There must have been something in the water in 1837.
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in Hogansville is marking its 175th anniversary next weekend – the third Presbyterian church in Troup County to turn 175 in 2012.
Loyd Presbyterian and West Point Presbyterian also began celebrating earlier this year.
The Rev. Harrison Cain, minister of the church for almost four years, believes the Presbyterian migration to Troup County may have come out of South Carolina and coincided with the construction of a rail line.
Either way, “Not many people can say their church is 175,” he said. “It means a lot to us.”
The church will hold a special anniversary celebration on Oct. 7. At 10 a.m. at the church, there will be fellowship with refreshments and historical artifacts from the church will be on display. The worship service will be at 11 a.m. followed by lunch.
Longtime members Ruth Martin and Charlotte Parker are two of the people on the committee that planned the special day. Parker’s great grandfather was a founding father of the church. She has been a member since 1954, although she lived elsewhere for a while.
“It’s home,” she said. “When I came back I had never moved my membership.”
Martin has been a member for 70 years.
“I was brought up in the Presbyterian church,” she said. “I was a teenager when I joined.”
Eve McKibben, a member since 1979, is the church’s unofficial historian and helped preserve the church history during a remodel about 30 years ago, getting them into a display case.
“While going through our stuff I came across our church histories and a bunch of papers of Miss Lillian Russell’s,” McKibben said. “She was born in 1896 and never threw anything away.”
The church actually pre-dates the formation of Hogansville, and had 56 members, four elders and five deacons, all of whom were the first settlers of the town. The only other church in Hogansville at the time was Old Emmaus Primitive Baptist Church. The members who migrated from South Carolina came from the town of Ebenezer and the church is named for them.
The first church building was a log cabin on what is now Myrtle Hill Cemetery. That building was replaced by a wood frame building in 1860. After the Civil War, the church moved to its present location on East Main Street after buying the land for 100. The church donated the land its former building was on to the city with the stipulation that each member receive a free burial plot in the new cemetery.
Martin remembers when the Uniroyal plant operated in Hogansville – where ISF Fabrics is now – and the church was at full capacity. The minister at the time used to walk through the mill village and collect all the local children – members and non-members – to come to church. A dog used to come to church services as well, but left when the preacher started his sermon.
The church’s longtime values are education and music, with seven Presbyterian seminaries around the country.
“We believe there is one God who is a god of grace and that overrides everything,” Cain said.
Cindy Brazell, who serves as the church administrator, has been a member since 1994.
“It’s important to stand with a group of people and say what you believe every Sunday,” she said.
Church membership is around 50, but members still are active in the community and with their own ministry projects. The ladies make a quilt that’s raffled off at the city’s Hummingbird Festival every year, with the proceeds going to mission work. They also make burial gowns for babies born in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“I read about a similar program in a magazine,” Parker said. “There is a desperate need. Even doll dresses are too big.”
Cain actually served as an interim pastor at the church 10 years ago and applied to come back to Hogansville when the job became open again.
“I don’t think it was an accident,” that he’d been there before, Cain said.