In 1957, the Session of the First Presbyterian Church in Hickory began to express interest in developing another Presbyterian Church in the Greater North Hickory area. After an investigation of the Church Extension Committee of Concord Presbytery, a four acre tract was obtained during1958 on Highway 127 at 38th Avenue. Five years later, on June 16, 1963, several interested persons met in the Fellowship Hall of First Presbyterian Church, at the request of the Session of that church and the Church Extension Committee of Concord Presbytery, to discuss organizational plans. The meeting was presided over by the Reverend Dr. W. W. Williamson, Pastor of The First Presbyterian Church, and was arranged by Mr. Britton H. Lowry, Chairman of the Hickory Area Development Committee for Presbytery.
Subsequent to that meeting, a survey was made by the officers of First Church to determine how many Presbyterian families in the area would be interested in forming a new church. On Oct. 20, 1963, 43 persons met at the home of Britton Lowry to discuss further plans and procedures. On Nov. 3, 1963, another organizational meeting was held, at which time the Reverend Dr. J. W. Hassell conducted a Worship Service. After the service, plans were made to hold regular Sunday morning services in a vacant room of Mr. and Mrs. Lowry’s garage. But, on Nov. 17, 1963, the Mount Olive Lutheran Church very graciously offered the new Presbyterian group its old Sanctuary for morning worship.
Services were held there regularly each Sunday morning until Dec. 4, 1966, when the new church moved into its present facilities. It should also be recognized, with special gratitude, that the St. Luke’s Methodist Church made some of its classroom space available for our Sunday School Classes. On Jan. 21, 1964, a petition signed by 64 people was presented to Concord Presbytery for a formal organization of a Presbyterian church in north Hickory. The petition was approved and a Commission was appointed for that purpose.
On Feb. 2, 1964, the Northminster Presbyterian Church was officially organized. After a brief Service of Worship, the church held its first election of officers. Jack E. Spainhour, George S. Blackwelder, Jr., Beemer C. Harrell, and Britton H. Lowry were elected to the Office of Elder. W. Harry Vanderlinden, R. H. Dupille, Blake L. Watts, and Ted A. Walker were elected to the Office of Deacon. The Ordination and Installation Service for these men was held on March 22, 1964.
On Feb. 9, 1964, a Pulpit Nominating Committee was elected by the congregation. It consisted of Robert E. Clark, Chairman, Britton H. Lowry, Blake L. Watts, Mrs. R. H. Dupille, and Mrs. Ted A. Walker. On April 26, 1964, a Church Building Council was elected, consisting of R.H. Dupille, Chairman, J. Hib Johnson, Robert D. Ormand, Beemer C. Harrell, Mrs. W. Harry Vanderlinden, and Miss Martha Patterson (Rice). Also, the congregation elected Dr. John W. Davis and J. P. Patterson to serve as the church’s trustees.
On May 24, 1964, the congregation voted unanimously, upon the recommendation of the Pulpit Nominating Committee, to extend a call to the Reverend Mr. John A. Wilkerson, Jr. The call was accepted, and Mr. Wilkerson began his duties here on July 1, 1964. He was officially installed as the first pastor on July 26, 1964 by a Commission of Concord Presbytery. Also in 1964, Mary King Spainhour established the Women of the Church with the mission of care and concern for others.
Even though Mr. Wilkerson was to become our first pastor, it is to be noted with much gratitude that the Reverend Mr. W. D. McInnis, Honorably Retired, of Newton, served our church as Stated Supply from Feb. 2 to June 28, 1964.
We are very grateful to the Reverends W. W. Williamson, J. W. Hassell, and Glen 0. Yount for their assistance during the very early stages of our beginning. Under the very able leadership of R. H. Dupille, the Building Council moved our Church ahead in its building plans. After much study and thought, the council adopted a 14 page summary statement concerning our church’s theology, needs, and type of ministry our church wished to project. Then, the Council proceeded to seek an architect to recommend to the congregation. On Jan. 10, 1965, the Council recommended Mr. James E. Biggs of Hickory, whom the Congregation approved unanimously. On June 27, 1965, a congregational meeting was held at which time preliminary drawings of our church building were adopted. On Dec. 26, 1965, a brief groundbreaking service was held after the Morning Worship on the church site.
