The roots of C. N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church were planted in 1894 as a Sunday School class in the McCall Street home of Mr. & Mrs. Will Jackson, residents of the Greenville community, Charlotte, North Carolina. The Jacksons, while attending a revival at the Seventh Street Presbyterian Church (now First United Presbyterian Church), met the Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University) bound student conducting the revival. The Jacksons influenced the student, Samuel William James, to start a Sunday School class in the Greenville community, located near the Biddle campus. Though the initial class meeting at the Jackson home had only two persons in attendance, growth soon required moving to larger quarters in the home of Mr. John Rinehart on Snowball Street. The Sunday School class, aside from emphasizing Christian training, offered a curriculum of reading and writing.
Other Biddle students were always on hand to assist Mr. James with the Sunday School and to deliver the sermons. Mr. Charles Newton Jenkins, a freshman classmate of James in 1895-96, was one of those students whose interest and dedication led him to join the Sunday School class and help James. Later in 1898, the two classmates organized the Greenville Mission Presbyterian Church, becoming founders of the new congregation. Jenkins, in 1898 with just $200 and the help of Mr. William Davidson, Mr. R. Z. Beatty, Mr. Peter Crawford, Mr. Pink Davis, and Mr. I.A. Saviller, utilized his carpentry training and erected a small building for Greenville Mission on Concord Street (later Johnson Street).
Charles Newton Jenkins entered seminary at Biddle University in 1899 after completing the college component at Biddle earlier that same year. After the death of James in 1899, Jenkins continued providing leadership to the new congregation.
Upon completion of the church building on Concord Street, Mr. Jenkins became the first pastor of Greenville Mission Presbyterian Church (now C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church) on December 24, 1899. Charles Newton Jenkins completed his seminary studies at Biddle University seminary, graduating in 1902.
Charter members of the Greenville Mission Presbyterian Church were Mr. Calvin Alexander, Mrs. Julie Dixon, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Moore (Charlotte), Mr. & Mrs. John Rinehart, Mr. Peter Crawford, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Frank Caldwell, Mr. William Davidson, Mr. Tom Plummer, Mr. Johnson Jordan, Mr. I. A. Saviller, and Mr. Jim Williams.
After eight years at the Concord Street (later Johnson Street) site, the Greenville Mission congregation had outgrown their space. Mrs. Margaret Long Barringer, wife of the late General Rufus Barringer, in 1908 donated land on Maple Street (later Mavis Street) for a larger worship space for the congregation. Subsequently, Greenville Mission Presbyterian Church was renamed Brandon Presbyterian Church in honor of the Barringer’s eldest son, Paul Brandon Barringer. As with the Concord Street structure, Reverend Jenkins again served as contractor for the Maple Street project, assisted by Mr. Will Davis and Mr. John Baker.
After the resignation of Reverend Jenkins in 1926, and being supplied by a Baptist minister for several months, Reverend Otto E. Sanders became pastor of Brandon Presbyterian Church in May of 1926, serving as Brandon’s pastor until 1935. It was under the leadership of Reverend Sanders that a furnace and pews were installed in the Mavis Street edifice, and the building remodeled in 1928.
Dr. Albert P. Corley became pastor of Brandon in September, 1935 and among other firsts is credited with instituting the printing of a weekly bulletin, bringing in new Sunday School literature, and delivering a special sermon to children every Sunday. Brandon was renovated again in 1950, and an education building constructed in 1952. On July 31, 1952, five months before the new structure was completed, Dr. Corley died.
Mrs. Hattie (C.N.) Jenkins joined Brandon on October 3, 1936, later in 1936-37 becoming the first woman elder, member of Session. Approval of the ordination of women as elders in the Presbyterian Church, USA, took place a few years earlier in 1930.
Reverend Samuel J. McLean was installed as Brandon’s pastor on February 7, 1954. Under his spiritual guidance, weekly religious classes were organized for the junior age children with Mrs. Evangeline McLean serving as director. Mrs. McLean brought recognition to the church when she organized a small children’s choir that appeared on the WBTV program, “Five O’Clock Sharp” in 1955. Also in 1955, the church received a Boy Scout charter with Mr. George Suber as Boy Scout Master, and Julius Watson as Cub Scout Master and Assistant to Mr. Suber. Reverend McLean resigned as pastor in December 1963.
Reverend Earl E. Newberry was installed as pastor in August of 1967. Under his leadership, a tutoring program for children was developed, a daycare center established, and a gospel choir organized. Reverend Newberry took the initial step and made contact with the Redevelopment Committee concerning Brandon Presbyterian Church and the Greenville Community redevelopment processes prior to the effective date of his resignation in 1975.
Brandon Presbyterian Church was forced to relocate from its site on Mavis Street (previously Maple Street) because of an Urban Renewal Plan after more than eighty years at that address.
Reverend Dr. Thomas A. Jenkins, son of the church’s first pastor/founder, and then honorably retired from Statesville Avenue Presbyterian Church, began serving as moderator of session, then as interim pastor of Brandon in 1975. Reverend Dr. Jenkins led the Brandon congregation through the transition from its Mavis Street home to its current site on Statesville Avenue two years later. That the transition was experienced as a difficult one by many church members is reflected in the theme and program content selected for the C.N. Jenkins Homecoming Celebration Service in 1980, “A Church That Refused To Die”.
It was during the construction of the Statesville Avenue edifice that a proposal to change the name of the church from Brandon United Presbyterian Church to C. N. Jenkins Memorial United Presbyterian Church was suggested by a church officer. After discussions about the possible name change with representatives of the Barringer/Brandon 1908 land donors, the name change proposal was brought to the congregation for consideration. After extensive study and consideration by Brandon members, the name change proposal received congregational approval. With the will of the congregation determined, the Barringer/Brandon representatives provided clearance for the name change. On January 20, 1977, the Presbytery of Catawba affirmed the petition from the Brandon congregation for the name change, and Brandon United Presbyterian Church became C. N. Jenkins Memorial United Presbyterian Church.
Reverend Dr. Thomas Jenkins led the congregation, now C.N. Jenkins Memorial United Presbyterian, into the Statesville Avenue edifice for the first worship service in the new edifice on Sunday, March 6, 1977. The church was later dedicated on July 31, 1977.
Reverend George C. Goodman, installed August 1, 1977, became the first installed and the first full-time pastor of C.N. Jenkins Memorial United Presbyterian Church. Reverend Goodman initiated the first church newsletter, the Acolyte Ministry, and additional projects to help pay off the mortgage. The original mortgage on the Statesville Avenue structure was paid off completely on July 17, 1985 – just eight years after the initial mortgage payment. A Mortgage Burning Celebration was held a year later on March 2, 1986 which celebrated this achievement. Reverend Goodman is also credited with introducing liturgical dance in worship to the C. N. Jenkins church community. Such an inclusion is reflected in the ‘Covenant Unified Through Dance’ component of Reverend Goodman’s Service of Worship & Installation. Reverend Goodman resigned from C.N. Jenkins in 1990.
Reverend Dr. Jerry L. Cannon joined the C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church family as pastor in 1992. It is during his tenure that the church welcomed its first associate pastor, the Reverend Eustacia Natalie Moffett Marshall. Reverend Marshall served as the Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults from 2007-2012. The Statesville Avenue structure, initially entered into in 1977, was renovated in 2001-2002 when additional classroom spaces and an auditorium were added. A ribbon cutting ceremony, in celebration of the renovation, was held on Sunday, April 21, 2002.