The History of First Presbyterian Church
In the 1950s, Fred C. Hack and his wife, Billie, moved to Honey Horn
Plantation on the north end of Hilton Head Island. They started worship services in the plantation chapel by bringing ministers from the mainland to conduct services. On Sundays, a boat from the mainland picked up the visiting minister to conduct worship and Billie Hack taught Sunday school in the barn while services were held in the chapel. Members reported curious cows peering into the windows during service. In 1957, a congregational meeting was held to organize a new Presbyterian church. The petition was delivered to Charleston Presbytery and on November 10, 1957, the Presbytery formally established the First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island. By 1965 the first building on the present site was completed on land donated by Fred C. Hack and Olin T. McIntosh. Designed by architect Pete McGinty, an active charter member, the new building consisted of the area of the present East Room (formerly the parlor), kitchen and half of Fellowship Hall with arched ceilings near the parlor. A service of dedication was held on March 21, 1965.
In 1975 the church was severely damaged by fire and while repairs were made, services were held in Planter’s Hall at the Hilton Head Inn. With more than 400 members, it became clear during this period that the membership had outgrown the existing facilities. Through gifts from Fred Hack and the Bargain Box, additional land was acquired to expand the facilities.
The new sanctuary structure was attached to the south side of the existing building, with the old sanctuary converted into a fellowship hall. The cost was estimated at $400,000. The new sanctuary opened its doors on Christmas Eve 1978 followed by a formal dedication on January 21, 1979. Membership at this time numbered 800.
In February 1980 attendance dramatically increased and two worship services were approved by Session. In 1982, with membership at approximately 1,100, plans for another building expansion were announced at a cost of $575,000. Completed in May 1983, the expansion included a new Christian Education building, an enlarged kitchen, expanded fellowship hall seating 250, a new choir room and enlarged parlor. With the expansion, our Day School was organized and in 1984 the columbarium was completed. Membership at this time was 1,250.
In 1989 the most extensive of all expansions to date was completed with a much enlarged sanctuary, seating 1,000. The sanctuary serves not only the needs of the congregation but has become an established site for many popular community programs. In 1994, the original Honey Horn Chapel was moved to the church property north entrance and is used for worship and study groups. In 2006, an informal worship service, CrossRoads, was established and held in Fellowship Hall.
In 2007, the church acquired land adjacent to the parking area to the south for increased parking. Fellowship Hall was expanded and the second floor of the Christian Education wing was updated in 2008. In 2009, increased parking was added and improvements were made to the parking lot, including re-paving and new landscaping; and improvements to the playground.
A $4.9 million capital campaign was held in 2010 for another major expansion that includes renovations to existing buildings and construction of a new 4,000-square-foot gathering space that will be a connecting and meeting space for visitors and members. Phase I – renovation of the south wing, was completed in November 2010. Phase II – renovation of the administration wing and improvements to the Fellowship Hall wing – was completed in July 2011. Phase III of the project, construction of the Gathering Space and a new choir room was completed in August 2012.
The construction project that began in 2010 was completed in the spring of 2013. In order to meet the remaining funding goal of $952,000, a “Complete the Connection” capital campaign was held. Also in 2013, a new children’s library was added in the first-floor Day School wing, renovation of the Day School offices and renovation of the church kitchen were completed in the spring of 2013. These were the final phase of the expansion and renovation project. A water feature was installed in the narthex with the wooden cross mounted on the front glass. Additional renovations to the Day School wing were completed in 2016.
A new organ console was commissioned in 2016 with support from many FPC members and friends. The console was built by the A.E. Schlueter Organ Co. and was installed in October 2016. A dedication concert was held February 24, 2017 played by Dr. Richard Elliott, principal organist at the Mormon Tabernacle.
The membership of FPC has grown from 17 charter members in 1957 to a current membership of 1,400. The men, women and children who have come to Hilton Head Island and joined the church are a cross-section of people from all over the eastern part of the United States. Our members continue to pursue a dynamic agenda reaching into the community with programs to attract participants of all ages, as well as to provide Christian assistance in the local, regional and global communities.