History of Banks Presbyterian Church 1870 – 2015
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
Founding as Mission Chapel of Providence Presbyterian Church
Banks Presbyterian Church was first organized about 1870 as a mission chapel of Providence Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1757 by early Scots-Irish settlers in the area. Most of the original members of Banks Presbyterian Church were Scots-Irish who were at first members of Providence Presbyterian Church, including the Robinsons, Stitts, Dunns, Andrew Jackson Ezzell (the other Ezzell family members were members of Sugar Creek (Flint Hill) Baptist Church. The Aaron Howeys, Stephensons, Parks and other members of Banks were also members of Providence Presbyterian.
The history of Providence and Banks is intertwined. The first congregations at Providence were addressed by a minister standing on a large rock in the grove. In 1767 a log building was erected on the hill above the spring and named Providence, meaning “a symbol of God’s protecting care,” by members who adopted it from their church in Pennsylvania. Providence still has a brass marker reading “Providence 1730,” which was brought by the settlers with them. The land for Providence Presbyterian Church was deeded to the church by David Rae and J.M. Matthews. Three of the Providence congregation members – Neil Morrison, John Flennigan and Henry Downs – signed the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, which is thought to have predated the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
The second Providence Church sanctuary and session house was constructed in 1804. The third and present sanctuary was built in 1858 and still retains the slave gallery upstairs.
Origin of Banks Chapel
In the years following the Civil War, Reverend William Banks (born 1814, Fairfield, SC, died 1875, Ft. Mill, SC) served as stated supply pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church and Unity Presbyterian Church in Ft. Mill, at the time part of Bethel Presbytery of South Carolina. Rev. Banks had served as a chaplain for the Confederacy during the Civil War. He served as chaplain for the 4th Regiment, South Carolina Cavalry, organized December 16, 1862, under Colonel B. Huger Rutledge, and surrendered April 26, 1865. A detailed letter, written 24 August 1863 from McPhersonville, SC discusses Banks’s ministerial duties, preaching, administering Holy Communion, and examining candidates for admission to the church, and notes: “I have received a commission from Dr. J.L. Wilson to act as a missionary for the Assembly’s Committee. And since that a few days ago came my commission as Chaplain. I have not yet accepted it nor taken the oath.” The same letter expresses concern over how his children’s educational expenses were to be met and intimates: “If I stay here… I will be obliged to buy a horse of some sort and that will take nearly all the money I will earn in six months.” “I do not often need a horse to ride,” the letter continues. “But sometimes I need one very much… And here in the cavalry it is rather out of order as well as uncomfortable for the chaplain to be trudging on foot, all over these camps… while the humblest soldier is dashing by on his horse.” After the war, he also taught once a month in the afternoon at Wolfesville Academy at the corner of Providence and New Town Roads, a commitment he maintained until his passing. During this period he founded our church, though the congregation was not formally organized until 1891. Rev. Banks was a distinguished member of the clergy, also serving as President of the Board of Davidson College and Chairman of the Board of Columbia Theological Seminary. One morning in 1875, Rev. Banks preached a sermon at Providence in the morning, and then mounted his horse to ride in the rain to Unity Church, but the ride was too much and he died shortly thereafter. He is buried in the Unity Church cemetery, in Fort Mill, SC. His tombstone is inscribed, “An Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile.” Banks Presbyterian Church was unanimously named in memory of him.
