History of Chadbourn Presbyterian Church

(This history is taken from the church’s Centennial Celebration book and had been compiled by the Rev. L. T. Newland, a child of the church and former Ruling Elder, for his “1947 Golden Jubilee Historical Address” and by Mrs. J. A. Brown, Mrs. D. C. Clark, Mrs. J. H. Land and the Rev. Leslie C. Tucker in 1954 for the dedication booklet when the church dedicated its new facility which is still the current facility at the corner of East First Avenue and North Elm Street in Chadbourn.  These two compilations were then condensed and extended into “A Brief History 1954-1991,” written by the Rev. Dr. William E. Pauley for the church newsletter and the 1991 Homecoming Celebration.  The history is also brought forward by excerpts from Minutes of the Session.)

 The first Presbyterian minister to preach in Columbus County was the Reverend Hugh McAden, sent from the Synod of Philadelphia as a missionary in 1756 to visit the Cape Fear settlements.  The Synod of Philadelphia embraced all Presbyterian churches south of Philadelphia.  In his journals and Diary of his visit, Mr. McAden said, “On Monday, February 9, I crossed the swamp of Brown Marsh and came to Baldwins on White Marsh, about five miles, where I tarried all night and preached the next day to a few irregular sort of people.”

The first organized Presbyterian church in Columbus County was at Whiteville in 1856.  The Chadbourn Presbyterian Church could be listed as daughter of the Whiteville Church as five of our charter members were formerly members of that church; the other seven members coming in from the West and North with the Sunny South Colony.

The following record of the organization of our church is taken from the first page of the Sessional Minutes of the Chadbourn Presbyterian Church, dated 1897:

“At the spring meeting of the Wilmington Presbytery, Revs. P. H Hoge, D.D., and A.M. McFayden, and Ruling Elder Wm. Stanley were appointed a commission to organize a church at Chadbourn, Columbus County, NC, if the way be clear.  The commission met at Chadbourn at 4 p.m., May 25, 1897, and organized a church consisting of the following charter members:  Miss Alice Harvey Brown, Mrs. Patience Teel Brown, Mrs. R.E.L. Brown, Mrs. Joseph B. Chadbourn, Mr. and Mrs. Christie, Mr. and Mrs. A.F. Coultas, Mr. and Mrs. S.T. Loman, Mrs. William Stanley and Mrs. W.E. Thigpen.  Mr. A.F. Coultas was elected, ordained, and installed as Ruling Elder.”

After the organization, it was two years before the building of a house of worship was accomplished.  During this time, the Baptists cordially extended use of their church, when they were not occupying it themselves.  This was gratefully accepted for one Sunday a month.

Mrs. Patience Brown’s son, R.E.L. Brown, gave the site for the church on the corner of First Avenue and Howard Street.  In the building of the church, special credit is given to C. W. Foster, a big, strong, red-headed man who came down, with his wife from Pennsylvania and was made a Ruling Elder.  From the beginning of his residence in Chadbourn, the idea of building a church lay heavily on his heart.  Though he worked slowly, under many difficulties, he worked surely, with a determination that never says die, until the church was builtand paid for.

The community of Chadbourn had been started from the lumber business that had been operated by the Chadbourn Lumber Company from Wilmington.  The community had been greatly enlarged and extended by the colony of people from the North, West, and Northwest who came to the Sunny South Colony which was promoted by the J.A. Brown & Company.  These different elements of people had looked askance at each other and approached each other with timidity.  But when the Presbyterian Church was built and opened for service, there was a thrill in the air – God’s Spirit evidently bringing the people together, and before many months, the remark could be heard, “We didn’t know there were so many nice people in Chadbourn.”

At the time of the church’s organization, Rev. C.P. Morton was in charge of the Columbus County field, which included Whiteville, Hub, and Chadbourn.  Almost immediately after the organization, he was succeeded by the Rev. J.E.L. Winecoff, in November 1897, who found only eleven members of the Chadbourn Church and no church building.  He labored here for eleven years, the longest pastorate the church had known (until the tenure of the Rev. Paul A. Layton).  He faithfully served the Lord here at a time when the right sort of leadership was vital to the growth of the church in numbers, unity and spirituality.  Dr. Newland remembered a revival meeting in January 1902 conducted by Rev. E.E. Gillespie from Greensboro when 25 people joined the church, bringing the membership to 75.

