BRIEF HISTORY 

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On November 25, 1855, Rev. F. D. Piner met with a small group of people for the purpose of organizing a Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Mount Zion in Panola County, MS. This church was located about three miles Southwest of Batesville. It was burned during the 1861-1865 (Civil) War, and according to the session minutes, the congregation worshiped at Blue Pond Courtland Church and Sullivant schoolhouse. On Feb. 5, 1884, Sarah Jane Fowler deeded 2 and 36/100 acres of land to the Free Methodist Church Trustees, who were then meeting at the Independence location. The Presbyterian Church was reorganized in May 1887 at Independence with a membership of 24, and on April 6, 1891, the first service was held at Independence with Rev. R. A. N. Wilson preaching. In 1893, the commission of the Free Methodist Church and the commission of the Cumberland Presbyterian church signed as agreement allowing the Cumberland Presbyterian Church the use of the Free Methodist Church at Independence for halftime service so long as it was used as a church, providing they assisted in repair and whitewashing.

In 1917 an effort was made by Rev. R. A. N. Wilson to establish a community church and with the help of the Board of National Missions, on August 31, 1918 the Free Methodist Church, conveyed and quitclaimed all title and interest in the tract of land donated to them, by Sarah Jane Fowler to the Corporation, The Independence community Presbyterian Church, USA. In January of 1950 Rev. E. E. Stidham became pastor of a group of churches out of which was organized the Parish of the Open Door and this consisted of Oakland, Coffeeville, Pine Hill, Black Jack, Enid and Courtland. These churches united with the Presbyterian Church of USA. Worship services were held twice a month. Under the leadership of Rev. Stidham, the red brick building was erected consisting ofan auditorium that seats approximately 130, a 20-seat choir, six classrooms and two bathrooms. Many improvements: Sidewalks, central heating & cooling took place of the attic fans, a covered pavilion with picnic tables. The fellowship hall was built by the men of the church and is directly behind the main building, connected by two covered walkways across the concrete drive, and contains a kitchen and a large dining/meeting room, and two restrooms. Rev. Stidham retired in 1977 and encouraged the congregation to go to full time service. Rev. W. E. Small became the first full time minister in 1979, and at that time an office, library and nursery were added to the fellowship building.

A fence was built around the playground and swings and basketball goal were erected. Rev. Small retired in 1992 and John Sanderson was called in June and served the congregation for 5 yrs. leaving in May of 1998. Rev. Douglas Sullivan-Gonzales came in 2001 serving off and on, sometimes full time and now part time. Under Rev. Douglas Sullivan-Gonzales leadership, we have added a lighted sign in front of the church, blacktopped the parking lot, and added a narthex, 2 handicapped restrooms, porch, a ramp, and a sound room. A steeple was given in honor of Willard and Bobbye Williams by their Children and grandchildren; also, they had the landscaping done. The following amendments were adopted on February 5, 2003, changing the name from Independence Community Church USA to Independence Presbyterian Church USA and the number of years in existence from 50 to perpetual.

 

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