The History of Hopewell Presbyterian Church from 1770 to 2012
Hopewell Presbyterian Church at Claussen has changed many times and in many ways between the time of its establishment in 1770 and today. The group of Ulster Presbyterians who landed on the banks of Black River in 1732 were not only strong in the faith of their fathers, but had a great determination that this faith should live after them. They had received a grant of land, 20 miles square from their King, William of Orange, and it was in his honor that the settlement was called “Williamsburg.” From this location the settlers moved out and around the area. One of the first settlements was Indiantown, established in 1757 and located about one and one-half miles from the head of navigation on Black Mingo Creek. It might have been closer, according to the 1957 history of Indiantown Church, had not the intervening lands been owned by a staunch member of Prince Frederick Parish. Great dissention had developed between the colonies and England which included the Church of England. Dissenters were doubly handicapped. Churches of the Establishment were built at government expense, the clergy paid by the state; and practically all elective offices were open only to members of the Church of England. Taxed to aid in the upkeep of the state church and unrecognized as legal bodies, the Presbyterian congregations were forced to raise their own buildings, pay their pastors, and transact their business through trustees.
These Scotch and Irish settlers worked hard, continued to develop their land and churches and the years from 1750 till the Revolution saw rapid development of the area. By act of the Assembly in 1747 commissioners to establish ferries and maintain roads were authorized. An important highway, from Georgetown to the Cheraws was established and became known as the River Road. Serving as Commissioners were John Gregg (1761), Robert McCarty, (also shown as McCawtry in some histories,) (1775) William Wilson and William McCarty in 1777. All of these men were members and Elders of the Indiantown Presbyterian Church.
About 1765 John Gregg, whose family came from near Londonderry, Ireland, moved with four of his sons, James, John, William and Robert and son-in-law William Gordon to the banks of Jeffries Creek about half-way between Georgetown and Cheraw to an area now known as Claussen. His sons James and John were among Hopewell’s first Elders. History of the Gregg family and also recorded in the history of Hopewell indicates that James, while fighting in the Revolutionary War, was forced to hide in the swamps and sleep in a hollow log. His house was burned and property destroyed. His wife and children were turned out of doors.
Joseph Jolly stands out prominently among the immigrants from Ulster, Scotland, as one of the early founders of the church. In addition to Jolly, Hopewell’s cemetery records the following: Wm. McKenzie , born in Isley, Scotland; John C. McKenzie, Robert and William McSween , born in Argyleshire, Scotland, and John and Conningham
McClenaghan born in the county Antrina, Ireland.
A sister church, Aimwell, also located on River Road and about 20 miles east was established about the same time as Hopewell. This church was founded by families from Williamsburg and Indiantown churches, principally those families of Hugh Ervin, John Ervin, Gavin Witherspoon and John Witherspoon. Hugh and John Ervin became distinguished colonels in general Francis Marion’s Brigade and Gavin Witherspoon, a captain. The church remained active until about 1820 when it disbanded. Most of its members became members of Hopewell. A well kept cemetery remains to commemorate the location.
The 1957 History of Indiantown Presbyterian Church records that about 1779-1780 two hundred men, divided into four companies, were organized to serve with Gen. Francis Marion against the British. Two companies of this group came from Hopewell and Aimwell. The history also indicates that five of Marion’s captains were Elders of Hopewell Presbyterian Church. Unfortunately for Hopewell the first one hundred years of history burned when the minutes book burned in a store fire and all that remains of that time are several pages of handwritten memory recordings made shortly after the fire along with the gatherings of facts from other sources.
Hopewell was probably organized by Rev. James Edmonds of Charleston, who made frequent visit to places that were without organized religious activities, for the purpose of organizing churches in the more thickly settled neighborhoods. It is also reasonable to assume that Rev. John Baxter aided in the founding of the church as he owned much land in the Hopewell section and he preached at the house of Mrs. Britton in the Aimwell neighborhood and in the area of Britton’s Neck before 1765.
The first house of worship at Hopewell was situated across the road from the present structure and was described as “being in Marion County on the road from Georgetown to Cheraw.” This building burned. The Indiantown Church was burned by the British about 1780 “because it was a sedition shop” and even though there is no record of such it would not be a far stretch to consider that the Hopewell church was destroyed deliberately. Undaunted by adversity the Scotch-Irish membership erected a second church which surrendered itself to age after more than seventy years of service. In 1842 the present edifice was constructed directly across the road from the original site, in order that the original site might be devoted exclusively to a cemetery. The old building stood in the center of the graveyard.
Although there is no record of the exact terms of their pastorates up to the year 1790, Hopewell was supplied by these men:
Rev. Robert McClintock, born in Antrim, Ireland, educated in Scotland, and came to America in 1772 with ample credentials from the presbytery of Bailymena, Ireland.
Rev. Thomas Reese, born in Pennsylvania, 1742, grew up in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, educated at Princeton College.
Rev. James Edmonds, born in the city of London about 1720, ordained 1775 in Charleston, South Carolina.
Rev. Robert McColloch, born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina of Scotch-Irish parents, educated at Mount Zion College and ordained in 1789.
On November 5, 1788 the Synod of the Carolinas was organized at Centre Church in Iredell County, North Carolina. On May 21, 1789, just three weeks after George Washington was inaugurated the first President of the United States, the first General Assembly met in Philadelphia and took the name of “The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. At this meeting Hopewell was listed as belonging to the Presbytery of South Carolina and able to support a pastor.
On April 14, 1790 Hopewell called her first full-time minister, Rev. Humphrey Hunter. The background of Mr. Hunter was similar to that of his congregation and forerunners, so he fit easily into the community. He was born near Londonderry, Ireland in 1755, came to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in 1759, served as lieutenant in the revolution and was imprisoned in Camden during the war. He was educated at Mount Zion College and later ordained at Hopewell. In 1795, Rev. Hunter went to North Carolina and Hopewell looked to presbytery to supply ministers until 1800. J. W. Stephenson, John Foster and John Couser were appointed during the interim to preach.
In 1799 the Presbytery of South Carolina was divided into the First and Second Presbytery of South Carolina, with Hopewell becoming a member of the First Presbytery. In 1800, Rev. Duncan Brown preached as a licentiate and was ordained at Hopewell on September 29, 1803. In 1805 Hopewell and Aimwell reported 57 members. Hopewell reported 47 members in 1806 with 56 members reported in 1807. Later in 1809, Rev. Brown moved to Tennessee.
In March, 1810, Harmony Presbytery was organized and Hopewell became a member. Daniel Brown was appointed to supply Hopewell in 1811. By this time the Hopewell and Aimwell membership had increased to 67 members. Two years later Hopewell was again the home of the ordination of a minister, Rev. Daniel Smith, who served until 1819, when his health failed and he was forced to resign.
In 1817 Robert Gregg and his family moved from Hopewell to Lower Peach Tree, Alabama, and helped to organize a church there which they also named Hopewell. The church was called “The little church in the wildwoods.” The next year, the remaining members of Aimwell joined the Hopewell Church.
In 1821, Rev. John Harrington, of Fayetteville Presbytery, was elected pastor of Hopewell, which resulted in an unusual situation. Normally, a minister who accepts a church in another presbytery seeks permission to minister in the church’s presbytery, and is responsible for attending those presbytery meetings. In this case, however, a reversal is found. The church obtained leave from Presbytery of Harmony to make their returns to the Presbytery of Fayetteville as long as Hopewell enjoyed the labors of one of its members. It was during his ministry that the Darlington Presbyterian Church was organized.
DARLINGTON PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ESTABLISHED
In 1827, seventeen members from Hopewell joined together to organize a new church about 25 miles northwest in order to be nearer their lands and homes. They were as follows: Gavin Witherspoon, Daniel DuBose, Abner G. Kellen, Samuel Wilson, Mary A. Wilson, Dr. Murdock McLean, John Jackson, Mary W. Morgan, Elizabeth Witherspoon, Eliza M. Ervin, Sophia Killen Agnes Graham, Sarah Jackson, Hugh Muldrow, John Muldrow and Dorcas DuBose.
The next minister of the Hopewell Church was Rev. Nicholas R. Morgan who came from Mecklenburg Presbytery to serve Hopewell and Darlington Churches until 1832. During his ministry several camp meetings were held, the church was revived and some eighteen or twenty members were added. Early in the year 1834, the Rev. Thomas R. English was ordained and served for two years. It was during his ministry that the State of South Carolina was almost “rent in twain” by the party strife well known as the days of Nullification. Rev. Rufus Bailey and Rev. Uriah Powers were occasional supplies until the year 1836, when Rev. Julius DuBose was elected pastor and served for two years. It was during his ministry that Hopewell had her last camp meeting in 1836. Camp meetings of this period were usually week long affairs of preaching, singing, and praying. Camp meetings drew much criticism because of the emotional states the people developed.
In January, 1836, the church extended a call to the Rev. Joseph Brown of Robeson County, North Carolina, who remained the faithful and beloved pastor for more than twenty years. Hopewell reported a membership of 200 with contributions of $10.00 for the year 1838. The present church building was erected during his ministry in 1842. The membership of this time was recorded as follows: 1841, 115 white and 139 colored; 1849, 126 white and 46 colored; 1852, 120 white and 100 colored. In 1853 contributions of $2058.00 is recorded. Rev. Brown died of cancer at the age of 62 and the Hopewell people, in testimony of their affection and regard for him, erected a neat obelisk upon his grave in the Hopewell cemetery.
Records show that a very large tract of land was transferred to James McPherson in August 1839 and while it is felt he and his family lived in the community before this transfer of property there is no record. The History of Hopewell records James McPherson as a Ruling Elder in 1836 until 1859. The Gregg and McPherson families
remain active in the church and the community.
Early in the 1850’s a train stop was located at what is now called Florence. The trains were drawn by wood-burning engines and ran only during the day. Florence became a night lay-over, and a large hotel, the Gamble House, was built. General W.W. Harllee, the President of the Wilmington and Manchester Railroad, became the founder of the town, and was allowed the privilege of locating and naming it. He named it for his baby daughter, Florence. General Harllee was also active politically, serving as Lieutenant-Governor of the State before the Confederate War. A signer of the Ordinance of Secession, he was an officer during the war. He and his daughter, Florence are buried in the Hopewell Cemetery. Their burial site is near the front of the cemetery and memorialized with a National Historic Marker.
FLORENCE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ESTABLISHED
On the first Sabbath in February, 1858, Rev. Thomas R. English, the Evangelist of Harmony Presbytery preached the first sermon ever delivered in Florence. Later in 1861, he organized the Florence Church with thirty four members, twenty-one white and thirteen colored, as follows: (white) James McCown, Jerome P. Chase, Robert E. James, Mrs. Mary McLaughlin, Israel Cole, Mrs. E. Cole, Miss E. Plummer, Mrs. A. H. McCown, Mrs. F. Cusack, Mrs. H. B. MCown, Miss M. J. McCown, Mrs. F. A. McPherson, Mrs. H. J. McCall, Mrs. M. P. McCall, D. E. McLaughlin, Mrs. J. McCall, T. McCall, Miss Emmeline McCall, Mrs. M. E. Cole, Miss Catherine M. Cole, and Miss Elizabeth T. F. Cole; (colored) Synthy Eliza. Satira, Nenett, Henry and Caty, servants of Mr. James McCown, Henry and Jackson, servants of Mr. Wm. E. James; Selina, servant of Miss E. L. James; and George, Daniel, January, and Flora, servants of Mr. John T. James. Of interest is that exactly one-half (seventeen) of the founders of this church came from Hopewell.
In 1859, Rev. David Ethan Frierson of the Marion Church became pastor of Hopewell and served through a difficult period. Hopewell, as part of our nation, was entering into a period that would prove costly to her. Harmony Presbytery met on April 6, 1861, just six days before the bombardment of Fort Sumter. The Presbytery took no notice of the excited state of the country, but elected commissioners to the National General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Because the country was in an unsettled state the Harmony commissioners did not attend for fear of their personal safety. The General Assembly met in Philadelphia and passed the Gardiner Spring Resolutions, calling upon Presbyterians, North and South, to support the Federal Government in Washington. Because Southern Presbyterians could not agree with this action, on December 4, 1861 in the city of Augusta, “The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America” was organized.
