City Directories and History: The first worship services for Associate Reformed Presbyterians in Greenwood began in 1911 and were led by Rev. Ebenezer B. Kennedy. Rev. Kennedy was serving as pastor of the ARP Church in Abbeville, and would later be a professor at Erskine College. The services were held in City Hall. After three years, the group had grown to the point that it was organized as a congregation by Second Presbytery. The organization took place in November 1914, and Rev. John Todd Young was called as the minister at that time. There were 17 charter members: J. F. Wideman, A. W. Henderson, Mrs. Margaret Hearst Lipscomb, S. W. Harling, E. P. Wideman, Mrs. John T. Young, Mrs. A. M. Klugh, Mrs. Lillie Hearst Coleman, David H. Magill, H. P. Baker, J. C. Agnew, Mrs. Rebecca Wideman, Miss Lula Wideman, Florence Young, and Charles T. Young.
From the beginning, the Greenwood church has benefitted from the presence of older ARP churches in the surrounding countryside and smaller towns, providing an influx of members seeking advancement in the growing town.
The church worshipped in the first few years in the City Hall, County Court House, and the Salvation Army. The first minister, Rev. Young, was a native of Due West, S. C. and a graduate of Erskine College and Seminary. He served several United Presbyterian churches in New York and Pennsylvania before coming to Greenwood, where he served from 1914 to 1922. While leading the new church, he also taught at the Bailey institute and served as a YMCA chaplain in France during World War I. During his pastorate the Greenwood church moved into its first house of worship, described as a bungalow church on the corner of Monument and Court Streets.
Rev. William Barkley Lindsay served the church for a short time from 1922 to 1923. He was followed by Rev. Fred Tennyson McGill, who served for five years from 1923 to 1928. Rev. McGill was a native of Hickory Grove, S. C. and a graduate of Erskine College and Princeton Seminary. Prior to coming to Greenwood, he had served briefly as a missionary to India. During Rev. McGill’s ministry, the growing church sought a new location and purchased a lot at the corner of Calhoun and Lander Streets. This site was adjacent to the campus of Lander College and on a major entrance street into the downtown area. A church was built on this site in 1925-26. At the time, the church had 64 members. Financial assistance was received from Rev. N. E. Smith and Mr. E. C. Stuart of Florida, and the completed building was valued at $30,000.
The next minister was Rev. Paul Livingston Grier, II, who was a native of Due West and a graduate of Erskine College and Seminary. He did additional work at Princeton Seminary, Columbia University, and the University of Virginia. His first pastorate was at Ora, S. C., from which he moved to Greenwood in 1929. Rev. Grier served the church for two years, after which he moved to Charlotte, N. C. to serve a larger church.
The next pastor at Greenwood was Rev. William Laurens Pressly, a native of Statesville, N. C., where his father served as pastor of the ARP Church for over 50 years. Rev. Pressly received his education at Erskine College, Erskine Theological Seminary, and Princeton Seminary, where he received a master of Theology degree. The Greenwood church was his first pastorate, which he served from 1931 to 1946. Even though his pastorate included the Great depression and World War II, substantial progress was made. The church became self-supporting, , the remaining debt from the construction of the church building was paid, new pews and furniture secured, and a pipe organ was installed. The membership of the church more than doubled. Rev. Pressly was active in the civic life of the community, serving as chairman of the library board.
The next minister was Rev. Sam Alexander Tinkler, who served from 1947 to 1958. A native of Salem, Tennessee, he was educated at Erskine College, the University of Tennessee, and Erskine Theological Seminary. He served pastorates in Lake Wales, Florida and Atlanta before coming to Greenwood. He is described as a preacher of pronounced gift and ability.
Ministers to serve the Greenwood church in recent years include: Rev. W. J. Boyd (1961-1965), Rev. Harold Mace (1966-1970), Rev. Donald W. Elliott (1971-2002), Rev. Timothy Erskine (2003-2005), Rev. Bryan Bult (2008-2014), and Rev. Todd McCoy.
During Rev. Elliott’s ministry, the Greenwood congregation moved to its third house of worship. The congregation purchased a 6.5-acre site on Cokesbury Road northwest of Greenwood. In April 1977, the first unit of the church facility was opened with the sanctuary and educational building. An enlarged social hall and increased educational space was added in 1998. The facility is located at 1635 Cokesbury Road. [Written and contributed to R&R by P. M. Gettys – 2015]
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