Belle-Terrace Presbyterian Church U.S.A
Our History
 

Here we will tell the story of the beginnings of our church and how we became what we are today.

 
THE HISTORY
OF
THE BELLE-TERRACE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (USA)

In the early 1960’s Messes Alvin Forrest, Jacob Crawford, James Curtis and Parnell Jones began a community Sunday School in the Terrace Manor Community.  Their work captured the attention of the Rev. Otis A. Smith who had been recently called to the Christ United Presbyterian Church.  It was his dream that the Christ Church would move to a new community.  He requested to the Session to consider the idea.  Permission was given to find a suitable location, and if so, Christ Church would consider relocating.  He petitioned the Georgia Presbytery to study the idea.  Christ Church changed their minds, but the Presbytery of Georgia (the United Presbyterian Church) instructed its committee on National Missions to conduct a study to determine the need for a second United Presbyterian Church in Augusta.

The New Church Development of the old Synod of South Carolina-Georgia assisted in the study.  In the committee report of their findings, this community and our present location were presented as a possible site for a new church.  The committee’s recommendations were presented to the Presbytery.  Affirmative action was taken by the Presbytery to request the National Board of Missions, of the United Presbyterian Church, to make funds available for the new Church Development project in Augusta.
 
In 1969, as an Army Chaplain, Rev. Otis Smith began Sunday morning worship services in the Terrace Manor Elementary School.  Rev. Smith continued to pastor the Sunday morning services until an organizing pastor was found.  The Presbytery, through its committee on Ministerial Relations, extended a call to the 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 in the organization of the church by gathering interested persons from the Terrace Manor and Bellemeade Communities.  The first committee to be 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.

The Steering Committee became actively involved in the planning of attendance and enrollment.  During this period, church attendance and Sunday School enrollments continued to grow.  The members of the Steering Committee were requested by the Organizing Pastor to suggest names for the new Church.  The name Belle Terrace Mission was established.
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 rented house located 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 chartered members became official.  On this historic occasion, the church ordained elders and deacons.  The celebration of The Lord’s Supper, as well as the installation and recognition of trustees – along with the Sacrament of Baptism, was a part of the service.
 
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 written Session Records dated in 1971, the 1971-1972 Session (Elders) are listed as follows:  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 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 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).
 
Many conferences and meetings were now standard for Presbytery Officials, Board of National Missions, local church officials and the Architectural firm of Dort B. Payne Associates.  In 1971, construction funds and architectural drawings were given final approval.  October 1971, construction began 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 week program.
 
In November 1975, the congregation said good-bye to Rev. and Mrs. Miller.  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 membership increased to 110 and 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 down town 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.  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 joined our congregation, Rev. Joseph Reid of Atlanta. Georgia.  Rev. Reid, with the assistance from Christ, traveled from Atlanta to preach Sunday morning worship services.  He began serving as Pastor Temporary Supply in November 1994.  Rev. Reid brought a charismatic aura as well as a powerful leadership style to the church.
 
In April 1996, Rev. Melvin Gore Lowry was called as the fourth installed pastor of Belle-Terrace Presbyterian Church.  Under Rev. Lowry’s leadership the church has experienced financial, membership and spiritual growth.
 
In 1999, a Capital Improvement Committee was formed to look at ways/options for raising funds for the purpose of extending/renovating the church.  In 2001, the Capital Improvement Fund Campaign was approved and initiated.  In 2005, the Strategic Planning Operational Plan was revised.
 
The year 2006 was the birth of our Praise Team whose mission is to lead us into worship every third Sunday.  The Friendship Circles which were established previously is now called Member Care Ministry Teams and has added the Member Care Ministry Coordinating Team. The Youth and Young Adult Ministries were re-organized and are active in the community and ministry as they continue to grow.  Later in the year the Ground Breaking Service was held for the expansion and renovation of the Fellowship Hall, kitchen and restrooms (work began October 2006) which were completed and dedicated in 2008. During a sixteen month time frame, January 2006 thru April 2007, Pastor Lowry was called to active Military duty.  During this time Rev. Otis Artis Smith was called to served in his absence.
 
In addition to the previously established outreach programs the Gap Ministries, Neighborhood Improvement Project, Inc. and a Health Care Clinic (1999).  We partnered with Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church in 2008 to serve Interfaith Hospitality Network quarterly as host to provide food and supplies.  In 2009 the Belle-Terrace Presbyterian Church Health and Wellness Ministry was established to bring awareness of community health issues. During October 2010 we held our first "Trunk or Treat" activity for the youth.  Christmas Eve in 2009 and 2010, the Youth and their advisors participated in our “Live Nativity” scene.

The involvement of the congregation continues to grow through their participation in Disciple Bible Study, Sunday School, PW Women’s Bible Study, Weekly Adult and Youth Bible Studies. We show evidence of establishing the beginning of a grand future by acknowledging that the only way to build the “Church” is to win souls to Christ.
 
Over the past forty years, Belle-Terrace has made deliberate effort to focus on building God’s Kingdom through Missions and winning disciples for Christ.  In this new millennium, growth is evident in our efforts to be “Bible based, Christ centered, Spirit led, and Mission bound!”

Belle-Terrace, we have come this far by “Faith”

We invite you to become a part of the church today and a piece of its history tomorrow.