From a history written by Professor Joseph A. McArthur in 1934 we read the following: "Under a shelter four miles west of Fayetteville, on the west bank of Blount's Creek near a splendid spring of water, services were held as far back as 1793." Colin MacPherson deeded property to the "Elders for the Congregation of the Meeting House known by the name of MacPherson Meeting House," the deed being dated August 16, 1802. We may be reasonably sure the church had organized by 1800. Angus McDiarmid was the first minister. Because many of the early Scottish settlers could not understand English, two sermons were preached each time services were held, one in Gaelic and one in English.
The church has a Sunday school journal, dating from 1834, which says H. Lute began the Sunday School in the spring of 1832. The journal also lists a "Catalogue of Books belonging to the MacPherson Sunday School library." There are over 100 named, including novels, primers and spelling books as well as religious books. Sunday Schools predating public education were often established to teach the three R's, as well as scripture.
In 1854, "Owing to the scarcity of ministers and the difficulty of securing a pastor for even a morning service," the church was dissolved by Fayetteville Presbytery. The Sunday School, however, continued. In 1867 the church was reorganized. The old wooden building, much in need of repair, was torn down and the basic part of the present sanctuary built from brick of the Fayetteville arsenal destroyed by Sherman. The construction was mainly done by members, at a cost of less than $1,000, A number of interesting pieces were preserved from the original church, and may be seen in the parlor today, as may the newly discovered plans for the 1867 building. In 1924, a one room school was moved from across the street to be used by the Sunday School. Soon after it burned in 1947, an education wing was added to the church. In 1960 a second section was added and a manse built where the one room school has first stood. The sanctuary was enlarged in 1982, almost doubling the seating capacity, to accommodate a growing congregation.
A "Ladies' Aid Society" started in 1885, and continued well into the next century. The "Missionary Society," organized in 1889, was one of the first in the region. In 1912 it became the "Women's Auxiliary"; in 1950 "Women of the Church"; and now "Presbyterian Women."
Through the years, the church secured additional property and now owns approximately fourteen acres. The cemetery behind the church dates from at least 1800.
The church is no longer "four miles" from Fayetteville; it is within the city limits. The center of population of Cumberland County is now west of the church, so MacPherson is near the middle of expanding growth. Its days of greater service to the kingdom surely lie in its future.
In 2000, MacPherson celebrated its bicentennial. Among the special events were the publishing of a church history, the building of a memorial cairn, the purchase of a hospital van for Congo's Good Shepherd Hospital, and a decision of two members, Al and Ellen Smith, to become missionaries to Russia.
The MacPherson Presbyterian Church History (1800-2000), Psalm 90:1, by Lois Lambie, can be purchased by contacting the church office at (910) 867-2113 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some Pictures from Our Past
The sounding board from the original church (circa 1800)
The communion bench from the original church (circa 1800)
Artifacts from the original church. From left to right on top shelf : cuspidor, communion tray, pitcher, goblet, and sconces on bottom shelf
Former Ministers (Top left to bottom right): Colin McIver (1835-40), Evander McNair (1852), James P. Mcpherson (1867-78), Vivian Gray Smith (1902-07), Kenneth Alexander McLeod (1908-16), Drury Lacy Jones (1921-35), James Buchanan Reilly(1936-42), and James Floyd Menius (1943-50)
Former Ministers (Top left to bottom right): William Bartlett Gaston (1951-57), John Pinckney Stephenson (1957-60), Frank Muir Scarlett (1961-66), Charles Edwin Kirkpatrick (1966-77), John Young Todd, III (1978-89), David Ellis Collier (1991-94), James Stewart Welch, Jr (1996-2001), and Jerrold Burnside (2003-2008)
View showing the Fellowship Hall (bulit in 1960) on the left, the Education Wing (1948) in the center and the Sanctuary (1867-68) on the right