Set in the rolling hills of Jackson County, Thyatira Presbyterian is a primitive jewel that was founded over 200 years ago. It is an interesting contrast to most of the Presbyterian churches in the southern part of the state. They are generally located in more urban areas and have a feeling of understated wealth about them. Presbyterian churches in the northern counties can be found in more rural locations and can be more primitive in nature. Such is the case with Thyatira, founded by Scots Irish revolutionary soldiers who came into this part of Georgia to get free land….tough people who were were willing to take on the less desirable wilderness of the northern hills.
The church was founded as the Olney Presbyterian church at Hurricane Shoals around 1795. The Hurricane Shoals settlement was started by James Montgomery, a Revolutionary War soldier. The Olney Presbyterian church was formed with 42 people on the west side of the shoals in a two room building. According to an article in the Jackson Herald the church was named Olney Presbyterian because they sang ‘Olney Hymns’ from the Olney- Buckinghamshire Parrish in England…..such as Amazing Grace, rather than the traditional music from the psalms. The church was relocated to another location in the early 1800’s and finally to it’s present location sometime in the early 1830s.
In 1828 the Thyatira Presbyterian church of Rowan County North Carolina recognized the Jackson County church for its works and served as its sponsor, thus the name Thyatira. In 1830 land was deeded to the church elders and the church was built on its present site. The current building is actually comprised of three different sections. The original front was built in the 1830’s, upon arrival in Thyatira. A sanctuary addition came sometime between 1890 and 1950, and a Sunday School annex followed in 1950. Since that time, the church has gone relatively unchanged. The church is unpretentious and thoroughly reflects the work ethic and the no nonsense approach to spiritual matters on the part of the old Scots Irish ancestors. She is simple, rural and elegant while nestled in a beautiful setting in the north Georgia foothills.
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My father, the late Rev. Dr. William R. Thurman (1918-2009) was the pastor of Thyatira for a while during the 1950’s. He was the full-time pastor at the Presbyterian church in Jefferson and came out to Thyatira perhaps twice a month. The Sunday school addition was erected by the men of the congregation while he was the pastor. The pews in these photographs are more recent than the rather primitive ones made of heart pine boards that I recall from long ago. Otherwise, except for the green paint (it used to be a white interior) and the pulpit and pulpit furniture, little has changed, especially in the old cemetery.
Great family history tied to Thyatira. Thanks for sharing.