College Hill Presbyterian Church, Oxford

#13 of 16 in Things to do in Oxford
Religious Site · Hidden Gem · Historic Site
College Hill Presbyterian Church, located just outside Oxford, Mississippi at College Hill, is an historic church and a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was organized as a local church on January 11, 1835, in the home of Alexander Shaw, one of the early Scot-Irish settlers in North Mississippi. Originally it was named Neriah Church, but shortly thereafter it was redesignated Ebenezer Church.
In 1836 members migrated to this area and on January 11, 1841, the church was renamed College Presbyterian Church in recognition of the founding of the North Mississippi College. In 1842 the congregation paid $400 for 23 acres (93,000 m2) on which to construct a public place of worship. The sanctuary, built in 1844 under the direction of Francis Timmons, is the oldest Presbyterian structure in North Mississippi and the oldest church building of any denomination in the Oxford area. Constructed of bricks fired on the site, the building was completed in 1846 at a total cost of $2,809,75. The pulpit, the pews, and the pew gates are the original furnishings.

Events of interest include the encampment of these grounds by Union troops of General Grant and General Sherman, and the marriage of author William Faulkner. The church is thought to be the model for some settings in Faulkner's novels. The church cemetery contains a number of unmarked Union soldiers' burial sites. The Session's original minutes, dating back to the 1835 organizational meeting, are safeguarded in a local bank.

In more recent times, the ministry of the church began an outreach to the students of the nearby University of Mississippi under pastor Jack C. Oates (1967–72) while he was a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University as well as teaching in the University's Continuing Education program. He also served as part-time pastor at two other churches, Hopewell Presbyterian and Abbeville Presbyterian, comprising a three church field in St. Andrew Presbytery of the former Southern Presbyterian Church (PCUS).

The ministry continued to grow while Tom Tyndall first served as pastor to the three church field and then just to College Hill Church from 1973–78. In the summer of 1977 the PCUS cited the church's outreach to students as one of two outstanding small church ministries in the denomination. Under both Jack Oates and Tom Tyndall, the church held "Christian Life Conferences" that featured well-known Christian scholars speaking both to the church and to various classes held on the campus of Ole Miss.
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  • I went to College Hill Presbyterian during my college years with my Granny who was a member along with her husband for many, many years. I knew then some of the history and enjoyed when the church...  more »
  • We were looking for a church and picked this one because it was closest to our faith. The members were very friendly and welcoming even though we were just passing through. The service was wonderful.....  more »
  • Open and historic
  • Expository preaching unapologetically.

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