The history of the Belle-Terrace Presbyterian Church (USA)
In the early 1960s Alvin Forrest, Jacob Crawford, James Curtis and Parnell Jones began a community Sunday School in the Terrace Manor neighborhood. Their work captured the attention of the Rev. Otis A. Smith who had been recently called as Pastor of Christ United Presbyterian Church. It was his dream for Christ Church to move to a new community. He requested the Session consider the idea. Permission was given to find a suitable location for Christ Church to consider for relocation. Rev. Smith petitioned the Georgia Presbytery to study the idea. However, Christ Church changed their minds about relocating — but the Presbytery of Georgia (the United Presbyterian Church) instructed its committee on National Missions to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of having a second United Presbyterian Church in Augusta.
The New Church Development of the old Synod of South Carolina-Georgia assisted with the study. Our current location was presented as a possible site for a new church. The committee’s recommendations were presented to the Presbytery. Action was taken by the Presbytery to request the National Board of Missions of the United Presbyterian Church fund the new Church Development project in Augusta.
In 1969, as an Army Chaplain, Rev. Otis Smith began Sunday morning worship services at Terrace Manor Elementary School. Rev. Smith continued to pastor Sunday morning services until an organizing pastor was found. The Presbytery, through its committee on Ministerial Relations, extended a call to Rev. E. McKay Miller of Mayesville, South Carolina as organizing pastor.
Rev. E. McKay Miller began his work officially on October 1, 1969. Rev. Miller immediately continued organizing the church by gathering interested persons from the Terrace Manor and Bellemeade Communities. The first committee he organized was the steering committee. The members of the Steering Committee were: Joe Dixon (Chairperson), Alvin Forrest (Vice Chairperson), Dennyzade Dixon (Secretary), Joe Jackson (Treasurer), Rev. Otis Smith (Chaplain), Mrs. Nettie Smith, Mrs. Lucille Floyd, Elder Elizabeth Latimer, Mr. Jacob Crawford, Attorney John Watkins, Ms. Johnetta Miller, Mr. Charles Greenaugh, Mr. Thales Elliott, Mrs. Lucretia Miller, Miss Alicia Greenaugh, and Mrs. Edna Thornton.
Church attendance and Sunday School enrollments continued to grow, and the members of the Steering Committee selected the name Belle Terrace Mission for the new church.
In 1969 the Steering Committee petitioned the Presbytery of Georgia to formerly organize the mission into a United Presbyterian congregation.
In January 1970, the Steering Committee started its first Child Care Center/Kindergarten. It opened in a rental home on Bellemeade Drive. Staff members were: Mrs. Jacqueline Williams, Mrs. Lucretia Miller, Mrs. Magdaline Nelson, and Mr. Charles Greenaugh.
In February 1970, Belle Terrace United Presbyterian Church with 115 charter members became official. On this historic occasion, the church ordained elders and deacons. The celebration service consisted of The Lord’s Supper, the installation and recognition of trustees, and the Sacrament of Baptism.
The Steering Committee was also at work securing property for a future building complex. The property on Golden Camp Road where the church is now located was purchased by the Presbytery in July 1970.
A typed copy of the original history of Belle-Terrace Church lists the first Session members as: Harold Bussey, Jacob Crawford, Joe Dixon, Alvin Forrest, Willie Roundtree, Peter Mindingall, Charles Grant, Parnell Jones, Elizabeth Latimer, Bobby Parham, Joseph Jackson, and John Watkins. However, after checking the first set of written Session Records dated in 1971, the 1971-1972 Session Members are listed as: Class of 1971 – Jacob Crawford, Charles Grant (Clerk of Session), Parnell Jones, Robert Donaldson; Class of 1972 – Joe A. Dixon, Alvin Forrest, Elizabeth Latimer, John Watkins; Class of 1973 – Edith (Edythe) Byrd (Recording Secretary), Richard Holland, Bunice Perry, Willie Roundtree. The Board of Deacons are listed as: Class of 1971 – Ruth Forrest (Secretary), Vivian F. Miller, Lydia Parker, Jewel Rodd; Class of 1972 – Margie (Marjorie) Barbee, Thales Elliott (President), Virginia McQueen, Edna Thornton; Class of 1973 – Mary Mosley (designate), Magdalene Nelson (designate), Ella Mae Sullivan (designate), George Willis (designate). The Board of Trustees are listed as: Class of 1971 – Grady Cunningham, James Curtis, Alvin Forrest, Augustus Miller (Assistant Secretary), Andrew Dudley, Sr., Robert Fryer, David Graham, Jr., Lucretia Miller; Class of 1973 – Dan Byrd, Charles Greenaugh (President), Sue Jackson (Secretary), Ronald R. Loftlin (designate).
Presbytery Officials, Board of National Missions, local church officials and the Architectural firm of Dort B. Payne Associates met often during the planning phase for the future building complex. In 1971, construction funds and architectural drawings were given final approval. Construction began in October 1971, and the church building was completed in May 1972. Parnell Jones served as Chairperson of the Building Committee, and Dan Byrd was Treasurer.