The town of Marvin was originally named Poortith when it was first established. Resident J. B. Squires named it for one his favorite poems by Robert Burns, “Poortith,” a word that meant poverty in Scottish dialect. After Marvin Methodist Church was built on New Town Road in 1875, the community took its name from that church, which was named Marvin for Bishop E.M. Marvin. In 1877 Marvin Methodist invited the Presbyterians to hold services in their church. After the death of Rev. Banks, Rev. Roger Robinson, pastor of Providence Church, who lived near Walter Robinson’s store near Barry Hemby’s home, was named the stated supply pastor for Banks, and preached twice a month for our church until Banks built its own chapel. He continued preaching faithfully in the new house of worship at Banks until his pastoral relations with Providence Presbyterian Church were dissolved in September
In 1881, after consulting with the community, Rev. W.E. McIlwain, pastor of Hopewell Church and the chairman of Home Missions of Mecklenburg Presbytery, decided it was time for the Presbyterians at Banks to have a church home of their own. Returning to the community in a short time, he secured enough reliable subscriptions (pledges) to erect a modest frame building free of debt. According to a historical sketch that he wrote, “The distance to Providence Church and the character of the roads, especially in the winter season, made it almost impossible for many in the Banks community to attend with any regularity. Therefore, the propriety of building a chapel under the care of Providence Church was discussed for years. But here the matter rested, waiting for someone to take the initiative. The writer of these lines felt a deep interest in this community where so many of his kindred lived. Therefore, although living 30 miles distance in Mecklenburg County, serving as pastor of Hopewell Church, he determined to test the matter of the people’s interest in the proposed house of worship.
Construction began on Banks Chapel in March of that year on the lot now occupied by the cemetery, which was donated by Dr. William McIlwain, a medical doctor, and his wife, who were the parents of Rev. McIlwain. That site of 1 ¾ acres was deeded to the trustees of the church in 1885 from the McIlwains for a fee of $10.
John Squires, a Marvin resident, served as the builder of the first Banks Presbyterian Church, which was a gable-roofed, weatherboarded structure. The side elevations rose to a boxed cornice. Characteristic of the Greek Revival was the use of eaves which returned on the front gable end. The central entrance was marked by double doors with sidelights set above wood panels and a transom.
After the current Banks Presbyterian sanctuary was completed in 1911, the original Banks Chapel was purchased by Frank Crane and used as a tenant house. Around 1922 it was moved from its original location to its present site nearby on New Town Road. From 1922 to 1976 the Crane family operated a general store, the Marvin Grocery, in the building. The pent shed overhang with exposed rafters likely dates from the early days of this store. Crane may also have been responsible for the existing arrangement of fenestration. From 1976 to 1978 a wood stove retail store occupied the building.
According to Rena P. Kell, who served as church historian for Banks Church until her death in 1967, Dr. James T. Kell, an elder at Providence Church who made the first pledge for the chapel, made the first donation for the current sanctuary 28 years later, although he did not live to see it erected as he was in poor health at the time. When Kell died, the congregation issued an eloquent resolution in his honor, noting that he had spent the best years of his life “serving the community as a physician, riding through winter storms and summer suns over a wide territory, bringing healing for the body and hope for the soul to the bedside of the sick and dying, equally to the home of the rich and the lowly cabin of the poor, giving the ministry of the wise head and a tender heart.” He is buried, along with many members of the Kell family, in Banks Cemetery.
The original Banks chapel, which was used for eight years, was effective in gathering the congregation’s scattered membership and developing them in their Christian life. As Rev. McIlwain recalled, “This building was very plain and unpretentious but served well its purpose and proved a very great convenience and comfort to many of our Presbyterian people, especially to those who were beginning to feel the weight of years. In addition to this, the Gospel has been regularly preached and not in vain to a large and constantly growing population surrounding Banks Church.”
In her historical account Ms. Kell observed that “Although Banks Church has always been small numerically and financially, it has never sought nor received any aid from the Presbytery in erecting its buildings.”
Construction of the Current Sanctuary
Banks Presbyterian Church was formally organized on May 27, 1891 by Mecklenburg Presbytery with 47 charter members. In 1895 the current site was purchased from Dr. W. H. Crowell for $37.50. In 1910 the congregation had to decide between extensive repairs to the original edifice or to build a new structure. A building committee consisting of Dr. William McIlwain, O.W. Potts and Samuel H. Kell was appointed to oversee a new sanctuary.
According to The Monroe Journal on April 14, 1953, “Money Tight in Banks Church in Days of the ‘90s. But there was religion, devotion, good preaching and faithful attendance… The Marvin section was settled by fine old families, good pioneer stock. In 1894 the price of cotton fell to five cents a pound and producers were hard hit. Money was scarce. In the midst of that depression, leaders of Banks church met to provide it with funds. A congregational meeting was called for consideration of prevailing conditions… Three years prior to that in 1891, another such meeting had been held. Farmers were hard-pressed then, but the church was maintained. It did not have fine buildings, but a lot of serious-minded, religious men and women. King Cotton had failed them. It was the money crop in a large area in Union and Mecklenburg.