In October, 1862, according to the meeting’s minutes, Harmony Presbytery met “with Weeping and Sorrow,” due to the deplorable state of the nation. The Presbytery took action against dueling, declaring it to be a form of murder. In April, 1863, in view of the great religious needs of the army, Harmony Presbytery designated five of its ministers as chaplains. Rev. Charlton H. Wilson, a Son of Hopewell (son of Elder William T. Wilson) was among them.
Hopewell Cemetery records 38 Confederate Soldiers including five who died during the war; they are as follows; Capt. A. D. Gregg, “shot through the head in the battle of Chicamauga, September 19, 1863-thirty years old”, Samuel McFadden Gregg “fell near Knoxville, Tennessee,1863”; Alfred Dickson Gregg “died at Camp Chase, Ohio, May,
1865-twenty-four years old”, Robert Armstrong Harllee “died in camp at Manassas, Virginia”. Others with Confederate markers are James W. Campbell, J. Calhoun Campbell, Joseph E. McKnight, Richard Grandison Howard, Robert Legare Singletary,
Gen. William Wallace Harllee, Edward P. Harlee, Anthony W. Ross, D.D.S., Alexander L.Armfield, J.S.Hutchinson, William J. Myers, James Richard Wilkinson, John S. Scott, J. Dewitt MCall, Lemuel Alsobrook McCall, William H. McCall, Honorine H. McClenaghan, George Strong McClenaghan, Thomas C. Gregg, Robert W. Gregg, John Godsden Gregg, Smilie Alexander Gregg, Walter Gregg, Wilds Gregg, A. Stuart Gregg, A. J. Gregg, Alexander McPherson Gregg, James P. Gregg, and Alexander Joezer Gregg.
WOMEN PLAYED A STRONG ROLE IN HISTORY AND WORK
Not much has been said or recorded concerning the role of women in the church for those first one hundred years. Most of their work was done at home in teaching Bible and Catechisms as well as Christian love. During the trying times of the 1860’s the Ladies’ Aid Society was organized. This organization came about when the women of the church heard of the “distress of our soldier boys” and realized that they must work and make the sacrifices that “our Lost Cause demanded”. This was the first Aid Society in South Carolina of which there is any record. It was not distinctly a church organization, but was organized and met there. This Ladies Aid Society included women from a large surrounding area: women of all denominations were joined in the work of shearing sheep, spinning, weaving, sewing and knitting. There was no Florence at that time and Hopewell was the great center of this wealthy section of the Pee Dee County.
The Charleston Mercury recorded a notice of this organization:
The Ladies of Hopewell and surrounding community met on
Wednesday 21st inst., and organized themselves into a Soldiers’
Aid Society. A constitution, previously drafted, was submitted
to the vote of the meeting, and, with a few amendments, unani-
mously adopted. After the adoption of the constitution , the
following ladies were chosen officers:
Mrs. Dr. HARLLEE, President
Mrs. Howard, )
Mrs. Dr. Harllee, )
Mrs. Dr. Gregg, ) Vice-Presidents.
Mrs. Wm. McCall, )
Miss M.J. Wilson, )
Mrs. Singletary, )
Mrs. Sallie Harllee, Corresponding Secretary .
Miss Eliza Johnson, Treasurer.
Miss E. A. Brown, Recording Secretary
About one hundred dollars were subscribed, and in part paid, to
purchase materials. The ladies of this community are all zealously
engaged—both the members of the Society and those who have not
yet found it convenient to join it –in preparing suitable clothing for
(The Charleston Mercury, September 4, 1861)
Sheep were shorn for wool, and odd roots and flowers were brewed for dye. The meetings were held in the old session house by the church. For the wounded and sick Confederate soldiers passing through the area on the trains, some sixty-two volunteer workers, most of them women, established a soldiers’ hospital known as the “Wayside Home”. About sixty-four soldiers died there during the course of the war and were buried in the Presbyterian Cemetery. Their graves were marked by a Confederate monument in 1882, and when the Presbyterian Church sold the property in 1905 the bodies of these soldiers were moved to Mount Hope Cemetery.
Following the war in 1893, a need was felt for reorganizing the society. A lack of strength was felt in the Church so the women united to form a joint Ladies’ Aid and Missionary Society. This society was unique in the Church in that it was not formed by the older women, but the younger generation of women, those “just entering the duties of young womanhood”. The women met with Mrs. Ann P. Ross, wife of Dr. W. H. Ross. Mrs. Ross, Mrs. J. J. McCall, Miss Carrie Gregg, Miss Daisie Bethea, Miss M. Howard and Miss Loula Nissen were among its first members. In 1906, it appears that more interest has been claimed by Mission work than formerly. In that year, the Ladies’ Aid Society and the Missionary Society “by mutual consent…again resolved themselves into two societies; while foreign missions continued to be supported, missions closer to home were also found. Some examples were Columbia Seminary, Thornwell Orphanage, and needy families. Old records show that in 1935, one hundred quarts of fruits and vegetables were canned and sent to Thornwell.
Much of the early history of the women of Hopewell Church was recorded by Miss Amelia Howard, who served faithfully as secretary and treasurer of the Ladies Aid Society for at least fifteen years (records dated from 1906-1921).
Projects of the women of the Church of this period were devoted mainly to improving Church facilities. In order to raise money, one of the projects the ladies used for several years was a seasonal one. Begun in 1908, the ladies had a “Christmas window…which yielded gratifying results”. It was held in the store of Miss Mary McClenaghan, who was a former member of Hopewell Church. Oyster suppers, August picnics and ice cream festivals also seem to have been favorite projects for community gatherings.
The ladies of the Church had many ways of spending the money they made. In 1908, they spent $.20 and $.50 for lamp chimneys and wicks. In 1910, the ladies bought a clock, which, after following a number of years removal, was again hanging on its original nail on the east wall of the Church with it’s hour hand on 12:00 o’clock and it’s minute hand sitting on 12:05 P.M. Resetting the clock for a later time was a favorite trick, usually blamed on ministers and was quickly discovered and corrected. A restoration of the time piece was done in 2007 and the clock quietly marks the time. In l912, pulpit chairs were purchased from the first Presbyterian Church in Florence when that church remodeled and three pieces of furniture for the manse were bought. By 1916, several more “favorite” projects had been added. The ladies were responsible for presenting a play, which gave their organization receipts of $7.10 and receipts from a ball game added $9.65.
In the same year, under the leadership of Mrs. F. L. Howard, it was recorded that: The society helped in furnishing a room in the Brearly house at Montreat, gave…to Goodland Indian orphans to the Ministerial Relief Fund. This was outside our own Church—“The first time we have done anything to speak of but for ourselves: Lengthening our cords and strengthening our Stakes”.
The records of the Women of The Church for the years between 1921 and 1948 have been misplaced so little can be found about the activities and accomplishments of the women during those years. It is remembered by some of the ladies that meetings were held less frequently during the period of World War II and the Circles and Auxiliary held joint meetings on the first Wednesday of the month in recognition of the shortage and subsequent rationing of gasoline. Also, it can be noted that women began meeting again, echoing the history of meetings eighty years earlier. These meetings, again to aid distressed soldiers, were the sites of knitting classes and bandage rolling.
Some of the projects which the ladies have joined together for in the years of misplaced records are barbeques, purchasing hymnals, Vacation Bible schools, homecoming celebrations and helping in young people’s work. One of the most physically tiring projects was probably the annual spring cleaning when the ladies met for a good cleaning of the building and yards. In efforts to improve the grounds of the Church, grass and shrubbery were planted by the ladies. Dishes and silverware were purchased for the educational building and kitchen which also served as the social center. The organization of the choir, purchase of choir robes in 1960 and cushions for pews in 1969 were all projects led by the women.
One of the largest projects accomplished by the ladies was the raising of funds in the early 60’s to purchase a new organ. A few remaining members can remember being approached by Miss Dorothy McPherson for contributions towards this purchase as it was a project close to her heart. Her efforts were closely assisted by her sisters Harriet, and Ella McPherson McKnight. The new Baldwin Organ was purchased in 1964 at a cost of $4,691.00. This new organ replaced an electric organ purchased in 1950.
It is interesting to note that in those years all work done for the church was done by volunteers. The minister was the only paid servant of the church. Hopewell was blessed with musically educated ladies who shared their talents with anyone who asked or were in need. Mrs. Jane Gregg Pearce is shown in the history book of Hopewell as the Church organist. Mrs. Wilson Gregg is also shown to participate in the playing of the old pump organ which sat in the center of the sanctuary. In 1929 Miss Dorothy McPherson was appointed regular pianist and Miss Bertie Gregg musical director.
Miss. Lydia Rogers began her service as pianist in 1933 some months before she became Mrs. William R. Gregg, Jr. She continued in this service for more than sixty years. Following her retirement from the bench she continued in the choir until her mid nineties.
Mrs. John R. Gregg (Alice Tanner) married and moved into the community and the church in the late forties and her service as a musician began almost immediately. She and her sister-in-law, Lydia, shared the duties of playing the piano or organ for Sunday School, worship services, weddings, funerals and Vacation Bible Schools until they were joined by Mrs. Carolyn Lipscomb in 1966. Mrs. Alice Gregg served for a number of years as church treasurer and was the first woman Deacon elected in the early 1980’s. The choir was organized in 1960-61 with the help of Miss Vivian Clark, daughter of the Interim minister, Rev. Julius E. Clark. Mrs. Seab T. McPherson (Jean) served as first choir director until 1965 when Mrs. Carroll Enzor (Alberta) was named Director. In November 1996 Mrs. Lydia Gregg and Mrs. Carolyn Lipscomb, also known as Granny, were each given the “Medal of Hope” by a nationally aired television program Destination Hope. This program honored those who have brought joy, beauty and hope to others. They were chosen for the many years of musical talent they had provided to Hopewell and were featured on the nationally televised program in November 1996. Mrs. Enzor continued her choir directing and teaching untrained voices to sing long after her retirement as a public school English teacher. In 2004 she was honored with a page in the Church Directory giving homage to one who has served so long and faithfully. She retired from directing in 2006, however, she continued to sing, with perfect pitch, in the choir until 2008.
As mentioned before Mrs. John R. (Alice) Gregg was the first elected Deacon of Hopewell. She was elected in the early 1980’s and served until the congregation elected to a system with Elders only.
Mrs. C. F. (Bernice) Rasey moved into the area in the early 1980’s from Iowa. Mrs. Rasey had been ordained as an Elder in her church in Iowa and was the first elected woman Elder at Hopewell. In November 1991, Mrs. Seab T. (Jean) McPherson and Mrs. Clyde (Addie) Gregg were elected to serve as Elders and in December 1991 were the first women Elders to be ordained in this historic old church.
Women were, given an equal voice and vote in all affairs of the Church, except for holding offices as deacon and elder, a privilege which was bestowed in the early 80’s. An earlier lack of participation in all affairs of the church was not necessarily the fault of the men as the writer remembers going to a Women of The Church meeting in Hartsville about 1955 when the subject of women’s role in the church was discussed. The ladies drafted a statement to the Presbytery and Synod which read that “while we recognize that God uses talents of all kinds from those who are called, both male and female, it is our desire to be the power behind the thrown, rather than the power on the thrown”.
Someone has said that behind every great man you can find a woman supporting him and giving him encouragement. Others have said if you want to get a job done challenge the women of the Church. Both of these are true at Hopewell. She stands today in her greatness, beauty and grace; no one can deny the part the women have played.
1870 – 1970
For a hundred years Hopewell had faithfully served her people, her country and her God. Rev. D. E. Frierson who was serving as minister in 1871 was dismissed, at his request, from Pee Dee Presbytery to the South Carolina Presbytery. For two years Hopewell was supplied by Columbia Theological Seminary professors, Dr. W. S. Plumer and Dr. Neil. On May 19th, 1872, Rev. William T. Thompson, graduate of University of Virginia and Columbia Theological Seminary, was ordained and installed as pastor. Rev. William Alexander Gregg, a Son of Hopewell, helped in the ordination. During his ministry, the task of painting the church for the first time was undertaken. His wife, Mrs. Annie E. Thompson died and was buried in Hopewell Cemetery. He later accepted a call to the First Scots Church of Charleston in 1880. That year Hopewell called a Seminary graduate, Rev. Edward Geddings Smith, graduate of Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary. While at Hopewell, Mr. Smith married Miss Mary Eleanor Singletary of Mars Bluff.