Just when the first church building was completed and dedicated, the church records do not state a meeting of the Session being recorded between April 23, 1899 and January 25, 1900.  But the April 23, 1899 meeting was recorded, “Met in the Baptist Church.”  The January 25, 1900 meeting was recorded, “Met in the Presbyterian Church.”  Sometime between these two dates the church was completed and dedicated, probably in the fall of 1899.

The first Deacons of the church were elected in June 1905.  They were J.E. Barber, E.H. Miller, and Dr. J.W. Stanley.  James T. Newland was also elected Ruling Elder.

It was during the pastorate of the Rev. James R. Kennedy that a church building program began.  Prior to 1940, many had felt the inadequacy of our old church to take care of the needs of a growing church, but a young Deacon and Sunday School teacher, John Henry Land, Jr., asked permission to present his ideas on this important matter to the Sunday School and to the church membership.  He envisioned the addition of classroom facilities and a remodeled sanctuary.  The suggestion was enthusiastically received and at a congregational meeting in April, 1941, the church voted to raise $2,500 for this project.  Mr. Land lost his life in a tragic accident, but the church continued the building program.

In December 1941, the United States entered World War II, prices skyrocketed, and building plans were shelved temporarily.  As the building funds grew, our vision enlarged and the congregation voted to build a new church adequate for our needs for another 50 years.

The Rev. Benjamin F. Ormand was installed on May 10, 1942, and the big task of buildingthe new church was placed upon him.  Through his zeal, tenacity and abiding faith in the need and rightness of the undertaking, he kept alive the faith and enthusiasm of the congregation until the new sanctuary was an accomplished fact.

At a congregational meeting March 15, 1948, it was decided not to build on the Howard Street-First Avenue site but to purchase a new site.  At a congregational meeting on April 12, 1948, the Board of Deacons recommended to the Session and to the congregation that lots on the corner of First Avenue and Elm Street be purchased from Mrs. C.R. Bailey.   (This remains the current location of the church.)

At this time the congregation instructed the Board of Deacons to sell the church property at the corner of Howard Street and First Avenue.  It was sold to Mrs. J.E. O’Neill, then to Rev. Frank Howard, then to the Catholic Church and then to the Fuller Memorial United Presbyterian Church after its church burned in 1978.  (Other groups have continued to use that facility.)

The first service held in the new church building was the morning of February 6, 1949.  It was in 1948 that the congregation authorized the purchase of an organ for the church.  Mrs. Shelby Bullard assumed the positon as organist on May 1, 1949.  This organ served the church for 38 years.

In 1986, an Organ Committee, chaired by Richard Rabon, was appointed to choose an organist and select an organ for possible purchase.  An Allen 3100 was selected at a cost of $21,700 and installed.  An organ dedication service with a performance by Dave Kirk, organist was held on Sunday, October 4, 1987.  (This is the organ still used by the church in 2015.) On October 25, 1987, Richard Rabon was honored by a Proclamation of Appreciation for his work on the Organ Committee.

The Rev. Paul A. Layton’s tenure as pastor (1993-2005) began with a building project that was first suggested in 1966.  The project included enlarging the Fellowship Hall, renovating and enlarging the kitchen, adding a nursery, music room and two restrooms.  Approval of the addition was contingent upon the project not costing more than $100,000 with the congregation pledging at least $40,000.  The balance was to come from existing reserves.  On May 29, 1994, Ernest Brown, Chairman of the Building Committee, reported that $54,230 had been pledged.  The project was approved and the low bid of $68,335, without carpet, was accepted from John Thompson Construction Company.  In addition to Mr. Brown, other members of the Committee were Kathy Blake, Blanche Bullock, H.E. Cooke, and T. McMillan “Mack” Ward (all active members in 2015).  In January 1995, Mr. Brown reported that the building project had cost $76,716 to date with only walkway lights and cabinet doors remaining. Also, wiring for the chime system was to be replaced as part of the project.  On Sunday, April 2, 1995 at 2 p.m., Ernest V. Brown was honored with a framed copy of a Resolution of Appreciation with a copy in the Sessional Minutes and a copy to the Presbytery and with the announcement that the addition would be named the “Ernest V. Brown Annex” and so indicated by a bronze plaque attached to the entrance of the building.

