Continuing my trail of Evangelical Presbyterian Churches introduced in Discoveries of the Past on March 11, I come to a church just outside of Charlotte, NC. This stop along the way during that “EPC church tour” was Siler Presbyterian Church (EPC) in Wesley Chapel, NC. My wife and I had a nice Italian dinner with Pastor Bruce Powell and his wife, Carrie, on Saturday night, and then worshipped with the congregation on Sunday morning. Bruce has been serving SPC for almost 23 years as their shepherd and pastor. It was obvious during our visit that he is well-loved by the congregation. It was indeed a pleasure to worship in this historic church which has an active membership of around 450 members. On Sunday morning, Bruce gave me a few minutes to bring greetings to the congregation and give a brief explanation about our new ministry. I received a lot of encouragement from members after the service. Pastor Bruce shared a message from Genesis 50:15-26 entitled “God Meant Good.” This sermon was the first of a series of characters in the Bible, first pointing to Moses. Bruce preached with conviction, not shying away from naming sin as sin, but also giving God the praise to be able to use evil for good in His Kingdom work. He is a real gift, not only to his church but also to the EPC. Before worship service we attended a Sunday school class and after worship we were invited to a church lunch to celebrate the new members of the church. Altogether, we had a wonderful visit with Bruce, Carrie and all of the SPC congregation.
The church is committed to reaching the local community as they send and support many community activities. Achievement of this is measured by their ability to 1) reach the community, 2) provide hands-on experience to the members of the congregation including families and youth, and 3) provide board members to local organizations when appropriate. The church is involved in a range of activities from food and clothing collections, the Angel Tree Ministry, blood drives, Habitat for Humanity, Scouts …the list goes on!
I was also happy to learn that the Siler congregation is active in world missions, supporting several families who serve the Lord internationally, with both prayer and monetary support. Among the missionaries they support is one of our EPC World Outreach missionary teams that is serving in Central Asia. They also regularly send church mission teams to Guatemala and the Philippines.
A LONG HISTORY
Siler EPC was organized in Sandy Ridge Township, Union County, North Carolina, on October 29, 1895. Rev. J. W. Siler, Pastor of Providence Church, had been holding regular preaching services under an improvised arbor for two years prior to the organization.
By the request of Rev. Siler and several families in the community, the Presbytery gave permission for the organization of a church and appointed Rev. Siler, Rev. H. M. Dixon and Rev. M. C. Arrowood as organizing ministers. The church began with twenty-nine members. Land for the church building and grounds was donated by M. E. Plyler and his wife. A building was started near the present cemetery. Rev. Siler remained pastor until 1897.
In 1915 the church enjoyed a period of growth and began to outgrow the building. The decision was made to move the building a quarter of a mile down the road and erect a new building. Horse power was used to move the building on logs placed one after another in front of the building. This task took longer than expected and was not completed by the next Sunday. That did not deter the congregation. They simply worshiped in their sanctuary where it sat along the road. The land was donated by J. N. Price and the Belk family donated the bricks for the new building which was completed and dedicated in 1919. Within the year, the front wall of the church cracked. It was decided to remove the bell from the tower as it was determined to be unsafe. The bell was moved out into the yard, and only rung for important occasions.
CONTINUED CHURCH GROWTH
In 1964, the first educational building was added, named in honor of Dr. Q. N. Huneycutt who served as pastor from 1932-1938 and 1951-1964 when he retired. This building houses the current nursery. A Fellowship Hall was completed in 1974 which is the current church office. The manse was also completed in 1974 and a call was extended to Rev. Vernon H. Dodd who became the first full-time minister and served until 1990.
The current two-story educational building was completed in 1988 which was named in honor of Rev. Dodd. In 1992 a call was extended to Rev. Bruce M. Powell who serves as the pastor today. A new Fellowship Hall, with kitchen and large classrooms, was completed in 2002. (History from the Siler website.)
STANDING FOR THE TRUTH IN TODAY’S TIME
On September 30, 2012, Siler Presbyterian voted to dismiss from the PCUSA denomination with a 99% vote and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination with a 98% vote. Decisions for these types of changes are never easy but the session of Siler Presbyterian was more interested in aligning their church with the truth of the Gospel then staying in a long traditional comfort zone. In a 11/8/11 letter to their congregation, the session wrote, “With a great sense of sadness, the Session has concluded that our denomination, the PCUSA, has departed from Scripture, from our Reformed (Presbyterian) heritage, from the holy will of God, and from us at Siler, a congregation of Christians seeking to be faithful to our Lord.” They went on to express, “We believe the PCUSA’s departure is not just an innocent edging away from our Lord’s revealed will in Scripture on minor issues, but they have willfully and knowingly broken with Truth on substantial issues of faith and life.”
Of course, the EPC is excited and blessed to have Siler Presbyterian as part of the family of churches of the EPC. If you are in south Charlotte on any given Sunday, it is well worth the 15 minute drive to visit with the fine folks at Siler EPC. The church is located at 6301 Weddington-Monroe Rd, Wesley Chapel, NC. As mentioned, my wife and I immensely enjoyed our visit to Siler and look forward to a future visit when next in the area.