Presbyterians were always conscious of the necessity for education and as an expression of the literary atmosphere of the community on February 26, 1881 a Hopewell Library Association was organized. The Constitution states that this group organized “in order to desorminate(sic) sound literature in the community by purchasing Books, Periodicals, etc.” Books were donated by the following: D. McIntyre, H. S. Reynolds, W.F. Claussen, R. G. Howard, R.L. Singletary, Rev. E. G. Smith, Dr. J. F. Pearce, Rev. H. McClenaghen and A. L. Evans. A copy of this constitution is printed in the Hopewell history of 1970.
In October 1889, Harmony Presbytery met and adopted the following resolution, “It is the judgment of Harmony Presbytery that it ought to be divided into two Presbyteries, that the dividing line should be Lynches River and that the new Presbytery should be known as Pee Dee Presbytery. Hopewell became a member of its fourth Presbytery since her organization.
Rev. Smith moved to Madison, Georgia in 1890 and Hopewell called Rev. Thomas Brooks Craig, graduate of Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary. After serving three years he moved to Fountain Inn and for the next four years Hopewell was again without a minister and was supplied by Licentiates D. M. Fulton, W. A. Templeton and Charles Montgomery.
In 1897 Col. Richard G. Howard wrote a history of Hopewell and placed it in the front of the Minutes of the Session Book. Col. Howard was a famous Confederate Soldier as well as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. He was credited with playing a leading role in founding Florence County, was the father of Ruling Elders Robert H. Howard and Fitz Lee Howard. Col. Howard begins his history as follows:
“Mr. W. M. Gregg a Ruling Elder in the Hopewell Presbyterian Church
sustained a sad loss by the burning of his store house on the night of the
13th of May, 1896. Wm. Gregg was the delegate to the spring meeting of
Presbytery and had not turned the records over to his brother. Mr. D. B.
Gregg who was the Clerk of The Session and custodian of the minutes and
Records of Hopewell Church and Mr. W. M. Gregg’s misfortune the members
of the congregation of the old Church have had an irreparable loss in the
destruction of its sacred mementoes and history of over a hundred years.”
Col. Howard continued by recalling all he and the members of the Session could remember about Hopewell’s history. This handwritten history remains a part of the Session Minutes Book.
In 1897 Hopewell called Rev. James McClure, graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, who served for four years. At that time Hopewell had 115 communicant members. In addition to his duties at Hopewell, Rev. McClure preached once a month at Back Swamp Chapel.
On May 14, 1901, a seminary graduate, Rev. Frank Allen Drennan, graduate of Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary, was called, ordained at Hopewell and served for four years. On June 12, 1902, he married a Hopewell girl, Miss Carolyn Timmons. Important events in Hopewell’s history during those four years included the organization of the Presbyterian High School in Florence. In 1903 through the cooperation of Pee Dee Presbytery and the efforts of Rev. Melton Clark, who was first cousin to President Woodrow Wilson and was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Florence. The school received a gift of four acres of land in the city from J. W. McCown and John L. Barringer upon which a building was erected. Professor George Briggs came to Florence and was head of the school until 1912. The minutes of the Session record Hopewell giving $100.00 to the school. A picture in the historical case at Hopewell and in the 1970 history book shows the following as graduates of the Presbyterian High School in those early days:
Willie S. Johnson, Robert Timmerman, Joe McCown, Douglas Ellerbee,
Joe Sam Palmer, Thomas Wallace, Edna Cohen, Irene French, Janie
Sue Saunders, Jody Stackley, Mary Gregg, and Professor
Another picture recorded indicating the participation of members in education shows Mrs. Jeannette Gregg Mayers, a member of Hopewell, as being among the first graduating class of the McLeod Infirmary School of Nursing.
Effingham Church Established
During the summer of 1904, Mr. Charles Paul coble, a seminary student came to Hopewell and served during his senior year. He was called and ordained at Hopewell the following year. He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina and Columbia Theological Seminary. That same year Rev. Coble began to conduct services regularly in the school house at Effingham. On June 17, 1906 the Effingham Presbyterian Church was organized. The following moved their membership from Hopewell to help start the church: J. B. Charles, Miss Connie McCall, Mrs. I. J. L. McLaughlin, B. Ellison McLaughlin, Pauline McLaughlin, W. K. McLaughlin, Rebecca McLaughlin, George McLaughlin, John K. McLaughlin and F. G. Bass. From that date Rev. Coble began to serve both churches. He recalled in his later years that during his ministry Hopewell had some black members: “Major Tom Gregg and family and Jack Roberson, his wife and daughter, were regular attendees.” In 1908 Rev. Coble followed the example of his predecessor and also married a Hopewell girl, Miss Louise Claussen. That same year he moved to the Vineville Church, Macon, Georgia
In 1908 Rev. Arthur Ernest Spence, graduate of Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary, came to serve Hopewell and Effingham Churches for four years.
In July of 1910 the Hopewell congregation set up a separate committee to care for the cemetery. The By-Laws are outlined in the 1970 Church History book. Besides the Hopewell cemetery two other family cemeteries accommodated members of the church.
The McPherson cemetery located in the center of a large housing development just off Claussen Road on Crepe Myrtle Dr. and the Jolly-Howard cemetery on Paper Mill Road.
The humor of the Scotch-Irish members of the church was apparent even in the cemetery.
One headstone not to far from the front wrought iron gates of Hopewell is inscribed:
Remember stranger as you walk by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now soon you will be
So prepare yourself to follow me.
It has been said that in the past some un-named scribe had written on the back of the stone: To follow you I’ll not be content, until I know which way you went.
In 1912 the Churches called Rev. Henry Ward Shannon, He was a graduate of Davidson College and Union Theological Seminary. He served for three years. During his ministry in 1918, the Ladies Aid Society purchased a set of collection plates for the Church. These silver collection plates took the place of bags attached to long poles that deacons had formerly used for collections. A set of these collection bags remain at the Church and are used for special occasions such as homecoming. During that year also it is noted that contributions were $1,900.00 or $31.50 per member. Mr. F. L. Howard had the office as Superintendent of the Sunday School and Mr. W. M. Gregg was Secretary and Treasurer.
In 1915 and 1916, the Rev. Homer W. Head, graduate of Presbyterian College and Columbia Theological Seminary, having been ordained at Hopewell, served both Hopewell and the Effingham Church. During 1917 Mr. Donald Augustus Swicord who was a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Columbia Theological Seminary supplied Hopewell and Effingham while a student at seminary.
The following year in 1918, Rev. William Hamilton Johnston, also a graduate of the University of South Carolina and Columbia Theological Seminary, came directly from seminary and was ordained at Hopewell. Mr. Johnston married Miss Nellie Gandy from Society Hill, South Carolina during his tenure at Hopewell. During this same year, Ruling Elders William W. Bethel and Howard Hubbard presented a Communion Set to the Church. This set was for individual communion service, taking the place of the single cup which had previously been used. This silver and pewter is presently still used for Communion services. The next year Deacon Thomas McCall Gregg donated an acetylene lighting plant. The Ladies Aid Society had it installed in the Church and manse.
During the world shattering years from 1914 to 1919, only one reference was made to the First World War in the Session records. On December 14, 1919 the following was recorded:
A communication was read from Rev. Yosip Benjamin requesting that
He be given the privilege of speaking in our Church on Sunday,
December 28, 1919, for the purpose of presenting to us the conditions
In the Near East, especially in Persia where he has labored as a missionary
and in Russia where he suffered as an exile due to recent war conditions.
Also found in the minutes of the Women of the Church was the following:
A great epidemic has invaded our country, and indeed all countries
of the known world–in the form of an Influenza—that has made worse
havoc with the youth of our land than did the dreadful World War
that took place in 1914 and lasted until l918.
No record can be found as to members who may have served in the First World War from Hopewell.
On September 18, 1920 Mr. Johnston resigned and Rev. James Venner Cobb, a seminary student, served the two Churches for eleven months. A call was given to Rev. Paul Dickson Patrick, graduate of Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary
He served Hopewell and Effingham faithfully for seven years. Mr. Patrick married a Florence girl, Miss Blanche Jaeger while at Hopewell. In 1925 the Church was painted at the expense of $750.00. The next year the “Lord’s Acre Plan” was adopted as a means to raise money for the Church. The Lord’s Acre Plan was a method of tithing in which each member planted an acre of cotton or corn, the profits or use of which were designated for the purpose of serving the Lord. In the fall of 1925 Rev. Francis W. Gregg, a Son of the Church, preached a revival at Hopewell. Following Rev. Patrick’s resignation, a pulpit committee was appointed composed of F. L. Howard, J. S. McKenzie, S. Moses Gregg, Dr. John Claussen, and Mrs. Charlie Gregg. Rev. Davison Hafner Dulin accepted a call in 1929 . He was a graduate of Presbyterian College and Columbia Theological Seminary and served for seven years. The teachers and officers of the Sunday School Department during these years were as follows: Superintendents J. S. McKenzie, S. Moses Gregg,
W. M. Gregg and T.H. McPherson; Secretary W.W. C. Coleman; Teachers Mrs. F.L.
Howard, W. C. Coleman, Miss Dorothy McPherson, Mrs. Wilson Gregg, Miss Louise Coleman, Miss Bertie Gregg, Miss Dora Gregg, Miss Harriett McPherson, Miss Amy Boyd Wilkerson, Miss Ella Graham, Mrs. J. C. Godfrey, J. C. Godfrey, Mrs. J. D. Dusenbury, Mrs. D. L. McKnight, W. M. Gregg, J. S. McKenzie, R. G. Stevenson, Francis Gregg, Mrs. Mattie Gregg, Elmore Gregg, Mrs. Charlie Gregg and T. H. McPherson. Mrs. F. L. Howard and Mrs. Daisie Bethea Chamness taught a Sunday school class for Colored children in a little log house located about one mile from Moore’s Cross Road on the National Cemetery Road.
In the fall of 1936 Hopewell had its first Homecoming. To make arrangements, a committee was appointed composed of the following: Chairman J. S. McKenzie, Mrs. C. Joe McPherson, Mrs. F. L. Howard, Mrs. Peace, S. Moses Gregg, Hector McCall and W. M. Gregg. That same year a Building Committee appointed and composed of Hector McCall, T. H. McPherson and S. M. Gregg were instructed to make the following repairs to the Church: build two brick flues, one on each side of the Church, to paint the seats and ceiling, concrete the steps and to put a wire fence around the sides and back of the Church.
In January of 1937 Hopewell and Effingham called Rev. Edward Calvin Clyde, graduate of Kings College and Union Theological Seminary who served for nine years, with Hopewell’s share of his salary designated as $1,000.00 per year.
The Sessional records do not record any notes of World War II. During this time, however, an Honor Roll flag was presented to the Church to honor the thirty five men from Hopewell who were in the branches of military service. They are as follows:
J. Wallace Gregg Lawrence Y. Bailey James Melvin McPherson
Arthur Raymond McPherson Howard A. Gregg Daniel L. McKnight
John D. McPherson Julian D. Dusenbury Rodney M. McPherson
W. E. Gregg Richard E. Putnam Charles E. Gregg
Seab T. McPherson M. Reese Campbell J. E. McPherson
Glenn A. Carmichael Benjamin H. Gregg John R. Gregg
J. Ludie Dozier Thomas M. Bailey Curtis R. Matthews
James C. Gregg Joseph M. McKnight Walter Gregg
Richard G. Dusenbury Marion D. Campbell Charles J. McPherson
Francis M. Gregg Gordon G. Bailey James J. McPherson
Frank A. Gregg Edward C. Clyde Thomas K. Clyde
Joseph P. Clyde M. Elmore Gregg
One member of Hopewell, Thomas M. Bailey was killed while serving in the U.S. Army.
On January 28, 1945 Rev. Clyde resigned as pastor and a pulpit committee, Smilie M. Gregg, Woodrow C. Coleman, Gorce D. Carmichael, William M. Gregg, Mrs. D. L. McKnight and Mrs. Harry Ropp, was appointed. Rev. Charles Paul Coble, who was now retired and living in the community, agreed to supply Hopewell. As a retired minister, he was allowed to serve for one year intervals only; he served for six of these intervals.
Over the years more improvements in the physical plant were made. In 1958 gas floor heaters were placed in the Church. Prior to this modern advancement the church was heated by two coal heaters, one on each side of the church. Several years earlier, the Church building had caught on fire searing the attic and the gas floor heaters were considered much safer.
