Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church Begins 75th Anniversary Celebration
Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church is celebrating 75 years in the Presbyterian tradition on Sunday, May 15, with a special service of worship in the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. in observance of the occasion, to be followed by a luncheon in the church’s atrium and fellowship hall.
In commenting on the 75th anniversary celebration and homecoming, Pastor Grady Perryman shared these thoughts.
“Milestone anniversaries are great times to realize anew that we in the church are always standing on the shoulders of those saints who have gone before us,” he says. “Certainly all that we have as a church family has been made easier by the sacrifices of many lay members, by the spirit-led decisions of our session, and by the devotion of many pastors, associate pastors, parish associates, educators and other staff members. Truly, we stand taller because we stand on the shoulders of these faithful women and men, youth and children.”
Starting in 1935, Bethesda Mission Church met in the Southern Pines Civic Club, with Dr. Marcus Brownson leading an adult Bible class. Brownson, who had served pastorates in Delaware, New Jersey, Detroit and Philadelphia before moving to the Sandhills, was deeply interested in the development of a Presbyterian church in Southern Pines, and he encouraged and advised the pastor and members in many ways on organizational procedures.
As evidence of the high esteem in which Brownson was held, “for the inspiration received from his influence and untiring efforts,” the members voted unanimously on June 28, 1936, to honor him by changing the newly established church name to Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church. The original Brownson church building opened in 1939, six months after Dr. Brownson’s death, and a bequest in his will provided funds for the pulpit and lectern in the new sanctuary.
Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church welcomes back “a child of the church,” Dr. William Stacy Johnson, as its guest preacher on the anniversary Sunday. Johnson, who is the Arthur M. Adams Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, is the son of present members of the church Virginia and Bill Samuels, and grew up in Southern Pines.
A graduate of Pinecrest High School, Johnson went on to receive degrees from Davidson College and Wake Forest Law School. He practiced law in Winston-Salem for four years before entering Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. Following seminary and ordination to the ministry, he earned his doctorate degree in religion from Harvard University.
Johnson taught at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary prior to joining the faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary. A frequent guest speaker for churches and conferences, most recently he served as theologian-in-residence at the White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, a position he has also held at churches in Dallas and Austin, Texas. He has worked as a member of the Presbyterian Church’s theological task force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church, and his current teaching and writing focus on how to envision the gospel and equip church leaders in the 21st century.
The luncheon following the special worship service at which Dr. Johnson will be the guest preacher is a ticketed affair. To see if tickets remain, call Michael Howe at (910) 692-6252 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
An unusual feature of the 75th anniversary of Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church will take place a week later on Sunday afternoon, May 22, at 4 p.m., with the performance of “A Dickens of a Church.”
Described as “A Mystical, Magical, Musical Journey Back In Time To The Inception of Brownson Church,” this take-off on the popular musical comedy “Oliver!” features the ministerial staff of the church, the Children’s Worship Arts Troupe and the Chancel Choir. The event is free and open to all; no tickets or reservations are required.
Contact Mary Elle Hunter at email@example.com.
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