You Never Know What You are Going to Learn at the First Presbyterian Church

7 May

This past Saturday, I had the honor of speaking at the Men’s Breakfast at the First Presbyterian Church. We had a great meal, and I hope that I taught them some local history. As it turns out, I learned quite a bit of history from them.

After my presentation, I mentioned that this was my first time in the church. That meant that I got a tour from Dr. Bone, whose family has deep roots in our community.

He said that the church was built in 1910 and was built in an architectural design that came out of Ohio. The stain glass windows chronicle different stories in the Bible and were donated by prominent citizens of the time. Their names are part of the design. And, who designed them? Tiffany. Yes, it was a church filled with the town’s wealthiest citizens.First Presbyterian

He told me about the prominent members who have attended through the years and showed off the pipe organ. It was all very cool, but it was not as cool as the last story that Dr. Bone told me.

After college, Dr. Bone took a trip around the world. He found himself walking through the streets of a city in India when he heard an explosion in the distance. He kept walking but heard another explosion. This time, he decided to investigate.

As the came upon the scene, Dr. Bone saw that they were filming a movie. He saw some people sitting in chairs and watching the action. Most were locals, but there was a lady in a huge hat sitting on the end.

Dr. Bone made his way over to the lady and asked what was going on. She explained the scene to him and admitted that she had written the screenplay. After a few minutes, she asked him where he was from. Of course, he replied that he was from Tennessee.

With this knowledge, she lit up and said that her brother taught English at a university in Tennessee. It was Cumberland University (where I work). This time, Dr. Bone lit up. That is where he went to school, and her brother was his English teacher.

That is when she finally introduced herself.

“My name is Pearl Sydenstricker, but you probably know me better as Pearl Buck.”

Now, this is a story with a lot of moving parts. Local boy travels around the world; happens upon a movie being filmed in India; meets the screenwriter; finds out that her brother is Dr. Sydenstricker; and then finds out that he is talking to Pearl Buck.

That is one of the coolest stories I have ever heard. However, this is what I really could not believe. Pearl Buck’s brother taught English at Cumberland University, and I do not think many people know that. At least, I have never heard it, and I have heard a bunch of stories about the history of our university.

It goes to show that you never know what you will learn at the First Presbyterian Church.


11 Responses to “You Never Know What You are Going to Learn at the First Presbyterian Church”

  1. colemining May 7, 2014 at 03:44 #

    So cool! Great story, Rick!

    • Rick May 7, 2014 at 16:22 #

      Thanks. It was cooler to hear him tell it.

  2. Pam Tomlinson May 7, 2014 at 11:49 #

    Finally, I knew something before you did. I had heard this story and was fascinated. When my book club read The Good Earth, I invited him to come and tell this story.



    • Rick May 7, 2014 at 16:23 #

      It’s a cool story. If I was him I would tell everybody.

  3. amber_i_am (@amber_i_am) May 7, 2014 at 20:08 #

    Loved this story! And don’t forget about the librarian ha ha

    • Rick May 7, 2014 at 20:44 #

      Who can ever forget the librarian?

  4. jcalberta May 9, 2014 at 14:46 #

    We think it’s all happening randomly .. but It’s all meticulously linked.

    • Rick May 9, 2014 at 16:25 #

      There is always a connection.

  5. Kathy Adams May 15, 2014 at 22:22 #

    Actually the church’s layout is called the “Akron Plan”. Thanks for the post and speaking!

    • Rick May 16, 2014 at 01:46 #

      Dr. Bone didn’t give it a name. He just said that it came from Ohio. Thanks for providing the official word.


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    […] You Never Know What You are Going to Learn at the First Presbyterian Church […]

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