On August 23, 1953 a call was presented to Rev. Henry Lide Reaves, graduate of Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary, who served Hopewell and Bethesda for seven years. That year a Building Committee was appointed to build a manse. The committee consisted of the following: Phillip A. Kelly, Nelson T. Oliver, Robert F. McPherson, Charlie E. Gregg, Mrs. Irene C. Gregg, Mrs. Curtis R. Matthews and Mrs. Marion Barnes. In gathering timber to build the house, the Men of the Church would have “Log Rollin’s” with the women meeting to cook meals for them. These log-rollin’s generated much community spirit, since members of the congregation donated timber from their farms to be used in the building. The Men of the Church met at the farm to cut the timber and “roll” it onto trucks to be carried to the sawmill. Many men and women of the community still remember the good times they had. The manse still stands and is being used by the present Pastor and his wife in 2008.
In 1955 the Rev. Elmore Gregg, a Son of Hopewell, preached a revival service at Hopewell.
On March 23, 1958, a Building Committee was appointed to build a Sunday School Building. The Committee consisted of the following: Boyd A. Gregg, Chairman, John R. Gregg, Treasurer; Charles F. Gregg: Arthur R. McPherson, Nelson T. Oliver, and Mrs. Irene C. Gregg. On April 20 of that year Mrs. Irene C. Gregg was given the privilege of turning the first shovelful of dirt in the ground breaking ceremony. Ten thousand dollars had been borrowed to be repaid in nineteen years; however, it was repaid in only five years. The contractors’ bid was $17,866.82. On the first Sunday in October, 1958 Hopewell had her first Ingathering. This was a means of collecting money to pay for the new building. That same year Hopewell had her first Barbecue Supper. This became an annual event and a time for hard work, yet all the members joined in to make it also an event of enjoyment and Christian fellowship. Mr. Leon Gregg was hired to cook the hogs, but the Men of the Church were in charge of preparing the meat. They met early on the mornings of the barbecue in the old Hopewell school house, located one and one half miles west of the Church, and cut up the meat. The barbecue sauce was mixed a few days before the event. It is said that the walls of the kitchen and dining room of one house where the men had gathered to prepare this sauce was splashed with the yellow gold liquid where they did the mixing. The recipe for this sauce is in the first Hopewell cook book and remains a favorite today. The women worked at the Sunday School building preparing the slaw, decorating the tables, and getting ready to sell their homemade cakes, pies and cookies. A couple years later “chicken bog” was added to the menu. A number of ladies volunteered to cook this and each volunteer brought her own recipe in a large pot. After a few years Howard A. (Buster) Gregg volunteered to cook the bog and he and his wife Shirley worked tirelessly to prepare and cook enough for one thousand to twelve hundred plates. The Youth Fellowship was in charge of selling drinks, along with cookies and candy they had prepared. This fund raiser eventually evolved into a project of the Men of The Church and the menu has varied from chicken bog without barbecue pork to barbecue chicken cooked over huge outdoor grills by Phillip Smith. The proceeds are used for needs in the community and non-budgeted items of the church. Even with all the intense work it remains a fun day and is anticipated by much of the community.
In 1958 the Church was painted and inside repairs were made which totaled $1,496.80. In October of that year Rev. Reaves resigned. A pulpit committee was appointed consisting of the following: Boyd A. Gregg, Seab T. McPherson, Marion Barnes, Mrs. John R. Gregg and Mrs. Theron T. Taylor.
Rev. Julius E. Clark, a retired Methodist Minister, served the Church as supply preacher until July, 1963. During that time, in 1960 the Church was air conditioned by installing three window units. With the help of Miss Vivian Clark, Rev. Clark’s daughter, a choir was organized, new robes contributed and Mrs. Jean McPherson elected as the first choir director.
In July, 1963 Rev. James Madison Readling accepted a call to Hopewell. He was a graduate of Davidson College and Columbia Theological Seminary and was ordained in August.
Rev. Readling wrote in the history, “Hopewell has been blessed with a strong group of young people. Two of Hopewell’s long standing members, Mrs. Thomas M. Gregg and Mrs. F. L. Howard, recall the good times the youth of the community had at Christian Endeavor, reminiscing that this was an excellent opportunity for the youth to get together in Christian fellowship and for a young man, if he had transportation, to take his date home”.
“SONS AND DAUGHTERS WHO HAVE AND CONTINUE TO SERVE”
Hopewell’s faithfulness to her Lord can be seen in her number of outstanding “Son’s of the Church”. Rev. George Cooper Gregg, who was a graduate of South Carolina College and Columbia Theological Seminary, was the son of Ruling Elder William Gregg. He served the Salem Presbyterian Church in Sumter County, South Carolina. At the end of his pastorate, the whites in the Church numbered sixty-seven, the Negroes, three hundred and eighty-nine. Dr. Howe in his “History of the Presbyterian Church in South Carolina” states “the Church lost in him one of its most able, faithful and successful ministers and society was robbed of one of its brightest ornaments.” The beloved minister is buried in the Salem-Black River Cemetery.
Rev. Charlton Henry Wilson was the son of Ruling elder William T. Wilson. He was a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary and became a missionary to the Chickasaw Indians and pastor of Bennettsville and Great Pee Dee Churches. During the Civil War he served as Chaplain to the Confederate army, serving at the hospital in Richmond. He died in 1864 and was buried at Hopewell.
Rev. William Alexander Gregg was the son of Ruling Elder Samual Elizah Gregg. A graduate of Oglethorpe University and Columbia Theological Seminary he served the Kingston and Bishopville Churches and died in 1911. Recorded in the Bishopville Church History is the following: “His saintly life and fatherly devotion to his people sustained them in the trying days of reconstruction and privation following the war and continuing to the more recent history of the Church, is still a beautiful memory to many”.(Presbyterian Church in South Carolina,p.781)
Rev. James Douglas Brown was also a graduate of Oglethorpe University and Columbia Theological Seminary and was the son of Rev. Joseph Brown who is buried at Hopewell. James truly grew up in the Hopewell community, for he was only one year old when his father accepted the charge of Hopewell. This family served at Hopewell twenty years, or until the death of Rev. Joseph Brown. The son, Rev. James Brown, served numerous churches in North and South Carolina, including the First Presbyterian Church of Florence from 1865-1870. He died at Aberdeen, North Carolina in 1923.
Col. Howard in his history of Hopewell says the following about other Hopewell Sons:
“The Church can also justly claim Dr. James R. Wilkinson who is
now a missionary in China for he was brought –up in our Church and
first joined old Hopewell, also his brother William A. Wilkinson who
died while attending Princeton Theological Seminary in 1890.”
Rev. Charles Sackett Spence, a graduate of Davidson College and Union Theo-
Logical Seminary, was born at Hopewell while his father was a minister here. He has served churches in Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, North and South Carolina and was serving at the Powell and Roseland Presbyterian Churches in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Rev. Morrison Bethea, son of Ruling Elder W. W. Bethea, was baptized at Hopewell, and became an Episcopal minister. Rev. Francis Whitlock Gregg, D.D. and a graduate of the Citadel and Columbia Theological Seminary, was the son of Ruling Elder David Brainerd Gregg. He was pastor of churches at Lowrys, Manning, Pendleton, Clemson College, Upper Long Cane, Gaffney and Rock Hill, Rev. Moses Elmore Gregg was the son of Ruling Elder Samuel Moses Gregg. He was a graduate of Presbyterian College and Columbia Theological Seminary. He served churches in Jonesboro, Georgia, Courtland, Alabama, Uniontown and Ripley, Mississippi. Hopewell continues to have full time Christian workers who have “lengthened cords and strengthened stakes”. Among these are Virginia Ann Enzor Pittendreigh, daughter of long time and dedicated Choir Director Mrs. Alberta Enzor and Ruling Elder Carroll Enzor. She married Rev. Maynard Pittendreigh, Jr. who has served pastorates in Tennessee, Florida and is presently serving in Georgia. She has served in many capacities in the Church with him using her musical talents both in performing and teaching. Charles Boyce McPherson, son of Ruling Elders Seab and Jean McPherson felt the call to ministry after becoming a certified scuba diver, getting his airplane pilots license, several degrees in martial arts and graduating from the Police Academy. Following a walk across America ministering to those who “had fallen through the cracks” of the large organized churches, he honored that call by incorporating his ministry “The Christian Out Reach Ministry” and working with the poor and unchurched along with those addicted to alcohol or drugs. Of this list of Sons and Daughters Hopewell can be proud.
“GETTING READY TO CELEBRATE BI-CENTENNIAL”
YEARS 1970 -2008
In 1968 in anticipation of its two hundredth celebration the Session appointed a Bicentennial Committee to make plans. Serving on this Committee were Wallace Gregg, Chairman; Seab T. McPherson, Treasurer, along with Boyd A, Gregg, Joseph M. McKnight, David W. Harwell, Mrs. Marion Barnes, Mrs. William M. Gregg and Rev.
James M. Readling. At their suggestion the upstairs slave balcony, which had been used for Sunday School class rooms, was restored. Plans were made to publish a history of the Church. Mrs. Rhonda Ashley Eckhardt was asked to assist in compiling this history. Rev. Readling would serve as Editor. This book is presently in many church and county libraries, historical societies and a copy is in the Library of Congress. It remains a very useful reference to the history of Hopewell and its daughter churches.
In 1969 and 1970 while the history was being compiled a conflict was still taking place in Southeast Asia. Many of the young men of Hopewell, as well as the entire United states were again serving in military forces to maintain the American ideals of freedom. Some of Hopewell’s members who have served in the Vietnamese conflict are Nathan Jolley, Wayne Jolley, Charles T. Taylor, R. Curtis Matthews, Jr. Richard M. Brown, Jr., Louis R. Brown, and Joseph W. Gregg, Jr., Barney M. Mattenson who married Hopewell member Cherry McPherson and joined the Church in 1970 was also a veteran of this war.
Kennon Thigpen also served his country in the Navy during this time.
Rev. Readling was active working with the youth particular the boys in the Boy Scouts, mapping and identifying grave sites of the cemetery and preserving past and present photos of members to outline the history of families and the church. The map and photo montages remain on the walls of the hallway in the Fellowship building. In December
1970 the Youth, with lots of help from the girls and Mr. Readling, built and entered a float in the Florence Christmas Parade which took second place in the religious division. They also presented a Joy Gift play which was written and directed, with his help, by Lisa McKnight and Virginia Enzor.
Hopewell’s Bicentennial was celebrated along with a Homecoming on October 4, 1970.
Dr. William B. Ward was the guest minister. Dr. Ward was a grandson of William Ward Bethea, who was a Ruling Elder of Hopewell from 1912 until 1929. Rev. Charles P. Coble and Rev. Henry L. Reeves former pastors of Hopewell were special guests of this celebration which was broadcast over radio station WJMX.
On June 30, 1972 Rev. Readling resigned. He accepted a position with the state working with the Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Department and moved his wife, three sons and one daughter to Columbia, S. C. where he continued in a Christian Ministry.
The congregation immediately elected the following to serve as a Minister Search Committee: James C. (Boots) Gregg, Mrs. Charles Brooks, Mrs. Carroll Enzor, P.A. Kelly, James Arthur (Artie) McPherson,II.
Rev. Norman McKee a former Baptist minister and now living in the community was engaged as a supply for the church. Rev. McKee remains a great friend to the community and is always available to help the church or its members in anyway he can. He stayed until March 1973 when Dr. Louis C. LaMotte became the Interim minister. Dr. LaMotte was an ordained Presbyterian Minister who also served as President of St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, N. C. He was an absolute joy to both the congregation and to those he worked closely with.
On July 1, 1973 Rev. Benson Cain, a Navy veteran and graduate of Presbyterian College and Columbia Theological Seminary accepted a call from the congregation and moved with his family into the manse. Rev. Cain had also served as a missionary in Japan and had a great love for the work there. His wife Coline, three sons and one daughter became an integral part of the Hopewell community for the next several years.
Shortly after arriving at Hopewell it was felt that a larger educational facility was needed and a Building Study Committee was elected to determine the extent of the need. Serving on this Committee were Chairman James C. (Boots) Gregg, Sr., Mrs. Lydia R. Gregg, Mrs. Janice Kirven, Bobby Gandy, Emory Cantey and Seab McPherson. They reported to the Congregation on Sunday, October 19, 1975 and following a majority vote the decision to build was made at a cost of $125,000.00. The Building Study Committee was elected to now become the Building Committee and elected to the Fund Raising Committee were John R. Gregg, Mrs. Norvelle Barnes, Rogers Kirven and Mrs. Jean McPherson.
