On Sunday, February 7, 2021, a very special recognition will take place. FPC 5th grader, Sophie Raymond, will receive an award for learning the Catechism, a tradition and recognition that was established between 1951-1952. In recent years, the award has also been given to Anna Ross Carmichael. The award, a $50 check, is supplied by the McElwee Catechism Fund, which was originally established as a modest amount of money to then honor the 4th and 5th grade children who work to learn the Catechism. Every child in 4th and 5th grade has the opportunity to work on learning the questions and answers and receives the award upon completion. Congratulations to Sophie Raymond, who recently completed the requirements and presented her finished notebook to Betty Ann Dorman and will receive the award during our live worship service on February 7.
The McElwee Fund was created in a bequest of the will of Mrs. McElwee for $1000. In the early years, the award was given as one silver dollar. Over the years, the fund has grown significantly and the award is now $50. The Session has approved use of money from the fund to purchase Bibles for use in Church School and to be given to confirmands in addition to the initial provisions of the bequest.
Mrs. Fannie Fort McElwee, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Fort, included in her will a bequest of $1000 with the statement, “It is my desire and direction that these two churches utilize these bequests to give prizes to energetic Sunday School pupils to encourage them in their studies – a prize of $2.00 to each child or pupil upon committing to memory the “Shorter Catechism”. Mrs. McElwee grew up in First Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, and moved her membership back to our church in 1958. She was the aunt of Mrs. Paul (Katherine) Neel. The Forts were staunch Presbyterians, and Mrs. McElwee was the sister-in-law of Ms. Mamie McElwee, a prominent Presbyterian educator, who for many years, was the director of youth ministries for the Synod of North Carolina.
For many years, Mrs. Margaret (Albert) Edwards and Mrs. Ruth (Oscar) Hay introduced Kindergarten and First grade children to the child’s Catechism and taught the early questions in the shorter Catechism in the Kindergarten class. Mrs. Betty Ann (Marvin) Dorman became the teacher of the 4th and 5th grade class around 1970, and actively taught and encouraged learning the shorter Catechism. She has been the driving force behind this effort for 50 years. It may have undergone revision since Fannie Fort learned it, but the amount awarded is still very small in comparison to the lifelong benefit.