The Early History of Southport Presbyterian Church

Very early in the 1800s pioneer families from New England and Virginia were moving into the Middle West. They were followed by itinerant preachers on horseback known as “circuit riders.” These sturdy ministers rode through the wilderness visiting scattered clusters of log cabins to preach the Gospel and to encourage their listeners to organize formal churches.

Original church building illustrationThe seed for SPC was planted by such an itinerant minister, the Rev. Isaac Reed, in the log cabin of John B. Smock located at what is now the intersection of Madison Avenue and County Line Road, where Greenwood Park Mall now sits. A historical marker indicates the spot. In this cabin, on December 31, 1825, Rev. Reed constituted the Greenfield Church, the first Presbyterian church to exist in the wilderness area south of Indianapolis. (In the early 1800s, the Greenwood area was known as Greenfield.) Nine persons made up the congregation, eight of them Smocks, one a Brewer. They met for Communion on the following day, January 1, 1826.

In 1831 the Presbytery (a group of local churches) divided the Greenfield church into two congregations – one to serve Southport, the other to serve the Greenwood area. The Southport church has had various names. For a time it was called New Providence because some of its members had moved from New Providence, Kentucky. Later it was known as First Presbyterian Church of Southport. When the congregation moved to the current worship site, they changed the name to Southport Presbyterian Church.

In 1833 the congregation began worshiping in a school building, known as the “Old Mud Schoolhouse,” which stood on the corner of Banta and McFarland Roads.

Later, the church relocated to a log building on the northeast corner of Madison Avenue and Union Street which is now Southport Road. This sanctuary, in time, was succeeded by two on the south side of Union Street east of the railroad at the corner of Church Street. By 1956 the congregation had outgrown the facilities there and moved to the new church at 1427 Southview Drive in Homecroft.

In the 1980s during a leadership retreat, the elders sensed that God had greater things in store for SPC. During several years of discernment and change, the congregation worked, prayed and planned for a new move and a new future. The result of this was the move to the McFarland site and the refit of the old building for several new ministries, including the administrative offices, the pastors’ offices, Welcome Place Child Care, the Adult Day Center and the Counseling Center.

In 1997, the congregation began worshiping in the new church near the intersection of Stop 11 and McFarland Blvd. God has greatly blessed SPC and our present congregation benefits greatly from the prayers, sacrifices and hard work of earlier generations who loved God and served Him at Southport Presbyterian Church.