Many accomplishments were made by Rev. Cain during his tenure at Hopewell. Among them were two successful revival services held by Rev. John Fain of Hendersonville, N. C.; cottage prayer meetings, homecoming celebration combined with the Florence County Centennial. This Worship and Celebration Service included speakers and musicians from the community Black Churches and James A. Rogers, Editor of The Florence Morning News. Randy and Walter Cain, sons of Rev. and Mrs. Cain, who had developed beautiful voices and musical skills, also participated in this service. The organization of a Sunday School Class for young adults was developed with Rev. Cain’s leadership. Mrs. Jean McPherson was instrumental in the organization of the class and it was decided to name it “The Pairs and Spares Class”. She and her Ruling Elder husband Seab were named by the Session as the teachers. Hopewell also hosted the1976 fall Pee Dee Presbytery meeting during this time. Even though the church budget was a whopping $36,498.00 in 1977, the Session approved Rev. Cain a raise. In September 1978 Rev. Cain announced his intentions to return to the mission field in Japan and gave his resignation. The congregation contributed $3,000.00 towards the expenses of their move. After many years in Japan, Rev. Cain and wife Coline retired to Melrose, Florida where they have continued in their ministry in a Japanese community and church established there. They have continued to keep in touch with members of the congregation and visit every few years.
As does happen sometime, records get misplaced or “hidden from view”. Sessions and ministers change, and records are placed so “we will always know where they are”. This is apparently what has happened with the Sessional records from 1977 to 1999. The Women of the Church have kept great histories of yearly events and until we can locate the missing Session Minutes the rest of this history will come from memory and the Women’s records.
YEARS 1978 UNTIL THE PRESENT
A Pulpit nominating Committee was elected on September 17, 1978. Serving on this Committee were John Yarborough, James Arthur (Artie) McPherson II, Carolyn Gregg and Gracie Langston. Until they could get their work done Dr. and Mrs. C. Logan Landrum moved into the manse and assumed the duties of Interim minister. The Women of The Church promptly filled their pantry with a “pounding party”. Dr. Landrum remained until June 1979 when the congregation extended a call to Rev. Richard Neil Robinson. Dr. and Mrs. Landrum gave gifts of a large Christian flag and American flag with stands for the church sanctuary where they remain in 2008 as reminders of their presence. Rev. Jim Tubbs conducted special services on April 1979 and a 24 hour prayer vigil was in the church on April 13, 1979. The Men of The Church organized a men’s soft ball team for the 6th year in a row. The men were so proud of their ball playing and winning abilities. They boasted the oldest members of any team in the league, with less injuries, and won the most trophies. These trophies remain displayed in a trophy case in the Educational Building of the Church.
Born September 25, 1938, in San Antonio, Texas, Richard Neil Robinson moved, at age six, to Los Angeles, California. In the summer that he graduated from high school, his family moved to the San Francisco area and he attended the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics. He served two years in the United States Navy, completing his service as Lt. JG. After working with Lever Brothers for a year, he began work as a stockbroker in San Francisco in 1964. In October of 1970 he received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and felt led of God to move to Atlanta, Ga. in June of 1971. He left the brokerage business in January of 1973 to begin work in management and finance in the real estate development business. In May of 1976, after growing as a Christian for five and one half years, he felt the call of God to enter the Ministry as Pastor and Preacher. He entered Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta and served as a Pastor Intern in a church in Florida. In the fall of 1977 he felt led to change seminaries and moved to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, near Boston. He graduated in May of 1979 and soon after accepted a call to Hopewell. He was ordained and installed as Pastor on July 22, 1979.
Rev. Robinson began a quarterly newsletter, opened a church library, established a prayer committee and included a children’s sermon in the morning service. The Men of The Church gave $1,000.00 to the Church Building Fund and following a presentation by Dr. Julian Price, beloved pediatrician practicing in Florence, the Women of the Church gave $1,000.00 of their bazaar proceeds to The Presbyterian Home, along with $200.00 to each of three missionary wives. Rev. Robinson invited Dr. Birch Rambo and his wife Peggy, missionaries to Zaire, Africa, Sam and Emilie Voorhies of Kenya, East Africa to speak to the congregation during the year. He also managed to get twenty three members to travel to Montreat to attend The Christian Life Conference on the July 4th week-end. Members met with commissioned missionaries Cary and Charlotte March to Dacca, Bangladesh while attending this conference. Again in November a family night supper was held and members were privileged to hear guest missionaries Immanuel and Selvibai from India. It was becoming evident that Rev. Robinson was interested in Missions during his first pastorate as an ordained minister.
The Men of the Church adopted the projects of landscaping the grounds and remodeling the kitchen in the Fellowship Building. The landscaping was done by Ronnie Oliver, native son of Hopewell, who now owns his own design and landscaping company in Greenwood, S. C.
The Church was the recipient of a gift of $4,000.00 from the Aiken Foundation in November of 1981. The Session agreed to purchase choir robes for $1,100.00 and use the balance toward the purchase of a Mason and Hamlin piano for the Sanctuary. An additional $2,200.00 was quickly contributed towards this project and soon a grand piano graced it’s appointed place in the sanctuary.
A movement begun several years before in many churches of all denominations involving
lay members grew in the Florence area Presbyterian Churches. This Lay Renewal was the basis of many debates, arguments and fractures among congregations and even family members. In 1982 those who believed and practiced speaking in tongues along with other neo Pentecostal beliefs, such as limited roles for women in the church, began their own church. Several members from Hopewell joined this new church.
On May 2, 1982 Rev. Robinson requested that the pastoral relationship with the congregation be dissolved so that he might accept a call to become associate pastor of Reynolds Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem, N. C. Dr. W. G. Foster was approved as Interim Supply until a Committee elected on May 16 could do their work of calling a new minister. Those elected were Emory Cantey, James C. Gregg, Jr., Mrs. Janice Kirven, Seab T. McPherson, and Mrs. Carolyn Gregg with Emory Cantey as Chairman.
The Women of the Church completed a cook book during the year 1982 which was deemed a great success. The proceeds helped to fund a number of projects undertaken by the ladies which included $300.00 to the Presbyterian Home.
NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN CHURCHES REJOINED
Negotiations to rejoin what the War Between the States had separated had been taking place for several years. These negotiations were now nearing completion and in 1983 the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. was printed and made available to the Sessions of the Presbyterian Churches. Hopewell elected to remain with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., however, a number of area Presbyterian Churches elected to join other branches of the Presbyterian denomination including daughter church, Effingham.
Not quite a year had passed when the Congregation extended a call on March 8, 1983 to Rev. William E. Link, graduate of Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina and Union Theological Seminary, Richmond, Va. He was Ordained on August 2, l953 and served churches in North and South Carolina. His wife was killed in a tragic auto accident a few years ago which left him to raise four sons. Three sons were grown with careers and families of their own and one remaining son, Sam, lived with him. Rev. Link
became a trusted pastor, preacher and friend
1984 and BEYOND
The mission and work of the church continued with:
Emory D. Cantey Fred L. Reig
Seab T. McPherson Thomas L. Oliver
James C. Gregg, Sr. Arthur R. McPherson
T. H. McPherson, Elder Emeritus
David W. Gregg Theodore H. Broughton III
P. A. Kelly James Arthur McPherson II
Donald A. Reynolds Alice T. (Mrs. John R.) Gregg
Highlights of the Church year taken from the Women’s minutes indicate the annual barbecue begun in 1958 and sponsored by the Men of The Church was better than ever and “every year the men and women of Hopewell seem to out do what has been done in previous years and the 1984 barbecue was no exception. In spite of the fact that the ticket price had to be increased over that of 1983, the response was tremendous. Everyone enjoyed the good food and fellowship. The cakes, pies and other confections offered by the women of Hopewell and friends are a definite plus to any undertaking, but they just top off the barbecue and trimmings perfectly.” The proceeds are used helping those in need, community projects and upkeep of the church proper.
Other activities in 1984 included continued support for four missionary couples. Rev. Jesse Parks of Wallace, N.C. held special services. He and Rev. Link attended Seminary together and have remained good friends. The Benson Cain family visited while on leave from Japan to attend their son’s wedding in Charleston; three couples were married in the church; fifteen new members were welcomed into the congregation; while two were dismissed by letter to other churches. Dr. Thomas C. Stanton, President of Francis Marion University spoke to the Men of the Church and was his first of many visits over the next years. He spoke of Christ in his life and his conversion. The Men of The Church made a contribution of $500.00 to the Building Fund of the Church; entertained the ladies with a steak night out; sponsored the television program “Let God Love You” with Dr. Lloyd Oglivie who later became Chaplain of the United States Senate; contributed to several hardship cases in the community following fires and illnesses; assisted in Bible School; honored Mrs. Norvelle(Marion) Barnes for her many contributions of gathering and arranging flowers for Sunday services, Thanksgiving and Christmas arrangements, decorating for any celebration or social service, and for responding to any request made of her.
The youth of the church have always been active in the life of the church and Rev. Link continued to work with them. In the summer of 1984, Rev. Link, Mrs. Bernice Rasey and Mrs. Carolyn Gregg accompanied nine members of the Youth Fellowship to Montreat, N.C. to attend the Summer Youth Conference. A few weeks following their return they were in charge of the Sunday Worship Service and gave testimony as to the value of their experience and the activities in which they participated much to the delight of the
Homecoming has always been a highlight of the church year and October 21,1984 was a particular joy as the home coming message was given by Rev. Lacy Harwell, minister of the Maximo Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg, Florida and he had come home.
REV. LACY HARWELL
Rev. Lacy Harwell cast a large shadow, physically, mentallyand spiritually, every where he went and being a part of Hopewell was no different. His booming voice was always recognized quickly and Even though he did not serve as a full time minister his expertise, spiritual guidance, teaching and nurturing, particular for the session when Hopewell was without a minister proved invaluable and created indelible memories which shall endure all time.
Lacy, his four brothers and one sister were raised at Mars Bluff and at different times were part of the Hopewell community. He attended Clemson University, Graduated from the University of the south, accepted to Harvard business school and the university of south Carolina law school. He served two years in the coast guard during the Korean conflict and remained in the Navy Reserve. He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, became a Navy Reserve chaplain and became a minister to a congregation of Presbyterians and members of the united church of Christ. In a tough neighborhood near the university of Pennsylvania, he spent much of his time working with street gangs and persuading hospitals to do more for poor people.
In 1969 he became pastor of the Maximo Presbyterian church in St. Petersburg, Florida where the town was torn apart by racial tensions and riots brought on by a city garbage strike. A minister attracted to social action was very much needed and with the support of his congregation he set out to seek solutions to those problems and others in the field of mental health. He went right to work and His work did not go un-noticed. He was recognized by many organizations and received many awards for his work, strong faith, and commitment to interfaith service and community involvement. Then he came home.
In 1995 he retired from maximo Presbyterian church and returned to mars bluff to work on the family farm as chief operations officer. From dawn until dark he drove a semi-trailer truck, hauling seed and fertilizer. He could be seen in the Hopewell parking lot, leaving the truck, in his farm overalls, muddy brogan shoes to attend Wednesday night prayer service or meet with a minister or session member. If he was not the guest minister at another church or returning to maximo for special occasions he was always present on Sunday morning at Hopewell. He moderated session meetings when needed, conducted elder training classes and filled the pulpit when there was a need. One elder was heard to say “If rev. Harwell trained you remembering would not be a problem”. He was known to have gone to a young elder’s home early in the morning to teach because the candidate could not make the regular scheduled classes due to his work. He was always available to advise, counsel, minister or listen. he was heard to say. “We are here to help people discover their God-given gifts. We are charged by god with the responsibility for the community around us and for our neighbors, and we must all be involved in the community where we live.”
In the fall and winter of 2003 lacy and wife Margaret returned to their home in st. Petersburg. It was discovered he had pancreatic cancer. He was still available through emails for advice and direction when needed. His last email in march of 2004 was to the congregation and read, “At 10:00 a. m. on Sunday my mind goes to maximo for the worship service and at 11:00 a.m. my heart goes to Hopewell where I could always find peace.” He died on march 15, 2004 and Hopewell held a memorial service on May 2, 2004 to remember and honor one who had honored us.