“Among those who attended the congregational meeting on Saturday, November 14, 1891 were: Dr. J.T. Kell, Dr. William McIlwain, William S. Smith, Richard A. Hudson, William S. Stephenson, S.P. Durant, Joseph Rogers, S.H. Kerr, Robert McIlwain, W.D. Taylor and William M. Parks. Mr. Smith presided and Mr. Parks was secretary. Dr. Kell explained the object of the meeting was to get up a permanent fund to defray the current expenses of the church… Collection from the Sunday School indicated hard times. Several in 1894 amounted to no more than five cents… One day, one cent was the total. The minutes for Sunday March 18, for instance, say the total attendance that day was 50 teachers and students and the contributions were 33 cents. Six teachers were present, four women and two men… April 8, total collections 28 cents; April 15, 19 cents; May 6, 7 cents; July 1, 5 cents; July 22, 2 cents; and on for the year…”
The story goes on to note, “Dr. McIlwain, superintendent of the Sunday School, died during a service. As was his custom, he promptly met his school at 2 o’clock p.m. February 18, 1894 and asked God’s richest blessing for it and read the hymn We Are Marching on to Zion, and took his seat. Before the song was over, his spirit took its flight, without a struggle or pain (as we have reason to believe) among the Saints, etc.”
“Dr. McIlwain was a very able man, a good doctor, and a prosperous farmer. He and his wife, who before her marriage was Levicey Potts, had an interesting family of able children. The old McIlwain home, a pretentious one in its heyday, still stands and has been sold recently to a Charlotte man. The old-fashioned chimneys to it are works of art. No such masonry is seen today. Those who knew Dr. McIlwain hope that the old dwelling will be repaired and the grounds beautified in a way the old owner would like…”
Plans for the Gothic Revival weatherboarded church were provided by Charlotte architects Hook and Rogers and may have been a stock plan made available by the Mecklenburg Presbytery. The general design of the current Banks Presbyterian Church is noticeably similar to contemporary Presbyterian churches in Indian Trail and Unionville. Mr. J. D. Foard of Charlotte was selected as contractor. The building committee used the best materials available in keeping with design by one of Charlotte’s most prestigious architectural firms. Total cost, including pews, pulpit furniture and furnace, was $5,500. It was used the first time for the installation service of Rev. C. C. Carson, who was elected pastor the Sunday before the first Sunday of August, 1911, at which time the sanctuary was originally dedicated.
In his historical sketch Rev. McIlwain reported, “This church in the presence of a large concourse of friends from Harrison and Marvin Methodist Churches, from Pleasant Valley Baptist church, from Presbyterian churches in Charlotte, Pineville, Fort Mill, Waxhaw, Monroe and Providence and Six Mile Churches, was reverently set apart to the worship of God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost on this 4th Sabbath of August, 1911.”
In 1990 after Hurricane Hugo, it was discovered that God had been holding up the Banks sanctuary for 80 years. When it was constructed, several pins had been left out of the rafters. The church could have collapsed at any time. It was deemed necessary for the church to install new trusses for the roof to stabilize the building. The only financial help received was $1,000 from the Presbytery’s Hamilton Fund.
Architecture and Materials
The foundation stones for the present sanctuary came from Indian rock piles in nearby fields. The building is an example of the vernacular Gothic Revival architecture, with gable front towers of uneven height, each containing a vestibule. Medallion blocks highlight the cornice of each tower. The Gothicarched motif is used to frame window and door openings. Wide weatherboards are used to distinguish the entrance towers and the sanctuary base, with narrow weatherboards on the remainder. The entire building is roofed in slate. A baseboard still encircles the sanctuary, vestibules and back room (pastor’s study), which has a mantle with turned post supports. Sanctuary seating is arranged in a semi-circular pattern. Wood trusses support a tongue-and-groove ceiling. The original pews, thought to be made of local cherry, are ornamented with a Gothic arch and ornamental trim. The wooden cross was added during the 1990s and hand carved by Darwin Byrum, a member of the congregation.
