IN THE BEGINNING
“Before the streets of St. Cloud were cleared of trees and brush, and when there were only two completed houses in the town, but many tents scattered over the wide acreage of the colony, the religious life of St. Cloud began.”
This quotation from the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of the St. Cloud Tribune (December 6, 1934) shows that the early settlers of this community were God-fearing people, desirous of building a town on solid foundations.
The first church service in this new community was held in the lobby of an uncompleted hotel building (later to become the St. Cloud Hotel) on September 12, 1909. A Methodist minister from Kissimmee conducted the services. The next Sunday, the Rev. S.S. Snyder, a Presbyterian minister from Kissimmee, preached the sermon; and at this service a Union Sunday School was organized. On October ninth, a Union Church organization was formed to be in charge of services, securing places for meetings, collecting money, and engaging ministers to preach.
The Seminole Land and Investment Company, under whose auspices the town of St. Cloud was organized and laid out as a soldiers’ colony, gave each denomination land on which their churches could be built. The land received by the Presbyterian church was on the corner of Tenth Street and Indiana Avenue, where the building stands to this day.
In April 1910, a petition was drawn up and application made to Presbytery for the establishment of the First Presbyterian Church of St. Cloud; with Rev. Snyder and W.L. Bartlett representing the thirty-two petitioners. The request was granted, and on April 29, 1910 at 7:30 PM, the Presbyterian Church of St. Cloud was organized by representatives of Presbytery at a meeting in a gospel tent that was loaned to this new congregation by the State Baptist Association. Our last charter member, Lillian lde White, vividly recalled kneeling in the sawdust of the tent as she was received into membership by Profession of Faith.
Soon the need for a building became paramount and in June of 1910 the members approved a plan by the Building Committee. Bids were solicited, and, at a picnic dinner on July 30, 1910, Mr. C.J. Billingsley reported that … with certain changes in the specifications, he and his partner Mr. Johns would build the church for $2,600, the windows and furniture not being included in the estimate. They were given the contract. St Cloud Presbyterian Church was the first church to be built in the city of St. Cloud.
The first pastor of the church was the Rev. J.H. Rodgers, who served the church from October 25, 1910 to November 1, 1911. The photo above is of the original church building as it looked in 1911. The stained glass widows from this original building are still in use in our current building.
OUR SECOND BUILDING
Motivated in part by a fire, the building was remodeled from June of 1925 to completion in February of 1926 at a cost of $17,231. The photo above is from 1926.
THE CHURCH BUILDING TODAY
Due to problems with roof leakage and rotting main beams, the building was razed in 1966. The final worship service in the old facility was held April 24, 1966; and the new sanctuary was dedicated December 18, 1966. Although a twenty year loan of $80,000 had been secured for the project, it was paid off within five years and a thrilling mortgage burning celebration was held on December 16, 1971. The photo above is from 2020.
THE BELL TOWER
When our current sanctuary was built there wasn’t enough money to build a new bell tower. So our historic bell languished in our courtyard unused. The year 1985 marked the church’s seventy-fifth anniversary, and every committee and organization pitched in to ensure a spectacular celebration. The highlight of the year was the erection of a bell tower to house our historic bell so it could once again ring out to glorify God. In 2014 a carillon was added to the tower making the sound even more beautiful.