The Steele Creek Historical and Genealogical Society
Of the Old Steele Creek Township
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
McClintock Presbyterian Church
| Church History | Pictures | Reverend Samuel Carruthers Alexander |
MCCLINTOCK PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 1865 - 1995
(Located on Erwin Road between York Rd. (South Tryon) and Hwy 160 (Steele Creek Rd)
(The following was prepared by the church for their 130 year celebration)
The organization of McClintock United Presbyterian Church in 1865 followed a period of time between 1807-1861, when Presbyterianism was a denomination actively participating in racial oppression. The Presbyterian Church according to some had the most hypocritical attitude toward slavery during the early years of the 19th century. This attitude was publicly question in 1774, when during the period "from 1774 until the Civil War divided the denomination in 1861, only a few embattled white ministers and laypersons dared to make the church face up to the guilt of slaveholding, and the responsibility of opposing it with every resource at its disposal".
Presbyterian slaveholders continued to mold every aspect of their slaves lives, which included their worship experience. Blacks were required to worship from the balconies of white Presbyterian churches, which proved to be a further attempt to preserve the inequalities between the two segments of the bi-racial society.
At the moment, one might ask, "why would anyone bother bringing up all these old Presbyterian indiscretions?' Our response to that is, "Its part of the story that must be told"
The organization of McClintock Presbyterian Church in 1865 didn't just happen because someone said, "I think I'll build a church." The emergence of McClintock Presbyterian Church and other Black Presbyterian Churches in the mid 1800s was "one prong of a battery or reactions to the prevailing social, economic, political and religious climate affecting the status and future prospects of Blacks in the United States of America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many began to question the practices of the Presbyterian Church.
In the midst of all this change, some white ministers began to speak out and Black Prebyterians began to stand up and "bolt from the balcony". Things were slowly beginning to take on a new dimension. The "bolt from the balcony" as it is called by some is one of the truly histoic events in American church history. The Catawba Presbytery came into being on October 6, 1866 as a result of three young white ministers who had become disillusioned with the attitude of the Southern Presbyterian Church toward its members. The Reverends Samuel C. Alexander, Sidney Murkland, and Willis L. Miller gave up their white pastorates to work with the Freedmen.
So it was that the first all Black Presbytery in the south had its humble beginnings, and McClintock became the first Black Presbyterian Church in Mecklenburg County.
During the next few years, these consecrated men organized four churches and a school for the training of black preachers and teachers in Mecklenburg County. They were McClintock Church, Seventh Street Church, Murkland and Woodland Church. The school was Biddle Institute in 1876. (Ed. Notes: Biddle Institute was the forerunner of Johnson C. Smith University.)
Reverend Samuel C. Alexander was directly instrumental in the emergence of McClintock Presbyterian church in the rural Steele Creek area. The first worship services were held at the home of Rev. Alexander until a church could be built. Worshippers were former slaves who worked on the farms in the community.
Some of the first families of the church were the Alexanders, the Erwins, the Partlows, the Harris', the McGills, the Hoovers, the Taylors, the Weathers, and the Pettis. Later, other families joined the membership of the church and they were the Griers, Neals, Fousts, Hoovers and Potts.
McClintock was organized in 1865. The land for the church was donated by Rev. Samuel C. Alexander, who was also the first minister of the church. The building materials for the church were donated by a white farmer by the name of McClintock, and the church was named after him.
In 1959, the members decided that the church facilities were no longer adequate for worship services, and after a successful rally to raise funds, the church was remodeled in October 1961. On November 4, 1961 a special dedication service was held in the newly renovated church in which we now worship.
Ministers who preached at McClintock United Presbyterian Church were the Revereds Samuel C. Alexander (1865-1867), Willis L. Miller, (1867-1889) Matthew Ijams (1889-1907), E. W. Carpenter (1907 - 1910), Mayberry 91910-1930), Jones (1930-1940), S. J. McLean (1940-1950), Raymond Worsely (1950-1960), William D. Baxter (1960-1985), Robert L. Shirley, stated supply (1985-1987) and James R. Ephraim (1988-till history was written 1995).
Throughout McClintock's 136 year history, it has remained constant. Growth has been incremental, but deliberate, some might even use the term "static" to describe McClintock. But one thing you can say about McClintock is that is has held fast to the baic values of Presbyterian doctrine; that "holding power" which is sufficient to prevent major disaffection, alienation, or incurable estrangement.
The celebration of 136 years in such a pilgrimage of faith and in the belief that "everythings gone be alright" has been the "holding power" that has brought McClintock through the years.
Ed. Notes: The connection of this church to Steele Creek Presbyterian and Pleasant Hill Presbyterian are interwoven because of the minister that formed McClintock. The names of it's first members indicate that they were from slaveholders of old Steele Creek Presbyterian, Pleasant Hill Presbyterian and Steele Creek ARP (and formerly Blackstock ARP). Those slaves that attended old Steele Creek Presbyterian from the upper part of Steele Creek and now Berryhill Twps, formed a church named Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church. It was a few years younger than McClintock, however, Mr. Ijams was their minister at one time also. (Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church cemetery records are on the MeckGenWeb page).
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REVEREND SAMUEL CARRUTHERS ALEXANDER
(First minister of McClintock Presbyterian Church)
(From: Gleanings, Vol. 5, No. 2, Apr-Jun 1998)
A brief sketch of Samuel Carruthers Alexander, who started McClintock church shows the connection of him and the Steele Creek Community. Rev. Alexander came to Steele Creek as a licentiate under the care of Charleston Presbytery, South Carolina. He transferred to the Concord Presbytery and was ordained and installed as pastor of Steele Creek and Pleasant Hill on December 20, 1861. The following year he was united in marriage with Nancy Rebecca Price, eldest daughter of Thomas B. Price, an elder at Steele Creek. Rev. Alexander and his new bride purchased property located midway between the two churches which were located some miles apart. Rev. Alexander was originally from the state of Pennsylvania. Shortly after his arrival, be began to hold Sunday School for the slaves of the churches who sat in the balconies of each church. Along with that must have come some teachings of how to read so they could study the bible for their Sunday School class.
Steele Creek Presbyterian was not happy with this structure so they dissolved their relationship with Rev. Alexander in December 1865. By this time, the freedom of the slaves had been declared. Rev. Alexander continued a while longer as minister at Pleasant Hill.
In January 1866, he received a commission as a missionary from the northern Presbyterian Church. He was joined in this work with the former slaves by Rev. Willis L. Miller. The former slaves had been meeting in his home which was in the area of now Erwin Road. He donated the land to them so they could build their church to start the first Black Presbyterian church in Mecklenburg County.
He worked closely with Rev. Miller to start a school to teach black ministers and teachers to meet the spiritual and educational needs of the former slaves. Through this effort of founding Biddle Institute to train these leaders, the very old and distinguished Johnson C. Smith University came into being and today is still a leading in these fields.
In 1871, he and his wife left Charlotte and returned to his native state of Pennsylvania and resumed his work as a minister in Millertown, PA. Members of the Price family of Steele Creek still have copies of some of the correspondence between Nancy (Nannie) Price Alexander of Millertown and her sisters in Steele Creek.
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