Banks Presbyterian Cemetery
Across New Town Road, wrought iron fencing gifted by Maggie Ross, a member of the congregation in the early 20th century, encloses Banks Church Cemetery, which was enlarged in 2003 to include a columbarium. The graveyard features fine examples of Victorian funerary art. The oldest graves appear to be those of John N. Ross (1834-1847), whose stone was moved from Union to Banks Cemetery, and John McIlvain (1854-1867). The burial of each man predated the establishment of the church, so it is believed the cemetery may have been the private graveyard of the McIlwain family, who donated the land for the cemetery to the church.
The Manse and Young Educational Building
The large plot of land situated between the sanctuary and the Methodist Church, which also contained the two-story family home of Misses Sallie and Maggie Ross, was willed to the church on Maggie’s death. The two women, both members of Banks Church, were faithful Christians. The house was never used as a manse, and was eventually purchased by a local family and moved up the road, but Banks retains the land to this day.
Sallie died first, and when Maggie died, her will left their ancestral lands down near Crane Road to Bob Ross, a black man who had grown up in their household, and his daughter, Mitti Bell Houston, prompting a legal challenge from 100 of the sisters’ relatives. The will was ultimately upheld by an all-white jury in Union County, and on appeal in 1921 by another all-white jury. The story of the Ross sisters is memorialized in Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie’s Will, a book by Gene Stowe. A cabinet in the fellowship hall contains a hymnal dedicated to Sarah and given by her sister Maggie.
In 1953 a manse was built on the land between Banks and the Methodist Church with brick donated by Ashe Brick Company of Van Wyck, S. C. Only two pastors lived in the new manse: Rev. Wiley Hogue and Rev. Bob Henry. It has been rented since 1970.
In 1961 the Young Educational Building was constructed and named in honor of Dr. Raymond Alfred Young, who served faithfully as a stated supply minister from 1958 to 1967, and his wife.
In 2003 the elders decided to expand the Young Educational Building to accommodate the increased size of the congregation, and build a playground outside for the children in Sunday School space, particularly for the children. The expansion was made especially possible by a gift from Maurice and Betty Ross. The formal dedication of the addition was October 10, 2004. The magnificent trees on the church property include two pink dogwoods planted by family members in honor of longtime members Inez Cunningham and Lavinia Kell.
Women at Banks
While Banks was still a chapel, Mrs. Lavinia McIlwain Rone organized a Women’s Aid Society. For many years the women’s work of the church functioned under the name of the Ladies’ Missionary Society. In 1934 the group joined the Women’s Auxiliary and starting in 1948, the name was changed to Women of the Church.
In 1988 the first Gathering of the Women of the United Presbyterian Church USA – Presbytery, Synod of Mid-Atlantic, took place at the First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. As of 1991, the name of the women’s’ organization was Presbyterian Women Presbytery of Charlotte. The Banks membership in that group at that time included seven women who met at irregular times to hold Bible study.
June 14, 2000 was a very special Sunday at Banks Presbyterian Church. On that day the congregation celebrated the life and ministry of Lavinia Kell. She had served as the organist and pianist of Banks Presbyterian Church continuously for 65 years, from 1934 until 1999. That day was declared “Lavinia Kell Day” in her honor. Lavinia had continued to play until the Sunday she suffered a stroke while playing the organ in church.
In 2008, a Women’s’ Bible study group was initiated by Melinda Collins and later continued by Irene Partipilo. In addition to the study, the group also involves itself with fellowship and outreach activities. The women’s group continues its ministry to this day.
The Belk Larger Parish
The Belk Larger Parish was formed in Mecklenburg Presbytery for Banks, Six Mile Creek, Rehoboth and Unionville churches. Rev. Samuel Wylie Hogue, Jr. was called to be Director and pastor of the four churches. He lived near Six Mile Creek Church until a new manse was erected at Banks in 1953. Rev. Hogue served as pastor for the Belk parish from 1953 to 1955.
