In the late 1860’s, eight dedicated Presbyterians, including early Welsh settlers, met in the Van Wert Methodist Church and formed the congregation from which the Rockmart Presbyterian Church grew. The church held its organizational meeting on May 28, 1871 and is the oldest continuing Presbyterian Church in Polk County. A few years later in 1878 land was obtained from philanthropist Seaborn Jones for a token payment of five dollars. During the next four years the current building at the corner of Slate and Marble Streets was constructed of native slate with walls 28 inches thick. While the slate exterior remains almost exactly the same, the interior has been remodeled.
Renovations to the facility have occurred throughout the years. In 1966 changes were made in memory of Dr. T.E. McBryde. A Fellowship Hall was added to the church complex in 1982 and is used for a variety of church events as well as community events. In January of 2005 the sanctuary floor gave way and so a renovation of it commenced. The old flooring had to be completed torn out and replaced and a new choir loft was added. Photographs have been added in the Sunday School, Administrative wing of deceased past elders and former ministers. The history and tradition that began in the 1860’s has continued on up until now, providing a unique and full heritage for the current congregation.
Little is known of the early years of the church but several local congregations met in the Presbyterian Church while organizing and building their own churches. These include the Rockmart Methodist Church, the Rockmart Church of Christ and the Second Baptist Church.
From earliest remembrances there was a Sunday School. Classes were held in the corners of the building near the potbellied stoves for heat. Early ministers were seminary students from Columbia Theological Seminary and pastors who came from other Presbyterian Churches on a twice-monthly basis. The first full-time minister was Rev. James Merrin, who came to Rockmart in 1946. The faithfulness of several members who maintained the building and deposited money every month during the difficult years stands as testimony to God’s work in Rockmart.
Until 1984 the Session and board of Deacons governed the church. The church is now on a unicameral system consisting of nine rotating elders who serve three year terms. Committee assignments include Christian Education, Worship, Budget/Finance, Buildings and Grounds, Community Outreach, Congregational Care and Congregational Growth. Elders chair these committees and are always looking for interested members to serve so that ministry is expanded.
In recent years the church has been able to employ an organist/choir director and a one day a week Secretary. Mrs. Rachel Jones serves as the musician, bringing to life the instrumental pieces as well as the vocal ensemble. Music is traditional and sung with spirit and conviction.
In 1871 the Rockmart Presbyterian Church was established to the glory of God and the service of all people to minister to the community of Rockmart by word and deed and to the world by prayers and giving. This continues to be the goal of this historic church – to dedicate itself to progress and service for the current day and on into the future.