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One Hundred and Counting

1114 nib lake walesWith hymns, psalms of praise and thanksgiving, the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Wales, Florida celebrated its 100th birthday, as an ARP congregation, on June 15, 2014.

On the special day there were no Sunday School classes. The entire congre- gation met in Fellowship Hall for a program focused on the church’s history. It began with a video featuring Frank and Margaret Hunt, who are the longest stand- ing current members. They joined, in 1939, as young people attending the same communicant class. Emily Bass, the most recent member of the church, joined the Hunts on the video. Each shared interests and experiences concerning the church.

Director of Music, Vince Treadway presented piano selections of hymns and psalms. Rev. Chad Reynolds presided over the service in the sanctuary.

Rev. David Rockness, immediate past minister, gave reflections on past church growth, programs, and missions. Rev. Chad Reynolds gave a glimpse of future programs. Rev. Matt Joldersma, Youth Minister, also participated in the service. Vince Treadway, assisted by Marie Hasse, Music Associate, with an expanded choir of 45 voices and an orchestra of 13 members presented a portion of Te Deum, writ- ten by Georg Fridric Handel.

Rev. Rob Patrick, senior pastor of the Bartow ARP church, delivered an inspiring sermon entitled, “Steadfast Love and Faithfulness,” based on the 100th Psalm. Rev. Patrick’s preaching the sermon commemorated Rev. Nathan E. Smith’s coming from Bartow in the first years of the church’s history. Rev. Smith preached in Bar- tow on Sunday mornings, Lake Wales in the afternoons and again in Bartow for the Sunday Evening Services. This practice continued for seven years. As a postlude, Treadway played tu Es Petra (Thou Art the Rock) by Mulet. Following the postlude, guests and members gathered in Fellowship Hall for a covered dish dinner.

A big thank you goes to those who had a hand in the planning and execution of this memorable day. It was a job well done.

The Lake Wales ARP Church was organized in June of 1914. Mr. E. C. Stuart of Bartow was instrumental in guiding a fledgling church in Lake Wales into the ARP Synod. Mr. Stuart built the first church – a white wooden structure on a promon- tory facing Crystal Lake. He funded the building; therefore, the church started out debt free. Mr. Stuart’s granddaughter, Mrs. Nelle Kennedy Stuart Terry, her daughter, Miss Margrette Kennedy Lane as well as Mr. Stuart’s grandson, Mr. Bill Stuart were among those visitors who attended the celebration. Mrs. Stuart and Mr. Terry attended as well.

Mr. E. C. Stuart made a lasting contribution to Lake Wales for it was he who founded the first church in the young hamlet of Lake Wales. The faith and vision of our ministers, the Reverends N. E. Smith, S. A. Tinkler, R. T. Nelson, Harry R. Edwards, David M. Rockness and Chad W. Reynolds have led us this far. With God’s grace the future lies before us.

By: Ann Mann

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