One hundred years of discipleship in Tryon

Published 4:17 pm Thursday, February 3, 2022

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Tryon Presbyterian Church will celebrate its 100 years throughout 2022, but won’t get lost in the past.

“We’re going to focus on service,” church member Gloria Underwood told the congregation recently. She heads a commission leading centennial activities.

Service to others extends from the Blessing Box in the church parking lot at 430 Harmon Field Road to a school in Guatemala. It includes financial and hands-on support for local and regional organizations such as Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry, Steps to Hope, Habitat and Black Mountain Home for Children, Youth and Families.

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Last year, the church invited the community to Trunk-or-Treat on its campus and free lemonade and cookies on summer weekends at Harmon Field. Those initiatives will continue, and others will be added.

The community has helped Tryon Presbyterian Church grow, “so we want to give back to the community,” Underwood said.

The church was founded Oct. 22, 1922, with just 31 members, many of them from Columbus Presbyterian Church. The new congregation gathered for worship at times in homes, a movie theater and Tryon Methodist Church, which was then on Howard Street. Within a few years, it acquired property on Freeman Hill and constructed a distinctive brick building. After outgrowing that facility, it moved to its current location in 1958.

Even in its early history, Tryon Presbyterian Church concentrated on community outreach, launching a mission school to provide Christian education to children in isolated areas of Polk County.

That tradition is reflected in the mission statement of the church today: “To be and make disciples of Jesus Christ, who love God and their neighbor.”

“Discipleship means to follow the example of Jesus Christ and practice his commandment to love and serve others,” said the Rev. Allan Purtill, Tryon Presbyterian Church’s pastor since 2019.

So, while the church will draw inspiration from its 100-year history and will invite the community to participate in activities throughout the year, it is determined to look forward.

The centennial theme is “Beginning Our Next 100 Years of Discipleship,” Underwood said, challenging the congregation to complete 100 units of service over the next 10 months.

That might be volunteering 10 hours each month at a local nonprofit. Or giving 10 dollars each month to   a worthy cause. Or making 10 phone calls each month to people who are ill or alone. Or placing 10 food items each month in the Blessing Box for anyone who needs them.

The $10,000 cost of the original Freeman Hill church, which still stands, was raised through gifts of cash, jewelry, cars and anything else people could sacrifice. That pattern of service and discipleship continues today and, with God’s help, into the next 100 years.


Submitted by Doug Clark