The first meeting of the Belk Parish was held in Banks Church on March 2, 1953. The last meeting was held September 5, 1956, also at Banks. Professor William Luther McDermott preached at Banks and Rehoboth churches from March 1956 until April 1, 1958. Mr. Thomas Landrum O’Kelley preached at Six Mile Creek Church during 1956.
On November 5, 1978, the congregation of Banks elected to use a “Unified System” of church officers and discontinue the office of deacon, making active deacons active elders. A rotation term of office for elders began.
Relationship with Six Mile Creek Presbyterian Church
(Information courtesy of by Louise Pettus and A History of Marvin by Ruth B. Ezzell)
Old Waxhaw Presbyterian Church in Lancaster County, which dates to 1755, is the oldest church in the upcountry of South Carolina. But there is another Presbyterian Church, not too many miles distant in Lancaster County, that is also old, and in the period before the Civil War often shared the same pastor with Waxhaw. Old Waxhaw’s history is well-documented. Six Mile Presbyterian Church’s history is shrouded in mystery.
The first reference to the church is in a request for a pastor made by Six Mile Spring and New Providence in 1765. New Providence was in present-day Mecklenburg County. Six Mile Spring was in that area on the North Carolina – South Carolina border in the Indian Land community that had no definitive boundary until 1813.
There is no evidence that Six Mile received a pastor as a result of its 1765 request. The oldest known grave in the old church cemetery is that of William Hagins, who died in 1790. Hagins had come to this country from Ireland in 1745 and had a “factory” (probably a number of looms for the weaving of cotton and/or linen) on Tar Kiln Branch, which was close to the site of the old cemetery.
According to testimony taken by a WPA worker in the 1930s, the original church building located where the old Six Mile Creek Cemetery now stands (near Wilson’s) burned in a woods fire around 1802-1804. Sometime between 1804 and 1835, a new site was chosen about one and a half miles to the southwest on a hill overlooking Highway 521.
A dirt road that runs to the south of the church building was once an Indian path, and later called the Steel Creek Road. The church site is believed to have originally been the location of one of the Catawba Indian villages.
In 1835 Allen Morrow, a church member who owned a sawmill, cut the timbers to frame the present building. Flanking the small sanctuary were two “sheds,” areas that were reserved for the seating of the black members of the congregation on one side and for the Catawba Indian members on the other side.
In his history of the Presbyterian Church, Dr. George Howe says that for its size, Six Mile was the wealthiest Presbyterian Church in South Carolina before the Civil War. The wealth can be traced to the size of the plantations – between 500 and 2,000 acres. Among the plantation owners were the names of Cureton, Hagins, Heath, Ivy, Massey, Miller, Moore, Morrow, Nisbet, Patton, Porter, Sims
The Civil War destroyed the plantation system on which Six Mile’s prosperity was based. After the war, many of the families moved away. Some went west to Arkansas and Texas. Others went to the nearby towns of Rock Hill, Lancaster, and Charlotte.
In the 1930s, Six Mile became a mission church of the Mecklenburg Presbytery. Fifth Sunday was the day of preaching by either Charlotte’s First Presbyterian or Myers Park Presbyterian pastor. During World War II, the pastor was W.H. Frazier, president of Queens College.
Members of Banks used to go to Six Mile Creek on Fifth Sunday and for its homecoming service each year, followed by lunch. At that time the church still had its original collection bags on large poles. A large cemetery behind the church contains a beautiful brick structure on a hill facing Highway 521 before you reach Six Mile Creek. The cemetery, which has fewer than twenty graves now but was once said to cover two acres, is on the west side of the old road above Six Mile Creek. The west side of the road would have been in South Carolina. One can only guess whether the early church was situated on the east side or the west side of the old road.
On July 11, 1971 the Six Mile membership was transferred to Banks Presbyterian Church in Marvin, NC. The only services that continued at the Six Mile church were family reunions and Homecoming, the 4th Sunday each August. In later years the Six Mile Presbyterian Church property was transferred to the care of Providence Presbytery in South Carolina. In 2007 Providence Presbytery refurbished the sanctuary, which is presently used by Faith Presbyterian Church for office and meeting space, as well as a small fellowship hall. The original pulpit remains.