Our church has never been large, but its members have been faithful, dedicated, and active in the Lord’s work.  At one time the membership increased to 192, but except for the early days, the membership remained around 125 for many years.  Membership has fluctuated with the population of the town and with the industry of the area.  God has been good to the members of our church, and they have responded to His grace and goodness with good stewardship and giving to His church.

The following remarks are taken from Dr. L. T. Newland’s address for the Golden Anniversary in 1947.  They remained appropriate when the church celebrated its centennial in 1997, and they definitely remain appropriate today in 2015 as the church moves forward.

“I want to try to leave you with a picture of some accomplishments of this church during the past 50 years (100 and 118) years.  I do not suppose that the membership has ever been over 120 (reached 192) and yet this church has sent out as steady stream of fine men and women who now adorn all walks of life.  All through the years this church has stood for the worthwhile values of life and despite the fact that it has always been the smallest denomination in membership, it has done its full part and more in furnishing Christian leadership for the local community.  Today we come to the end of a chapter of thrilling achievements as a church and from the vantage point of half a century (a century and an additional 18 years) of happy, fruitful service for the Great Head of the Church, we look away into the coming fifty (one hundred and more) years.  In almost every way these days are darker and more uncertain than were the days when this church was born.  What of the future?  Certainly many of us, perhaps most of us, will not be spared to join in the centennial celebration of 1997 (sesquicentennial celebration of 2047 or the bicentennial celebration of 2097), but the poet tells us, ‘There will always be an England,’ and I am equally sure that as long as there are men and women who love the Lord and are strengthened by their belief in the sovereignty of God, the sufficient atonement of Jesus Christ, and the perseverance of the saints, that there will be a Presbyterian Church in Chadbourn.” 


This website is being established in the Fall of 2015 as the church is in the midst of making some key decisions about its future and as it seeks to solidify its future so it can be the church God called it to be and fulfill His purpose for it as well as carry on the vision for the church and community of Chadbourn set forth by those visionaries who started the church and laid its foundation.   There remains as strong as ever a desire for there to continue to be a Presbyterian Church in Chadbourn.   There is still a place and need for such.  There continues to be a call by God for such.  May it always be so!

Former Pastors of Chadbourn Presbyterian Church

John E. L. Winecoff

Eugene B. Carr

Fred Smith (Stated Supply)

Walter W. Morton

Henry L. Snead

David M. McGeachey

Lawrence I. Stell

R. C. Clontz

James R. Kennedy

Benjamin F. Ormand

Leslie C. Tucker, Jr.

John L. Stevenson

Robert S. Link

Roger E. Horne

John S. Franklin

Ben E. Gurley

William E. Pauley

Paul A. Layton
(Title of Pastor Emeritus conferred upon him by the Session)

Robert S. Link

William E. “Boney” Jones

Charles F.  “C. F.” McDowell, III (Stated Supply) 
November 1, 2013 – Present

Note:  Throughout the church’s history gaps in pastoral tenures were filled with various supply ministers on a weekly basis or for a few  months at a time.

Charter Members of Chadbourn Presbyterian Church

Miss Alice Harvey Brown

Mrs. Patience Teel Brown

Mrs. R. E. L. Brown

Mrs. Joseph B. Chadbourn

Mr. and Mrs. Christie

Mr. and Mrs. A. F. Coultas

Mr. and Mrs. S. T. Loman

Mrs. William Stanley

Mrs. W. E. Thigpen