Easter of 1919 was when the first service was held at the current Central Presbyterian Church building.
Now, 100 years later, the congregation will celebrate its centennial the week after Easter.
Central Presbyterian Church in Waxahachie was established as a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1853 and was organized by Reverend Daniel G. Molloy along with 12 members.
Glinda Felty has been a member of the church since she moved to Waxahachie. As she spoke about its history, she sat in a church pew with a manila folder filled with documentation of history her mother-in-law began to compile some years ago.
Felty was instrumental in an application process through the Texas Historical Commission that granted the church building a historical marker in 2002. The inscription detailed the beginnings of the congregation and mentioned the church’s assistance in bringing Trinity University to Waxahachie. This event helped increase membership, although the college later moved to San Antonio.
By 1902, the church's space was not adequate for the growing student body of Trinity University. The congregation took over the building and eventually outgrew the church with 275 members.
“They tore down a beautiful building, and they (congregation) voted in 1917 to build the new building,” Felty explained. “They tore down the old one, and it took them from then until Easter 1919 for this building to be used.”
After worshiping at Trinity University for 20 months, the congregation moved into the new church and had its first services on Easter Sunday.
The service of dedication was held on May 9, 1920, and the entire building cost, at the time, $112,522. According to an online inflation calculator hosted by CoinNews, the cost of that construction today would exceed $1.65 million.
With more room, the church continued to grow with 641 members in 1921 and was up to 751 in 1929. Felty said there were about 300 members currently.
After WWII many projects took place in decades to come to refurbish the building within the basement, the parlor and two kitchens. A driveway was also added to the north side of the building with a ramp. Choir pews were replaced and reorganized to create an aisle down the center of the sanctuary.
The Hogan Memorial Library was later established and consisted of 1,100 volumes that were donated. The space still functions today as members are allowed to check out religious literature and novels.
“Even though they are ancient, they are still relevant from time to time,” Felty said. “You can still get a lot of information from older things — some new insights.”
The Patrick Memorial Chapel was also created and is complete with an electric organ, alter and pews on the second floor. The room has hosted several weddings and remains open during the annual event Bethlehem Revisited.
Waxahachie was selected as the site of the United Presbyterian Home — formerly the Reynolds’ Home — which was a significant event for the church. On Sept. 4, 1960, the staff and children of the United Presbyterian Home located on Brookside Road in Waxahachie attended their first service at the church.
“We would at least have a hundred children for several years until the home began to change,” Felty explained. “We still have children, but the children come from the home in Itasca.”
In 1983, Central Presbyterian Church U.S. joined with the United Presbyterian Church U.S.A. to form one body called the United Presbyterians Church U.S.A.
Central Presbyterian is a member of Grace Presbytery.
For Sunday worship, “We have a very special service planned,” Felty expressed.
The club, The Marthas, will parade in the sanctuary with a new banner that has bells attached. The ladies will also have their first edition cookbook for sale on Sunday. Individuals who are current members, as well as those who have passed on, have their exclusive recipes included. The cookbooks are for sale at $15, and all proceeds will be donated to the building restoration fund.
During the 11 a.m. service, chancel choir will present special music, and Steve Chapman will share his memories of growing up in the church. Following the ceremony, lunch will be served in the undercroft.
Exhibits will be on display throughout the church that showcases the evolution of changes.
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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450