Presbyterians on Sept. 15 will celebrate 60th year, dedicate prayer garden

Church history began with Alcoa locating here
First Presbyterian Church

As First Presbyterian Church of Rockdale approaches the Sept. 15 date for our 60th anniversary celebration and dedication of the new Memorial Prayer Garden at the church, perhaps at little history might be appreciated.

The location of a large industrial plant in the vicinity of Rockdale by Alcoa in the early 1950s brought many people into the area. Among these new residents were a large percentage of Presbyterians who, upon discovering that there was no Presbyterian Church in the locality, began to explore the possibility of establishing one.

The Church Extension Committee of the Presbytery of Central Texas sent its Church Extension Director, Dr. W. F. O’Kelley, to offer assistance. A core group of individuals, later to be known as the Founding Committee, attended preliminary conferences and met as a small group in November 1952.

This Founding Committee was made up of Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Barmore, Judge and Mrs. E. A. Camp, Mr. and Mrs. Brice Crow, Mr. and Mrs. Hal D. Franklin, Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Fritz, Mr. and Mrs. John D. Harper, Mr. and Mrs. Holmes A. Semken, and Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Reynolds.

Regular worship services were begun Feb. 1, 1953, and held on Sunday evenings, by invitation, in the St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Rockdale. On March 1, 1953, a change of location was made to the public school library, in order that worship might be held at a morning hour.

A petition for the organization of a Presbyterian Church in Rockdale was presented to the Presbytery of Central Texas bearing the signatures of 44 persons. The Presbytery, meeting in Temple on April 21, 1953, granted the petition and appointed a Commission to conduct the organizational meeting.

The Commission appointed to organize First Presbyterian Church at Rockdale met in the parish house of St. Thomas Episcopal Church. A service of organization was submitted to the Commission by Dr. O’Kelley, who had been serving the local group as a temporary supply.

The program was adopted and at 3 p.m. the group moved into the St. Thomas Episcopal Church sanctuary where the prospective members of the newly formed Presbyterian Church were assembled, along with other interested Presbyterians from Taylor, Cameron and Georgetown. The formal ceremony of the organization of the First Presbyterian followed.

Celebration and Dedication scheduled September 15

On Sept. 15, 2013 during the Sunday morning service at 10:30 a.m., church members will celebrate 60 years since this formal organization.

The Memorial Prayer Garden Dedication, which will be part of this service, will honor the Founding Committee and the first congregation who together “subscribed to a covenant to walk together as a church and to render all proper support to its program, peace, and purity.”

It is to these founding Saints and to the Glory of God that the church will dedicate this garden.

The public is invited to join with us as we celebrate our past and look to the future.

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