The Church History
The early 1940s brought an influx of people to Pilot Mountain. Whilst there was already a Baptist Church and Methodist Church established here, a growing nucleus of Presbyterians in and around Pilot Mountain soon felt the need for a Presbyterian church. In 1946, Ms. Zeta Davison was asked by Rev. Ralph Buchanan of the Winston-Salem Presbytery to conduct a survey. The results were positive; a Sunday School was started in the local high school building. Services were conducted twice a month by the retired Presbyterian minister Rev. John D. Smith who had been involved in Home Mission work for the Presbyterian Church, and by Rev. Buchanan and visiting ministers on alternating Sundays.
Several offers for a site on the outskirts of town were rejected as the members-to-be preferred a more central location for their church. After a meeting with the Presbytery, a manse was purchased. A recently retired Army Chaplain, Rev. Carl H. Stark who passed through the town to visit Rev. Buchanan was secured as pastor. He and his family moved into the manse in October 1946, and under his supervision a lot was purchased on Main Street. A building program was initiated, and in 1947, an Army Chapel was purchased in Greensboro. The chapel was dismantled, transported to the new site, and with much hard work by members and local friends, and support from the Presbytery, a beautiful church was erected.
On September 28, 1948, the Organization Service was conducted with the ordination of officers and the installation of Rev. Stark as pastor with 44 charter members. The Dedication Service of the Church was held on September 9, 1951.
Rev, Stark resigned in January 1952 and in September of that year the church became a member of a five-church field known as the “Larger Parish” with Rev. Barham as pastor. The Pilot Mountain Presbyterian Church dissolved its membership from the parish in December 1954. From 1965 till 1970, our church and Hills Presbyterian Church formed part of the ‘Pilot Mountain field’.
During the pastorate of Rev. Nelson, the Church Book of Order was amended to allow the ordination of female members. Subsequently in November 1965, one of our charter members, Nina Riggins, was ordained as the first female deacon in the Pilot Mountain church and as a matter of fact, the first female deacon in the Winston-Salem Presbytery.
Rev. Lester Sheppard came from the Westfield area in 1973 where he had been a pastor of the Asbury, Collinstown, Hills, and Francisco churches since 1955. During his pastorate in Pilot Mountain, he was also pastor of Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church. He and his wife Ersell decided to stay in Pilot Mountain following his retirement and he was elected Pastor Emeritus.
Since 1948, numerous improvements have been accomplished. In 1960, the original manse was traded for a house adjoining the church; the fellowship hall and kitchen downstairs were remodeled in 1976 and the west wing housing the parlor was added in 1981. In order to extend the sanctuary, the familiar pillars at the entrance were removed in 1989 to make way for an enclosed vestibule. The façade stone above the original entrance can still be seen in the wall above the swinging doors.
After Rev. Bledsoe and his family moved into their own house in 1995, the manse was converted into an educational building where at that time five Sunday school classes were taught.
In 1996, the church received a new roof, and the aging steeple was replaced by a new one. The house that existed next to the manse was purchased in 1997 for the purpose of acquiring additional property for a larger church building and providing off-street parking. The house that occupied that site was removed. For the same reason, the small house adjacent to the church located on Needham Street was acquired in 2006 when it came up for sale. This house was eventually demolished early 2018.
Following Rev. Kristi Rolison’s resignation in December 2016, the church was without a pastor until June 2017 when a contract was signed with Travis Milam, who was a seminary student at the time, as a temporary supply pastor. Rev. Milam was ordained in our church on January 20, 2019 and thus became our (part-time) pastor.
Following a considerable bequest from our member Freddy D. Smith, the church was able to move ahead and construct a fellowship hall, something that Freddy always wanted to see. Construction of the Freddy D. Smith Fellowship Hall started in July 2020, following the demolition of the Manse. During the construction period, several renovations were also made to the church building, by adding new bathrooms, moving the nursery into a section of the old parlor, and re-arranging the office wing. The new building was occupied in the beginning of June 2021, and a dedication service has been planned for September 26, 2021, which coincides with our Homecoming Sunday!
After Rev. Stark the church has known the following ministers (short periods were filled with supply teachers):
January 1955 – March 1955 Coy Bovender*
April 1955 – January 1956 Gerald Reiff
February 1956 – October 1957 Gaston Boyles
June 1959 – August 1964 Burris Bender
September 1964 Fred Childress*
October 1964 – January 1972 W O Nelson
January 1972 – February 1973 Harry Thomas
February 1973 – January 1984 Lester Sheppard
1985 – 1987 John Talmage
1987 / 1988 Stimson Hawkins*, Paul Mullen*, Hank Keating*
September 1988 – March 2000 Jesse Bledsoe
2002 – 2004 Leighton Culler*
2004 – December 2016 Kristi Mills Rolison
June 2017 – Present Travis Milam
[* interim supply]