Archive for May 6, 2016

First Presbyterian Church, Athens, Georgia   Leave a comment

FPC Athens

Above:  First Presbyterian Church, Athens, Georgia, After 1933 and Before 1965

Image Source = Library of Congress

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John Dodson Taylor, Jr. (1905-1976), my paternal grandfather, studied law at The University of Georgia (UGA) in the late 1920s.  He was a lifelong Presbyterian.  Presumably he attended church while in Athens.  He might have worshiped at the First Presbyterian Church, founded in 1820.

The physical plant has expanded since the construction of the present sanctuary in 1855-1856.  I have lived in Athens since August 2005, and I have noticed additions to the structure.  The interior of the sanctuary retains box pews, which families used to rent; I have noticed the names of prominent people on small plaques inside box pews.  The session of the congregation has done much to maintain the historic nature of the sanctuary while updating the physical plant to keep up with the times and the needs of the congregation.  (The elevators in the educational building are quite nice!)

I am an Episcopalian and an active member at St. Gregory the Great Church in town, but I have had occasion to visit the First Presbyterian Church, most recently on a Sunday afternoon for a concert of fine organ music.

Concert Program

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

The historic and active nature of the place impressed me, a fan of old buildings.  As a former priest of mine said, many congregations are functionally memorial societies.  The First Presbyterian Church is not a memorial society, fortunately.  Furthermore, according to the self-appointed rankers of church choirs in Athens, First Presbyterian has the best church choir and St. Gregory the Great has the second best church choir.

One reason for my interest in First Presbyterian is the possible link to family history.  Have I been in the same space in which my grandfather worshiped during his law school days?  Have I perhaps sat in the same box pew?   The UGA School of Law is on North Campus (with the famous arch), which opens up onto downtown Athens, where First Presbyterian is located.  One can walk from UGA’s North Campus to the front doors of the First Presbyterian Church in just a few minutes.  My theory is plausible, if unproven.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 6, 2016 COMMON ERA

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