Church History

History from 1884 to 1911

History from 1911 to 1939

History from 1940 to 1950

History from 1951 to 1969

History from 1973 to 1971

History from 1977 to 1991

History from 1992 to 2009

This narrative was prepared in May 2009 from church records, minutes of church meetings, and the personal recollections of members. It covers two major periods in the church’s history. The first period was from 1884 to 1911, beginning when a small group of people from what was then known as the Waxhaw Township (now the community of Van Wyck, South Carolina) petitioned to organize Beulah Presbyterian Church. The second period began in 1911 when the congregation petitioned to build a new sanctuary on Main Street in Van Wyck, and covers events up to 2009.

Beulah Presbyterian Church: 1884 to 1911

It all began on a warm spring day in 1884 when a devoted group of people met with a committee from Bethel Presbytery under the large oaks of the Crenshaw Plantation. The exact date was May 18th, and the meeting was called to discuss the organization of a Presbyterian church in the Waxhaw Township (now the Van Wyck community).

Church records show that an organization petition had already been presented to the Bethel Presbytery by the people of the township. Both the Presbytery and the people of Waxhaw Township had appointed organization committees. The township was represented by E. B. Mobley, John L. Rodmond, and R. G. Garrison.

The Presbytery was sympathetic. Rev. H. B. Platt, L. N. Robinson, J. H. Thornwell and W. W. Walkup, an elder from the Tirzah Church, were asked to act as a fact-finding committee, to visit the Waxhaw Township, and to report back at the fall meeting.

The visit went well, and at the fall meeting of the Presbytery, Rev. Platt’s committee recommended that a church be organized in the Waxhaw Township. The Presbytery endorsed the committee’s recommendations and approved the organization of a church under the name “Beulah.” With this sanction, the church was formed.

Van Wyck Presbyterian Church: 1911 to 1939

The session met on July 2, 1911 with barely a quorum in what would turn out to be the prelude to a significant event in the church’s history. Present were Rev. James Russell, the moderator, and elders G. L. Vaughan and R. H. Massey. Mr. Vaughan was appointed to attend the upcoming meeting of Bethel Presbytery at Bullock Creek. R. H. Massey was appointed his alternate. The congregation had previously voted to petition for the construction of a new church building in the Van Wyck community and Vaughan’s role was to present the petition. It formally requested that the Bethel Presbytery give Beulah Church authorization to construct a new sanctuary and to sell the old church building to help finance the new construction.

The Presbytery approved the petition, and in 1911, after 27 years of faithful service, the old church was sold. The lumber was used in several houses in the community.

A building committee was named consisting of Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Nisbet, J. M. Nisbet, Mr. and Mrs. W. N. Ashe, G. L. Vaughan, and James H. Stewart.

The new Van Wyck Presbyterian Church began with twenty-eight charter members. C. S. Massey and R. H. Massey donated the building lot on Main Street in Van Wyck. Julian Starr was the architect and designed a beautiful, classic structure that would seat 125 people. W. N. Ashe gave the brick and other materials. It was completed in 1912. The construction was unusual in that the walls and partitions, from the foundation to the roof, were two feet thick and constructed of solid brick, all donated by Mr. Ashe.

On September 24, 1914, the session “instructed Mr. Wes Plyer to see about having trees planted on the church lot.” Some of these beautiful oaks surround the church today. The sanctuary was carpeted and re-painted during the pastorate of Rev. John Jackson Brown.

1940 thru 1950

In 1940 and 1941 the education building was constructed and in 1945 dedicated to Samuel L. Vaughan, Jr., an airman who lost his life when he was shot down during World War II.

The Baptismal Fount was added in memory of Rev. John Jackson Brown.

In the three years from 1947 to 1950, the sanctuary was completely re-decorated. The frosted glass in the windows and the red and blue glass in the transoms were replaced with stained glass. New carpet, pulpit furniture, and communion table were donated by Mrs. J. Marion Moore in memory of her husband. W. Oliver Nisbet built the arch and choir rail and installed paneling around the rostrum in memory of his father, John Edwin Nisbet. These were made of native walnut from trees cut on the Nisbet home place. Mrs. William H. Moore is responsible for the beautiful organ, which was given by members and friends of the church in memory of the elders, W. N. Ashe, J. E. Nisbet, R. H. Massey, T. W. Plyer, J. M. Moore, and G. L. Vaughan

For twenty years Sunday school and preaching services were held twice a month in the Presbyterian Church and twice a month in the Methodist Church, alternating every Sunday.

1951 thru 1969

Many improvements were made during this period. In 1951 when Rev. Laurence Williams was called to the church, and the congregation wanted him to live in the community. To provide for this, a manse was built adjoining the church.

