By Jasmine Willis
ATLANTA – The ancient pipe organ has been the guardian of the sanctuary for over a century. It’s soothing hymns have echoed throughout the church guiding the faithful every Sunday morning. Upon this humble ground a stone foundation was built in 1895 to withstand any of life’s storms. After a couple of years those echoes will be heard once again throughout the community.
Redefined Church has purchased the old Atlanta Presbyterian Church as its home. It has worked diligently to carefully preserve the history of those who came before and the generations of faithful who called this church home. The new church welcomes any who wish to come enter this sanctuary Sundays at 10 a.m., prayer night on Tuesdays at 4:30 p.m., and bible study on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.
Redefined Church Pastor, Nick Lincoln held his first service in his home on Dec. 30, 2018. He started with humble beginnings as many pastors have done throughout history. When churches formed in barns, stables, homes, and cabins until a church could be built.
Through the years this congregation has been looking for a home. As they have held services at The Little House, Nugget Hill, and even whole summers outside. It was time to find a forever home, and this congregation began to pray for just that very thing.
Lincoln said when he first stepped into the Atlanta Presbyterian Church it felt like home. It felt like it had been built for his congregation all those years ago. He plans to honor all those who came before as well as continue to build on the foundation with God’s Word.
“I think it is really cool to be able to rescue something that already has a lot of history of God bringing people together. Someone told me something interesting the other day, because we were looking at the picture of them building it. ‘They told me God used those people to build that church for those people, but he also used those people to build that church for us here and now’ I feel like God always planned for it to be our church here and now,” he said. “We had a bunch of brothers and sisters in Christ who built us a church a long time ago.”
Lincoln said it is exciting for him and his congregation to have a place to call home after all these years.
“It is exciting to have a place to call home that we can do ministry out of without having to be constantly on the move. It can be difficult sometimes, especially with outdoor services to find a place and get ahold of people last minute due to weather. Now we have a place rain or shine. We will be in one place every Sunday,” Lincoln added.
Lincoln welcomes the community to come and enjoy fellowship and worship at the church.
“I hope to see a lot of the community here. I really want this to be the place that draws the whole community together. I am continuing to pray about it. I hope to see a lot of people from the Atlanta community here. We want to bless the whole community through the ministry that we do here,” he said.
It took a long process to get to this point. Redefined Church held a meeting to decide where they were going to go. A friend approached the church about taking over the old one in Atlanta. Bob Bidlack has grown up in the church and has many generations of family roots tied to the church. He has been the caretaker for many years. He was instrumental in helping Redefined Church get into this beloved old sanctuary.
“We were approached about if we ever thought about taking the Atlanta Church. We were told they had just formed a committee to talk about selling the church, and they were hoping to find a church to sell it too. I told them to give them my contact number. Months had gone by without hearing anything. We figured it was off the table. One night we had a prayer night and considered buying another building for church. Literally as soon as we finished prayer I got an email from Bob asking if we were still interested in the Atlanta Church,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln had walked into other places looking for a home, but never felt much clarity. When he walked into this old church he knew right away this was the place he would continue his ministry.
Some history of this old brick church goes back to its formation in 1894. This church was formed on July 22, 1894 and first held at the Waite Opera House until a church building could be built. There were 133 people first in attendance who were deeply stirred by the message by Rev. H. P. McAdam of Rochester. The official name Presbyterian Church of Atlanta was formed on Dec. 2, 1894 with Rev. Thomas Kerr being the first official pastor on March 3, 1895.
The first three elders of the church were William L. Carter, J.J. Crouch and Hyatt C. Hatch. In this time the village was thriving with the railroad up in full swing. There was a stagecoach route to Naples. There were businesses booming up and down Main Street. This gave the community a sense of purpose. However, it was really out of great tragedy that this church first laid down its foundation.
In 1895 a fatal fire took out most of the business district and completely devastated the village. It was out of those ashes this church rose. It was a symbol of eternal hope for the faithful and the broken. The men of the church hauled the stones used to build its sturdy foundation from the quarry. They built the walls with their own hands. The church was built to last. Otis Ostrander of Elmira was the architect who outlined the gorgeous gothic revival you see today. All in all the new church cost $6,200 to build.
Rev. Evan R. Evans was the longest servant of the church in its history with 13 years of ministry. He was cherished in the hearts and minds of all who knew him. Hyatt C. Hatch served the church as an elder for over four decades. His wife, Edith A. Hatch rallied the women in the congregation and created a female missionary group. She was considered one of the brightest stars who passed in 1926.
No church is complete without the community outreach and the women were the pillars of this ministry. The famous ten cent suppers continued to be a huge hit with the locals. They held big church fairs every fall with lively entertainment. These women also marched house to house asking for donations. Upon which they would sit for tea and share the gospel.
Perhaps, one of the most important parts of this church’s history is its pipe organ. An outstanding milestone for the church came in October 1920 when Atlanta Presbyterian Church purchased their very own organ. It was built by Louis F. Mohr and Company in NYC. It was dedicated on Dec. 1, 1920.
Many have contributed to the legacy of this church for over a century, and they will never be forgotten. Many generations of families have been born, raised, married, and died in this church. It’s hallways and walls will echo through the ages of the hearts and souls who praised God’s Word within it. As we start a new chapter let us remember to share the gospel and welcome all through these holy doors.