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The First Southern Witness

01. May 2010

Columns, Congregation of the Month,


Orlando RPC

Location: Orlando, Fla.

Presbytery: Great Lakes-Gulf

Membership: 82 communicant; 27 baptized

Organized: 1920

Pastor: Vacant

On Dec. 2 the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Orlando, Fla., will celebrate 90 years as a congregation.

In Sept. 1916, Mr. J. C. McKnight moved his family from Olathe, Kan., to Orlando, Fla. His daughter, Ada (Hall), wanted to attend Rollins College, a nationally recognized school.

Ada later wrote a historical sketch of the church for its 50th anniversary in 1970. Because of the added work of the church’s own historian, ClaraBell (Terry) Worsham, who kept meticulous records and journals, there is immeasurable information and detail available.

In 1916, there was no “covenant” church south of the Mason/Dixon line (below Maryland and Pennsylvania). Writing in the church paper, The Christian Nation, of the possibility of starting a covenant work in the Orlando area, Mr. McKnight easily convinced other families to move to Orlando. The fledgling congregation began with 12 members.

Rev. & Mrs. Wilbur J. McBurney came with their children in Oct. 1917 from Colorado. The church now had a preacher. Later, Rev. McBurney would be officially installed as the first pastor.

The church grew, and a small chapel was soon rented on West Amelia Street. In a short time the little chapel was ...

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