Borrowing from our other blog’s theme, “On This Day in Presbyterian History,”—May 21, 1936—the southern Presbyterian Church celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary. The following text is from a news clipping preserved by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon. An image scan of the news clipping is shown on the right:—
TIMES-UNION, Jacksonville, May 21, 1936.
Presbyterians Hold Session in Historic Church
Diamond Jubilee of Organization Is Convened at Augusta.
AUGUSTA. Ga., May 21, (UP) — The seventy-fifth anniversary of the building of a church out of the crisis of the War Between the States will be observed dramatically at the diamond jubilee of the Presbyterian Church of the United States.
The annual meeting of the church opened tonight in the First Presbyterian Church here where 75 years ago, December 4, 1861, the Southern division of the faith was established.
The Southern Presbyterian Church’s existence began during the days of the War Between the States. The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America had passed the famous Gardiner Springs resolutions in ’61, calling upon every member of the church to pledge allegiance and loyalty to the Federal Government which was fighting the Confederacy.
The adoption of that resolution left the Southern Presbyterian members with no choice but to withdraw and form their own general assembly. This was done December 4, 1861, at a meeting in the Presbyterian Church here. At that time, Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, father of late President Woodrow Wilson, was pastor of the Augusta church.
The ancient building still stands, and a reminder of the days that caused the formation of the new assembly is seen, in the slave galleries for the negroes. Until the last of them died a few years ago, there were still several colored members who held their memberships from slave days.
A stated clerk to succeed the Rev. J. D. Leslie, who died recently, is to be elected by the assembly. The Rev. E. C. Scott of Dallas, Texas, who has served as assistant stated clerk, is expected to be elected stated clerk.
Three overtures asking that the church take steps to promote an organic union of all Presbyterian bodies in the Nation are to be presented formally to the assembly Friday, but no action is expected until Monday. The Presbytery of Central Mississippi is to file an overture disfavoring the union move.