Loyd Presbyterian Church, 550 Glass Bridge Road, will celebrate its 175th anniversary May 6. Worship is at 11 a.m., followed by a covered dish dinner.
The church on the hill isn’t the original building and the people who first set out to form a new congregation are long gone. Still, the 175 year old spirit of community and family and worship continue on at Loyd Presbyterian Church.
In 1837, there was just one Presbyterian church in downtown LaGrange. Traveling by horse and wagon, it took a considerable effort for members who lived in the “country” to travel into town for services. That year, 45 members of the church formed a new Presbyterian congregation in the Long Cane community, about halfway between West Point and LaGrange.
The first church building was shared with the Baptists - with each congregation holding alternating Sunday worship services. It was common for members of both Long Cane Baptist Church and Long Cane Presbyterian Church to attend the others’ worship services. For 49 years, the two churches shared the building.
In 1886, the Presbyterians move out to build a church of its own on Glass Bridge Road, renaming it Loyd Presbyterian Church in honor of member James Loyd. The first building had two front doors - one for the women and young children, the other for the men and older boys.
Members of some of the original families are still part of Loyd Presbyterian Church today, including Harold Loyd, 81 the great great grandson of James Loyd.
“The church became a landmark in the community,” Harold Loyd said. “Everyone knew where it was.”
It was the gathering place for the community, not only to worship, but to see friends and family and, for a time, it was also the community school.
“My mother went to the one-room school there,” said Carolyn Shaput, 83. “I grew up on the family dairy farm. Church was the place to come. As a teenager we had a young people’s group with hayrides and a place on the river where we’d go and roast hot dogs. It was fun.”
The church grew and in the 1930s, Guy Davidson, Jr. found a unique way to expand the buildings. He bought two surplus army barracks from Ft. Benning that were delivered in 1937. Over the next few years church members raised funds to complete and furnish the building as a recreational and fellowship building.
That building still stands, although it is now across the street from the church.
Other additions were made to the church including an educational building and a new sanctuary that was completed in 2001. Before building the current sanctuary, the church donated and moved its building to a site for Lakeview Baptist Church.
“Lakeview needed a church and Loyd hated to tear it down, so we gave it to them,” said longtime member Charles Darden, 77.
Through the years, Loyd Presbyterian Church has been a place for people to mark life milestones - births, marriages and deaths.
At the church, Shaput can trace her life through memories of Bible school, her first wedding and the burials of her parents and other family members.
“I still remember Bible school. We’d march in with the American flag and the Christian flag, singing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers,’” she said. “I walked on Teaver Road to get to church and sometimes it was so hot and dusty, the dust would be up around your ankles. They had a manse here, too. The preacher always lived there and that’s where I got married.”
Charles Darden has another way to mark the passing of the years. He measures the church growth by the number of restrooms the church has.
“We started with one outhouse, then we had one bathroom for the women. When we built in the 1970s we had a men’s and a women’s bathroom. When we built the fellowship hall we added three more,” he said. “Now we’ve got bathrooms everywhere.
“We’ve come a long way.”