Independent Presbyterian Church

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2018 Independent Presbyterian Church logo.jpg
Independent Presbyterian Church in March 2005

Independent Presbyterian Church is a congregation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) located at 3100 Highland Avenue, next to Rushton Park.

Independent Presbyterian Church formed in October 1915 when Henry Edmonds, pastor of South Highland Presbyterian Church and members of that congregation departed. Edmonds had previously announced to his congregation that his beliefs had moved away from traditional Southern Presbyterian doctrine (beliefs such as Biblical inerrancy and the predestination of certain people to eternal damnation), a matter that divided the church. To resolve the matter, Edmonds left and formed a new congregation, not affiliated with any Presbyterian body. The church initially worshiped in Temple Emanu-El, the Reform Jewish congregation, and held Sunday evening services in the Lyric Theater. Though initially independent, the church was admitted into the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (the "Northern" Presbyterian body) in 1920. The "Northern" denomination actually already had a number of congregations in and around Birmingham, acquired from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1906, so Independent Church became part of a strong presbytery of fellow churches.

The church built a Neo-Gothic sanctuary on Highland Avenue, completed in 1926. The education wing had been previously constructed, completed in 1922. The church was designed by the Birmingham firms of Warren, Knight, and Davis, and Miller, Martin, and Lewis. The church is in the English Perpendicular Gothic style with a French fleche. The stained glass for the church was designed by the D'Ascenzo Studios of Philadelphia and made between 1938 and 1960.

In 1922, the church established the Children's Fresh Air Farm in Bluff Park.

Church interior on Easter Sunday 2010

The church grew and expanded, building a Youth and Education building in the rear of the church in 1955-1956, and a renovation and the Henry Edmonds Memorial Chapel in 1962.

In 1992, a fire damaged much of the original Education Wing and the Edmonds Chapel for the building. The church rebuilt these buildings with some modifications. In 2011 the congregation purchased the former 1st Church of Christ Scientist adjoining it to the east. That building, renamed "Highland Hall" began hosting Sunday evening services in 2013. It is also used for concerts and special programs, and as a meeting hall for Boy Scout Troop 28. A sandstone labyrinth was constructed between the two buildings. A simplified diagram of the labyrinth is featured in a new logo which was commissioned from Modern Brand in 2018. In 2019 the church's governing body voted 23-20 to allow LGBTQ weddings to be held at the church.



  • Flynt, Wayne (February 13, 1977) "Early History, Independent Presbyterian Church".
  • Schnorrenberg, John (April 9, 1995) "From Gothic to Byzantine and Back: Highland Avenue Churches and Synagogues." Notes from Birmingham Historical Society Walking Tour
  • Whiting, Marvin. The Bearing Day is not Gone: The Seventy-Fifth Anniversary History of Independent Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Alabama, 1915-1990. Birmingham: Independent Presbyterian Church, 1990.
  • Schnorrenberg, John M. (2000) Aspiration: Birmingham's Historic House of Worship. Birmingham: Birmingham Historical Society ISBN 0943994268
  • Gathings, Honora (February 4, 2018) "New Logo for IPC" Connect newsletter - accessed April 22, 2019
  • Garrison, Greg (September 24, 2019) "Independent Presbyterian Church Approves LGBTQ Weddings" The Birmingham News
  • Garrison, Greg (May 5, 2021) "Independent Presbyterian elects new pastor"
  • Grant, Rubin E. (June 17, 2021) "'A New Beginning': IPC's New Pastor Excited About the Challenge That Awaits" Over the Mountain Journal

External Links