The Storm Clouds of 1973

But all was not good, and in the summer of 1973, Van Wyck Presbyterians suddenly found themselves in the eye of a storm. With only one week’s notice, the session called a congregational meeting for July 1, 1973, a time when eleven members were known to be away on vacation. The purpose was to vote on a proposal to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church U. S. The vote was twenty-two to fourteen in favor of withdrawal.

On July 2nd, the Monday night following the vote, the session met again, this time at W. H. Moore’s home. At this meeting, W. O. Nisbet told the session that he would remain loyal to the Presbyterian Church U. S. He was told that since a majority of the session was opposed to that position and the congregation had voted to leave the Presbyterian Church U.S., all records, members, property, etc. were no longer under the control of Bethel Presbytery. At that point, Mr. Nisbet walked out of the meeting.

The loyalist group worked hard to remain in communication and attended church and participated in worship. However, after being told that they no longer had authority in the church, they gradually stopped attending.

Bethel Presbytery did all they could to support the loyalists, who by now had started holding their own monthly services in the homes of members. They established a reconciliation committee and asked for a meeting with the old separatists session, but the meeting was fruitless and did nothing to unify the church.

Finally, representatives of Bethel Presbytery and the loyalists met. They decided to notify the separatists that the session was dissolved and the Van Wyck Presbyterian Church was now under the care and direction of the Bethel Presbytery. They were ignored and a court action followed.

During this lawsuit to return the church to Bethel Presbytery, the separatists stated that if the court ruled against them and the First Church, Rock Hill, and awarded the property to Bethel Presbytery, they would no longer contest the rights of Bethel in Van Wyck. The courts did rule in favor of Bethel Presbytery, but the separatists did not live up to their promise and appealed the decision. This appeal was also won by Bethel. Still, the separatists and First Church of Rock Hill would not surrender the property. A final lawsuit was filed jointly by W. O. Nisbet and Bethel Presbytery for a return of the church to the Bethel Presbytery. It succeeded and the church was at last returned to Bethel Presbytery.

This bitter disagreement between two local groups resulted in a division of not only the church but also the community. Many said that the major problems stemmed from misunderstandings and poor communication. But whatever the reason, there was still hope that eventually the Presbyterian Church could be one church again, and any moves toward reconciliation would have been welcomed by the Van Wyck Presbyterian Church.

1977 thru 1991 – A New Beginning

In July, 1977, the church property was legally returned to Bethel Presbytery. The small band of church members began the arduous task of healing the old wounds and building a new and even stronger body of worshipers. This happened under the guidance of several dedicated ministers, including Rev. Jim Freeman of Rock Hill. He supplied and supported the church many Sundays both during and after the dispute. During this critical time the church began a period of rapid growth. Rev. Gault Robinson and Rev. J. Junkers were the first to officially supply the church after the split.

1992 thru May 2009

In 1992, Rev. Randy McSpadden was called to Van Wyck. From his first Sunday service, Randy, as he liked to be called, demonstrated a blend of love, faith, imagination, commitment, and outstanding leadership that most congregations only pray for.

During his tenure, the church calendar was full of noteworthy events. Adult Bible study programs, presbytery mission trips, Vacation Bible Schools, communicants classes, creation and expansion of the work committees of the congregation, an officers’ training program, the celebration of Presbyterian Heritage Sunday, the organization of Presbyterian Women’s Craft group, the creation of the church’s first newsletter, retreats at Oliver’s Lodge, annual children’s Christmas pageants, and participation in Van Wyck community programs—all testimony to the key role he played as shepherd of the flock.

In 2002, the congregation realized it had outgrown the Vaughan Fellowship Hall and dreamed of building a new fellowship hall, kitchen, bathrooms and storage area. In August 2005, the session met with architect Neil Brown and on September 25, 2006, the session approved hiring Mr. Brown to design a master plan for the future growth and expansion of our church. On April 20, 2006, the Restoration Committee was dissolved and the Building Campaign Committee was formed.
In February 2007, the session approved moving forward with a Building Campaign to raise funds for the new fellowship hall and in August 2007 the campaign was launched.

The new fellowship hall was completed in March 2009. The building and furnishing of the new fellowship hall is a major achievement for our church. It took dedication, commitment, work and faith by our current congregation and friends to lay a “Foundation for the Future” of the Van Wyck Presbyterian Church.

The future looks bright for Van Wyck Presbyterians since the Van Wyck area continues to grow rapidly. The church celebrated the 125th Anniversary on May 17, 2009, with church membership at 118 (97 active members and 21 baptized members).

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