Blacksburg Presbyterian Church
Pastor: Dr. Catherine Taylor
701 Church Street, S.E.
Blacksburg Presbyterian Church grew out of the North Fork Presbyterian Church (about four miles from Blacksburg) which was recognized in the deed of 1798. For several years the local Presbyterians in the area that is now Blacksburg shared the Methodist Meeting House. During this period the Presbyterians and Methodists maintained a joint Sunday School.
In the early days of Blacksburg the three main religious groups were Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian. There was a certain amount of friction between the Presbyterians and the other groups partly because of the then Calvinist concept of predestination (the doctrine that some persons are predestined to Heaven or Hell). On at least one occasion this disagreement almost led to a physical fight between some members of the groups. According to the book by Charles Taylor, another major difference between the three early groups was the Presbyterian demand for an educated clergy. The Baptists and Methodists often were more concerned with personal piety of their ministers.
The first church building, which was shared with the Masonic Order, was constructed on the southern side of Clay Street between Church and Penn Streets. The second church, constructed in the 1840′s, is now the Cabo Fish Taco building on Main Street. The third church building, built around 1900, is now the home to the First Church of God on Roanoke Street. The current Presbyterian Church building was built in the 1950′s.
Before and during the Civil War, slaves who attended worship were required to sit in the balcony while the white members of the congregation sat in the pews on the main floor. At that time it was illegal for blacks to assemble for church unless they were under the direction of a white pastor. This arrangement caused discontent among the slaves who wanted sermons about Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt while the whites wanted them to hear sermons about the loyalty of slaves to their masters.
A hundred years later, during the 1960′s, members of the Presbyterian college ministry traveled to Prince Edward County to tutor black students from public schools that had been closed due to “massive resistance” in Virginia.
Bodell, Dorothy H., “Social Life and Customs,” Blacksburg, A Special Place for 200 Years, Clara B. Cox, ed. Town of Blacksburg, 1998.
Raboteau, Albert J., Slave Religion, Oxford University Press, New York. 1978.
Taylor, Charles, What Mean These Stones, A History of The Blacksburg Presbyterian Church. Blacksburg Presbyterian Church. 2013.