The PCUSA Period at Banks
In June 1983 the 195th General Assembly Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia united the PCUS (Southern Presbyterian) and UPUSA (Northern Presbyterian) churches. The new name chosen was the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA). On January 29, 1989 the first stated meeting of the Presbytery of Charlotte was held at Davidson College Presbyterian Church in Davidson, North Carolina. Black and white Presbyterians in seven counties were fully united for the first time since the Civil War: Cabarrus, Stanley, Montgomery, Richmond, Anson, Union and Mecklenburg.
In February 1986 women elders were elected for the first time. In 1986, Banks elected its first woman elders and went to the rotation system, in compliance with the Book of Order. Lavinia Kell, Elizabeth Stephenson and Mary Jo Fultz were the first women elders elected.
During the late 1980’s, Banks almost closed its doors. Presbytery had even suggested it due to the dwindling number of active members, but Banks was ultimately saved due to the dedication of several members, including Mary Jo Fultz. While browsing at a bookstore in Rock Hill, she saw a book, Lord, Change Me, by Evelyn Christensen, and asked members of the congregation’s Bible study group to read it. As a consequence, members worked to mend relationships with each other and to pray and the congregation began once again to flourish.
In 1991 Banks helped pioneer the “Lay Pastor” program in the Charlotte Presbytery. There were many obstacles to overcome, but Banks was blessed with the services of Lou Pfeiffer and his wife Jackie from December 1991 to August 1998. In April 1999, Rev. Scott Hilborn became the stated supply pastor (later the installed pastor) and still serves in that capacity today.
A Centennial Celebration was held at Banks Presbyterian Church on May 26, 1991. The Centennial Committee included Vivian C. Pressley, Chairman; Samuel A. Marvin, Elizabeth S. Stephenson and Lavinia A. Kell.
Renovation of the Sanctuary
In mid-2011, the Elders decided a renovation of the sanctuary, overflow area and the two entry ways was required. At the time, the church interior clearly showed its age with faded whitewash paint, and with all the pews, seat cushions, carpeting and altar furniture significantly damaged by years of unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. A renovation committee was formed with the initial responsibility of contracting the services required to apply a new coat of white paint to walls and ceilings, replacing the faded pew seating pads, and the re-carpeting of the floor. Determining it best to have one contractor to complete the work, Church Interiors of High Point, North Carolina was selected. A member of the church, Greg Partipilo, together with a committee from the elders and congregation oversaw the project and worked with Church Interiors, Inc.
After meeting with these experienced designers, and witnessing their completed work in other churches, the committee recommended that the Session consider expanding its vision and related budget to accommodate more extensive changes proposed by Church Interiors. These enhancements were all recommended to not only beautify the areas but to do it in ways that would greatly accentuate the buildings original Gothic design. They included: Installing back bands on all windows and door casings; constructing and installing a decorative false beam treatment concealing the earthquake rods in the sanctuary with a corbel on each end; repainting all ceilings white, but adding earth-tone colors to the walls; stripping, restoring, and refinishing the pews, and chancel furniture; refinishing the natural hardwood pine floors and limiting new carpeting to aisles only; replacing all ceiling lights with new liturgical fixtures; and replacing the original translucent windows with new leaded stained glass windows manufactured to provide 100% protection against future sun light damage.
After much consideration, the Session approved the expanded approach and funding for all of the work with the exception of the costly stained glass windows. However, as the work was being completed, it became apparent that without the new windows, the overall beautification of the church’s interior would be less than optimum, plus the newly refinished pews and floors would once again be open to ultra-violet sunlight damage.
Because of this, an appeal was made to the church membership for a special donation to accommodate the replacement of the old and weathered windows with new stained glass (and Lucite protective exterior covering). While a significant amount of money was pledged, it fell well short of the required sum. Upon the reporting of this, an anonymous donor within the congregation made up the short fall and the work on the new windows commenced. Under the direction of Church Interiors, Laws Stained Glass Studios manufactured 24 beautifully stained glass windows all cut to fit the original Gothic kite-window shapes and featuring hand painted artwork with scenes from the Life of Christ.
Total cost of the entire renovation was $143,070.51. To the delight of all in attendance, the newly designed church interior was officially dedicated to the Lord Jesus on January 22, 2012.
