The 1882 History of Pettis County details the origins and work of two of Sedalia’s Presbyterian churches — Broadway Presbyterian Church on West Broadway between Osage and Kentucky avenues and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on Osage Avenue near Seventh Street. It only briefly mentions another Presbyterian church, without mentioning its members, ministers, or location.
The reason for the omission is puzzling, but since much of the information in the 1882 History was provided by the people and organizations covered, it is likely the church simply did not provide any information to the author. However, it is possible the reasons for the existence of the other church such as disputes over doctrine might have proved uncomfortable to some members such as John Philips, who in later days refused to speak of them.
The 1882 History briefly mentions the establishment of the other Presbyterian church, called Central Presbyterian Church, in three separate places. Taken together, the comments show a church working through difficult issues with a great deal of Christian love and patience.
The Presbyterian Church in Pettis County had experienced growth during the late 1860s and had avoided the divisions over slavery that plagued other Protestant denominations. However, the church did experience schisms over doctrine, those doctrines often involving whether the church should adherence strictly to the tenets of Calvinism and whether the church should deal with moral issues not specifically mentioned in the Bible.
In February 1870, the First Presbyterian Church, then not a part of any Presbytery, met. The elders had been “advised” to send delegates to the Osage Presbytery of the General Assembly. Forty-one members objected and asked that their letters of membership be given to them so they might start a new church. The church property was kept by the outgoing members; those who remained in the original congregation were given $2,500.
The Sanborn Insurance Maps show the changing locations of the places of worship for Sedalia’s Presbyterians. However, the Sanborn Maps do not show all of Sedalia, so some of the information they might provide is lacking. The Sanborn Insurance Map for 1883 shows Broadway Presbyterian Church on West Broadway, but the map does not show any on Lamine Avenue, the location of one of the Presbyterian churches.
By 1888, the map shows Broadway Presbyterian on Broadway and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church meeting in a large brick building at Seventh Street and Osage Avenue, but the map also shows a Presbyterian church meeting in a frame building on Lamine Avenue at the alley between Fifth Street and Sixth Street.
By 1898, the worship center on Lamine Avenue is identified on the Sanborn Insurance Map as Central Presbyterian Church. The church’s regular worship, meetings of the Women’s Missionary Society, and Ladies’ Aid are mentioned frequently in the local newspapers.
By 1914, Central Presbyterian Church had replaced its small frame building with a large, impressive brick building at 120 E. Fifth St. The building, unlike those of Sedalia’s other Presbyterians, is still standing and serving as a worship center.
Next week’s column details the building and its uses.