On Dec. 4, 1966, a special Service of Worship was held in our new Sanctuary at which time our new facilities were dedicated to the Glory of God. In 1973 Dot Collins was elected as the first female Elder of the church. Sept. 28, 1975 was a sad time in the life of Northminster. Our first full-time pastor, The Rev. Dr. John A. Wilkerson, requested that his pastoral relationship with us be dissolved. The congregation regretfully concurred with that request. Two weeks later, on Oct. 12, we elected Clara Brown, Lucy Davis, Beemer Harrell, Robert Johnson, Jr., Jack Nisbet, J. H. Johnson, and Kathryn Bunton (Greathouse) as a Pulpit Nominating Committee.
The Rev. Dr. R. Paul Kercher served as Interim Pastor while the search for our second full-time pastor was conducted. On Aug. 8, 1976, the congregation voted to issue a call to the Rev. Mr. Timothy Roach. He accepted the call and became our minister on Sept. 1, 1976. The Rev. Mr. Roach worked diligently with the congregation during his years of service here. The Hunger Task Force was formed and the church was instrumental in the early beginnings of the CROP Walk. The route for the first CROP Walk actually began at the church. Fellowship activities began to increase.
The Rev. Mr. Roach left us five years later on Nov. 1, 1981, to accept a call at First Presbyterian Church, Albemarle, N. C. Once again, during the period without a full-time Pastor, The Rev. Dr. R. Paul Kercher served as our Interim. On December 6, 1981 the congregation met and elected a Pulpit Nominating Committee. This committee was composed of Charles Beach, Ken Cater, Steve Eargle, Marion Johnson, Laura Prevatte (Sigmon), and DeV. Walter.
After a long search, the committee presented the name of The Rev. Dr. Troy C. Lewis to the Congregation on Dec. 19, 1982. Mr. Blake Watts made the motion to call the Rev. Dr. Lewis and “congratulated the committee on their dedicated efforts.” The motion was adopted unanimously. The Rev. Dr. Lewis became our third full-time minister in May of 1983.
During the pastorate of The Rev. Dr. Lewis, the church added a bell choir under the direction of Ruth Sperring. The need for additional office space as well as space for music rehearsal and congregational fellowship was recognized as a primary concern. It is remarkable to all that Northminster completed a building project and made great strides to retire the debt of that building during the interim following The Rev. Dr. Lewis’s pastorate.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew S. Brown served Northminster as its fourth full-time pastor from July 1990 through January 1998. During The Rev. Dr. Brown’s tenure the church “stepped out on faith” to hire its first additional full-time staff person, a Director of Christian Education, Mr. Kris Brammer. An additional part-time staff member, Ms. Jo Carol Thomason, joined the music department as director of the expanding bell choir. In 1993 the doors opened to Northminster’s Child Development Center offering a pre-school program for three and four year olds. In 1997 the program was expanded to offer Parents’ Morning Out on a daily basis.
Under the leadership of The Rev. Dr. Brown Northminster undertook mission trips to Washington, D. C.; Barnwell, South Carolina; Mexico; St Genevieve, Missouri; and extended in partnership to mission in Nicaragua through Young Life and Habitat for Humanity. Northminster also joined other Presbyterian Churches in the area to build its first local house for Habitat for Humanity.
The Rev. James F. Bernhardt became our current pastor on July 4, 1999. Mr. Nathan Crabtree and Mrs. Shari Crabtree joined the staff in 2000 as co-directors of the music program. In 1998 Northminster, in covenant with the other Presbyterian Churches of Catawba County, began support of the Rev. Deborah McEachran as coordinator of Presbyterian Hispanic Ministry. Growing out of a bilingual Vacation Bible School in 1999, Northminster began hosting this congregation in January of 2001. As this congregation grew under the leadership of Rev. McEachran, and in partnership with Northminster, it emerged as a New Church Development project of the Presbytery. Northminster continued “nesting” their membership as the new church began.
Also, under the leadership of The Rev. Bernhardt, Northminster began offering an Early Worship Service as well as regularly held Taize Services. Additional Bible study classes were offered during the lunch hour, as well as in the evenings. In 2001 the church completed the construction of its Memorial Garden. Following a fire in December, 2002, the church undertook a building project which included a much larger, fully commercial kitchen as well as dedicated music rehearsal space. In 2006, Nathan Crabtree assumed the directorship of the Handbell choir, and Northminster hired Chandler Guess as its new Director of Christian Education.
The History of this Church is more than a list of dates and names… more than Ministers, Elders, and Pulpit Nominating Committees. It is a history of God working in our community and world through the efforts of all the people of Northminster Presbyterian Church. Therefore, it is a history of acts of caring, acts of service, acts of witness, acts of sacrifice, and always acts of love for God and humanity. We are an imperfect people so we have known mistakes and disappointments, but we remain a faithful people, always looking for the Kingdom of God and living for the Glory of God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.