He is survived by wife Margaret, two Daughters and two sons,
four brothers and one sister. His Brother James continues a faithful member of Hopewell.
BECOMING ONE AGAIN
While the local churches were continuing with their mission and social programs the Synod and the Presbyteries were negotiating the terms of consolidating or rejoining the Presbyterian Church USA and the Presbyterian Church of America. In a duly called Congregational meeting on September 9, 1985 the Hopewell Congregation approved a resolution that this church shall hold it’s property and exercise it’s privileges of incorporation and property ownership according to the provisions of Chapter six (6) of the Book of Order (1983) of the Presbyterian Church US.
The Mission Season for the year 1986 was begun in March when Charles and Rebecca McPherson recounted their experiences of walking across America ministering and witnessing to those whom had “fallen through the cracks” and were not being reached by the larger church ministries. Charlie and Rebecca later made mission trips to other countries together. He made two trips to Darfur with the “Voice of the Martyrs” delivering Bibles and other supplies including a box of white dresses for young girls made by his mother-in-law and a member of Hopewell, Mrs. Betty Bloehs.
Elder Emory Cantey, was elected a delegate to the Synod which was held at St. Simon’s Island in September, 1986.
The congregation voted on September 21, 1986 “to set aside” the office of Deacon and use the Unified System of Government at Hopewell Church effective January 1, 1987. They also voted to have nine Elders with three classes, three in each class.
A new Sunday School class was organized in 1987 and named The Pathfinders. This class consisted of high school seniors and college students with 12 members. Unfortunately the class did not survive but 2 years as members went off to college and others were pressed into service as Sunday School teachers.
Homecoming in October 1988 was a joyful occasion as Rev. Jim Readling returned as guest minister and brought members of his family to celebrate this reunion. It was with great sadness the congregation learned of his death on November 2, a few short weeks following his sermon on Homecoming.
A first for Hopewell in 1988 was a tree placed in the Sanctuary and decorated with Chrismon ornaments. The Christian symbols were all handmade by members of the congregation and joined the “hanging of the greens” in a very meaningful worship service.
The 1989 Rev. Link presented and the Session adopted a plan with five goals as follows:
(1) Increase awareness of God in fellowship.
(2) Increase attendance in Church School and Worship Service
(3) Increase awareness of stewardship, not only in possessions but of
time and talent.
(4) Increase membership in Church School and Church by 5%.
(5) Activate all Sessional Committees, to meet often and carry out their
In September 1989 Hurricane Hugo swept through the area uprooting century old oaks, magnolias and cedars changing the face of the community forever and bringing to the congregation yet another way to serve those in need. Members quickly learned the church stood firm against the high winds and began clean up of the grounds even before they regained power or water for their own needs.
The following year, 1990 Hopewell received it’s first television and VCR set to be used in the Christian Educational programs of the Church. It was given by Mrs. Bernice Rasey in memory of her parents. Also in 1990 Mrs. Lydia R. (W.R., Jr.) Gregg and Mrs.
Alice T. (John R.) Gregg were presented Honorary Life Membership pins by the Presbyterian Women. Among other women in the church who had been honored with this award were Mrs. Ella McKnight and Mrs. Novelle Barnes. Mr. Philip A. Kelly, who had served as Deacon and Elder and was affectionally known as “P.A”, died. In his usual loving and gentle nature he left a bequest to the church which was invested until the proper memorial could be decided.
The year 1991 brought change in the Church that some did not agree with. The first woman was elected to serve. Mrs. Bernice Rasey was ordained in her home state of Iowa in December 1973. She and her husband, Cecil, moved to the community and joined Hopewell in 1983. She served as Moderator of the Presbyterian Women and as Secretary of the Church. She was elected to represent New Harmony Presbytery in the church wide “Gathering of Presbyterian Women in Ames, Iowa and was elected to the Session in April 1991 and served until December of 1992. The Women honored Mrs. Carolyn (Granny) Lipscomb and Mrs. Louise Taylor with Honorary Life Membership pins for their faithful participation in all activities of the Church.
The greatest change came upon the resignation of Rev. Link, who had decided to answer a call to the Rowland and Ashpole, N. C. churches and on July 31,1991 he was dismissed by the congregation.
Those serving on the Pastor’s Search Committee were: Mrs. Carolyn (Boots) Gregg,
Seab T. McPherson, Joseph M. McKnight, Mrs. Annie Kate Gregg and Jay Gregg.
Sustaining the church for a few months was Rev. Bob Chastain after which Rev. Ewell Black, retired minister living in Bishopville, S. C. became the supply pastor. A kind and gentle man, Rev. Black endeared himself to the congregation very quickly and is still remembered for his quick wit and quiet sense of humor. At the beginning of Summer when attendance was low he would remark “everyone is having their ups and downs right now. They are either up in the mountains or down at the sea.” His great knowledge of Scripture made the Wednesday night Bible Studies particularly interesting.
1992 brought more changes in the makeup of the Session. Hopewell elected two women Elders to serve. Mrs. Addie (Clyde) Gregg and Mrs. Jean P. (Seab) McPherson were ordained on January 5, 1992. They served two, three year terms, and assisted in keeping the church and its Mission strong and focused during the years the church was without a pastor. Other Session members included Billy R. (Butch) Anderson, Donald M. Cheek, David W. Gregg, John M. Gregg, John S. Harrell, Mrs. Bernice E. Rasey, and Emory D. Cantey, who also served as Clerk.
The records show that Mrs. Jean McPherson was elected Sunday School Superintendent for 1992 and her son James Arthur (Artie) McPherson II, who had been Superintendent was elected as the assistant.
Mrs. Mary Perkins and Mrs. Mary Lee Oliver were honored by the Presbyterian Women with Honorary Life membership pins in May 1992. This took place during the morning Worship Service.
1993 brought a new pastor to Hopewell. Rev. Ralph Thomas Greene accepted a call to become pastor and was ordained on July 11, 1993. Rev. Greene received a BA degree from the University of Kentucky and Master’s from Vanderbilt University. Following a period of employment within the banking system he felt the call to the ministry and received his Theological degree from the Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky. He and wife Mary elected to buy a house and live in town rather than the manse.
Elected to the Session in 1993 were Donald A Reynolds and James M. Williams as Donald M. Cheek and Mrs. Bernice E. Rasey rotated off.
An honorary life membership was presented to Mrs. Janie McPherson by the Presbyterian Women in May 1993.
Rev. Greene and Hopewell welcomed eleven new members to the old country church and baptized eight young people and babies during the year 1994. He, with wife Mary, went on a Mission trip to the Dominican Republic where Mary got to use her first language of Spanish both to communicate with the native people and to interpret for other team members. Rev. Bill Link was invited to bring the home coming message in October.
No Presbyterian Women records were found for the years 1995 and 1996; however the Session records indicate a transfer of membership for four very active members including the Clerk of Session and the Treasurer. Mrs. Jean McPherson was elected Clerk and was the first woman to serve in this capacity in the Church history. She served for twelve years as Clerk.
The 1997 records record eight new members and one baptism however it was a devastating year for loss of members by death of five very active and committed members. Two members were also dismissed to other churches in 1997. On October 12, 1997, the four year relationship with Rev. Greene was dissolved when he accepted a call to the Garden Grove Presbyterian Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. The congregation elected Brenda Gregg, Melody Baker, Doris Reynolds, and Chairman Philip Smith to a Pastor Search Committee.
The Session voted during the summer of 1997 to use the bequest left by Elder P.A. Kelly to purchase an organ and to set up a scholarship fund for high school seniors who are continuing their education. Since the beginning of this country, and before it became an independent republic, Presbyterians were at the forefront of education. Some of the early Presbyterians felt that “the mind without the gospel is dangerous but the gospel without the mind is unthinkable” so they developed and organized colleges and universities and gave scholarships to be sure their younger members had a way to become educated. Mr. Kelly believed in education and in helping others get an education. He also loved music. A new organ was purchased in September and a formal dedication organ recital was held on October 19, 1997.
(The unique way the decision to select the organ by the church must be commented upon so that future generations will have an appreciation of the process and thorough manner that past congregations handled its bequests and finances. Two companies were approached concerning types and prices of organs appropriate for the size and type of congregation at Hopewell. Both companies, one from Greenville, S. C. and one from Charleston, S. C. made an offer to bring in their organ for the congregation to hear. Their offers were accepted and on the appointed Sunday the two organs sat on each side of the church awaiting the organist. The congregation alternated singing with the organs and voted their choice. By the end of the service the decision was made.)
The Presbyterian Women’s history records “Hopewell presented a vocal/organ dedicatory recital with Mrs. Sue Mills, lyric soprano and George Hobeika, organist. This was a time to dedicate the new organ and hear beautiful music. The recital was followed with a reception in the fellowship hall.” A standing room only audience came to enjoy the dedication and recital.
Elders elected to serve in 1997 were Billy (Butch) Anderson, Helen Holladay, Glen Tucker, Philip Smith, Sandra Hanna and Clerk Jean McPherson.
YEARS 1998- 2008
The Mission of Hopewell continued following the resignation of Rev. Greene. The pastoral and pulpit work was accomplished with the help of Dr. Richard Andrews, retired minister of John Calvin Presbyterian Church in Florence, Rev. Lacy Harwell who spent his 70th birthday in the pulpit and baptized Baby Nicholous Firmonti, and Rev. Lonnie Richardson, retired minister living in Cheraw as Interim. He and wife Coleen quickly endeared themselves to the congregation through their ministry and home visits. Rev. Richardson held Confirmation classes for eleven young people who will always remember his loving, patient and confirming manner of teaching spiritual and biblical knowledge.
The Pastor Search Committee recommended Rev. Paul Brokaw to the congregation on June 20, 1999 as minister of Word and Sacrament. He was a graduate of Eckard College in Florida and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. The congregation accepted and Rev. Brokaw was ordained on August 22, 1999. Rev. Lacy Harwell and his brother James extended an invitation for the church to host a Sunday afternoon picnic at “The Columns” to welcome the new minister, his wife Cindy, and two young sons, Scott and Adam, along with his father who lives, with the family. The manse was occupied again with a church family.
DR. THOMAS C. STANTON
Rev. Dr. Tom Stanton, retired President of Francis Marion University, was invited to be the guest minister on July 26, 1999 in the absence of Rev. Brokaw. Dr. Stanton was born and raised on a farm in Dillon County. His educational background consisted of a BS degree in economics, Masters in Business Adm., Doctorate of Business Administration, Masters and Doctorate in Theology. He spent 20 years in the Army and was pastor of a Baptist Church in Virginia when he was named President of the University. Following his retirement from the University he began his own consulting firm, specializing in business valuations, forensic economics and investigative accounting. Even though he was of the Baptist denomination he often said he thought he was more Presbyterian than Baptist and he was associated with a Presbyterian Presbytery while stationed in Saudi Arabia. Dr. Stanton became a very close friend to Hopewell and many of its members. He was always available to fill the pulpit, explain Bible passages, offer advice and counsel to any member who asked. He published a book entitled “Glimpses of The Truth” with a subtitle of “Sermonettes For A Sound-Bite Society.” Dr. Stanton was diagnosed with lung cancer in February six weeks following the death of his wife Sara, who also suffered from lung cancer, heart problems and diabetes. He died in October 2006.
The Session agreed on June 27, 1999 to contract with a history consultant from Charleston to write an application to the South Carolina and National Historical Society for the purpose of having the church and cemetery included on the National Register of Historical places. The cost was $1,000.00 with the church and cemetery each paying one half.
In the year 2000 the church continued to come into the “modern” technology age with upgraded CD players, beepers to keep in touch, along with copy and printing machines which allowed the printing of newsletters and bulletins. A discussion of a web page for the church was held. The choir requested the purchase of a MIDI, which is a computerized machine which will record the music played by the organ to be replayed by the pressing of a button. This can be used during the absence of an organist. This MIDI was given in memory of Mrs. Jo Gregg beloved Sunday School teacher and Choir member who had recently passed away.
The Mission of Hopewell was constantly being redefined with the number one goal of “caring for mankind through “The Word” and deed”. Budgets for Mission causes were always met. When it was realized that offerings for special causes were more than the budgeted causes, the Session held a long meeting to discuss the best method of meeting the Mission of the Church.
