ABOUT NORTHMINSTER

With open hearts and open minds, we seek to do life together. We ask questions, explore our faith, and trust in Christ. We are an inclusive community of believers committed to justice, mercy, and love. We worship with creativity and imagination, keeping an eye open for the new things God is doing in our midst. You're invited to join us in our journey!

Worship with us on Sundays at 10am! We also have Wednesday night activities for all ages.

We welcome all, and are passionate about practicing that welcome as an Earth Care congregation, part of the More Light Presbyterians network of churches, and the Catawba Valley Interfaith Council. We love the traditions of the Presbyterian Church (USA) which connect us to believers in every time and space. We also seek to embody our mission statement, "Rooted in Christ, reaching in love."

We hope to receive God's immeasurable and abundant love as we share it with others in the practice of radical hospitality.

OUR STAFF

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Reverend Jill V. Isola

Pastor

The Reverend Jill V. Isola has been joyfully serving as Pastor here at Northminster since November of 2017. She is a native of Northern New Jersey, just outside of New York City, but has also spent time serving God in Michigan, Virginia, and South Carolina. She is a graduate of Hope College in Holland, MI and Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA. Together, she and her husband Andrew have 9 siblings and 12 nieces and nephews. Also important to their family are their two dogs, Dutch and Claudia Jean. Jill is passionate about anything related to hospitality and loves to gather around a common table to share food and fellowship.

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Nathan Crabtree

Music Director

Nathan graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Music Education in 1993. In August 2000 (the same year he joined the NPC staff) he completed the Master of Music Education degree with emphasis in choral conducting. Nathan has three children: Clare, Tess, and Samantha.

Nathan’s church music experience spans from significant involvement as a child and youth to leadership roles in other local and regional churches. He is active in the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, having served on the Executive Board. In addition to serving NPC, Nathan teaches music at Snow Creek Elementary School and is active in theatre. Nathan is Level II Orff certified and has a particular interest in global music and world drumming.

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Bradley Blackburn

Christian Education Coordinator & Temporary Office Administrator

As the son of ministers, Bradley likes to joke that he has been involved in church ministry since he was in the womb. Bradley’s wife Kara and his infant son Tobias groan at this and other such jokes with loving and patient support. Bradley and his family came to Hickory in 2018 so that he could pursue a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Lenoir-Rhyne University. He currently holds an MA in Theology and a BS in Religion & Philosophy. Though Bradley’s professional background involves over a decade of work in digital marketing, he has had the privilege of serving churches and organizations all over the country in capacities ranging from teaching and curriculum formation to A/V and technology. He enjoys going to school (obviously), reading, cooking, long meals, and spending time with his beautiful family.

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Ruth Sperring

Organist

Ruth has helped lead worship from the organ since 1982. Her training comes from a lifetime of piano and organ lessons culminating in organ and vocal study at Campbell College. She studied organ with Susan Horton. While at Campbell she was also a member of the Touring Choir and Chamber Choir. In addition to playing the organ at Northminster, Ruth sings in the choir and plays in the Handbell choir which she started. She has been a resident of Hickory since 1976, has two adult children, 5 grandchildren, and 3 cats.

OUR HISTORY

In 1957, the Session of the First Presbyterian Church in Hickory began to express interest in developing another Presbyterian Church in the Greater North Hickory area. After an investigation of the Church Extension Committee of Concord Presbytery, a four acre tract was obtained during1958 on Highway 127 at 38th Avenue. Five years later, on June 16, 1963, several interested persons met in the Fellowship Hall of First Presbyterian Church, at the request of the Session of that church and the Church Extension Committee of Concord Presbytery, to discuss organizational plans. The meeting was presided over by the Reverend Dr. W. W. Williamson, Pastor of The First Presbyterian Church, and was arranged by Mr. Britton H. Lowry, Chairman of the Hickory Area Development Committee for Presbytery.

Subsequent to that meeting, a survey was made by the officers of First Church to determine how many Presbyterian families in the area would be interested in forming a new church. On Oct. 20, 1963, 43 persons met at the home of Britton Lowry to discuss further plans and procedures. On Nov. 3, 1963, another organizational meeting was held, at which time the Reverend Dr. J. W. Hassell conducted a Worship Service. After the service, plans were made to hold regular Sunday morning services in a vacant room of Mr. and Mrs. Lowry’s garage. But, on Nov. 17, 1963, the Mount Olive Lutheran Church very graciously offered the new Presbyterian group its old Sanctuary for morning worship.

