Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church
The Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest church buildings in Warren County. It was built in 1847 for the First Christian Church in the Greek Revival style. In 1897 it was sold to the Negro Cumberland Presbyterian Church and in 1926, after united with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., was given its current name in remembrance of Cecelia Lillard, one of the founders of the church. Alterations to the church include removal of a steeple and replacement of sash windows with the present stained glass, pointed arch windows.
After being freed from slavery, Cecelia Lillard held weekly prayer meetings in her home on the east side of Bridge Street, now College Street. Her desire was for “a church of our own” instead of being limited to the rear of a church during the days of slavery. Her prayers were answered, and this church, with doors that were never closed, thrived. A heartwarming Sunday morning sight was Mother Cecelia, as she was affectionately called, with the neighborhood children trudging along with her to Sunday school after seeing to it that their clothes were clean and shoes polished.
One of the most memorable members of the church was Elder William Nelson (died late 1920s), known as “Papa Nelson” by the children of the church who adored him for his kind, yet firm guidance. Elder Williams’ favorite hymn was “Blessed Assurance” and every Sunday morning before the sermon, he would rise from his regular seat – the third bench from the front at the left corner under the clock – to lead the congregation in singing the hymn in a booming voice that could be heard all the way to the square!
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Churches & Religion • Women. In addition, it is included in the Kentucky, Bowling Green Heritage Walk series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1847.
Location. 36° 59.711′ N, 86° 26.37′ W. Marker is in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in Warren County. Marker is on College Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bowling Green KY 42101, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lower College Street (within shouting distance of this marker); Standard Filling Station No. 1 (within shouting distance of this marker); Modern Automotive District
Credits. This page was last revised on September 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 12, 2019, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 77 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 12, 2019, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.