A Capsule History of Foothills Presbytery
Foothills Presbytery has its recent history in three other presbyteries, Piedmont, Enoree and Fairfield-McClelland.
But the historical foundations go back to 1705 when the First Presbytery in America was formed in Philadelphia.
The “ancestors” of Foothills Presbytery are complex, but here is a time line:
- 1705—First Presbytery in America
- 1755—Hanover Presbytery was formed to include all churches south of Virginia;
- 1770—Presbytery of Orange was formed to include all churches in North and South Carolina;
- 1784—The Presbytery of South Carolina and Georgia was formed, but only a few churches in Georgia (across the Savannah River) were included;
- 1799—Second Presbytery was formed to include all the churches in the western part of S.C.;
- 1809-10—South Carolina Presbytery was formed from Second;
- 1878—South Carolina Presbytery became the mother presbytery for Enoree Presbytery, and
- 1909—South Carolina Presbytery became the mother presbytery for Piedmont Presbytery, which at the time included 2,733 church members.
Piedmont Presbytery included the churches in Oconee, Pickens and Anderson counties. Enoree Presbytery included the churches in Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union Counties.
Fairfield-McClelland Presbytery likely had its origins also in 1705 with the formation of the First Presbytery in America, but more specifically after 1865 when missionaries from the North came south to form Presbyterian churches with schools attached among freed slaves.
Enoree Presbytery merged with Piedmont Presbytery in January, 1975, and the new presbytery was called Presbytery of the Piedmont, a slight variation of one of the previous names. This new presbytery included all the churches in Oconee, Pickens, Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee and Union counties.
Presbytery of the Piedmont and a portion of Fairfield-McClelland Presbytery merged in 1987 to form Foothills Presbytery. This was four years after the 1983 reunion of the northern and southern streams of the Presbyterian Church. Piedmont churches (except Union County ones) merged with seven Fairfield-McClelland Churches to form Foothills. The seven were: Bowers Chapel, Walkers Chapel, Mattoon, Westminster (Saxon) in Spartanburg, Bethesda, Rock Hill, and Salem. Nicholtown was a PCUS (southern) church and already in Presbytery of the Piedmont. Bowers Chapel merged with Walkers, reducing the number by one. Thus: Foothills Presbytery included six African -American churches from Fairfield-McClelland Presbytery, plus Nicholtown from Presbytery of the Piedmont to give Foothills its current seven Black churches.
For the full history of Piedmont Presbytery from 1705 until 1961, see the history written by Rev. Arthur M. Martin, executive of the former Synod of South Carolina, titled, “From Indians to Industry, Historical Paper Prepared for Piedmont Presbytery.” This document is housed in the archives of Columbia Theological Seminary library in Decatur, GA, and other places. A copy is in the Foothills Presbytery Resource Center.
William P. Lancaster, Jr.