Services were held there regularly each Sunday morning until Dec. 4, 1966, when the new church moved into its present facilities. It should also be recognized, with special gratitude, that the St. Luke’s Methodist Church made some of its classroom space available for our Sunday School Classes. On Jan. 21, 1964, a petition signed by 64 people was presented to Concord Presbytery for a formal organization of a Presbyterian church in north Hickory. The petition was approved and a Commission was appointed for that purpose.

On Feb. 2, 1964, the Northminster Presbyterian Church was officially organized. After a brief Service of Worship, the church held its first election of officers. Jack E. Spainhour, George S. Blackwelder, Jr., Beemer C. Harrell, and Britton H. Lowry were elected to the Office of Elder. W. Harry Vanderlinden, R. H. Dupille, Blake L. Watts, and Ted A. Walker were elected to the Office of Deacon. The Ordination and Installation Service for these men was held on March 22, 1964.

On Feb. 9, 1964, a Pulpit Nominating Committee was elected by the congregation. It consisted of Robert E. Clark, Chairman, Britton H. Lowry, Blake L. Watts, Mrs. R. H. Dupille, and Mrs. Ted A. Walker. On April 26, 1964, a Church Building Council was elected, consisting of R.H. Dupille, Chairman, J. Hib Johnson, Robert D. Ormand, Beemer C. Harrell, Mrs. W. Harry Vanderlinden, and Miss Martha Patterson (Rice). Also, the congregation elected Dr. John W. Davis and J. P. Patterson to serve as the church’s trustees.

On May 24, 1964, the congregation voted unanimously, upon the recommendation of the Pulpit Nominating Committee, to extend a call to the Reverend Mr. John A. Wilkerson, Jr. The call was accepted, and Mr. Wilkerson began his duties here on July 1, 1964. He was officially installed as the first pastor on July 26, 1964 by a Commission of Concord Presbytery. Also in 1964, Mary King Spainhour established the Women of the Church with the mission of care and concern for others.

Even though Mr. Wilkerson was to become our first pastor, it is to be noted with much gratitude that the Reverend Mr. W. D. McInnis, Honorably Retired, of Newton, served our church as Stated Supply from Feb. 2 to June 28, 1964.

We are very grateful to the Reverends W. W. Williamson, J. W. Hassell, and Glen 0. Yount for their assistance during the very early stages of our beginning. Under the very able leadership of R. H. Dupille, the Building Council moved our Church ahead in its building plans. After much study and thought, the council adopted a 14 page summary statement concerning our church’s theology, needs, and type of ministry our church wished to project. Then, the Council proceeded to seek an architect to recommend to the congregation. On Jan. 10, 1965, the Council recommended Mr. James E. Biggs of Hickory, whom the Congregation approved unanimously. On June 27, 1965, a congregational meeting was held at which time preliminary drawings of our church building were adopted. On Dec. 26, 1965, a brief groundbreaking service was held after the Morning Worship on the church site.

On Dec. 4, 1966, a special Service of Worship was held in our new Sanctuary at which time our new facilities were dedicated to the Glory of God. In 1973 Dot Collins was elected as the first female Elder of the church. Sept. 28, 1975 was a sad time in the life of Northminster. Our first full-time pastor, The Rev. Dr. John A. Wilkerson, requested that his pastoral relationship with us be dissolved. The congregation regretfully concurred with that request. Two weeks later, on Oct. 12, we elected Clara Brown, Lucy Davis, Beemer Harrell, Robert Johnson, Jr., Jack Nisbet, J. H. Johnson, and Kathryn Bunton (Greathouse) as a Pulpit Nominating Committee.

The Rev. Dr. R. Paul Kercher served as Interim Pastor while the search for our second full-time pastor was conducted. On Aug. 8, 1976, the congregation voted to issue a call to the Rev. Mr. Timothy Roach. He accepted the call and became our minister on Sept. 1, 1976. The Rev. Mr. Roach worked diligently with the congregation during his years of service here. The Hunger Task Force was formed and the church was instrumental in the early beginnings of the CROP Walk. The route for the first CROP Walk actually began at the church. Fellowship activities began to increase.

