members and guests an idea of what services were like when it was founded.
Though the first church building was constructed in 1879, Reid Memorial did not officially become affiliated with the Presbyterian Church until 1914, said Denise Rosenzweig, who organized the Centennial Celebration with church historian Joy Berry. The first service as Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church was held Jan. 19, 1914.
“Even though our history goes further back, we’re celebrating 100 years of Presbyterian faith,” Rosenzweig said.
Peter Hobbie, a professor of church history at Presbyterian College, will lead a combined Sunday school and worship service that will include a historical perspective as well as hymns that may have been sung at 1914 services.
“The church service in January 1914 opened with the hymn How Firm a Foundation. We will repeat that,” Berry said.
A catered lunch after the service will feature foods that may have been eaten for a Sunday dinner in those days.
The event will begin 100 days of celebrating the church’s heritage.
Reid Memorial began as a community church. It was built in 1879 on the corner of Walton Way and Johns Road that it continues to occupy. Robert A. Reid, who built the house next door now known as the Alan Fuqua Center, bequeathed the land and $8,000 for the church’s construction and requested that it be named either the Louisa Reid Presbyterian Church, in memory of his wife, or Reid Memorial.
The church was used by several denominations until 1914, with services led mostly by visiting ministers and speakers. In 1914, with 46 members, the church formally organized and was established under the Synod of Georgia.
“We are 99.9 percent positive that we have three families that are descendants of charter members,” Berry said. “Those folks will be recognized in some fashion.”
The building was expanded in 1922. In 1962, an education wing was added, and a new sanctuary was constructed in 1954.
Berry, who has attended the church since childhood, recalled the original sanctuary. “It was dark wood. Simple, beautiful, stained glass windows,” she said. But the congregation outgrew it.
President Eisenhower, a member of Augusta National Golf Club, and his family attended services when they were in town. He laid the cornerstone when the new sanctuary was constructed.
“There were two trowels used that day. One was given to him, and we have one,” Rosenzweig said. The The second trowel Eisenhower used has been mounted in a case and will be hung at the celebration.
The sanctuary was renovated in 2002 to include a rebuilt and expanded 3,383-pipe Shantz organ.
“We are especially excited this year with the centennial, that it falls with the arrival of our new minister,” Rosenzweig said.
She said Dr. Matthew Rich, who became pastor in June, is the ninth minister to lead the congregation.
A churchwide picnic in late spring will conclude the 100-day celebration.
Throughout the event, historical artifacts, documents and photographs will be on display. Members, former members and the community are invited to attend the services and catered lunch Jan. 12. Reservations for lunch are required by Sunday.
“We’re hoping that the community and neighborhood will come, even if they don’t make reservations for lunch, that they’ll at least come to the worship service. It will be a very special day for our congregation,” Rosenzweig said.