A VERY SPECIAL PLACE…
On June 10 th of 2005, Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church completed our 32 nd year. As we measure and mark our first 32 years in this locality, we do so by the measure of the lives, prayers, sacrifices, dedication and faith of others who were called by God to form churches in their communities.
There are three parent churches that were instrumental in the formation of our present church and the facilities through which we currently serve and worship God. They are Commonwealth Presbyterian Church (1940-1969); Eastminster Presbyterian Church (1941-1969); the merged Commonwealth-Eastminster Presbyterian Church (1969-1973); and Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church (1962- to the present day)
The oldest of our parent churches was the Commonwealth Church which stood where the Northwest Cloverleaf at Eastway and Independence Boulevard now transfers traffic from the westbound lane of Independence to the southbound lane of Eastway.
It began in June, 1940, in a tent at this location under the sponsorship of Caldwell Memorial Presbyterian. Six months later, on January 12, 1941, in the basement of the unfinished church building, the church was organized with 56 members.
In September, 1941, just nine months after Commonwealth was organized, and less than a mile west of the Commonwealth Church, the second of our parent churches came to life. It, too, was sponsored by Caldwell Memorial. It began meeting in a tent with 19 interested persons across Briar Creek from where Chantilly School now stands. They called it " Briar Creek Chapel ."
One year later, in 1942, Mr. William Henry Belk, one of the founders of Belk's Stores, who was a member of Caldwell Memorial, gave the fledgling congregation $500 with which they built a small chapel on a lot on Washburn Avenue that was owned by the Belk Family. In 1945 the name was changed to Eastside Chapel .
Six years later, in 1948, Mr. Belk provided an additional gift of $5,000 which enabled the congregation to purchase a lot at the corner of Chipley and Washburn Avenue. They moved the existing chapel building by truck to this new location and brick veneered the entire exterior of the building. (This location is on the top of the hill behind Ovens Auditorium.) During the next three years as the membership grew to 75, they added a wing to provide classrooms, assembly hall, and a kitchen facility.
On May 18, 1952, the church was organized by Mecklenburg Presbytery with 109 charter members, and was officially named " Eastminster Presbyterian Church ".
In the next few years the community began to change and the membership declined. On April 20, 1969, Eastminster, with 87 members, merged with Commonwealth with 409 members, naming the new church “ Commonwealth-Eastminster Presbyterian Church.”
In June, 1962, Mecklenburg Presbytery brought together a new church on Albemarle Road, our third parent church. In a two-story white house, that stood at 7419 Albemarle Road (at the corner of Lake Forest Drive), the first service was held on June 17, 1962. On April 8, 1963, with 88 charter members it was organized and named “ Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church .” The church continued to meet at this location for Sunday School and Worship until July, 1968.
Mecklenburg Presbytery purchased ten acres of land at 6740 Albemarle Road for the location of the growing Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church. The ground breaking was April 16, 1967, and the Chapel Building was completed at a cost of $182,000! It was occupied and dedicated on July 7, 1968.
In the early 1970's the State Highway Department began the project of widening Eastway Drive and construction of the bridge over Independence Boulevard. This forced the Commonwealth-Eastminster Church to sell to the Highway Department and to look to relocation.
Their Session approached the Session of ARPC suggesting a merger. ARPC had ten acres on which adequate buildings could be erected and Commonwealth-Eastminster had $440,000 from the sale of its property. A merger was initiated and on June 10, 1973, the two churches merged with a charter membership of 525 members, and retained the name Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church for the new church. Rev. Richard P. Shaw, pastor of ARPC since 1971, was elected Senior Pastor, and Rev. Robert C. Freeman, pastor of the Commonwealth-Eastminster Church, was elected Associate Pastor.
Early in 1975 the congregation approved a building program that included a 500-seat sanctuary, furnished with carpet, pews, and an Allen Digital Computer Organ; an Educational Building with nine classrooms; a Fellowship Hall/Gymnasium; parking lot and driveways at a cost of $948,146.
The ground breaking was April 13, 1975. The Educational Building was completed first and dedicated February 1, 1976. The Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall/Gym were dedicated on August 1, 1976. In 1993, a building campaign was held with the funds used to upgrade the gym and kitchen and add a new classroom wing to the building. The upgraded “Family Life Center” was dedicated February 6, 1994.
As a part of our community ministry, our Weekday School has evolved and existed for over 30 years. In May of 2004 new playground equipment was installed and dedicated to that endeavor.
A beautiful Columbarium-Prayer Garden was constructed in late 2001 and dedicated to God's glory and as a ministry to our church families on May 5, 2002. The Chapel Building was renovated in 2004-05, and the chapel room was renamed “Calvin Hall.” ARPC's Presbyterian Women worked diligently to create a beautiful new church parlor, which was dedicated in January, 2005. A major driveway and parking lot project included new curbs and complete resurfacing of the entire area and was completed in the spring of 2005.
The sounds of bells began to ring out over the ARPC campus in the fall of 2008 as we dedicated our new Carillon.
ARPC continues to add new ministries as we seek to be faithful to God's calling. Feed My Lambs (a tutorial ministry); Room In The Inn (a ministry to Charlotte's homeless), demonstrates this congregation's desire to serve those in need.
Accordingly this generous congregation has opened its doors to three other congregations that share God's facilities with us. Currently the Walking By Faith Community Church, the Abundant Life Lutheran Church, and the Universal Pentecostal Latino Church worship and serve with us.
This is a brief history of our beginnings, this is our heritage - "Yea, we have a goodly heritage." Psalm 16:6 We are the extension of those saints whose faith and vision did not waver and for them we give thanks to God in our Celebration of the Journey.
Written by Elder J. Price Robinson
(12/29/1915 - 3/14/1998)
Updated by Rev. Dr. Ron Tippens in October, 2005, and 2008,
and edited by Cindy Eccleston