The Huntsville Presbytery was organized by the Columbia Synod of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1871. The Huntsville Presbytery is the largest of the sixteen presbyteries of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. Noted for its evangelistic fervor and spiritual quality, Huntsville Presbytery was a part of the Tennessee Synod in 1871 when the synod was first organized. Since that time, the Huntsville Presbytery has been the “mother presbytery” in the Alabama Synod, having contributed greatly to the spread of the denomination’s witness throughout the state of Alabama.
As it grew numerically and expanded territorially, additional presbyteries were born throughout until 1985. To date, there are six presbyteries in the Alabama Synod. The Huntsville Presbytery has been a strong catalyst in the growth and organizational structure of its churches. Among the ministers and elders who served in the Huntsville Presbytery as moderators were: Rev. John E. Jones, Rev. T.S. Blackburn, Rev. E.J. Jones, Rev. John Page, Rev. Will Hayden, Elder Charlie Ice, and Rev. W.E. Scott. Rev. Aaron Toney served most effectively as moderator of the Huntsville Presbytery for thirty-six (36) years. During his long tenure as moderator, he was a powerful preacher and pastor of two churches, Bright Hope and Mt. Zion simultaneously for over 40 years. The Moderators that followed Rev. Toney were Rev. Dr. Henry Bradford, Jr., Rev. Endia J. Scruggs, Rev. Terry Ragland, Rev. McKinley Jones, Rev. James Robinson, Rev. Willie T. Brown, Rev. John Jude, Elder Joe Ward, and Rev. Mitchell Walker Sr. In July 2012, the Rev. James Robinson was elected as moderator of the Huntsville Presbytery.
The following ministers and elders served as clerks: Professor J.J. Jenkins, Professor F. L. McWilliams, Rev. H. Tate, Rev. E.D. White, and Elder William Burks. In 1979 Elder Lawrence Jones became the Stated Clerk and served in that position for twelve (12) years. He succeeded Elder William Burks of Decatur, Alabama. The Rev. Dr. Theodis Acklin has served as Stated Clerk since 1991. During the last two years of Rev. Aaron Toney’s tenure, the position of Engrossing Clerk was established. Elder Julia Hudson Elliott was elected to that position and served until her untimely death in 2008. Sister Vanessa Collier was elected to serve as Engrossing Clerk in 2009.
In the early 1980’s, many significant events occurred that would have a tremendous effect on the Huntsville Presbytery. In 1985, the Huntsville Presbytery organized into an Executive Board with various committees/auxiliaries/boards with the establishment of bylaws. This board was called Huntsville Presbytery Executive Committee. The name was later changed to Huntsville Presbytery Executive Board. Incorporated into the by-laws was the restriction of tenure of the moderator to serve only two one-year terms. The following boards and standing committees are now in existence and functioning within the Huntsville Presbytery; Board of Budget and Finance, Board of Christian Education, Board of Missions and Evangelism, Judiciary Committee, Historical Committee, Committee on Ministry, and Nomination Committee. Under the auspices of the Huntsville Presbytery are the Junior Missionary Society, Senior Missionary Society, Cumberland Presbyterian Youth Fellowship (CPYF) and Sunday School Convention.
Also, in the early 1980’s, the General Assembly mandated the reduction of the size of the Huntsville Presbytery by shifting four (4) of its churches to the Tennessee Valley Presbytery. The churches were St. James and Hills Chapel in Decatur, Alabama; Elkmont in Elkmont, Alabama; Anticoh in Athens, Alabama and Christian Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tennessee which was shifted to Hiwassee Presbytery, Tennessee. This move left the Huntsville Presbytery with 18 churches. On October 23, 2010, the Huntsville Presbytery welcomed West End CPCA into the Huntsville Presbytery. This congregation was formerly a part of the Elk River Presbytery and the Tennessee Synod. With the addition of West End CPCA, the congregations of the Huntsville Presbytery now total 19. It continues to be the largest of all the presbyteries in the CPCA.
The Huntsville Presbytery has congregations in Huntsville, Madison County, and Limestone County, Alabama. There is one congregation in Stevenson, AL (Jackson County) and one congregation in Fayetteville, TN. Following are a list of the 19 churches and the first and current pastor of each congregation:
Church Blackburn Chapel Briar Fork Bright Hope Chelsea Cedar Grove Church Street Lewis Chapel Madkins Chapel Moses Temple Mt. Sinai Mt. Zion New Heaven New Hope Pleasant Grove St. James #2 St. Elizabeth Triana Union Hill West End
First Pastor Rev. T.S. Blackburn Rev. Will Hayden Rev. William Foggs Rev. Joe McDonald Rev. Henry Johnson Rev. C.L. Davis Rev. M.R. Lewis Rev. Henry Johnson Rev. John R. Collier Rev. Ollie M. Pride Haley Rev. Newton Woodruff Rev. John Page Rev. Johnnie Jones Rev. Pearl Dancy Rev. James Hyter Rev. Josh Foggs Rev. D.L. Williams Rev. J.E. Jones ------------------
Current Pastor Rev. McKinley Jones Rev. Dr. Theodis Acklin Rev. Katherine Baker Rev. Terence Haley Rev. Robert Jefferson Rev. Dr. Mitchell Walker, Sr. Rev. Versey L. Jones. Rev. Endia J. Scruggs Rev. Felix Parker No Pastor Rev. James Robinson Rev. Ernest Bailey Rev. Terry Ragland Rev. John Jude Rev. William Robinson Rev. Columbus Waddle Rev. James Childress No Pastor Rev. Dezi Fletcher
The Huntsville Presbytery conducts Continuing Education courses at the Denominational Center for preachers who desire to be licensed and ordained under this denomination. The staff consists of members of the Huntsville Presbytery.