Just a decade shy of its bicentennial, the Fayetteville Cumberland Presbyterian Church will mark another milestone this Sunday, Oct. 27, as members of its congregation invite the community to a celebration of the church’s 50th year at 1015 Lewisburg Highway.
The structure, the fourth to serve as the church’s home here since its founding in 1829, is widely known for its unique architecture, most notably its curved roofline which sweeps steeply upward, almost as if it nodding to the future with its modernistic style.
“The architect was out of Nashville, John A. Preston & Associates,” said Dwight Caudle, a longtime member of the church, recalling how representatives of the firm visited Fayetteville they began to work on designs. “There was no building in this area that had an oriental face, and so they came forward with their early drawings to the building committee.”
Dwight and his wife, Carolyn, have been members of the church since soon after their marriage in 1966 – Dwight had grown up in the church.
Members of the building committee, formed in 1964, included Charles Manley, Dodge Old, Conroy Sawyers, Marlon Tucker, and Mac and Evelyn Taylor, the parents of John Taylor, who, with his wife, Betty, are also longtime members. John had joined the church on Oct. 12, 1952, at the age of 9. A little more than 17 years later, on Jan. 18, 1970, their son, John Christopher (Chris), would become the first infant to be baptized at the new church. Many years later, Chris’s three children would also be christened there.
“Robert Alder Construction built the building,” said Bill Stovall, who had joined the church in 1957 soon after his family returned home to Fayetteville. “Mr. Alder built a lot of bridges and other buildings, particularly schools around this area. This structure has held up superbly well ... The upkeep is even minimal, because it was built so well.”
Bill’s wife, Janice, was the newest member of the church when construction got underway and consequently had the honor of turning the first shovel full of dirt as ground was broken for the new structure.
“The memories we have here could fill a book,” said Bill’s brother, Wesley, who served as an acolyte at both the old church, located where the parking area adjacent to Fayetteville Medical Associates on South Elk Avenue is today, and the church’s new site on the Lewisburg Highway.
From picking up rocks on the grounds of the new church during what were called “Rock’n Roll Parties” to participating in youth musicals and a myriad of other events, the Stovall brothers, along with their siblings and much like other longtime members, are proud of the church’s long history and active support of the community.
“I think our church’s architecture reflects its 1960’s era,” said Arden Humphrey, a relatively newer member of the church who remembers visiting and attending events over the years. “It was the era of going to the moon, of looking to the future, and I think its design is representative of that hope ... This is a congregation that’s been around for 190 years, and I believe it was important that it was forward-looking at the time. Hopefully, it will still be serving the community in another 190 years.”
The community is invited to join the church as it celebrates its 50th year on the Lewisburg Highway this Sunday, Oct. 27.
The day’s activities include Sunday School at 9:15 a.m., followed by a special service at 10:30 a.m. A catered meal for all who attend will follow, and then at 1 p.m. there will be a special “Homecoming” program of music led by the church’s hand bell choir, followed by speakers to include past ministers of the church.
During the afternoon, the church will be open for tours of the facility. Serving as the church’s pastor is the Rev. Tim Smith, who has faithfully served the needs of the church since 2004.
“Anyone who wishes to attend their regular church is invited to join us for the 1 p.m. service,” said Arden. “We’ll also have some special keepsakes that our guests can take with them.”