Not only was technology something to be learned and dealt with but legal issues as well. Mission statements were discussed along with wedding, funeral, and employment policies. Contracts were defined and written. Insurance policies were constantly reviewed to be sure that all responsibilities of the church and its officers were covered. The legalistic age had arrived. This two hundred and thirty year old church had come a long way.
In March 2000 Hopewell was notified that it had been nominated for inclusion in the National register of Historic Places and had been approved by the State Board of Review. Following a public hearing in Columbia at which members of the congregation appeared. Elder Jean McPherson spoke for the group. The nomination was sent to Washington, D. C. by the Department of Archives and History for final approval.
May 2000 brought a hail storm of a magnitude not seen by even the “old timers” of the community nor the congregation. The original glass of a number of window panes on the west side of the church were broken, roof damaged and pitted the weather boarding, however the church again stood firm against the elements without major damage and on June 2, 2000 the Session was notified of its listing in the National Registry of Historical Places.
October of 2000 was a memorable month as homecoming was celebrated with Rev. Lonnie Richardson as guest minister.
The Presbyterian Women published their second cook book entitled “From the Heart of Hopewell” and was quickly declared a success.
A Praise Choir of six members was organized with Glen Tucker as director and guitarist.
Rev. Lacy Harwell began the year 2001 with officer training in January.
The Clerk reported to the Session on February 11, 2001 that in response to recent inquiries from Presbytery concerning the status of incorporation of churches a copy of the papers from the South Carolina Department of Archives and History has been received. These showed an incorporation date of the church on July 29, 1954. A copy of the document is filed or displayed in the Church office and Presbytery was notified.
September 11, 2001 began as a bright, sunny, beautiful Tuesday in the Hopewell Community. The Session of Hopewell had met the night before and there is no hint that such a catastrophic event would take place the next morning. The minutes show the scheduling of Dr. Richard Andrews to be in the pulpit while Minister Brokaw is on vacation. A new sound system is to be installed in the Sanctuary and the family of Crawford M. Brown was being received into the membership of Hopewell by letter of transfer from Westminster Presbyterian Church. The striking of the towers and the resulting great clouds of smoke, dust and injured people emanating from the ruins will be forever imprinted on the memories of all who watched the morning shows on television. The following attack on the Pentagon and attempted attack on the White House added to the fears and quick activating of the Prayer Chain among the members.
SERVING IN THE MILITARY
The Towers atrocity brought fear and anguish to church members, but the fear was more acute with the Keith Wilson family. The resultant war with Iraq caused even greater stress. Keith was a member of the National Guard and his Unit was activated in 2003 where he served in the Home Land Defense. He was sent to Afghanistan in 2004 and returned home shortly after his second son was born. Wife Michelle, a grade school teacher, relates the experience of being without her husband, knowing that he was constantly in harms way as “life altering.” He returned home in 2006.
Other members serving during the war are Thomas Dishman, special nephew of members Mr. and Mrs. Lance and Laura Hawkins, who is serving in Iraq as this is written in June 2008. Also called for duty is Ron Cain. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John and Jean Matthews Cain. He is the grandson of the late Mr. and Mrs. R. Curtis (Bertie Gregg) Matthews, Sr. and the great grandson of Mr. and Mrs. W. M. (Irene Claussen) Gregg Sr. He serves in the states as a training officer for the Emergency Medical Services.
The year 2002 came quickly. Rev. Lacy Harwell and Executive Presbyter Sam Cooper
were guest speakers in February while Rev. Brokaw is away. He announced to the Session on March 11, 2002 his acceptance of a call to the Hanover Presbyterian Church in Clinton, Pa. A congregational meeting was called for April 7, 2002 to resolve the Pastoral relationship as of April 6, 2002. He was the Moderator for his final meeting with the Hopewell Session on April 1, 2002. His wife Cindy and son Adam remained in the manse until June, 2002
It is interesting to note that to date Hopewell has been served by thirty regular ministers and of these, fourteen were ordained at Hopewell. The words of Mrs. Marion (Novelle)Barnes, lady of many talents and leader of women’s activities, was heard to remind us of the unique position of Hopewell in teaching and nurturing these first time ministers and our responsibility in “helping to make or break them in this role that God has given us”.
Once again the oldest church in the Presbytery, who had ordained more ministers and in the words of one Elder “tried to nurture and teach them the way to minister” than any other known church, held a Congregational Meeting on April 28, 2002 to elect a Pastor Search Committee. The Clerk made a motion on behalf of the Session to place in nomination the names of Mrs. Ellen Smith, Mrs. Annie Kate Gregg, David Gregg and Curtis Ford to serve on this Committee. The motion carried. The floor was opened for nominations. Richard Bergeron and Billy R.(Butch) Anderson were nominated. The six member Committee was elected by acclamation.
Hopewell hosted the spring meeting of Presbytery on May 14, 2002 in which three young ministers were brought into the Presbytery. One of the three stood on the front steps following the service and in the bright sunlight when he thought he was alone, lifted his arms and was heard to say, “Oh, I love this place”. It was a happy and memorable day with great music, good food, and the day Hopewell met Rev. James Braswell. Rev. Braswell was interested in becoming Hopewell’s Interim and Hopewell was interested in his becoming their Interim. He appeared before the Session on June 3 and on July 9, 2002 he began his ministry at Hopewell. Jim, as he was affectionately known, brought a new organizational vitality and teaching method that endeared him to the congregation. He led a Focus Study time scheduled during the Sunday School hour which was designed to assist in identifying and determining the direction of the church. He participated in Homecoming when past minister Tom Greene was the guest speaker. He held a Confirmation Class during his months at Hopewell and invited the class to attend a portion of the Session meeting as part of their learning church polity. On his last Sunday at Hopewell, Rev. Braswell baptized two and received the six from the confirmation class into membership. A mother and her two sons were among those being baptized and brought into the fellowship of the church. He moderated his last congregational meeting at Hopewell on Sunday December 1, 2002 when Curtis Ford, Mrs. Tammy Smith and Ricky Bryant were elected as Elders for a three year term. An historical first took place that day as Tammy Smith is the wife of Elder Philip Smith and this is the first husband and wife pair to serve on the Session. They continue to serve in June 2008 when this is written. Rev. Braswell’s last Session meeting was held on Wednesday, April 9, 2003. The minutes indicate that “Moderator Jim Braswell called the meeting to order and opened with prayer and a devotional particularly suited for this day on which Bagdad was entered by American forces”. Jim’s worse fear would be realized soon enough as his son would be deployed and would spend many months in Iraq and Bagdad. He did return home safe and without injury.
Another minister also attended the Presbytery meeting held at Hopewell on May 14, 2002 and was so impressed with the “many good things and the people that he found at Hopewell” he “began dreaming” about becoming the minister. The Pastor Search Committee was also praying to be led to the right one. The Search Committee requested the Session to call a congregational meeting to hear their recommendation and terms for a call to their selection. The meeting was set for May 11, 2003. The congregation agreed and the new minister began his work at Hopewell on June 1, 2003.
Rev. Richard Banks grew up in Alaska, graduated from Southeastern Baptist Seminary, where he met his wife Phyllis. After a few years ministering in Baptist Churches he accepted a call to a Presbyterian Church in New Harmony Presbytery and was presently serving both Society Hill and Patrick Presbyterian Churches. He began his ministry at Hopewell on June 1, 2003. Rev. Banks, his wife and two daughters were musically talented and trained and shared their gifts of singing at his Installation Service. Only a few months had passed when he was diagnosed with colon cancer on Nov. 3, 2003. The congregation rallied around the family, supported, prayed and accompanied him to his treatments. His prognosis was grim but he asked God to be allowed to baptize his first and see his second grandchild born along with attending his second daughter’s wedding. The six months prognosis turned into almost two years and his desires accomplished. Although in great pain and very weak he officiated at his daughter’s wedding in April and in which his grandchildren participated. Members of the congregation gave the reception at “The Columns” and the always smiling minister with his great sense of humor knew that God had heard his prayer and granted him his wish. He died on August 1, 2005.
During the illness of Rev. Banks, the Mission and Ministry of the Church continued as the needs of the congregation and the community as well as the budget were closely watched and attended to by the Session. A scholarship program for high school graduates who elected to continue their education was formalized and along with funding was established. It was appropriately name the P.A. Kelly Scholarship Fund and scholarships will be offered in the year 2006. Rev. Banks noted on several occasions the fact that with a membership of 150 members Hopewell had eight couples that had been married for more than fifty years. It was his wish that a celebration be held honoring this accomplishment but his health always intervened. The Presbyterian Women presented five ladies with Lifetime Memberships and they were invited to light the Advent candles during December 2004. Those being presented this honor were Mrs. J. C. (Carolyn) Gregg, Mrs. J. Wallace (Annie Kate) Gregg, Mrs. Walter (Effie) Gregg, Mrs. Carroll (Alberta) Enzor and Mrs. Seab T.(Jean) McPherson. It was noted that Presbytery reports were done “on line” in this computer age. This was a first for Hopewell.
Dr. Franklin Colclough, Interim Executive Presbyter moderated the Session meetings and served as minister when Rev. Banks could not be present. Dr. Colclough was “a very present help in time of trouble” and assisted the Session in many ways during the time of Rev. Banks illness and being without a minister.
Executive Presbyter Judd Shaw acted as Moderator and Minister following the death and memorial service of Rev. Banks. Members of the congregation well remember Sunday, July 17, 2005 when a thunder storm affected the air conditioners and the temperature, along with the humidity, was registering in the unbearable stage. Members wondered what Rev. Shaw’s plan of action would be. A few members went home. Rev. Shaw did not even notice. He helped direct the placing of available fans, invited everyone to come closer to the front and to the fans. Over the whir of the fans and very hot air he proceeded with calmness, dignity, and a great sense of humor, with the Sunday message which many commented “as being the best we have ever heard”.
Following the death of Rev. Banks on August 1, 2005, Dr. Thomas Stanton filled the pulpit for a number of Sundays including the month of August.
During the time of Rev. Banks, illness and death, the Session continued with the planned programs and an amazing amount of work was done. A twenty four hour prayer vigil was held with members scheduled to be in the Sanctuary every hour of the day and night while others were scheduled to pray at home. The manse was updated and rented. Membership rolls were reviewed, letters written to inactive members, the church building was painted at a cost of $6,000.00, a special offering of $633.00 was taken for the Gideons, a new church brochure developed, sending of youth to Camp Pee Dee, sponsoring a youth group to a special Work Camp in Ga., upgraded computer financial programs, held Rally Day with breakfast, sponsored a Fall rally for young people, held a worship service followed by soup and corn bread supper at Thanksgiving, held the Advent Work Shop, sponsored the Joy Gift program and offering, and meeting the Mission Budget were among the accomplishments during the last three months of the year.
An Interim Search Committee quickly found Rev. Ray Howe, retired, in Bennettsville,
S. C. to serve as Interim. A Pastor Nominating Committee was elected in October 2005. Serving on this Committee were Mrs. Annie Kate Gregg, Miss Dresden Tucker, Charles Sandifer, Elder Philip Smith and Elder Robin Gregg.
The October Session meeting was held in conjunction with a retreat to study and discuss the needs of the church along with the programs for the year 2006 and was held in the McPherson Pond House.
The months passed quickly as Rev. Howe worked visiting the sick and homebound and endearing himself to the congregation with his excellent sermons. During this time all historical records had been requested from the Historical Foundation at Montreat. They will be copied and forwarded to the Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga where they will be stored and eventually put on disk and the internet.
The Session was very aware of the changing dynamics being made in the community with the many developments of homes. The area was fast becoming a bedroom community of Florence. Discussions and studies of how to meet the spiritual needs of these new neighbors had been done. Perceptions needed to be developed or changed from viewing the church as a hold over from the 1700’s to one of being a very vibrant, warm and caring congregation. They voted to participate in a special “Church Section” of the newspaper. Rev. Howe suggested the motto of “Preserving the Past While Serving the Future.” He also participated in a later study group with the Session and Executive Presbyter Judd Shaw on changing for the future.
A congregational meeting was called on July 16, 2006 to hear a report, along with a
Recommendation, from the Pastor Search Committee. Their recommendation of Rev. Dr.
William C. Hayes as minister to Hopewell was well received. Dr. Hayes and his wife Sally were welcomed into the church and manse on September 1, 2006.
