AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Some might bless out the renaming of Fort Gordon to Fort Eisenhower, but not at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church.
“I think for the folks of this congregation we’re pleased and proud that this was a place of welcome and hospitality and a place where the president felt he could come and worship,” said Pastor Brandi Casto-Waters.
“Ike goes way back with ties to this church back to the 40’s I guess,” said Church member Gene Clark.
Augusta National Golf Club was the reason Eisenhower came to Augusta in 1948 and the reason he would visit another 45 times. And from there he found his way to the Walton Way Church.
“He started coming to Reid whenever he was in town, he and Mamie would come sit in this pew, they would have two secret service in with him,” said Clarke.
Long time member Gene Clark even get to sing Hymns with America’s 34th president. “Did I? Yes. Many times,” said Clark. “It was awesome.”
One of the biggest days of Eisenhower’s church goings at Reid was Easter Sunday 1954 when, as President, he was on hand to lay out the church corner stone. The monumental event is honored with pictures on display at the church.
“A lot of folks can still remember that they can remember him showing up on Sunday morning and worshiping with us he laid the corner stone of the sanctuary,” said Pastor Casto-Warters.
One of two silver trowels used that day is on display, the other was sent to President Eisenhower. His letter of thanks also on display.
Following Eisenhower’s death, the church put up a plaque in his memory on the pew where he and the family would often sit. Even after Ike’s death, Mamie Eisenhower would continue to worship at Reid Memorial.
“She came for a number of years I think she lived ten years after Ike passed,” said Clark.
You can’t escape Eisenhower’s presence at Reid Memorial. And if you look very closely in one of the beautiful stain glass windows, there is a visage of Ike, they say keeping a close eye on his pew.
“Nobody can identify exactly how that happened. I’ve heard it was a mistake and I’ve heard it was actually planned,” said Clark.
Reid Memorial is now and forever will be linked with President Dwight D Eisenhower, his house of worship, when he was away from home.