Siloam Presbyterian was constituted in 1903 by the charter members of what was previously called Hastings Church. Hastings church had been formed in 1894, but was dissolved and dismantled to create the Presbyterian church at the end of the 19th century. John T. Dolvin, a highly thought of member born in 1826, was the sole organizer of both churches. Records show that the new church building was completed by the spring of 1903. The Pews also came from the old Hastings church, which was located a few miles north of Siloam. Carpet was paid for by the women in a very interesting fashion – each woman decided to forgo a winter hat that year and instead put that money towards buying carpet,
Siloam Methodist Church burned down in 1952, and this church nearly suffered the same fate in 1929 but for the heroic efforts of a woman member. Mrs. Rhodes, on March 31, 1929, went to the church early to bring flowers and make a fire in the new heater. She accidentally used the gasoline container and an explosion occurred as she lit the fire. Frantically, she fought the flames with her clothes and bare hands. Her sole purpose was to save the church – and she did, at the cost of her life. She passed away from her wounds after several weeks of agony. Even the present generation owes this woman gratitude for what she did to save the church.
Siloam has not always been the nearly dead town that it is today. In a memoir called, “Two Years to Remember” by the daughter of renowned rural sociologist and New Deal farm administrator Arthur Raper, the bustling social life of 1930s and 40s Siloam is discussed in detail. Saturday trips to Mr. Jackson’s General store, Sunday trips to church, and interesting details about race relations are discussed with candid detail as experienced through the eyes of a child that grew up there. Arthur Raper also wrote several books during his residence in Greene County – Sharecroppers All and Tenants of the Almighty are two such works.
From the Siloam Church Records: "The Siloam Presbyterian Church had its origins in 'Old Hastings Church' located two miles northwest of the town of Siloam." In 1894-95, Old Hastings had been formed up with its core congregation consisting of large families most notably that of the founder, John T. Dolvin. After a few years, the members decided to move the church to the small community of Siloam which was more centrally located. Siloam Baptist graciously donated the land on which the new church was to be erected. The scrap lumber, furnishings and fixtures that were available after the dismantling of Old Hastings were used to build the sanctuary across the street from the Baptist church. On the day of the transfer of parishioners from Old Hastings 110 years ago, the new church looked just as it does today!
When John Dolvin and the others in the congregation walked into the new sanctuary in 1903, which was made of wood from their old church, they must have felt a sense of homecoming as they settled into the original Hasting's pews now installed in their new spiritual home.
In 1895, a pulpit Bible was presented to the fledgling Old Hastings Church by Dr. and Mrs C.F. Durham. That bible is still in use today at Siloam Presbyterian along with a 19th century hymnal pictured above.
The natural light streams through the ten large, 4 over 4 windows lining the walls at Siloam illuminating the charming old pews and organ above.
Though no longer functioning, if you are quiet and calm, you can almost hear the old organ pumping out the Processional Hymn... "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"... as the Sunday services commence at Siloam Presbyterian.
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I have questions about the history of the Hastings church. Would you please send me your e-mail address? Thanks! [email protected]
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I love this old church. How can I get a copy of Mr. Roper’s daughters memoirs of Siloam? My father grew up there and my family has lived in Siloam for 7 generations. I already have Tenants of the Almighty.
What is the name of the book? We haven’t seen it.