Located in Edwards, Mississippi, Edwards Presbyterian Church was officially organized on November 24, 1869. For nearly 150 years, individuals and families have gathered here for worship, ministry, and fellowship. Our commitment is to see individuals and whole families strengthened in the knowledge, teaching, and application of Scripture in order that we might continually develop a stronger and deeper commitment to Jesus Christ.
The region around Edwards was settled in the 1820s, shortly after treaties with Native Americans opened the region to settlement. The rich farmland around what is now Edwards quickly filled with settlers from older communities in south Mississippi and and from other states, including a large number of people from North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. Early churches in the area were established in the days before towns were established. Within a few miles of what is now Edwards were thriving Baptist and Methodist congregations. About ten miles south of town near the old Natchez Trace, a group of aspiring planters formed Bethesda Presbyterian Church in 1826. Bethesda Pres still meets for worship each week and is the second oldest Presbyterian church in Hinds County.
The town of Edwards became a sparse settlement around Mississippi’s second railroad in the 1830s, replacing the nearby river port of Amsterdam on the Big Black River. But because of its strategic location in the defense of nearby Vicksburg, Edwards was completely annihilated during the War Between the States. After the war, Edwards was quickly rebuilt as one of Mississippi’s major cotton trading centers, drawing numerous families from surrounding areas as well as other parts of the South, and even England, to operate the growing businesses in the now-booming downtown. A.J. Lewis, a native of the Bethesda area, moved to Edwards and was reportedly the state’s first post-war millionaire.
Edwards Presbyterian Church was established on November 24, 1869. The present sanctuary was built in 1872. The congregation met in school buildings which were located about sixty feet west of the present sanctuary until the sanctuary was completed. The sanctuary was also used by both the Baptist and Methodist congregations as they worked to build their own meeting houses.
The present sanctuary of Edwards Pres is one of the oldest in the area. It has by God’s grace been spared destruction twice. First, around 1890, it was seriously damaged by fire when a neighboring house burned. Some of the current pews still show where they were sanded down to remove charred areas. When the church was repaired, the present unusual wall covering was used. Second, in 1945, some of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary were blown out as a tornado swept through Edwards. The tornado created serious damage to many buildings in the community, but the church building remained intact.
The sanctuary was constructed in a hybrid Gothic/Neoclassical style. In 1890, after the fire, the interior was remodeled using the unique stamped metal wall and ceiling paneling that remains to this day. The fine heart pine floors, heavy contoured oak pews, and pulpit chairs are original to the structure.
To the original sanctuary, a fellowship hall, kitchen, pastor’s study, and office space were gradually added. The church also purchased a nearby house that is currently used for outreach and Sunday school activities and added a modern fellowship hall adjacent to the sanctuary.
Among the many pastors who have served the flock at Edwards, Rev. C.P. Colmery’s tenure stands out, as he served as pastor for fifty years from 1888-1938. Other pastors in the more recent history of the church include Rev. Bill Whitwer and Rev. Ed Hartman.
Many of the families in the town of Edwards in its early days still have a presence in Edwards Presbyterian Church. These include the Askew, Cannada, Noble, and Montgomery families.