First Presbyterian Church of Clinton’s “PC Day” service on Sunday was not only a fond reminder of the history between the two local institutions but also a promise to strengthen their bonds in the future.
PC president Dr. Matthew vandenBerg and Marianne and E.G. Lassiter Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual Life, the Rev. Dr. Buz Wilcoxon ‘05, spoke passionately to the congregation about the college’s commitment to becoming the Presbyterian Church’s flagship college.
President vandenBerg said PC has invested more than $10 million in philanthropic support towards church relations, including endowments for the chaplain and associate chaplain positions and the launch of the Jacobs Scholars Program for students who have experienced foster care. vandenBerg called the Jacobs Scholars initiative an extension of PC founder and First Presbyterian minister Rev. William Plumer Jacobs’ original mission to serve Civil War orphans.
The president also announced additional plans to strengthen PC’s ties to the church, including the reconstitution of the college choir to perform in area churches, the relaunch of the Celtic Cross church leadership program, and the launch of a new major for leadership, service, and ministry.
“Working hand-in-hand with the church, PC is on a mission to make a Presbyterian values-based education even more valuable, even more compelling, and even more attainable that ever,” vandenBerg said.
PC’s founder dreamed of making Clinton the center for Southern Presbyterians, vandenBerg added.
“It seems fitting that today, almost exactly 105 years after his death, we’re now setting out to make Clinton, S.C., the center of Presbyterian higher education in the United States,” he said. “But even as we seek growth, even as we reach out and embrace others, and even as we expand our influence and national footprint, we’ll always be grateful for the following truth: the spiritual home and foundation of PC has been, is, and always will be First Presbyterian Church of Clinton, S.C.
Wilcoxon’s sermon, “Jacobs’ Folly,” outlined the early resistance PC’s founder met as he tried to build an orphanage and college. Wilcoxon noted that, like Jacobs, people of faith often encounter scorn and skepticism.
“Like Noah and his ark, Jacobs was ridiculed as a fool, but persisted in building a ship of salvation for these children, refusing to abandon those most vulnerable to the floods of poverty, homelessness, and hopelessness,” he said. “This church, this college, this community – we are all heirs to Jacobs’ Folly. And this holy heritage is precisely what the world needs!”