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Banner Elk Presbyterian Church Celebrates 130 Years During July

(Banner Elk) Banner Elk Presbyterian Church invites the community to help celebrate its 130th Anniversary during the month of July. With the theme of “Celebrate our Past, Cultivate our Future”, the series of events will include special worship services. Each of the five July Sundays will feature a different history focus at the 9 AM & 11 AM worship services with the themes of Believe, Heal, Care, Teach and Rejoice. The last Sunday, July 30, will be their second annual Old Time Favorites Hymn Sing.

“This is a celebration for our church and the entire community,” says Rev Whit Malone, church pastor. “Banner Elk Presbyterian has such a humbling and inspiring history. And with the support of so many across Avery County, it has been a beacon of hope since 1893. The church has a long history of working hand-in-hand with residents to address needs in our community, and we plan to keep doing that for another 130 years!”

Additional Events will include a history walking tour by the Banner House Museum, guided hike to Resurrection Hill, picnic in the park, and service projects. To help locally, the church will collect personal care products for Feeding Avery Families to give to those in our county who need a helping hand. Members will deliver the items during their service day there on July 26.

A global missions fundraiser throughout the month will purchase cook stoves for families in Guatemala – part of Presbytery of Western North Carolina’s Guatemala Partnership. Most families cook over open wood fires, causing health and economic problems. The goal is $5,000 to buy and install 25 stoves. 

The church has a fascinating history in the early days of the remote village of Banner Elk. Rev. Edgar Tufts arrived in 1895 to begin his lifelong work of service to the people of the mountains. In addition to rallying the town to help build the stone church in 1914, he started a college, orphanage and hospital. His bride Mrs. Bessie Tufts arrived in 1897, bringing the first piano in Banner Elk. She taught piano and the love of singing to many.

Rev. and Mrs. Tufts found many eager young minds with no opportunities for education, so they invited youth to their home to read. Next, they began a one room school in their attic. Word about the “preacher’s school” spread across the mountains with requests for a boarding school. In 1900, “Lees-McRae Institute” began with 12 girls.

As Rev. Tufts traveled and visited families in the mountains, his heart was burdened with the numerous orphans he met. Thus, the Grandfather Orphanage was established in 1914, later becoming Grandfather Home for Children. He was also instrumental in the formation of Avery County and bringing electricity to the valley.

The first physicians in Banner Elk were recruited by Tufts. Dr. W.C. Tate and his bride, Maude Malcolm, moved to Banner Elk from Knoxville in 1910. He became one of most beloved and trusted saddle-bag doctors in western North Carolina. On many winter nights when Dr Tate returned home on his horse, his wife had to go outside and pour hot water over his feet which had frozen in the stirrups. He later led the building a series of hospitals in Banner Elk.

Banner Elk Presbyterian Church is located at 420 College Drive, adjacent to the college campus. For more information, go to https://bannerelkpresbyterian.org/130th.

Courtesy of Banner Elk Presbyterian Church