In the Beginning…
In 1974, many members of the Upper Long Cane Presbyterian Church had become concerned over the changing of the church doctrine and the views many ministers and laymen had taken. There were discussions pertaining to the congregation joining the National Presbyterian Church, a denomination totally committed to Christ and the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God. Two information sessions were held with representatives from the Presbyterian Church U.S. and the National Presbyterian Church as invited guest speakers.
Then on May 26, in a congregational meeting, the members voted to decide whether or not to join the National church. The vote was 158 against and 118 for, and at the close of the meeting, a paper composed by Elder James R. Hill, Sr., and signed by 8 officers was read. It stated that on the following Sunday they and other members would meet at Cold Springs Community Center at 10am for the purpose of establishing a National Presbyterian Church in the Abbeville/Long Cane area. They expressed sorrow in leaving this church, for many had attended all their lives, but found it impossible to compromise their beliefs.
On June 2, 1974, seventy people from the Upper Long Cane Church met at the community center. Also attending were 18 members from the Covenant Chapel, who along with 6 others who withdrew from the Abbeville Presbyterian Church on December 9, 1973. They had been meeting at the Belmont Hotel with Rev. Grady Love, pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church, serving as supply pastor. Covenant Chapel members invited everyone to join them on the following Sunday for Sunday School and Worship services. Plans were made to join this group and an Administrative Committee of seven men and three alternates were elected. At 5pm that same day, this committee held their first meeting with Rev. Grady Love, Rev. Gordon Reed and Rev. Loren Watson. Everyone agreed to a 9am Worship service and a 10am Sunday School, meeting at the Belmont Hotel, so graciously offered to Covenant Chapel by members Mr. and Mrs. Frank Fleming, owners of the Belmont. Sunday School material was ordered, chairs were borrowed from Harris Funeral Home and hymnbooks from Lebanon Presbyterian Church. With everyone’s cooperation, the Belmont was cleaned and arranged for a Sanctuary (in the former dining room), six Sunday School classrooms and a nursery.
On Sunday morning, June 9, 1974, we attended our first Sunday School and Worship service at the Covenant Chapel. On June 16, we all signed a paper written by Mr. James R. Hill, Sr. requesting our church letters to be put in trust at the Lebanon church. Women in the church, Men of the Covenant and Bible study groups were organized. The name of First National Presbyterian Church was chosen.
September 8, 1974 at 5pm, a commission from Calvary Presbytery came to organize Covenant Chapel as the First National Church. During this service, six men were elected as the first elders. Several men had been nominated earlier and Rev. Grady Love had held a training session at the Lebanon church. The ordination and installation of these men followed. A special word of appreciation was expressed to the Lebanon church and its members for the many prayers, assistance and encouragement. At the close of the service, the congregation joined together in praise as we sang To God Be The Glory. God has truly blessed this church and we pray that each member may always be mindful of His loving kindness and mercy toward His children.
On September 29, the first pulpit committee was selected, three men and two women. Later three trustees were elected to assume the responsibility of signing legal papers as representatives of the church. Due to the objection from the National Presbyterian Church and Center in Washington, D.C., the name of our denomination, National Presbyterian Church, was changed to the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It was then necessary for our church name to be changed. In a congregational meeting on October 13, three names were presented. The congregation voted and our church name became New Hope Presbyterian Church. A new sign bearing the church’s name was placed outside the Belmont Hotel where we worshipped. The charter membership was closed on October 20 with 117 members and 30 non-communing children. Several men who had been nominated as deacons attended a training session conducted by Rev. Grady Love. On October 27, nine men were elected to become the first deacons and on November 10 they were ordained and installed by Rev. Love.
During a congregational meeting on December 8, 1974, the members voted to extend a call to Rev. James L. Moss of Manning, S. C. to become the pastor of New Hope church. It was indeed wonderful news when he accepted the call. Rev. Grady Love’s last day at New Hope as our supply pastor was on January 12, 1975. We had all grown close to him and closer to the Lord through the messages he shared. We are grateful to the Lebanon church for allowing Rev. Love to minister to Covenant Chapel and to New Hope.
On January 19, 1975, Rev. James Moss held his first Worship service at New Hope. Mrs. Moss, Mark 17, Amy 15, Elza 13 and Beth 11, were warmly welcomed to our congregation. For the first time Sunday School was held at 10am and the Worship service at 11am. A commission from Calvary Presbytery installed Rev. James Moss as our first minister on January 19, 1975 at the 6:30pm Worship service. At the close of the service the congregation joined together in singing To God Be The Glory a fitting benediction.
This was our beginning with the year 1974 being an eventful year in our lives. Through the providence of God we were provided a spacious building to use for worship. Our church grew, we acquired some furniture and equipment, but as Christians we knew the greatest possession we have is Jesus Christ. His free gift of eternal life is far greater than anything we could acquire on this earth. Looking back we have no regrets, only thanksgiving in our hearts that we loved the Lord enough to listen and then submit to His will.
- compiled by Mrs. Frances Culbreth for the 25th Anniversary Celebration Sunday, September 19, 1999
Rev. Grady Love – 1974 to 1975
Rev. James Moss – 1975 to 1981
Rev. Charles Champion – 1983 to 1994
Rev. George P. Busch – 1995 to 2005
Rev. John Fastenau – 2008 to 2016
Rev. James Norris – 2017 to present