Meet Our Pastor
Steve and his wife Debbie were both born within a few miles of the Raeford area, Steve in Fayetteville and Debbie in Pinehurst. Steve's faith was nurtured at both Highland Presbyterian Church and White Memorial Church in Raleigh.
Steve is a graduate of Appalachian State University (BSBA) and worked in the investment field for the first decade of his career. He was a stockbroker, a Registered Investment Advisor and a Certified Financial Planner in Raleigh, NC and Charleston, SC. Steve was the first student to apply to the brand new Cooperative Baptist Fellowship backed seminary, Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, in 1991 which began on the campus of Presbyterian School of Christian Education. He completed both his M.Div. and his D.Min. at BTSR. He served four churches in Virginia and after serving thirteen years at FBC, New Bern, NC, he returned to his roots in the PCUSA. Steve was ordained into the PCUSA by the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina in October of 2014 and has most recently served at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Havelock, NC.
Steve has a passion for spiritual formation and Celtic Christian theology. He considers it God's will and providence that he has been called to this part of NC, and particularly this church, where we have a Kirking of the Tartans every fall. He loves the connection to so much Scottish heritage and the steadfast commitment of the church members here at Raeford Presbyterian Church. Steve has a desire to get more young families involved in the church through small groups that deepen personal relationships with God and other couples. He is invigorated by the tasteful worship style and high quality music program that makes this church unique.
In his spare time, Steve enjoys golf, surfing, reading theologically challenging books and spending time with any of his four grandchildren. He loves people of all classes and races. He has led numerous mission trips to Cuba, Belize, Honduras and helped nurture a long term relationship with people from the Westray Baptist Kirk in the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Steve has traveled and hosted trips to Israel and Jordan several times over the last ten years.
Financial Secretary: Mrs. Lisa Maxwell
Lisa Dalton Maxwell joined the staff at Raeford Presbyterian Church in 1999. She has served in the capacity of Financial Secretary, supporting the business operations of the church for the entire time. Prior to her accepting the position at the church, she worked in the banking industry as well as in the school system.
A native of Raeford, Lisa is married to Will Maxwell. They have 2 children, Melissa and Brandon.
Adult Choir Director: Mrs. Miriam McNeil
Miriam Ropp McNeill came to Raeford as a teenager in 1970 when her father was called to be the pastor at Raeford Presbyterian Church. She began serving as our Director of Music in March of 2001.
Miriam graduated from the University of South Carolina in December 1976 with a B.A. in Music Education. In 1996 she received a Master‘s degree in Educational Administration from Fayetteville State University. She taught public school music for 22 years and served as a school administrator for 8 years before retiring in 2007.
Miriam lives in Raeford with her husband, Neal. They have two daughters, Elizabeth and Katharine, both of Raeford.
What We Believe
Raeford Presbyterian Church belongs to the PCUSA. We are served by the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina. As Presbyterians, we turn to the Book of Confessions and the Book of Church Order for constitutional questions. Following you will find some very basic but important questions concerning our form of government and our denomination.
The Book of Confessions
Contains 11 documents, dating from the 4th century to the late 20th century that give us the main theological themes found central in Scripture.
The Book of Order
Sets out democratic principles of representative government and applies them to life in the church.
Presbyterian Polity is representative government very similar to the United States government. We elect representatives to make decisions on our behalf. Those elected are expected to vote according to their consciences as they are informed by the Holy Spirit. They cannot be instructed by their constituency on how to vote, nor are they bound to vote in the same way as the majority of those who elected them.
Congregations form presbyteries, then synods, and finally the General Assembly.
The pastor moderates meetings of the church session (the elders), but is not the “boss.” The congregation votes to call or dismiss the pastor, and the session votes on decisions affecting the spiritual and programmatic life of the congregation. In most Presbyterian congregations, committees reporting to the session oversee the church’s mission, Christian education, stewardship, worship, and other activities.
Elders and Deacons as well as ministers are ordained. Deacons are ordained to a ministry of service.
Elders are ordained to a ministry of governance. Ministers of the Word and Sacrament are ordained to service and governance and also to a ministry of teaching and pastoral care.
