The first settlers came to the Sylvan Grove area in 1867. From this beginning, religion has played an important part in the history and development of the community as these early settlers were God following people. At first services were held in the homes of these pioneers with Christian reading and commenting on scriptures from the Bible without the leadership of a minister. The first minister was Rev. C. Maxon, a Methodist who came in 1872 and held services in the homes. These homes and meetings were all south of the Saline River as there were no settlements north of the river at that time. Rev. Maxon stayed about a year and a half and then went back east.
Shortly after Rev. Maxon left the community, Rev. H.C. Bradury, father of Presbyterianism in Lincoln County and a friend of early churches, known as “The Old Circuit Rider,” came and held worship services, still south of the river. It was in 1873 as shown by the records of the church and on the application for a charter that Presbyterians applied for a charter to form a corporation. This application was not actually filed until 1876 and was not recorded until 1887. It was in the 1876 that services were begun being held north of the river, still in homes and various business houses, as yet no chuech buildings had been erected.
By 1890, the need for a building became evident and began to be consisdered. On Feb. 3, 1891, a meeting was held to discuss plans for building a church. The plans were approved and steps were taken toward its accomplishment. It was 1892 before construction began. On Friday in October 1892 that a train brought to Sylvan Grove a[n] 800 pound cornerstone which was inscribed “First Presbyterian Church, October 1892. Peace be within thy Walls, ye are one in Jesus Christ.” This stone was laid and still is in place. By mid December 1892, the building had progressed nicely and it was decided to make do with it. Rev. Bradbury conducted this first service in the new building.
This is the same building that is used today with exceptions of having been enlarged several times and many improvements made from time to time. The first addition was made in the spring of 1927 when a fellowship hall and basement were added to the west part of the church proper.
The cornerstone at the Sylvan Presbyterian Church was opened Sunday [Oct. 3] in the presence of Rev. and Mrs. Martin Klingberg and the church officers. It was opened by Mr. and Mrs. Duane Vonada and Delmar Vonada.
All material was stored in a box and interesting pieces of information were found.
Among them were two Sylvan Sentinels of 1892 which are readable and the history of the Sylvan Church is among the items. Also in the box was a Westminster catechism; a Bible, not readable; copies of John 3:16 in 10 languages, one in German; there were Sunday School papers and an old hymn book, all readable.
The cornerstone will be replaced this Sunday following the close of the 100th anniversary celebration. Materials and articles pertaining to the anniversary will be placed in the box. The Rev. Klingberg and Rev. Don Hammerli, Presbyterian executive of Salina, will be present for this.