Transfer to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) Denomination
Banks Presbyterian remained in the Presbytery of Charlotte of the PCUSA until November, 2013. After 90 percent of the congregation voted to gracefully separate from the PCUSA, Banks joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination (EPC) headquartered in Michigan and became a member of the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic (EPC).
The Banks Presbyterian Church has always been a conservative, Biblically-based congregation. Since the reunion with the UPCUSA in 1983, it was with growing concern that the elders of Banks Presbyterian Church observed the national denomination take ever increasingly liberal positions on the nature of the Bible, the person and work of Jesus Christ, abortion, and human sexuality. On August 13, 2006, the Session went on record with other like-minded congregations in the Presbytery of Charlotte to pass a resolution that the Presbytery of Charlotte firmly adhere to the Biblical teachings regarding human sexuality. The statement included the following: “Within its jurisdiction, the presbytery shall uphold the constitutional and biblical requirement that all ministers, elders, and deacons ‘live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or in chastity in singleness.”
The resolution was ultimately adopted by the entire denomination and placed in the BOOK OF ORDER. However, as the years passed, the national denomination overturned this resolution. It became apparent to the elders that the PCUSA had become a denomination in which the Banks Presbyterian Church no longer fit. On July 22, 2012 the elders voted unanimously to begin the process of seeking to withdraw from the PCUSA.
To their credit, the Presbytery of Charlotte had in place a policy of “gracious separation” for those congregations who no longer believed themselves called to remain a part of the PCUSA. About 12 congregations, including Banks, began the process of seeking dismissal. The Presbytery of Charlotte was very helpful to the Banks Congregation in the process and the process was marked with good will on both sides.
After much prayer, discussion, and meetings with representatives of the Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO), and the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), the session unanimously recommended that the Banks Presbyterian Church move to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The fact that the EPC was already well-established, that it was strong in its Biblical beliefs, and that it had a clear commitment to Gospel mission, together with the fact that other nearby Presbyterian churches had also joined the EPC, were all important factors in this decision.
On June 2, 2013 the congregation of the Banks Presbyterian Church voted to request dismissal to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The vote was 90.5% in favor. The Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church received both Rev. Scott Hilborn and the congregation of the Banks Presbyterian Church at their September 28, 2013 meeting in Florence, SC, pending dismissal from the Presbytery of Charlotte. The final dismissal of Rev. Scott Hilborn and the Banks Presbyterian Church to the EPC took place at the October 22, 2013 meeting of the Presbytery of Charlotte, held at the Central Steele Creek Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.
Since the vote to be dismissed was greater than 90%, Banks Presbyterian Church was under no financial obligation to the Presbytery of Charlotte. However, as a gesture of good will and appreciation, the congregation voted on September 22, 2013 to give the Presbytery of Charlotte a final contribution of $10,000.00. The check was given to Dr. James Thomas, representing the Presbytery, at the final worship service on November 10, 2013, honoring our partnership with the PCUSA. Representing the Presbytery of Charlotte were Dr. Thomas, who preached the sermon, and Elder Deloris Shelton, who read the Scripture. Rev. Scott Hilborn assisted in the service.
Although Banks has never been a big church or a rich church, it has kept its bills paid and has given generously to missions. The congregation has supported many worthy causes over the years, including our sister church in Yoro, Honduras, as well as Hope in Lancaster, the Heifer Project International, and JAARS (Jungle Aviation Radio Service arm of Wycliffe Bible Translators) located in Waxhaw. Mission trips have been taken to visit and support Rev. Oscar Barrientos and his wife Leonor in Yoro, Honduras. The congregation continues to support their church-planting ministry to this day. In addition, the congregation presently supports Dan and Stephanie Finegan, EPC missionaries and their four daughters doing church planting work in Bihar, India. The session has a commitment to support missions locally and globally, both “helping” missions as well as evangelistic. Banks helps local families in need, has sent shoeboxes to children living on an Indian mission, soldiers in Iraq, and the children of the Yoro congregation in Honduras to give to those less fortunate in their neighborhood.
