Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green celebrates 200 years

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.-The Presbyterian Church on State Street is celebrating 200 years in Bowling Green with an exhibit highlighting the history of the church in the community.

Pictures, letters and documents are all on display at the church’s exhibit. It’s a trip through time, showing the influence that the church has had on Bowling Green since its arrival.

In 1819 the Presbyterian Church was started in a small frontier town where only around 400 people lived, according to church historian Robert Haynes.

“This was the beginnings of the slave controversy with the Missouri Compromise. It was also the year in which the first major panic or Depression in the United States occurred,” said Haynes.

One of the church’s notable commitments was an academy for young women which started in the basement of the church.

“It was a little bit unusual for parents to want their daughters to be fully educated. It was a classical education even with the laboratory,” said church organist Thomas Moody.

It wasn’t just the members of the church who wanted their daughters educated.

“In the subscription list of the church for the building, parents who were not Presbyterian contributed because they wanted their daughters educated,” Moody said.

During the Civil War, the Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green was one of the churches taken over by occupying forces and used as a hospital.

The girls’ school disbanded once the church was converted into a hospital in 1865.

“The church moved out at that time, and occupying forces took out all of the windows and all of the pews,” said Moody.

In 200 years one of biggest changes that the church has seen has been reunification after it’s division over slavery following the Civil War.

“The unification after the split after the Civil War was a reflection of culture and culture disagreements, and for them to come together again in 1949, I think that spoke very highly of the congregations,” said Dianne Simmons, chair of the church art board.

The exhibit will be on display every day until April 17.