Dr. Hayes was born and raised in Rock Hill, S. C. He received a BA degree from Erskine College, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity degrees from Columbia Theological Seminary. He began his work of learning the names and families of the members, welcoming new members, singing in both the Chancel Choir and Praise Choir, leading Bible Study, visiting Gregg Bros. Store at 7:30 A.M. where a group of men gathered and held another Bible Study. The Bible study was accomplished along with a discussion of the latest golf games. Sally is an accomplished potter and became very busy setting up her studio, teaching young children, caring for stray animals and becoming involved with all facets of church life.
Clerk Jean McPherson reported at the December 2006 that all old minutes which had been filed with the Historical Foundation at Montreat had now been received and were being copied to paper. She also reported on plans for a Historical Marker for the Church which has been given by Mr. and Mrs. Claude (Judy) Baker and Ms. Rita Gregg Taylor in memory of their mother, Mrs. W. M. (Lydia) Gregg, Jr.
The December meeting was a generational exchange meeting as the last of the “older generation” rotated from the Session and left the “business of the church” to a younger generation.
Serving on the Session for 2007:
Philip Smith Curtis Ford David Gregg
Robin Gregg Ricky Bryant Jay Gregg
Marion Gregg Tammy Smith Dana McAlister
A Confirmation Class was started in February 2007 and completed when eight young people were welcomed into the church on Easter Sunday.
Dr. Hayes along with the Session met with Rev. Ray Howe and Executive Presbyter Rev. Judd Shaw to study ways of involving the area, which now consists of many new
communities, with the church. Other activities include repairing the roof again following a severe hail storm. The ceilings in the educational building were repaired and new carpeting installed. Thomas Dishman joined the church and was baptized. Dr. Hayes went to Fort Stewart, Ga. to visit and pray with him on his deployment to Iraq. High school graduates were honored with a lunch and a gift of a Bible. Bible School for both young and old is again held. Communion to the congregation was served along with the homebound and nursing home members. The Youth took fun and Mission trips. The Presbyterian Women with Mrs. Mary Baker as President continued their work of raising funds. Brides and babies were remembered with showers and presents. The Mission Chairman of the PW joined with the Mission Chairman of the Session to send supplies to Thornwell School and to five underserved families at Christmas. Elder Marion Gregg rotated from the Session and Lance Hawkins was ordained and installed in January of 2008.
The year 2008 has been full of activities for the members and any who would join them, including a social hour before Sunday School and classes for all ages. The Presbyterian Men’s annual barbecue scheduled in February and changed to barbecue chicken this year was a great success. Other activities include Wednesday night suppers with Bible Studies, Youth lunch and social activities on Sundays following the Sunday Service and congregational lunches honoring graduates and new members. A Community Day was held with a yard sale by the Presbyterian Women in the morning and a fish and grits supper for the public in the afternoon. The yard sale brought in much needed funds for mission projects and many returned for the supper.
A Homecoming Committee has been appointed and plans are underway for “Honoring the Past – Celebrating the Future” day on October 12, 2008. The speaker will be Dr. Joe Stukes retired Professor of History of Francis Marion University, renowned Historian and Presbyterian Elder of John Calvin Presbyterian Church. Period dress is invited.
The Historical Marker for Hopewell has been delivered and it has been dedicated. This web page has probably just begun as history and activities will be added in the future. It will be dedicated on Homecoming Sunday. A covered dish lunch will follow the Worship Service.
June 2008 is now over and as we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July we are reminded of the beginning of Hopewell Church in 1770 and the beginning of our country in 1776. There are many differences between the two and yet each works for the good and betterment of mankind. One concentrates on the spiritual and physical well being of its members and the community, while the other concentrates on the safety and liberties of its citizens.
As stated in the first sentence of this website history much has changed in the 238 years of existence of Hopewell with each generation bringing their individual needs for spiritual renewal and socialization into the community and the congregation. A few years ago several members were asked why they chose Hopewell as a church home. Each of them expressed their criteria for a place of worship and all included the fact that it was a “country church” with the unadorned message of salvation. May it ever be so.
(Material for this history was taken from the Histories of Indiantown Presbyterian church,
Florence First Presbyterian Church, Effingham Presbyterian Church, History of Hopewell Presbyterian Church along with Dr. Howe’s History of The Presbyterian Church in South Carolina. It has been a joy to collect, read and write this history for the oldest church in Florence County located where the city first began. Errors are probably mine and can be reported to me or to the church. Jean P. McPherson)
(With apologies to Prophet Micah and Archibald Rutledge)
Jean P. McPherson
I am Hopewell, country-born and humble, knowing well
My minor station amid the towering city churches
Yet in my soul a golden vision shone, a truth
Revealing how simple are redemption and salvation
O, out of me, obscure and rural and lonely,
On a starry Claussen night,
By some miracle divine, or by the guidance
Of my dear guardian spirit: out of me, unworthy and unknown
Suddenly came the vibrations of immortal music,
The wondrous words that shall not ever die,
For they are geared to all eternity
“What is it, O Man,” I sang,” that God hath required of thee
But to deal justly, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God?”
That was the glory given to me, for all
Generations of men that shall come after me.
HISTORICAL DATES IN THE LIFE OF HOPEWELL
1765-1770 Hopewell organized
1788 Synod of the Carolinas organized
1790 Rev. Humphrey Hunter, first pastor
1795 Rev. Hunter resigned
1799 Presbytery divided –First and Second
1799 Hopewell member of First Presbytery
1800 Rev. Duncan Brown as licentiate
1803 Rev. Duncan Brown ordained
1810 Harmony Presbytery organized with
Hopewell as member
1811 Daniel Brown became supply minister.
1813 Rev. Daniel Smith ordained
1819 Rev. Smith resigned due to health failure
1821 Rev. John Harrington elected pastor
1821 Hopewell permitted to join Fayetteville
1827 Darlington Presbyterian Church organized
1827 Rev. Nicholas R. Morgan served Hopewell
and Darlington churches
1834 Rev. Thomas R. English ordained
1836 Rev. Rufus Bailey and Rev. Uriah Powers
1836 Rev. Julius DuBose elected minister
1838 Rev. Joseph Brown elected minister
1858 First Presbyterian Church organized
1859 Rev. David Ethan Frierson elected minister
1860 Ladies’ Aid Society organized
1861 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
in the Confederate States of America organized
1862 Harmony Presbytery met with “weeping and sorrow”
due to deplorable state of the nation. The Presbytery
took action against dueling
1863 Presbytery appointed five members as chaplains, Rev.
Charlton H. Wilson, son of Hopewell was one.
1871 Rev. David Ethan Frierson dismissed from Hopewell
1872 Rev. William T. Thompson ordained at Hopewell
1880 Rev. Thompson accepted call to First Scotts Church
1880 Rev. Edward Geddings Smith called as minister
1881 Hopewell Library Association organized
1889 Presbytery divided into two Presbyteries
1889 Hopewell became member of Pee Dee Presbytery
1896 Hopewell’s 126 years of history burned
1897 Col. Richard G. Howard wrote a history of Hopewell
with assistance from the Session
1897 Rev. James McClure called as minister
1901 Rev. Frank Allen Drennan ordained at Hopewell
1902 Rev. Drennan and Carolyn Timmons married
1903 Presbyterian High School in Florence organized
1904 Seminary student Charles Paul Coble came to Hopewell
1905 Rev. Coble ordained and called to minister to Hopewell
and Effingham Presbyterian Church
1908 Rev. Coble married Hopewell girl Miss Louise Claussen
1910 Separate Committee set up to care for cemetery
1912 Rev. Henry Ward Shannon called to minister to
Hopewell and Effingham church.
1915 Rev. Homer W. Head having been ordained at Hopewell
served both churches
1917 Donald Augustus Swicord, student of Columbia Theological
Seminary served both Hopewell and Effingham
1918 Rev. William Hamilton Johnston was ordained at Hopewell
1918 Ruling Elders William W. Bethea and Howard Hubbard
presented a Communion set to the Church. This set was for
individual cups taking the place of the single cup.
1919 Deacon Thomas McCall Gregg donated an acetylene lighting
plant. The Ladies Aid Society had it installed in the church and
1920 Rev. Johnston resigned. Rev. James Venner Cobb. Seminary
student served for eleven months
1921 Rev. Paul Dickson Patrick called and served Hopewell and
Effingham for seven years.
1925 Lord’s Acre Plan was adopted as method of tithing
1925 Rev. Francis W. Gregg, a Son of Hopewell preached a revival
1929 Rev. Davison Hafner Dulin called to Hopewell and Effingham
and served for 7 years
1937 Rev. Edward Calvin Clyde called to both churches. He served
for nine years
1945 Rev. Clyde resigned. Rev. Charles P.Coble retired returned as
supply. He served for six one year supply intervals
1947 Two silver Communion plates given to the Church in memory of
William Adrian McPherson by Mr. and Mrs. Sam McPherson, Miss
Lou McPherson, Mrs. Gordon McMillan, and Mr. and Mrs. Herbert
1949 A bronze plaque was presented to the Church in memory of Mr. and
Mrs. C. Joe McPherson by T. H. McPherson, Mrs. D. L. McKnight,
Miss Harriet McPherson, and Miss Dorothy McPherson. Placed
between the two entrance doors where it remains today
1953 Rev. Henry Lide Reaves called to serve Hopewell and Bethesda. He
stayed for seven years
1953 Members of the church donated and cut trees, ladies cooked, members
built the present manse
1955 Rev. Elmore Gregg, Son of Hopewell preached revival at Hopewell
1958 Building Committee appointed to build Fellowship Hall
1958 First barbecue fund raiser was held. Continues today
1958 Rev. Reaves retires.
1958 Rev. Julius E. Clark, retired Methodist minister, named supply preacher
He stayed until 1963
1960 Air conditioners installed in the church
1960 Rev. James Madison Readling accepted call and ordained at Hopewell
1965 Boy Scout Troop 404 sponsored by Men of The Church organized at
1970 Hopewell Bicentennial and Homecoming celebrated
1972 Rev. Readling resigns to work with State Mental Health and Alcohol
1972 Rev. Norman McKee, retired Baptist minister, fills in as supply pastor
1973 Rev. Dr. Louis LaMotte, Presbyterian Minister and President of St. Andrews College in Laurinburg, N.C. accepts Interim
1973 Rev. Benson Cain accepts call and moves into the manse
1977 Florence County celebrates centennial along with Hopewell’s Home
1978 Rev. Cain resigns. Returns t Japan as missionary
1978 Rev. Logan Landrum accepts Interim. Moves into manse
1979 Rev. Richard Neal Robinson ordained and installed at Hopewell
1982 Rev. Robinson accepts call to Reynolds Presbyterian Church in
Winston-Salem, N. C.
1982 Rev. Doug Foster accepts call as Interim
1983 Rev. William E. Link accepts call to Hopewell
1984 Rev. Jesse Parks, seminary friend of Rev. Link, holds special services
1984 Rev. Thomas Stanton, President of Francis Marion University guest
speaker of Men of the Church
1984 Rev. Lacy Harwell guest minister for Homecoming
1988 Rev. James Readling returns as guest for Homecoming. He dies suddenly
three weeks later
1989 Hurricane Hugo sweeps through the state. Area is devastated but church
1991 First woman elected as Elder at Hopewell
1991 Rev. Link accepts call to Rowland and Ashpole Presbyterian
churches in North Carolina
1992 Rev. Euell Black becomes interim
1992 First women elected and ordained as Elders at Hopewell
1993 Rev. Thomas Greene ordained and installed at Hopewell
1994 Rev. Link returns as guest speaker for Homecoming
1997 Rev. Green accepts call to Garden Grove Presbyterian Church
in St. Petersburg, Florida
1997 Rev. Richard Andrews, Rev. Lacy Harwell served as supply
1998 Rev. Lonnie Richardson served as interim
1999 Rev. Paul Brokaw ordained and installed as minister
2000 Hopewell Church along with cemetery listed on National Register of
2000 Rev. Lonnie Richardson guest minister for Homecoming
2002 Rev. Brokaw accepts call to Hanover Presbyterian Church
2002 Rev. James Braswell called as interim
2003 Rev. Richard Banks accepts call to Hopewell
2005 Rev. Banks died as result of cancer of the colon
2005 Rev. Ray Howe become interim
2006 Rev. Dr. William C. Hayes accepts call to Hopewell