God, through His son Jesus Christ, continued to shower His blessings upon us. For two years we praised, worshiped and fellowshiped every Sunday at Terrace Manor Elementary School. Our first worship service in the new church was conducted Sunday, May 28, 1972, and the church was officially dedicated on September 24, 1972.
In December 1973, the Belle Terrace congregation extended a call to the organizing pastor to become its first pastor. Rev. E. McKay Miller accepted and was installed on Sunday, February 3, 1974. By the time the church celebrated its Fifth Anniversary on February 2, 1975, the church had a full seven-day-a-week program.
In November 1975, the congregation said good-bye to Rev. and Mrs. Miller as Rev. Miller moved on to become Associate Executive for the Presbytery of Detroit.
During the years 1976 and 1977 the church was blessed to have dedicated supply ministers. Rev. Maurice Cherry and Rev. Theodore Fisher were two supply ministers who labored long and hard to keep the congregation together and spiritually alive.
On January 1, 1978, Rev. Benjamin J. Anderson arrived from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to serve as Stated Supply. Under Rev. Anderson’s leadership the congregation rededicated itself to the “ministry of reconciliation”. During 1978-79, the church began to meet its financial obligations to local creditors and the Georgia Presbytery. In 1979, the church issued a call to Rev. Anderson and installed him in the fall of that same year.
In the 1980’s the Belle-Terrace congregation tripled its annual budget, paid off the debt on the land, added new equipment, new carpet, paved the parking lot and painted the interior. On Sunday, November 9, 1980, Belle-Terrace celebrated its Tenth Anniversary. Rev. W. S. Mercer, the choir and members of Radcliffe UPC, Atlanta, Georgia were our guests. During Rev. Anderson’s tenure, Belle-Terrace also began volunteering once a month at the Soup Kitchen in downtown Augusta.
Rev. Anderson retired on December 31, 1985 and later became Pastor Emeritus of Belle-Terrace Church (in 1990). Rev. Anderson’s retirement was followed by the interim pastorate of Rev. John Ellis, who provided strong and capable leadership for the church.
In May, 1987, Rev. Larry Hill was called as the third installed pastor of Belle-Terrace Church. Under Rev. Hill’s leadership, a sound system was purchased, the church grew in both membership and community outreach. The Agape Ministry began in 1989 as a vision of Rev. Hill and Mrs. Emma Bass. Belle-Terrace bid farewell to Rev. Larry Hill on August 28, 1994. Under God’s continuous plan, Rev. Hill moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to continue his work building up the Body of Christ.
We were so blessed on September 4, 1994 to have Rev. Joseph Reid of Atlanta, Georgia join us. Rev. Reid, with the assistance from Christ, traveled from Atlanta to preach Sunday morning worship services. He began serving as a Temporary Supply Pastor in November 1994. Rev. Reid brought a charismatic aura as well as a powerful leadership style to the church.
In April 1996, Rev. Dr. Melvin Gore Lowry was called as the fourth installed pastor of Belle-Terrace Presbyterian Church. Under Rev. Dr. Lowry’s leadership, the Youth Ministry was re-organized, became more active in the community, and continued to grow.
In 1999, with Rev. Dr. Lowry leading the way, a Capital Improvement Committee was formed to look at options for raising funds to extend and renovate the church. In 2001, the Capital Improvement Fund Campaign was approved and initiated. The Strategic Planning Operational Plan was revised in 2005. Later in the year the Ground Breaking Service was held for the expansion and renovation of the Fellowship Hall, kitchen, and restrooms — with work beginningin October 2006. The expansion and renovation were completed and dedicated in 2008.
From January 2006 thru April 2007, Pastor Lowry was called to active Military duty. During Rev. Dr. Lowry’s absence, Rev. Otis Artis Smith was called to serve. Rev. Dr. Lowry’s time with Belle-Terrace concluded on June 29, 2014 as he went on to serve the community as Chief Operations Officer at Medical Associates Plus, a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) Deemed Health Center located on the Bell-Terrace Presbyterian Church Campus.
In October, 2016, Rev. Harold Harris answered the call to lead Belle-Terrace as Interim Pastor during a critical time for the church. On April 29, 2018 (a Youth Sunday) Rev. Harris delivered his last sermons at Belle-Terrace — one for the Youth and a primary message. The congregation celebrated Rev. Harris’ time at Belle-Terrace with a farewell dinner following morning worship.
Via a seamless transition, Pastor Richard Holland (a Charter member of Belle-Terrace) assumed the role of Covenant Pastor and delivered his first sermon on May 6, 2018. Pastor Holland brings enthusiastic leadership as Belle-Terrace moves onward in serving others and winning disciples for Christ. The Belle-Terrace Church Family is moving forward in its ministries with Youth, Social Media, AGAPE, Music, Community Care, and Outreach. Connect with us on Facebook at “Belle Terrace Presbyterian Church” and on Twitter and Instagram using @connectedtobtc.
© 2018 Belle Terrace Presbyterian Church
2473 Golden Camp Road
Augusta, Georgia 30906
TEL (706) 793-6908
FAX (706) 793-1190