History of Our Church
The First Presbyterian Church of Pascagoula, Mississippi, was founded as the Scranton Presbyterian Church in April 1890, under the leadership of the Reverend D.O Byers of the Moss Point Presbyterian Church and Dr. William David Bragg, a local physician.
Until 1891, the congregation met at the Methodist church at which time a new wooden building was constructed on Canty Street. This building burned in 1895, but was soon replaced by a brick edifice. In 1955, the congregation moved to its present location. On Sunday, December 19, 1982, after enlargement and extensive renovation, the congregation first gathered in the present sanctuary.
Much of the church's early history is bleak. Examination of the Session's minutes makes it clear that it is only by God's faithfulness that we have endured and prospered. Mindful of that, Psalm 119:90 ("Your faithfulness continues through all generations...") was chosen as the text for the church's centennial activities in 1990.
Dr. Arthur M. Schneider, Jr. was called to this church in 1947. His pastoral gifts and accomplishments to the whole community became legendary. He led us for over 30 years during times of social change with courage, gentleness, and humility.
Dr. R. Leslie Holmes was called in 1978, following Dr. Schneider's retirement. Dr. Holmes, an immigrant from Northern Ireland, charmed us with his energy, warmth, and wit. His life story and journey to our church serves as a lesson in both God's faithfulness and man's faith.
Dr. John Wright Coker, Jr. was called as our pastor in 1986. With gifts of leadership, proclamation, and organization, Jay built effectively on the work of his predecessors. His ministry was a time of church growth, expansion of church activities, and congregational enthusiasm.
In 1995, the Rev. Charles Wiley Roberts was called as our pastor. His ministry was characterized by a sweet gentleness and infectious optimism and passion.
In May 2005, Dr. Roberts was called back to Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta and was succeeded by Interim Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Roger Green, who was soon to be faced by unforeseen and unprecedented challenges.
On Monday morning, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated our community. The church received 2-3 feet of water and the homes of most members were heavily damaged or destroyed. Nevertheless, on Sunday, September 4, a small group gathered outside at the church to praise and worship our God. Dr. Green used Psalm 40 as his text ("I waited for the Lord; who bent down and heard my cry, drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp, set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps, and put a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God...").
Our community and church were inundated with love, support, and supplies and we were constantly amazed at the kindness of strangers from all over the U.S. Our three living former pastors (Drs. Holmes, Coker, & Roberts) visited more than once and sent substantial support from their churches and elsewhere. During this period we received the blessings of leadership, encouragement, and love from Dr. Green.
On Palm Sunday 2006, we were able to worship in the restored sanctuary once again and on April 30, 2006, the church's 116th anniversary, the Reverend Patrick Clinton Regen was called to become our 11th Installed Pastor. Following a short interim by the Rev. Dr. Edward K. Beckes, Mr. Regen first preached on August 6, 2006. During his tenure, our recovery continued. Full-time hurricane recovery site leaders were installed and over 1,500 volunteers from around the nation were hosted by the church through March 2009. Mr. Regen's pastorate was defined by the gift of proclamation and a new emphasis on missions with groups from the church visiting Ethiopia and Haiti.
On June 26, 2011, the congregation unanimously called the Rev. Matt Mitchell to be its 12th Stated Pastor. His youthful enthusiasm, spiritual maturity, gift of proclamation & involvement in the community continue to bring a new sense of excitement to the congregation.
Members of this congregation have not only experienced the awesome power of God, but are firsthand witnesses to His incredible faithfulness to His people. In 2015, the church's 125th anniversary was observed with a year of special services and activities with "Celebrate His Glory!" as the theme. Going forward the church honors its past and moves into the future glorifying God, making disciples and meeting human needs!
"I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art"
Our hope is in no other save in Thee;
Our faith is built upon Thy promise free;
Lord, give us peace, and make us calm and sure,
That in Thy strength we evermore endure.
(The Centennial Hymn, words attributed to John Calvin)
Roll of Pastors
David Owen Byers, Stated Supply, 1890-1898
Henry Joseph Cumpston, Stated Supply, 1898-1901
William Oscar Stephen, Stated Supply, 1902
C.E. Allen, Stated Supply, 1903
James Franklin Turner, Pastor, 1905-1908
John Carruthers Watt, Pastor, 1908-1913
William Augustus Hall, Pastor, 1913-1918
William Palmer Chalmers, Pastor, 1919-1921
William Ira McInnis, Pastor, 1922-1938
Hervey McDowell, Stated Supply, 1938-1941
John Curtis Crane, Pastor, 1942-1946
Arthur Michael Schneider, Pastor, 1947-1978
Warren Wisel Beale, Associate Pastor, 1967-1968
Robert Leslie Holmes, Jr., Pastor, 1978-1985
W. Ivan Hoy, Interim Pastor, 1985-1986
John Wright Coker, Jr., Pastor, 1986-1994
R. Brooks Neill, Associate Pastor, 1988-1990
C. Edward Gammon II, Interim Pastor, 1995
Charles Wiley Roberts, Pastor, 1995-2005
Roger O. Green, Interim Pastor, 2005-2006
Edward K. Beckes, Interim Pastor, 2006
Patrick Clinton Regen, Pastor, 2006-2010
Larry Charles Duncan, Interim Pastor, 2011
Walter Matthew Mitchell, Pastor, 2011-