Presbyterians follow what the apostle Paul taught: no one is good enough to deserve salvation. Thus, we are saved only by grace because God decided to save us through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus. So it is not enough just to say that if we have done a good job being righteous (our good works) that we will be rewarded in heaven after we die.
Presbyterians believe in the doctrine of predestination, which says God chose to redeem us long before we could even understand what that might mean. Because God chose us before the foundation of the world, that means we are predestined to life. That does not take away our freedom or ability to choose; we make many free choices every day. Beyond that, predestination teaches us that God has given us a new and bigger freedom: the freedom to fulfill our destiny. So we do not believe that good deeds or evil deeds are the result of our predetermined fate.
Presbyterians believe that scripture does not teach reincarnation; it points us toward eternal life in the presence of God. We do not believe in an endless cycle of death and rebirth so that we continually get another chance to attain a certain level of goodness.
Presbyterians believe that the sacrifice of Christ has already been offered once and for all; it needs no repetition, and the action of a minister cannot make it occur again. Thus, the Lord’s Supper takes place at a table rather than an altar. Thus, the communion table itself, although it may be quite ornate, holds no particular significance or holiness.
Presbyterians believe that God will indeed redeem us and cleanse us from all of our sins and we will be readied for heaven without a need for a doctrine of purgatory – where the remainders of our sinfulness would be purged.
Presbyterians believe that church authority is not carried in individuals and that the church leaders can declare the will of God only on the authority of Scripture.
Presbyterians believe that praying is an act of worship and devotion and only can be offered to God directly.
Presbyterians believe that sin is sin but that forgiveness is God’s free gift in Christ. Confession and assurance of pardon are not what enable God to forgive us, but rather what enable us to recognize that we are forgiven.
For more information, visit www.pcusa.org
The Raeford Presbyterian Church has a rich heritage. In 1776, the Bethel Presbyterian Church was organized about four miles south of Raeford, North Carolina. The Bethel Church can be called the “mother church,” as 27 of 31 charted members from Bethel presented letters in 1899 at the spring meeting of the Fayetteville Presbytery with a petition containing names of 65 persons asking to be constituted as a church in Raeford. During the reading of the letter, seven of these men were commissioned to organize the church.
The commission met on June 27, 1899 in the auditorium of the Raeford Institute with a sermon by Reverend P. R. Law, prayer and thirty-one people presented a letter to connect themselves to the new church. The early congregation met in the “Main Building” of the Raeford Institute until they could construct a building.
A new facility was erected and became the Raeford Presbyterian Church from 1901-1921. The Raeford Presbyterian Church was the first church building in the town. After its completion, the Baptist and Methodist congregants were invited to worship with the Presbyterians. The Presbyterian pastor preached on two Sundays each month with the Methodist and Baptist ministers alternating on the other Sundays. The youth group and choir consisted of members of all three churches.
The first brick for our present facility was laid by Mrs. W.C. Brown on July 25, 1921. Work proceeded steadily on the building until completion with the first service on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1923. Early on the evening of Saturday, October 23, 1943, the church suffered a fire loss to its sanctuary. Due to the war and other extenuating circumstances, the first service in the renovated building was held on December 23, 1945.
Historically, the Raeford Presbyterian Church has accepted the challenge of improving and expanding the facilities to enhance worship and accommodate the needs of the congregation. A Casavant organ was installed in October of 1969. This organ continues to be a major part of our worship service. A capital campaign was passed in 1974 to include the installation of an elevator, painting, carpeting and general re-modeling. Pew cushions and hearing devices were added to the sanctuary. In 2007 a capital campaign was begun to add an additional 14,000 sq. ft. for new offices, a kitchen and fellowship hall along with remodeling of bathrooms and other improvements in the main building. The church was able to move into the new addition in 2008.
For a more complete history of the Raeford Presbyterian Church, you may want to read A Century of Worship, 1899-1999.
The Session is an elected body consisting of men and women, which are "responsible for the mission and the government of the church." Those elected are called elders. Elders agree to a three year term.
The current Session Clerk Officers of the Raeford Presbyterian Church include:
Class of 2017
Class of 2018
John K. McNeill
Class of 2019