The Rev. Mr. Roach left us five years later on Nov. 1, 1981, to accept a call at First Presbyterian Church, Albemarle, N. C. Once again, during the period without a full-time Pastor, The Rev. Dr. R. Paul Kercher served as our Interim. On December 6, 1981 the congregation met and elected a Pulpit Nominating Committee. This committee was composed of Charles Beach, Ken Cater, Steve Eargle, Marion Johnson, Laura Prevatte (Sigmon), and DeV. Walter.

After a long search, the committee presented the name of The Rev. Dr. Troy C. Lewis to the Congregation on Dec. 19, 1982. Mr. Blake Watts made the motion to call the Rev. Dr. Lewis and “congratulated the committee on their dedicated efforts.” The motion was adopted unanimously. The Rev. Dr. Lewis became our third full-time minister in May of 1983.

During the pastorate of The Rev. Dr. Lewis, the church added a bell choir under the direction of Ruth Sperring. The need for additional office space as well as space for music rehearsal and congregational fellowship was recognized as a primary concern. It is remarkable to all that Northminster completed a building project and made great strides to retire the debt of that building during the interim following The Rev. Dr. Lewis’s pastorate.

The Rev. Dr. Matthew S. Brown served Northminster as its fourth full-time pastor from July 1990 through January 1998. During The Rev. Dr. Brown’s tenure the church “stepped out on faith” to hire its first additional full-time staff person, a Director of Christian Education, Mr. Kris Brammer. An additional part-time staff member, Ms. Jo Carol Thomason, joined the music department as director of the expanding bell choir. In 1993 the doors opened to Northminster’s Child Development Center offering a pre-school program for three and four year olds. In 1997 the program was expanded to offer Parents’ Morning Out on a daily basis.

Under the leadership of The Rev. Dr. Brown Northminster undertook mission trips to Washington, D. C.; Barnwell, South Carolina; Mexico; St Genevieve, Missouri; and extended in partnership to mission in Nicaragua through Young Life and Habitat for Humanity. Northminster also joined other Presbyterian Churches in the area to build its first local house for Habitat for Humanity.

The Rev. James F. Bernhardt became the fifth full-time on July 4, 1999. Mr. Nathan Crabtree and Mrs. Shari Crabtree joined the staff in 2000 as co-directors of the music program. In 1998 Northminster, in covenant with the other Presbyterian Churches of Catawba County, began support of the Rev. Deborah McEachran as coordinator of Presbyterian Hispanic Ministry. Growing out of a bilingual Vacation Bible School in 1999, Northminster began hosting this congregation in January of 2001. As this congregation grew under the leadership of Rev. McEachran, and in partnership with Northminster, it emerged as a New Church Development project of the Presbytery. Northminster continued “nesting” their membership as the new church began.

Also, under the leadership of The Rev. Bernhardt, Northminster began offering an Early Worship Service as well as regularly held Taize Services. Additional Bible study classes were offered during the lunch hour, as well as in the evenings. In 2001 the church completed the construction of its Memorial Garden. Following a fire in December, 2002, the church undertook a building project which included a much larger, fully commercial kitchen as well as dedicated music rehearsal space. In 2006, Nathan Crabtree assumed the directorship of the Handbell choir, and Northminster hired Chandler Guess as its new Director of Christian Education. Additional staff changes included the hiring of Mrs. Jackie Putnam as Director of Christian Education and Youth in 2013. Northminster also used portions of its grounds to cultivate a community garden, offering plots to the community and sharing flowers and produce whenever possible.

The Rev. Merriam Alexander served Northminster as interim and Transitional Pastor during much of 2015 through August of 2017. In this transitional time, the congregation adopted a wedding policy and became a partner congregation with More Light Presbyterians.

The congregation called the Rev. Jill V. Isola to be their sixth full-time pastor. She began service at the beginning of November, 2017. The History of this Church is more than a list of dates and names… more than Ministers, Elders, and Pulpit Nominating Committees. It is a history of God working in our community and world through the efforts of all the people of Northminster Presbyterian Church. Therefore, it is a history of acts of caring, acts of service, acts of witness, acts of sacrifice, and always acts of love for God and humanity. We are an imperfect people so we have known mistakes and disappointments, but we remain a faithful people, always looking for the Kingdom of God and living for the Glory of God who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer: Parent, Child and Spirit.