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.
Be sure and click/scroll the gallery photos below for more information about the church.
The first, exterior photo of Friendship that you saw presented this church as a lovely, typical, post Civil war rural Presbyterian meeting house. It is a particularly neat, attractive and architecturally significant structure whose pedimented windows add a charming decorative element to the exterior. In this first view of the interior, we see that the sanctuary is inviting and attractive as well. Much of this interior remains just as it was when constructed in 1870 just 5 years after the end of the war.
Here we see the chancel, pulpit and somewhat uniquely designed apse. We are told that much of what we see is original furniture and decoration. Of particular interest is the handsome large pulpit that is the original and still in use. The tall wood framed windows flank the pulpit and with their stained glass panes let in much ambient light which casts a warm glow within the whole area.
In this close up, we see several of the original pews as well as one of the original stained glass, memorial windows. Though well worn, the pews still function appropriately and are a reminder of this sanctuary’s historic past. We also get a glimpse of the heart pine floors upon which the pews have rested for nearly 150 years.
In this photo, we are looking toward the entryway into the sanctuary. Beyond the two large doors and the ten-paned, clear glass transom lies the Narthex. This was added in 1983 and the huge pine doors were moved to the façade of the building
Friendship Presbyterian is still an active and vibrant church. Church services, celebrations and events are regular and welcomed. Here we see that 21st century musical and sound equipment merges comfortably with 19th century surroundings, pianos and other instruments to insure they effectively carry on the church’s traditions.
This view from the aisle toward the choir area shows off the many lovely memorial windows at Friendship.
This view from the Narthex toward the chancel reflects the historic nature of this sanctuary. Note the dividing rail/wall down the middle that divides the congregation in half. This allowed for separation of women and children on one side and the men on the other. This was common in the early days of Georgia’s religious history. Though the practice was discontinued long ago, its visible presence in many of these old churches is a reminder of our past and how we continually seek social progress.
Malcolm Dubose Sullivan was born Janaury 16, 1888. Like so many people in that time period he died young. He died April 2, 1911 at the age of 23. He never married but worked on his family’s farm. In the 1910 census his occupation was given as farm manager on the family farm. His father, Thomas Clark Sullivan, was postmaster of Pedenville. His mother, Ellen Peden Sullivan, was a daughter of longtime Friendship Presbyterian Church pastor, Andrew Gilliland Peden.
Alpheus O. Peden and Andrew Stephen Peden share the same cemetery marker at Friendship Presbyterian Church. They were brothers and both enlisted in the Confederate Army, July 8, 1861. They were both privates in Company A, 13th Georgia Regiment. Alpheus Peden was born in 1843 and died of pneumonia in Griffin, Georgia December 17, 1861. Andrew Stephen Peden was born in 1838 and was wounded and captured at Winchester, Virginia on September 19, 1864. He died from his wounds. Their father, David Hamilton Peden, was a brother of a long time early pastor, Andrew Gilliland Peden.
James A. Hood was born November 30, 1832. He enlisted as a private in Company D, 12th Georgia Infantry on May 6, 1862. He was wounded and captured at Spotsylvania, Virginia on May 10, 1864. He was released from prison at Elmira, New York on June 27, 1865. He died September 12, 1906. David D. Peden was 1st Lieutenant and later Captain in the same company. He was wounded in the eye and lost sight in his right eye at Malvern Hill, Virginia, July 1, 1862. Also, wounded July 12, 1864 at Battle of Fort Stephens, Washington, D. C. He was home on permanent disability at the close of the war. He was the son of long time pastor, Andrew Gilliland Peden.
Sarah Jane Crawford Sparks and her husband, William Abraham Sparks share a monument at Friendship Presbyterian Church. She was born June 20, 1843 and died June 1, 1911. He was born December 19, 1836 and died May 25, 1911. They died just one week apart. Beneath her name the marker says “Surely a good woman is gone” and beneath his name is “Gone but not forgotten” They were married February 19, 1884. She was 40 years old and he was 47 years old at the time of their marriage. He was a farmer and they apparently never had any children.
William Jefferson “Pat” Cochran was born October 15, 1861 and died at the age of 32 on December 23, 1893. He was married September 25, 1889 to Ophelia Manley. During this short four year marriage they had at least one child, Rosser Manley Cochran. William Jefferson Cochran was the son of Abraham J. Cochran and Mary Elizabeth Crawford Cochran. His mother is buried at Friendship Presbyterian Church. His father enlisted in Company E, 41st Georgia Infantry, CSA on March 4, 1862. He was captured at Perryville, Kentucky and died of pneumonia at Baltimore Hospital February 7, 1863. He is buried at Louden Park Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland.
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Beautiful old church ,maintained in excellent condition for the age of the building. This is a community that really cares about the church as a place to worship and also speaks volumes about the people of that community. This has to be a very loving and caring community for the people to take as good care of their place of worship as is evident in this beautiful structure. Amazing people to demonstrate their love for home, church and community . Mary Lane. Franklin, Ga.
Beautiful church and it would be very interesting to walk through the cemetery and see just how old the tombstones are and whose names are listed there. If they could talk, it is no telling what history they could let us have.
Amazing that they were able to build such a substantial and beautiful church in the aftermath of the Civil war!
Beautiful structure ?????