Friday, May 19, 2017

First Presbyterian Church St Marys Ga.

Built by public subscription in 1808 as a place of divine worship for inhabitants of St. Marys and its vicinity. Reverend Horace Southworth Pratt was ordained and installed as the first pastor by the Presbytery of Georgia in June, 1822. Incorporated under the name of the Independent Presbyterian Church of St. Marys Dec. 20, 1828. On Dec. 5, 1832, the Independent Church was incorporated as the First Presbyterian Church of St. Marys in the Georgia Presbytery. 020-1

On April 2, 1807, $1,823.50 was raised by public subscription for the promotion of divine worship in this place, and for the building of a small but convenient church for that purpose.

Later subscriptions brought the total to $3,442.00. “The church to be erected was to be called and known by the name St. Marys Church’.” On April 18, 1808, $117.00 was donated for the purchase of a bell for the church on which was to be inscribed “My sound to thy people, O Lord, shall call them to thy word”. The church building was completed in 1808.

The church was non-denominational until a young Presbyterian Missionary, Horace S. Pratt, from the Presbytery of New Brunswick, N.J. came to St. Marys in 1823. He found religion in the church to be in a “very low and languishing state, having existence in name only”. With 29 persons desiring to form a Presbyterian Church and call him as pastor, in June of 1822 the Presbytery of Georgia, meeting in St. Marys for the first time, organized the “Presbyterian Church of St. Mary’, ordained Horace Pratt and installed him as its pastor.

In 1828, by an Act of the Georgia Legislature, the church was incorporated under the name of ‘First Presbyterian Church of St. Marys’. In 1829, according to the ‘Minutes of the Board of National Mission’, the Auxiliary Missionary Society of this church sent $66 to Mr. Dickey, Missionary of St. Augustine, E. Florida and probably helped to finance other Missionary efforts.
The first floor of the church was used for a weekday public school for the children of St. Marys Georgia for many years. Originally, a double staircase led to a landing just before the main entrance on the East side (facing Osborne Street) of the church. On the Northeast outside wall, a stairway led to the slave gallery.

The church tower was also originally on the North (opposite end of the building from its present location). It is not known exactly when the main entrance was moved from the East to the South end of the church, but it is recorded that in 1898 the bell tower was changed from the North end to its present location at the South end of the building at a cost of $103.78.

On December 3, 1956, a fire at the church destroyed the South wall and entrance, and severely damaged the roof and ceiling. The original bell in the tower completely melted during this fire. The church was restored and re-dedicated within a few months, and continued to be recognized as “one of the finest examples of early church architecture existing in Georgia”.

At about this same time, the spire at the top of the bell tower was replaced with the cross. The Education Building was added in 1956.

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