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 History of First Presbyterian Church

In 1850, Fayetteville Presbytery appointed a committee to organize a church in Carthage. On September 1, 1850, the church was organized. Twenty-four persons dismissed from the Union Church presented themselves for membership. Ruling elders and trustees were elected and instructed to secure a title to a lot. A lot was given by Mr. Murdock Person.


The members went to work with a will to build. Alexander Kelly erected the building. The first pastor was Rev. A.C. McNeill. After eight years he resigned to accept a pastorate in Alabama, but he returned to dedicate the Carthage church in September 1856.


Rev. H.G. Hogshead followed McNeill. He served the church from 1851 until his death in 1855. Rev. Daniel McGillivray supplied the church from 1856 until 1858 when he went to Siam as a foreign Missionary.


Rev. George Russel was pastor from 1858 until 1864. He was succeeded by Rev. Martin McQueen who served faithfully for twenty-four years. The spiritual care of the slaves was watch over and they kept their membership until 1886. The first Missionary Society was organized by Mrs. McQueen during Rev. McQueen’s pastorate. Since that time, the women have faithfully served and contributed to the growth and support of the church.


The following ministers served as supplies and pastors for a number of years: Rev. A.R. Shaw (1889-1890); Rev. W.M. Eldridge (1891-1894); Rev. W.L. Wolfe (1895-1896); Rev D.W. Fox and Rev. C.G. Vardell (1896); Rev. C.H. Dobbs (1897-1901).


Rev. John K. Roberts of Tennessee served from 1901 until 1919. The membership increased from 180 to 350 during that time. The present church, Gothic in design was built in 1913. The stunning stained-glass windows and solid oak curved pews continue to enhance the beauty and charm of the sanctuary to this day.


Three pastors followed Roberts, including C.W. Worth, a missionary from China who married a Carthage native, Hilda Blue. He served during 1927 and 1928.


Rev. William S. Golden was pastor for twenty-eight years, from 1929 through 1957. During his pastorate, the educational building was added to the church. It was dedicated on August 7, 1949, as the Currie Memorial Building.


Rev. Bernard E. Dotson was installed as pastor on June 16, 1957.The Dotson family was the first to occupy the new brick manse on McReynolds Street. “Buddy,” known as the man of all seasons, loved people and he was universally loved by them in return. After nineteen years of service, Dotson retired to Southern Pines in 1976.


Dr. Lester L. Dattler of Covington, Virginia was installed as pastor on December 15, 1976. His fifteen year pastorate ended in on February 29, 1992, when he accepted a call to Shalotte, NC. Paralleling his pastoral duties, Dattler was active in community affairs, assisting with worthwhile organizations. A man of action, he was instrumental in restoring the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary. In addition, he acquired land adjoining the church which was used for an extension of the cemetery. The church’s musical program was greatly enhanced due to Dattler’s musical talents and interest.


In 1993, Rev, Stuart R. Gordon began his fist pastorate with the church. During this time, our fellowship and educational programs were strong. A weekly youth ministry called Logos was established. On May 7, 2000, after serving for seven years, Gordon accepted a call to Florence, SC.


Rev. David G. Coffey, Jr. from Pulaski, VA (formerly of this area) was installed as Pastor on July 22, 2001. Coffey bought a home on Poplar Street, so the manse was rented. During his pastorate, the church went to a unicameral system. He was instrumental in purchasing a Rogers digital organ and a baby grand piano for the sanctuary. Due to poor health, Rev. Coffey retired on January 30, 2005.


Rev. Richard T. Martindale, our current minister, began February 1, 2006 and was installed on March 26th. He introduced the Disciple Bible study, and continued the church’s emphasis on children and youth. Under Rev. Martindale, the church has seen a resurgence in pastoral care. Rev. Martindale was instrumental in planning the church’s newest addition. The Family Life Center was dedicated and opened to the public on Sunday, July 15, 2012. The new building contains a large multi-purpose room, a beautiful conference room, a spacious kitchen, bathrooms, offices for the pastor and church staff, and an elevator which connects it to the Currie Education Center.


When First Presbyterian Church was founded in 1850, the town of Carthage was only fifty-four years old and was struggling to establish itself and its people. Today, Carthage is a flourishing, tight-knit community. First Presbyterian Church is as integral part of that community, determined to continue to be a beacon of strong faith in God and commitment to helping, serving, and ministering to others in our community. The spirit of our founders is still felt in today’s members, ever looking forward, ever seeking enlightenment, and always willing to serve.

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