The Philadelphia Presbyterian Church is a brick church located in Red Banks whose current physical incarnation dates to 1886, though the origins of the church go back much further.  The original Philadelphia Church was founded in 1844 by several recent settlers from North Carolina.  This first church was a log structure that was constructed a mile and a half northwest of the current location.  The log church was the 15th Presbyterian church to be formed in North Mississippi, and became part of the Presbytery of Holly Springs, which was formed in 1842 (and quickly renamed to the Presbytery of Chickasaw).

The Philadelphia Church was named after the Philadelphia Church, which was located in North Carolina, and from whence many of the earliest congregants derived.  The earliest known preacher at the Philadelphia Church was the Reverend A. W. Young, who led the early church from about 1844 until 1846.  The Reverend A. H. Caldwell served as the preacher at Philadelphia from 1847 until 1854.  During Caldwell’s time leading the church, some kind of controversy or “difficulty” (the actual nature of which has been lost) arose in the church, requiring direct intervention by the Presbytery of Chickasaw.  One possible explanation for this controversy is the congregation’s move to a new church building.

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Site of the 2nd Philadelphia Presbyterian Church (1851-1888

In 1851 a second church was built on land owned by church member and elder Alfred O. Canon (1812-1879), about two miles north of the original church building.  This second church was a larger Greek Revival brick church with a slave gallery.  A cemetery was soon built up around this church, and most of the graves and tombstones are still standing today.  The church building was shared with other local congregations, including the Methodist and Baptist churches.  Angus Johnson (1809-1908) served as the preacher at Philadelphia Church during the 1860s, and he represented the North Mississippi Presbytery at the General Assembly of the Confederate Church in 1864.  During the 1860s, it seems that the brick church building was partially destroyed (either by fire or during the Civil War).

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Alfred O. Canon

After the railroad bypassed the church in the 1870s, the brick building was demolished.  In 1886, a new plot located near the modern town of Red Banks (and the new railroad) was donated by William S. Parks to the Philadelphia Church.  The surviving sections of the old brick church were dismantled and then moved to the new plot, where a new church was erected in 1888 from the old bricks.  In 1901 the church changed its name to Red Banks Presbyterian Church.

The Philadelphia Church carried on into the 20th century, though with a much-reduced congregation.  By the 1990s, the small congregation had disbanded, and the church property reverted to the First Presbyterian Church (1860) in Holly Springs.  In the 2000s the local Presbyterian Church attempted to sell the building off, which resulted in descendants of the Canon and Parks families obtaining the property through court proceedings.  In recent years, the current owners of the church has cleared the land surrounding the church and begun much-needed repairs of the building, including repairs to the roof, windows and woodwork.

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Philadelphia Presbyterian Church (c. 1970)

 

Much of the preceding historical information comes from the Annotated Minutes of the Chickasaw Presbytery, by Reverend Milton Winter (2007).

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