HISTORY

FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

COPPERAS COVE, TEXAS

 

Organizing

In the late 1950's after much struggle, Martin Hughes and R.D. Holt were able to get assistance from the Lampasas Presbyterian Chrch (PCUS) in re-organizing a Presbyterian Church in Copperas Cove.
 
On World Communion Sunday, October 4, 1964 the first service of the future First Presbyterian Church was held in the Cove Theater with Rev. J. Berkeley SoRelle leading the service and 39 people attending. The church was officially organized on February 13, 1965 when 52 members signed the charter and petitioned the Presbytery of Alamo to organize them into a church. The Presbytery appointed Rev. SoRelle as organizing pastor; and the Service of Organization of a Presbyterian Church was held at Robertson Avenue Baptist Church on April 1, 1965. The congregation called Rev. SoRelle as the first pastor, and he was installed on World Communion Sunday, October 3, 1965.

The first Elders were Kenneth Bouldin, Troy Donnell, Hal Ewing, Frank Davis, William Haynes, R.D. Holt, Martin Hughes, Richard Kennedy, and Frank Trower. The first Clerk of Session was R.D. Holt, and the first church treasurer was Troy Donnell.
 
FPC, CC was organized in the Presbytery of Alamo and in 1972 was transfered to the Presbytery of Trinit. In 1980, the church hosted the final meeting of the Presbytery of Trinity before the Presbytery became Mission Union Presbytery (nowMission Presbytery).
 
After the 'southern branch,' Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUSA), and the 'northern branch,'United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA), reunited in 1983 as Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PC/USA), the Copperas Cove church was renamed 'First United Presbyterian Church.' The church returned to the name 'First Presbyterian Church' in 2008.

Building The Facility

The congregation rented a house at 501 Turner Street and began meeting there on November 8, 1964. In August 1965 the congregation obtained a loan to purchase six lots in the Nauert Addition. They held a ground-breaking ceremony on March 27, 1966; held the first service in the new building on August 8, 1966; and dedicated the church on World Communion Sunday, October 2, 1966. The original building consisted of a small narthex, a combined sanctuary / fellowship hall, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a pastor’s office, and four Sunday School rooms. The pulpit,communion table, two chairs, and baptismal font came from the chaple at Camp Bowie, a World War II National Guard training camp near Brownville, Texas that was closed in 1946.

The congregation continued to improve the property with several projects:

* 1965 - purchased an additional lot behind the church building for a playground and built a parking lot in front of the church
* 1971 - purchased a manse at 114 Hardeman and sold it in 1994.
* 1975-76 - added three classrooms and two bathrooms at the West end of the building
* 1984 - built a storage shed in the back yard with two rooms and a roofed porch
* 1985 – built a handicapped ramp to the front porch
* 1988 - built a private office for the pastor adjacent to the existing office

Building Committees were formed in 1979–80 and again in 1983 to discuss building a new sanctuary, but both times plans were abandoned because of financial obstacles. A Building Committee formed in 1991, and on January 16, 1994 the congregation broke ground for a 3,500 square foot addition on the north side of the sanctuary / fellowship hall that included a narthex, sanctuary, four offices, and two bathrooms. At this time the congregation sold the manse. The new addition was completed and dedicated in 1995.

Over the years, the programs of the church have included Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening worship services; choir; Sunday School classes for children and adults; Vacation Bible School; mid-week Bible study groups and short-term study groups; a youth group, a men’s group, and Presbyterian Women. Fellowship events have included musicals, fashion shows, square dancing, bowling league, softball league, and game nights.

Serving

Besides the denominational ministries it supports through benevolence giving to Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly, the congregation has been involved in local, national, and international missions since the church was organized. Missions have included programs begun by the congregation as well as offering other organizations a place to meet.

* 1967 -- Established the Parish Visitor Program in collaboration with the Killeen Presbyterian Church, Alamo Presbytery, and Trinity Presbytery. As part of this ministry, a program to help military wives visiting their husbands in Hawaii while on R&R (Rest & Recreation) from Vietnam began in 1968. In 1975, the Program became the Ft Hood Area Ministry of Christian Concern, an ecumenical ministry offering emergency food, clothing, transportation, and other services to military families in the area. The ministry was disbanded in the mid-1980s when Ft Hood established its own programs to provide these services.
* 1967 -- Opened Copperas Cove’s first day care center as a mission to the community. The Day Care Center began with members of the congregation working as volunteer staff, but within a few years the state developed standards for Day Care Centers which included requirements for a paid staff. Declining enrollments, a new requirement that four-year-olds attend pre-school in the Copperas Cove school system, and the amount of money required to bring the Day Care Center into compliance with new state standards forced the Day Care Center to close in July, 2003.
* 1970s – Sponsored Citizenship classes.
* 1972 – 2007 -- Sponsored Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops.
* 1973 – Began Operation Friendship, a weekly fellowship time and support group for military wives. Operation Friendship disbanded in the mid-1980s.
* 1973 -- Joined the Ft Hood Parish, consisting of Presbyterian churches in Temple, Killeen, Lampasas, and Copperas Cove.
* 1975 -- Sponsored Al-A-Teen, a 12-step program for teenagers with alcohol-dependency problems.
* 1982 -- Began Operation Wind Crest at Wind Crest Nursing Home, a program that eventually expanded to involve five local churches leading devotional Bible studies every week-day morning.
* 1982–1987 – Provided the Seventh Day Adventist Church with a place to worship on Saturdays.
* 1984 – Served as the community food pantry sponsored by the Copperas Cove Ministerial Alliance
* 1985 -- Collected vitamins for a medical mission in Terlingua TX
* 1986 – Provided a meeting place for a chapter of Compassionate Friends, a support group for parents whose children have died. The chapter disbanded in 2002.
* 1987 – Sponsored a widowed persons support group.
* 1998-1999 – Provided a Korean church with a place to worship on Sunday afternoons.
* 2005 – Established a PrayFAST (Pray For A Soldier Team) ministry with the Ft Hood Chaplains’ Office to pray for Ft Hood soldiers and their families during their deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq
* 2007 -- Provided an Hispanic congregation a place to worship on Sunday evenings
* 2005 - Established a PrayFAST (Pray For A Soldier Team) ministry with the Ft Hood Chaplains Office to pray for Ft Hood soldiers and their families during their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Current ministries include support for Cove House Emergency Shelter, Tools for Development, Inc., and Souper Bowl Sunday

Pastors
* 1964 – 1969 Rev. J. Berkeley SoRelle, organizing pastor / first pastor, full-time
* 1971 - 1982 Rev. Charles Bushnell, full time
* 1983 - 1989 Rev. Mary Currie, part-time
* 1990 Rev. Tom Moranville, retired, pulpit supply
* 1991 - 1996 Rev. Davis Taylor, part-time
* 1997 Rev. John Lewis, retired, pulpit supply and Moderator of Session
* 1998 - 2003 Rev. Mark Brantley-Gearhart, part-time
* 2004 - 2005 Rev. Alvin D. Koons, retired, part-time
* 2005 - 2007 Rev. Marsha E. Brown, part-time
* 2008 - 2009 Rev. Elizabeth Pang, part-time
* 2010 - 2013 Rev. Dallas Maham. part-time
* Feb 2014 - Rev. Naomi Ingrim. part-time


1
History / First Presbyterian Church / Copperas Cove, TX / 10/28/2007