The Minutes of the 1836 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America records the organization of Friendship Presbyterian Church of Concord, Georgia in 1835. Rev. J.Y. Alexander and Rev. A.M. Mooney were the organizers. Friendship Presbyterian Church was one of forty churches of the Hopewell Presbytery of the Synod of South Caroline and Georgia, said Presbytery reporting 821 communicants in 1835. From 1835 to 1869, this church was located about four miles from its present site on what is now Bottoms Road. The old cemetery of the original church is located at the intersection of several Indian trails now designated as Bottoms Road and West Road (a dirt road).
Sadly, the records of Friendship church prior to 1918 are extremely sparse because all records were burned in the home of Elder D.P. Blake during that year. However, it is known that after 1835, Rev . W.J. Keith supplied the church for a number of years.as pastor and in 1849, Rev. Andrew J. Peden became pastor and served for some 23 years. Rev. Peden was succeeded by Rev. L.H. Wilson who was pastor for three years. The Minutes of the 1862 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States record that Rev. Henry Safford served Friendship as a “Domestic Missionary” serving forty communicants.
From 1835-1869, west Pike County was settled by members of the Presbyterian faith as well as members of other denominations. These new settlers established a store, a post office (known as Maggie) and a school in a community that came to be known as Pedenville for its many Peden families. In 1869, construction of the present church was begµn in an effort to make the church more central to its membership. This project was under the direction of W.A. Hollon, after whom the town of Hollonville was named. The church was erected on the same grounds as the Pedenville Schoolhouse. The land for the new church was given by Andrew Wier Blake and Eli Hood. The present church was completed in 1870 and dedicated in 1871 by Rev. Andrew J. Peden who resumed the pastorate. Rev. Peden was assisted by Rev. L.H. Wilson. He served as pastor at the current church until 1896. Records from the late 1800’s reflect that Rev. Peden was paid a salary of $300.00 per year for his pastoral services.
Of architectural interest, the hand-hewn pews in Friendship church, dedicated in 1871, are still in use today. An interesting feature of the massive pews is the wooden partition in the middle of the church which was originally used to segregate the men from the women, as was the custom in those days. The original pulpit stand and giant pine doors from the church as dedicated in 1871 also remain in use today. The pine doors, however, have been moved to the front of a narthex which was added to the church structure in 1983.
In 1896, Rev. Andrew J. Peden died and Rev. J. Edwin Hemphill began serving as pastor for Friendship. Rev. Hemphill continued in this capacity until 1904 at which time the church became inactive. Then for twelve years, the church stood vacant with no services being held from 1904 through 1916. Sadly, the church structure and the cemetery suffered during this inactive period. However, in 1916, Friendship again became active as Rev. J. Edwin Hemphill served as pastor. For a number of years, church services at the church were held only once a month with morning and evening services due to the considerable distances necessary for the church minister to travel. He normally serviced other churches in the middle Georgia area. The minister and his wife were usually entertained in the homes of church members.
From 1933-1949, Rev . W.G. Harry served as pastor. While Rev. Harry served as pastor, the church had afternoon services as Rev. Harry was shared as minister with Presbyterian churches in Greenville and Manchester, Georgia. When electricity came to Concord, Georgia, the Concord Christian Church donated its carbide lights to Friendship. In 1943, when electricity finally came to the Pedenville community, large white globes were suspended from the ceiling with pull string switches. To finance the new electrical lights, honey was taken and sold from beehives over the front door and rear of the church.
Friendship Presbyterian has a loving congregation that has preserved this important part of Georgia history for future generations. We salute their dedication and their stewardship. We are also grateful to Martha Johnson for furnishing most of the above history.
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