Lafayette Presbyterian Church
By: Katie Byrd
The history of Lafayette Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee Florida dates back to the year 1946 when it became the first Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee. The idea of establishing a Church on the outskirts of Tallahassee that would be known for its great mission work was where the foundation of Lafayette Presbyterian took place. The area of the original Church location was known as the Lafayette Community which was named after Marquis de Lafayette for his great leadership skills and assistance during the Revolutionary War. The original location of Lafayette Presbyterian community was about five miles east of the State Capitol located on Apalachee Parkway. Before this community was able to build the first building that would be known as their Church, the members would take turns meeting in private homes and at one time the meetings even took place in a gas station.
The piece of property where the original Church was built was donated by a very involved couple in the Church, Mr. and Mrs. McFarlin. When I went to visit the Church where it stands today and spoke with Ms. Lynda Blount (Church Secretary) she spoke of how the people of the community will always remember the McFarlin’s and their gracious generosity to their parish and the people of the broad community. The first person to serve as pastor of Lafayette Presbyterian was E.T. Boyer. There are not any physical objects that remember Rev Boyer in the Church that I could take a look at for myself, but the things Lynda had to say about him were nothing but the best and I can only imagine what kind of extraordinary man he was to take a community under his wing and mold it into what it has now become today. The original Church only had fifty-eight reoccurring members and a budget of $1,200. After the Church had been around for a few years the members decided it was time to expand and they constructed a sanctuary, classrooms in a hall known as Boyer Hall named after the late first minister.
By the middle of the 1970’s a study was made to project the future growth of the population in the area, and the congregation came together as a whole and decided for the better of their community they should leave the original location of their Church and establish a new Church elsewhere that could better serve their tight-knit community. About ten years later their plans finally became a reality when Lafayette Presbyterian Church was established on Mahan Drive where it still stands today, but the building that stands there now was not the first building that they built on this new property. The first service on the new property took place in a little white house that was in the back, referred to as “God’s Little House”. After many years in that little house the congregation grew much too large eventually over a hundred people would come to gather in the little white house on Sundays.
Nearly only a little more than a year after moving on to the property, the Lafayette congregation moved into the present Church structure where their worship still takes place today. When I interviewed Lynda at the Church I asked her if any of the parts of the old Church structure had been preserved in order to be incorporated into the building that stands there today and I was surprisingly right! The original steeple bell, stain glass windows, and cornerstone from the Church were used in the making of the new building to ensure that the history and heritage of the original Church remain part of the Church that stands on Mahan Drive today.
The mission statement on Lafayette Presbyterian Church will always stay strong and bold to the members of its congregation: “As a Christian family, empowered and renewed by the Holy Spirit, in obedience to the bible we are called to: Proclaim the gospel of God’s love and righteousness, reach past ourselves to those whom God has placed around us, teach the scripture and reform doctrine, nurture and develop disciples of Jesus Christ, and support the mission of the Church locally, denominationally, and throughout the world.” The members of the congregation stand very true to this mission statement as they believe it is the foundation for which their Church has been built on since 1942.
The members of the congregation of Lafayette Presbyterian Church range from all ages and backgrounds, but a general population of adults living in the Tallahassee area. Lynda also informed me that there are a few veteran members of the congregation that have actually been part of the Church since it was in its original location in the 1940’s. From the way she spoke about the congregation it sounds to me as if many people are very involved in the Church and most don’t only attend Sunday service, but also the Wednesday night service and bible study. There are also many other things going on in the Lafayette Presbyterian community as in youth conferences, group workshops, bible studies, and mission trips. They also just got the approval from Leon county to begin construction on their new kitchen that they entire congregation is thrilled about. It’s so refreshing as a young person to see how many other young people stay true to their family’s religion or branch out on their own and become great young adults in their congregation.