Today Banks has an Adult Sunday school, Children’s Church School, Women’s Bible Study, Men’s Bible Study, a weekly prayer service, a monthly healing service and other activities. The congregation continues to focus on the worship of Jesus Christ, personal discipleship, and ministry in Christ’s name.
Ministers Who Have Served Banks Presbyterian Church
Rev. William Banks, until his death in 1875
Rev. G.S. Robinson 1875 -1877
Rev. Douglas Harrison
Rev. John McLees
Rev. Roger Martin, 1891
Rev. Jesse W. Siler, 1893-1900
Rev. W.H. Davis, 1901-1902
Rev. J.B. Mack (Supply) 1904-1905
Rev. H.M. Parker, 1907-1910
Rev. C.C. Carson, 1911-1912
Dr. W.E. McIlwain, 1913-1916
Rev. G.H. Robertson (Supply) 1918-1921
Rev. W.S. Hamiter, 1922-1928
Rev. W.A. Nicholson, 1929-1934
Rev. W.C. Copeland, 1936-1939
Dr. W.H. Frazer, 1938-1947
Rev. W.S. Patterson (Supply), 1947-1948
Rev. Jack R. Tackett, June 1949- June 11, 1950
Rev. C. Wayne Potter, May 1951-May 25, 1952
Rev. Samuel Wylie Hogue, Jr., May 24, 1953-March 1, 1956
Prof. William L. McDermott (Supply), March 1956-April 1, 1958
Dr. Raymond A. Young (stated supply), April 1958-February 1967
Rev. Robert F. Henry, Jr., September 17, 1967-February 28, 1970
W. David McSwain (Supply), 1970-1971-June 1972
Dr. W.M. Boyce (Supply), 1972 and 1984
Rev. John Carriker (stated supply), January 1973-October 10, 1976
Rev. Henry S. Robinson (Supply), January1977-June 1977, March 1978-January 1979, January 6 –June 1980
Rev. James E. Ratchford (Supply), June 1979-November, 1979, and March 1984
Dr. Eugene L. Daniel, Jr. (Supply), September 1977-February 1978
Rev. Edward B. Cooper (Supply), October 5, 1980-March 15, 1981; December 6, 1981-March 27, 1983
Rev. Thomas W. MacLean (Supply), September 1980
Rev. Robert S. Miles (Supply), September to November, 1981
Rev. Ernest L. Stoffel (stated supply), August 1, 1983-January 29, 1984
Louis E. Pfeiffer, November 3, 1991 Lay Pastor; December 8 Installed Temporary supply
Rev. Scott B. Hilborn, stated supply, PCUSA April 4, 1999-October 22, 2013, then installed pastor, EPC,
October 22, 2013 to the present day.
Original Members of Banks Church, received on certificate from Providence Church: Dr. J.T. Kell, Mrs. Mary Susan Kell, Sam’l H. Kell, Dr. William McIlwain, Levicey Potts McIlwain, Robert J. McIlwain, Mrs. A. B. McIlwain, Mrs. Mary McIlwain, Miss Ada McIlwain, W. J. Stephenson, Miss M. Ella Stephenson, Miss Mary E. Stephenson, Wm. S. Smith, Mrs. A.E. Smith, Miss Leola Smith, Wm. M. Parks, Mrs. Mary R. Parks, Miss Marg. Ella Parks, Mrs. Elizabeth Kerr, Sam’l Kerr, S.P. Durant, Miss Julia A. Durant, Miss A. L. Durant, J.E. Cunningham, J.R. Cunningham, Walter Cunningham, W. D. Taylor, Mrs. Hettil R. Taylor, R. H. Hudson, Mrs. S.A. Hudson, Joseph Rogers, J.W. Rogers, Miss Ella Rogers, Miss Nora Rogers, J.P. Rogers, Mrs. Amanda Howard, Miss Julia Howard, Mrs. Ida Harris, M.J. Hall, S. J. Crane.
In addition, three members on certificate received from Pineville Church were Mr. M. J. Howey, Mrs. Lucy Hudson, and Dr. E. W. Howey. Also from Harrison Church, one member on certificate, from Tirzah, and one from Steele Creek Church. Mr. John Baxter Ross was also received on profession of faith in Christ, making a total of 48 members.