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Reformed Presbyterian Church

From Bloomingpedia

The Reformed Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest churches in Bloomington. Nationally, the denomination opposed slavery, so many of its members in South Carolina (nicknamed "Covenanters") decided to move north to escape the trade after failing to persuade their legislators to ban the trade. Throughout most of its history, the church opposed voting, office-holding, and other governmental participation; this stance was not repealed until the 1960s.

John Moore and Thomas Moore were the first Covenanters to come this area in March 1820 and others soon followed. The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Bloomington, Indiana was organized on October 10, 1821 with John Moore and Isaac Faris being elected elders. The first meeting place was a log house at 406 West 10th Street which was known as the Blair Farm. In 1823 John Moore died, and the church disorganized until 1825, when Thomas Moore and James Blair were elected elders.

Rev. James Faris officially became the pastor on November 22, 1827. In the early days, Mr. Faris preached in a small log church or schoolhouse in the yard of the McQuiston homestead on West 10th Street, property later owned by the Indianapolis Southern Railway. He remained the pastor until stepping down in 1855.

In the fall and winter of 1830-31, as the national church appeared to be entering a schism on the issue of participation in government, a considerable number of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians came to Monroe County from South Carolina. The Tate family, Woodburn family, and Fee family came from the Rocky Creek neighborhood of Chester District; but many other South Carolinians came as well. When the national church finally split in 1833, the Bloomington church divided approximately down the middle.

In 1836, a brick church building was erected two miles southeast of town on land now adjacent to the Covenanter Cemetery at the corner of High Street and Moores Pike. At that time, the church was called "Bethesda Church and Congregation". That building burned in 1847 and was rebuilt.

In 1877, the church was torn down in favor of a new brick building in the 300 block of south Walnut Street and was designated as the "Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church".

Around 1926, the church building on South Walnut was sold to the Harry Stephens Company for $10,000 and a plot of ground on the corner of south Lincoln Street and 1st Street. Initially, Alfred Grindle was engaged to design a new church, but the church that was actually built was designed by Harry E. Boyle. The current church building was dedicated on this site on October 21, 1927. An early photo of the church can be viewed at the website of the Monroe County History Center.