First Presbyterian Church of Dillon Celebrates 125th Anniversary

By: Myers Jordan


We can all agree on just how truly special a place Dillon County is, especially when contrasted against the ever-evolving global landscape of the 21st century. We take pride in our amazing citizens, beautiful natural landscape, deep historical heritage, rich family-centered culture, and more. Likely at the top of this list, particularly when juxtaposed to the rest of the country and world, is the central focus we as a community and as citizens put on faith and our church families.

I had the privilege of spending the 125th Anniversary Sunday with my wife and two small children at Dillon First Presbyterian Church. Like so many other churches in the Pee Dee, Dillon First Presbyterian is special not only because it continues a deep and sincere adherence to Scripture, but also in that it has been instrumental in blessing families in our county with a home church and church family for generation after generation.

The Church itself was founded 125 years ago, and further details about both its history and its celebration can be found in the accompanying press release. However, I feel it appropriate to express two key areas this church has impacted not only me personally but my family as well, despite not being actual members of Dillon First Presbyterian over the years.

First, the Church has impacted me through the influence it has exerted in our community over the generations. When I think of the congregation of Dillon First Presbyterian, numerous individuals come to mind who I have been blessed to know in my life. When considering these, I am humbled to imagine the countless others I never had the ability to meet—whose faith and character shaped their fellow citizens and the very culture of our county. In considering Dillon First Presbyterian as merely one of the many amazing multi-generational churches in Dillon County, I am reminded of the words C. S. Lewis used to describe the global church in his famous book, The Screwtape Letters, in which he proclaims the church as being: “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity…as an army with banners.” As I stated in the opening of this article, we live in a truly special place full of an army of incredibly special people, and it is an honor to be shaped and sharpened by iron such as that found at not only Dillon First Presbyterian, but their many sister churches in our community.

The second way this particular congregation has impacted me is through their sacrificial dedication to the establishment and longevity of Dillon Christian School. It is likely that I have spent more waking hours inside the walls of Dillon Christian School than any other building in Dillon County (my home included). Like the many local public school officials, the DCS teachers, administrators, coaches, and supporters have poured countless hours into an unbelievable number of children and young adults over the generations. These unsung heroes will forever have fingerprints of influence spread across the citizens and culture of Dillon County, and I and my classmates were truly fortunate to be shaped by them. Many teachers at DCS are or were members of Dillon First Presbyterian, and I will always owe a special debt of gratitude to their former Associate Pastor who took a teaching rotation at the school and instilled a love for the Spanish language and culture in many students. I honestly consider it a special honor that I was able to learn to speak Spanish, and I know that were it not for this church and their pastoral staff, this would not be the case for me today.

I suppose the purpose of this article is twofold. First, to celebrate and congratulate the many members of Dillon First Presbyterian Church on their historic anniversary and to honor the memory of those who came before and paved the way for the church’s continued existence today. Second, I would like to point out to our readers the deeply interwoven canvas that is our community, and the importance of our local churches and their congregations as instrumental fibers knit into the larger picture of its tapestry. Dillon County is a remarkable place for many reasons, and the fact that one of many churches in Dillon is still thriving after 125 years proves just how true that statement is.


On April 30, 1899, Rev. J.A. Wilson rode his bicycle from Mullins, SC to preach the inaugural worship service of The First Presbyterian Church of Dillon, SC. This would begin over a century of ministry right in the heart of our community.

Two weekends ago, April 19-21, 2024, friends and family of First Presbyterian Church celebrated the 125th Anniversary of their congregation. There were times of remembrance, fellowship, and worship throughout the weekend, and a great time was had by all!

On Friday evening, April 19, church members, friends, and many visitors met at the church for a hymn sing and concert with Mrs. Lori Sealy. Lori served at First Presbyterian Church from 1990-1994. Lori has enjoyed a great music career, traveling all over the Southeast leading workshops, concerts, and retreats. Lori told her “Story of Grace” while sharing original songs with some of her favorite hymns sprinkled throughout.

Saturday afternoon, April 20, the church continued on in the celebrations with a festival and cook out. During the afternoon, there were bouncy houses, food trucks, corn hole, and more! During this afternoon celebration many attendees enjoyed walking through the church to glance at a historical display of old blueprints, meeting minutes, pictures, newspaper clippings, and church bulletins throughout the decades. Also, during this time, First Presbyterian highlighted church missions. Throughout the 125 years of her existence, the church has been a strong supporter of local and global missions. Our community and surrounding communities enjoy one of the massive thumbprints of First Presbyterian Church’s mission with Dillon Christian School and Preschool, which the church started in 1991.

Saturday evening, the leadership of First Presbyterian called a special worship service to begin praising the Lord for His faithfulness to them, and begin praying for the next 125 years of ministry in the heart of Dillon. There were two worship services held on Sunday, April 21, as well – one morning and one evening. Dr. David Irving, a friend of the congregation and pastor of Woodland Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, MS preached all three worship services. During the worship services, Dr. John Bumgardner (who served as Pastor at First Presbyterian in 1983-2016), Dr. Douglas Kelly (who served as Pastor at First Presbyterian in 1972-1983), and Rev. Rob Pierce (Pastor at Latta Baptist Church and Dillon Christian School schoolboard member) prayed for future of First Presbyterian.

During the Sunday school hour on Sunday morning, the church gathered for a pancake breakfast and a history lecture by Mr. Mel Duncan, Church Administrator at Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC. Mel is an expert in South Carolina history, and gave an exceptional presentation of the history of Presbyterianism in our state and community.

It was a great time of celebration, and many thanks to all who helped make the weekend a great success!


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