Unity Presbyterian celebrates 225 years

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 20, 2013

WOODLEAF— Unity Presbyterian Church will celebrate 225 years with a homecoming service at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Rev. Christopher Henry of Atlanta, whose father is a former pastor of Unity,Dr. David Henry, will preach the homecoming sermon. The Rev. Phil Hagen is the current pastor.
Unity Church, located on Woodleaf-Barber Road, holds homecoming every five years. At one time, homecoming was held on a Thursday in August, following the farmers’ harvest.
Former ministers have been invited to participate in this year’s service, which will be followed by a covered dish lunch in the church’s new fellowship building and on the picnic grounds.
The church’s origins date back to 1788 when a log house of worship was built on Potneck Road some four miles east of the present location.
The original cemetery on Potneck Road is maintained by the present congregation.
The church relocated to its present site around 1800, using a log “meeting house” for worship on 12 acres of land donated by the Trott family.
The present sanctuary was completed in 1847. It was originally a hand-hewn, hand-planed wood frame sanctuary and gallery, with hand-wrought nails used in the construction.
The 1850s Session House, originally used for Sunday School classes as well as a school, stands near the cemetery, a part of which is rock-walled. In 1932, seven Sunday School rooms were added to the sanctuary.
In 1952, the choir loft and adjoining educational building with classrooms, restrooms, kitchen and fellowship hall were added. It was at that time that the entire structure was brick veneered.
In 2011, the new fellowship building was added which seats 300 people at events.
The church’s “Upping Block,” a large flat rock used for mounting horses and buggies in the 1800s, has been relocated to the front of the new fellowship building.
Homecoming 2013 will begin with registration and refreshments from 9:30-10:30 a.m. A 30-minute program of music will be held in the sanctuary at 10:30 a.m.
Henry Tysinger, retired organist at Highland Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, will be a guest organist.
Tysinger is a member of the Bost family, long-time members. The service and lunch will be followed at 1:30 p.m. with the opening of a time capsule, buried on the church grounds 25 years ago as a church youth project.
The homecoming speaker, Chris Henry, is senior pastor of Shallowford Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.
Before coming to Shallowford in 2011, he served as associate pastor and acting head of staff of Morningside Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University in 2004 with a major in religion and a minor in political science. At graduation, he received the William J. Griffith University Service Award.
Henry graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary in 2007, receiving five honors at graduation, including the Wilds Book Prize, Columbia’s highest academic honor, and the Harvard A. Anderson Graduate Fellowship, given to the graduating student determined to have the greatest potential for future academic achievement.
He also received awards in Biblical studies, preaching, and church history.
Henry is married to the Rev. Sara Hayden, who is director of the Tri-Presbytery New Church Development Commission.