History

STANFORD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

The Stanford Presbyterian Church was founded in 1788 just two years after Stanford received the city charter from the Virginia Legislature. The first record of the Church is an order of the Transylvania Presbytery which was recorded during a meeting at Paint Lick in 1790. During this meeting Rev. McConnell was directed to preach two Sundays each month at the Lincoln County Court House for the congregation there. In the early 1790’s Mrs. Mary Briggs, sister of Benjamin Logan gave land to Stanford for the church building. The one room log meeting house was built in 1792 and still stands on west Main Street. Through the years additions were made and it was once the residence of Mrs. Harvey Helm who was a member of the church.

That building is now owned by the county and is a museum.

In 1802 Benjamin Logan transferred three and one half acres of land to the Presbyterian Society for the Buffalo Springs Congregation.  A log structure with a gallery at each end was built on that land. It was used by the congregation until 1836 when a new church was built on the present site. That location is now called the Old Cemetery and is a part of the Buffalo Springs Cemetery.

The congregation built a brick structure with a row of pews in the center and a row on each side next to the walls. There was a stairway that led from the vestibule to a gallery that was used by the black families. At that time there was not a basement or Sunday school rooms. Sunday school met in the church room. The bell which was taken from the first church was rung before Church services. That bell is still used today.

There was a small organ that occupied a space in the middle of the aisle. There was much discussion at the time as to whether there should be an organ in the church. The young women of the congregation took turns playing the organ during Sunday school. All of a sudden for some unknown reason they stopped playing. The superintendent was somewhat eccentric and not at all musically inclined. It was often said that he was about as musical as a donkey. After trying for several Sunday’s to get someone to lead the singing, he stood and said, “Well if we can’t sing it right, we will sing it wrong,” I will lead the music. He began his solo which was never heard the like of before or since. It was said that one of the young women agreed to play the organ and was played from that day on.

Some repairs were made to the building in 1877 and in 1888 a tornado tore away the roof and cupola. The building was severely damaged. Within a year reconstruction was finished costing

$5,500.00. In 1928 and 29 the sanctuary was remodeled and the colonial front was added.

In 1958 new Sunday school rooms were added. A steam heating system and a Pilcher pipe organ were also installed at that time.

During the history of the Stanford Presbyterian Church there have been four buildings on three locations. There have been thirty one ministers.  A roster of the past and present ministers of  the Stanford Presbyterian Church reads: Rev. McConnell, David Rice, Samuel Finley, Archibald Dixon, Lapsley Yantis, Timothy Root, James Barnes, S.S. McRoberts, George Barnes, William Crow, J. L. Barnes, Isaac McElroy, A.S. Moffatt, Benjamin Helm, W. Slaymaker, Stanford Rankin, Gilbert Glass, J. L. Yandell, P.L.Bruce, C. E. McLean, Joe Sudduth, Julian Huston, George Thompson, Charles McAuley, Benjamin Lenhart, Robert Geizentanner, Daniel Clark, Lee Jennings, James Erwin, Jay Mumper, and Brad Napier.

The church survived the Civil War, a tornado and a division of members. The present church contains a vestibule, bell room, and sanctuary with a pipe organ, basement with an assembly room, restrooms, kitchen, and classrooms.

Several members of the church have become missionaries and others have gone into the ministry. The spiritual life of Stanford Presbyterians has been greatly enhanced by the devout witnesses and the congregation remains committed to service and witnessing to its fellow men.