After a year of exploring alternative options for Presbyterian worship, a group of Beaufort-area residents officially founded the First Scots Independent Presbyterian Church of Beaufort on Sunday.
The group has been meeting at Harmony Lodge on Depot Road, but held a special service for the founding at Stoney Creek Independent Presbyterian Chapel in McPhersonville. The Rev. Ron Parrish, pastor of the Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, led the service.
The service included the baptism of James Hamilton Langford IV, the great-grandson of Charles Schley Aimar, who helped lead the push for a new church before his death last summer.
"In accordance with Presbyterian law, you cannot have a private baptism, so in order to baptize that child yesterday, we first had to have a congregation," said Pierre McGowan, an elder in the new church.
The church is headed by a Provisional Session, consisting of elders from First Scots and from Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah, which is helping the congregation organize. Local elders are McGowan, Wilson McIntosh, Pat Garrett and John Gatch, said McIntosh.
Most of the new church's supporters broke away from First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort, which is part of the Presbyterian Church USA. First Scots is considering aligning with the Presbyterian Church in America.
McIntosh has said the group's differences with its former church center on four issues: ordination of gays, gay marriage, Jesus Christ as the sole savior, and the authority of the Bible.
About 100 people attended Sunday, and 30 officially joined the church, becoming founding members, he said. The congregation will continue meeting at Harmony Lodge until a permanent location is found. Independent Presbyterian Church of Savannah has been supplying pastors for First Scots' services and has hired Alexander Mark of Beaufort as an intern. After he graduates in May, Mark is scheduled to be assigned to First Scots.