Greenback FPC is a church with two birthdays. Oral tradition gives the reason for the establishment of a Presbyterian church so close to the existing Pine Grove Presbyterian Church. It was because of Baker’s Creek. This creek, just on the Greenback side of Pine Grove, flooded much of the year. With crude roads and no bridge, it was impossible for Presbyterians on the Greenback side of the creek to get to church. Those families petitioned Union Presbytery to build them a church in Greenback. A committee was appointed to visit the Greenback field and, if the way be clear, to organize a Presbyterian Church. On October 31, 1906, the committee report was received and its recommendations adopted. A chapel was to be erected in Greenback, but no church was organized yet. A committee of citizens of Greenback was to proceed at once with the erection of a chapel.
On December 24, 1906, the church property was deeded from James B. and Anna A. Hall to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA, for the sum of $75.00. The original building was completed in 1907, and the chapel was dedicated on June 17th of that year. This was the church’s first birthday.
A newspaper described the dedication thusly: “With several hundred people on the grounds, and the church filled to its capacity, the dedicatory service of the new Presbyterian Church at Greenback was held Sunday morning, while in the afternoon another service was also held. The church is another addition to the presbytery of Union, and has just been completed, being free from debt, after raising $118.00, which took place in a brief time at the first services.”
Helen Kerr, youngest daughter of the first pastor, later recalled that during the construction of the Presbyterian Church building, workmen were scarce and Rev. David Kerr, at the age of 58, provided manual labor, carrying bricks and mortar to speed the effort.
Although the church was completed and dedicated in May of 1907, there was no established congregation, and it was operated as a chapel governed by the board of officers of the Pine Grove Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In September of 1907 the Cumberland Presbyterian and United Presbyterian churches merged. At the historic meeting, a special committee from the Union Presbytery made a report concerning the work at Greenback and submitted a request from the people for the immediate organization of a church in that place. Some opposition came from the representative of the Pine Grove Church. On motion, the matter was referred to the Home Mission Committee with instructions to “try and secure a preacher for the combined field with the hope that the people will soon become united.” Pastoral candidate Mr. D. B. Simpson was asked to supply the congregations of Morganton, Pine Grove, and Greenback till the Spring meeting of Presbytery.
On April 21, 1908, at the Spring meeting held at New Providence Church, a new parish was established: Cloyd’s Creek, Unita, and Greenback; to be supplied by Rev. David M. Kerr with $100.00 Home Mission support. Revds. A. J. Coile and D. M. Kerr, with ruling elder A. P. Chapman were appointed a committee to carry out the resolution of the Home Mission Committee as to the organization of a church at Greenback. In other action, the Presbytery accepted an invitation to hold its regular Fall meeting at Greenback, with the new congregation at that place.
The Fall meeting took place in Greenback on September 8-9,1908, and the first representative from Greenback was elder W. C. Connor. The committee on organization of a church at Greenback reported as follows: “On May 10, 1908, the entire committee met with the people of Greenback and organized the Greenback Presbyterian Church with 37 members and six ruling elders and three deacons.
This was the second birthday of GFPC – the birth of its congregation. You might even say the church is “twice born.” Upon the establishment of the church congregation, Rev. David M. Kerr became the first official pastor. He remained for fourteen years, and retired at the age of 72.
By 1951 the membership had grown so much that more room was needed. The addition to the building included new classrooms, fellowship hall, pastor’s study, nursery, and kitchen. Brick for the building was donated by J. B. Patterson and Vasco Akers. The bricks were made in Greenback at the Old Hickory Brick Company, a business owned by Akers and Patterson. Most of the labor was cost-free, donated by members of the congregation.
The sanctuary was enlarged in 1962. The addition included a large foyer and a basement. Richard C. Woods was chairman of the building committee, Christmas Lumber Company was the contractor. The large wooden cross that hangs in the sanctuary was given in memory of Richard C. Woods, Sr. by his family. Later, in 1980, Anita and Randall Stinson created a classroom in the basement for the youth with paneling and carpet.
As a part of the community, Greenback First Presbyterian Church and its members have contributed much. In the year of our Lord 2008, we reached the milestone of 100 years of service to Jesus Christ. We rejoice in all that God has done here and adopt as our motto “GFPC- Going Forward in the Power of Christ”.
The decade following our Centennial has been a time of Going Forward. Concerned with the direction of the Presbyterian Church, USA, our Session was led by Pastor David Bell seeking clarity regarding the Presbytery’s beliefs on many biblical principles. Seeing no positive results, we began seeking a group who was more closely aligned with the essential tenants of our faith. In 2014, by unanimous congregational vote, our church left the PCUSA and united with the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.
We have actively worked since joining the ECO to build our staff and renovate our facilities. Chad Lane was hired in 2012 to be our first-ever, paid, Youth Director. Chad and his wife Jessica serve our church part-time and serve the community through their leadership in Young Life.
During the time since hiring Chad the church has shown support for our youth and children by doing a total remodel of our basement area. In addition, leaders participated in safety and security training for our children. Our classrooms have had new child safety doors installed, the Sunday School wing has been updated, and a new playground has been installed. In 2017, Chad sensed God’s call to attend seminary fulltime and earn a Master of Theology degree. The church granted Chad full sponsorship to attend Covenant Theological Seminary online for a two-year period while he earns his degree. Chad agreed to continue as our Youth and Children’s Minister during that time.
Updating the building has continued since 2014. New windows and exterior doors were installed. A handicap restroom was installed and the men’s restroom enlarged. Technology was improved by adding projector mounts in the sanctuary and classrooms. A new church sign was installed. New software was added to improve record keeping and a church directory. Our excellent praise band needed more space and the platform area was enlarged to accommodate them.
Rev. David Bell, our pastor for twenty-three years, retired in June 2017. God led us to Nicholas Perkins, who became our new Pastor in August of 2017. Nicholas, and his wife Christine, both have their Master of Divinity degrees. Nicholas also holds a Juris Doctor degree. Two new part-time positions were added. One was for the position of Music Director. The other was for the position of Clerical Assistant. God has continually shown His faithfulness to Greenback First Presbyterian Church. We rest in His faithful, capable, hands to continue to lead us Forward In the Power of Christ.
Contributed by Judy Hudson