19 May 2016

Macon's First Presbyterian Church

Bryan-Aldean Concert 2008 021Established in 1826, the First Presbyterian Church at Macon, Georgia today sits across from the Bibb County courthouse.  The church arose just three years after the city was chartered.  The building seen here on Mulberry Street was erected in 1858.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places, and had the distinction of being the tallest structure in Macon from 1858 until 1903, when the building of St. Joseph's Catholic Church was completed.

From historical marker:
THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
Organized as the Presbyterian Church of Macon on June 18, 1826, by the Rev. Benjamin Gildersleeve and the Rev. Joseph C. Stiles, the church dedicated this house of worship, its third, on September 19, 1858, at the close of the ministry of the Rev. Robert L. Breck.  Mr. Stiles was the first pastor; Matthew Robertson and Samuel B. Hunter, ordained October 14, 1827, the first elders.

This church was host for formation of the Synod of Georgia in 1844 with Dr. Thomas Goulding, founder and first president of Columbia Seminary, as moderator.  His son, the Rev. Francis R. Goulding, author of The Young Marooners, served here in the 60's by preaching to the Negro members, who withdrew to form Washington Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1866.  This is the Mother Church also of Tattnall Square (1887), Vineville (1904), and East Macon (1906).

It was the younger Goulding who took over the city-wide Thanksgiving service commanded here by Union General Wilson at the close of the War Between the States because the pastor, the Rev. David Willis, was overcome by the mockery of the occasion.  Goulding's service consisted of reading Psalm 137 "…For they that carried us away captive required of us a song…".

In the church vestibule is a plaque honoring Sidney Lanier, who was a member here.
As you can see from the map below, the First Presbyterian Church of Macon is not far from Rose Hill Cemetery.  In this cemetery, I would expect, is where many members of the congregation were laid to rest.


Two such members were Frederick F. and Julia Ann Lewis.  They were named as among the first members in an 1875 newspaper article.

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Bryan-Aldean Concert 2008 020

Bryan-Aldean Concert 2008 022