A few notes from our history
(from an early written history 1947 – 1962)
To the west and south of Hillsboro St. lies a beautiful, wooded area known as Western Blvd. On June 30, 1947, following many conferences between ministers and lay (people) of the various churches and an understanding of the part each would play, the need of a church in the Western Blvd. Area was presented to the session of the West Raleigh Church by Dr. Wool (Granville Presbytery Executive) and their pastor the Rev. Mr. Agsten. The session decided that a survey should be made, and if the findings warranted, then steps should be taken to establish an “out-post Sunday School,” as a unit of the West Raleigh Presbyterian Church.
Miss Rosanna Barnes of Goldsboro, NC, one of Synod’s most aggressive and efficient workers, made the house-to-house survey.
About forty interested people were asked to meet in the home of Mr. And Mrs. Harold G. Bolick to discuss the possibility of a Sunday School. At 7:30 that night only Miss Barnes, R. J. Harris, C. W. Pegram and the Rev. E. J. Agsten came. The thunder storm may have kept them away.
Just when it seemed there was no meeting place available and things began to look hopeless, Vernon D. Johnson offered his old garage on Forsyth St. A lease on the property was executed on November 11, 1947 covering a period of one year for a total rental of one dollar, the dollar being donated by Mr. Johnson..
The garage was roughly constructed with three walls of undressed lumber, the fourth of double garage doors. The building was not ceiled, the tin roof was full of holes and the concrete floor was coated with grease and dirt, but this was “our” meeting place and enthusiasm ran high.
The first Sunday School was set for November 2, 1947. This morning was the first cold morning assuring us that winter was not too far away and as we stood outside talking about the gray sky and the sharp wind, suddenly a flock of geese appeared in the sky flying southward, full of confidence and undaunted by the course ahead of them. Were we to be full of confidence and undaunted by what lay ahead for us as the years unfolded and as we would seek to do God’s will?
Sunday School was about 15 minutes late in getting started. The wind whistled through the many cracks in the walls, chilled the place, and made the concrete floor seem even colder so Vernon Johnson hastily put up a stove and just when we were ready to start the tarpaulin, which covered the window through which the pipe extended, caught fire. Twenty-three people gathered that morning. The offering was $9.41.
By the third Sunday attendance increased to 35 and the offering was $10.42. During the spring months of 1948 people began to express a desire for regular worship every Sunday. Delmas Watson, a ministerial student at Maryville College was secured for the summer months. The first service was held on Sunday June 6, 1948 at 11:00.
Mr. Watson was paid $50.00 per month from the chapel’s treasury. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bundy provided him with room and board.
First property – a lot at the corner of Garland Drive and Chaney Road was purchased for $1,000 cash. Under the leadership of Harold Bolick an army barracks was purchased for $700, moved to the lot, redesigned and erected.
On October 3, 1948, Robert Bluford, a ministerial student at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, began conducting services on the first and third Sundays. On the other Sundays volunteer ministers and laypeople were secured.
At the January 1949 meeting of Granville Presbytery which met in Durham at Blacknall Memorial Church the petition to organize was read by J. Edwin Tiddy. The Presbytery voted to grant the petitioners request to be organized into a church to be known as Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church. There was much rejoicing and many tears among the small group from the Chapel who attended. The date set for the organization of the church was April 3, 1949. On that date 53 charter members were received.
The first session meeting was held at the church on April 4, 1949. D. T. Pope was elected as first Clerk of Session. The first Congregational meeting was held on May 1, 1949 and Earl W. Dobbins, I. Y. Parker and H. W. Grady were elected as first Trustees. A budget of $4,213.50 was presented with $500 going to benevolences.
On March 1, 1949 the Women of the Church were organized with Mrs. Harold Bolick as President; Mrs. Dan T. Pope, Vice President; Mrs. J. R. Bundy, Secretary; Mrs. H. W. Grady, Treasurer; and Mrs. J. Edwin Tiddy, Historian.
As of January 1, 1952, 101 members were on roll. On March 30, 1952, the proposed budget was unanimously adopted. This budget was $10,085.
In May 1953 plans had been made to operate a week-day Kindergarten which opened in the following September with Mr. Bailey Rich conducting the school.
On May 20, 1956, the congregation took action to purchase property on the corner of Lorimer Road and Kaplan Drive.
May 8, 1960 ground was broken for our new church home. Contract price of our new building was $180,231.
Three important dates never to be forgotten are Thursday night March 30, 1961 – the last Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was observed before moving to our new “Church Home”. Saturday, April 1st was “Moving Day” and Sunday, April 2, Easter Sunday, first service held in our new building.
Sanctuary building dedicated – June 1977
Sanctuary Renovations dedicated – May 2001
To God be the glory for the things God has done!
Some Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church firsts:
- U. Odell Highfill
- A. Clifford Hobbs
- Brady C. Jefcoat
- John J. Mitchell
- Thaddeus Parrish
- Harold G. Bolick
- Daniel T. Pope
- J. Edwin Tiddy
- Earl W. Dobbins
- Hubert W. Grady, Jr.
- L. Y. Parker
- Robert Bluford, Jr. November 1951 – August 1957
- Russell B. Fleming September 1958 – March 1970
- Edgar D. Byers June 1971 – February 1993
- James Sledge August 1995 – December 2000
- James B. Lambeth, Jr. – April 2002 -October 2003
- Betty Connette -February 2005 – present
First Female Elder: Mrs. Barbara Ingram December 1974
First Female Deacon: Mrs. Evelyn Pittman December 1970
First Infant Baptism: Patricia Belle Highfill April 3, 1949
First Adult Baptisms (April 3, 1949):
- Thomas Richard Justice
- James L. Justice
- Leo Burketh Cole
- Domie Lee Denning