History of the Edna Presbyterian Church
165th Anniversary, September 2020
The Edna Presbyterian Church had its beginning on Sunday, September 30, 1855 when the Rev. John M. Cochran of Seguin presided at a meeting of 12 Presbyterians in the Texana area who had signified their desire to band together in the organization of a church. They were John A. Brackenridge, Mary Eleanor Brackenridge, Dr. J. N. Baylor, John M. White, Lucinda White, Harriet M. White, Sophronia L. L. White, M. B. Matthews, N. J. Matthews, Margaret I. Matthews, Lucy B. Dodd and Narcissa Bankhead. Dr. Baylor, John Brackenridge and John M. White were elected to the office of Ruling Elder, and M. B. Matthews was elected Deacon. The name selected for this new congregation was The Texana Presbyterian Church. It was under the jurisdiction of Western Texas Presbytery of which Mr. Cochran was then Moderator, Synod of Texas, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
Mr. Cochran preached a sermon and administered communion. The congregation again met at 3:00 p.m. to hear another sermon, and on that same evening assembled again for the purpose of ordaining and installing the newly elected officers, and electing delegates to Presbytery and Synod.
In October 1858, the members decided that the time had come to erect an adequate church building of their own in Texana. Five trustees were elected to act for the congregation. They were John A. Brackenridge, president, Dr. J. N. Baylor, clerk, Andrew B. Dodd, Clark L. Owen and Henry D. Starr. The sum of $75 was expended for the purchase of a lot, and $640 for the lumber for the structure. On Friday, March 30, 1860, there was a service of dedication at which Mr. Cochran presided. Presbytery met in the new sanctuary in Texana from March 27 to April 1, 1860.
The records of the church are largely silent during the war years. There are no records mentioning the organization of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederacy. During the decade of the 1870s, the records indicate that services were held at Navidad as well as at Texana. Information on this period of the church’s history is meager.
The exodus from Texana to Edna in 1882-83 had its effect on the Texana Presbyterian Church. Many of the church’s active members moved to the new town. The Presbyterians were the first congregation to organize in Edna. They met for that purpose in the upper story of a business building on February 11, 1884. The Rev. W. E. Caldwell presided. Elder J. W. Allen served as clerk. The congregation instructed Mr. Allen to secure title from the Presbyterian Church U. S. General Assembly to the church property in Texana in order to move it to Edna. He was also instructed to secure title to those building lots in Edna, which had been donated by Mr. W. N. Marvin as a location for a Presbyterian Church. Presbytery approved a loan of $200 to cover the cost of moving the 25 year old structure from Texana to Edna, and for making necessary repairs. The building was re-dedicated on December 16, 1884.
In the decade that followed, the Ladies Aid Society became active, a Presbyterian Sabbath School was instituted, and the first manse was procured. The Rev. J. G. Cunningham was its first occupant, which fact accorded him the distinction of being the first resident pastor in Edna. Presbytery met in the Edna Presbyterian Church building twice during this period, in 1885 and again 10 years later. Repairs to the church, made necessary by the ravages of the 1886 hurricane, were authorized.
From 1855, the church had been served by stated supply on a part time basis. By 1898, there was a need of the services of a full-time pastor because of the increased membership. Rev. Cunningham was so engaged. Another milestone in the development of the church was the adoption, at a congregational meeting held on March 26, 1899, of the Envelope System of church finance. At the end of that year the church reported 109 members.
In 1903, as a result of growing interest in the building of a more adequate structure, the Missionary Society and the Ladies Aid Society appointed a committee consisting of Mrs. G. Egg, Sr., Miss Cordie Correll and Mrs. A. L. Dustin to see Elder J. W. Allen about a contribution. Mr. Allen, writing in August 1908, recorded the visit in these words, “During the year 1903, the Spirit of the Lord put it into the heart of Ruling Elder J. W. Allen to build a more suitable house of worship.” Mr. Allen set aside a sum sufficient for its erection. He died in September of the same year.
In recognition of the munificent gift, the congregation approved changing the name to The J. W. Allen Memorial Presbyterian Church. Trustees were E. M. Davenport, president, R. C. Saunders, secretary, A. S. White, H. C. Fristoe and P. W. Clement. The cost of the building was $11,297 and was located on the corner of W. Church Street. Dedication services were held on April 4, 1909. Presbytery met in the new building on September 14, 1910.
The year 1912 marked the beginning of the Christian Endeavor, a young peoples society, with 48 charter members. The Session adopted the budget system of assisting Assembly’s causes in the same year, and also recognized a growing need for additional educational space. In the year ending April 1, 1913, the Church received 36 new members bringing the total membership to 170. It was also noted that the Sunday School, in the year 1913, had an average attendance of 100. Latin-American membership in the church was 15, and a regular worship service in Spanish was held once a month.
The Allen Memorial Presbyterian Church Educational Building was completed and occupied early in 1942. The congregation voted on November 23, 1952, to accept a lot given by E. T. Rose as a site for a new manse. Construction on the manse began in July, and the building was occupied in September 1953.
At a congregational meeting held on December 20, 1959, with the Rev. Collis McKinney presiding, approval was given to recommendations by the Building Committee that a new church be constructed on a five-acre site donated by Mr. Rose. On February 9, 1964, the congregation approved the securing of bids. On April 23, 1964, the members elected as Trustees Callaway Vance, Y. C. Grimland and Claudius Branch. At the same meeting, approval was given to change the name from Allen Memorial Presbyterian Church to Edna Presbyterian Church, effective June 15, 1964.
The last worship service was held in the old sanctuary on February 21, 1965. The Rev. Jim Carter led the congregation in a service of thanksgiving and praise to God for His many blessings. The congregation moved to their present home on Apollo Drive.