Dr. Chauncey W. Durden
Dr. Durden was the second minister at St. John’s and served for fifteen years from April 1929 at the age of 61 until his retirement in April 1944 at the age of 76. When he came to St. John’s, the membership was 680; when he left, the membership was 1286. He guided the church through the global economic depression. He was highly esteemed as an exemplary pastor amount Baptists and was a very good friend of J.R. Sampey, renowned Professor of Old Testament and President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He had an extensive library which he left to the church. One of these books he authored– “The Epic of Jesus”. That book is in the Heritage Room. It is written as an epic poem on the life of Jesus.
Dr. Durden was born December 18, 1869, in Washington County, GA. to James and Harriet Godfrey Durden. He attended Washington Institute and received an A.B. Degree from Mercer University along with a degree from Southern Baptist Seminary. He had several pastorates before coming to St. John’s. He was awarded honorary degrees from Oklahoma Baptist College and Mercer University.
The church approved the recommendation to call him to be the minister on March 3, 1929, at a starting salary of $5,000. When his successor, Dr. Claude Broach, came to St. John’s he visited with Dr. Durden. Dr. Durden told Dr. Broach that he (Dr. Durden) had never had a pastor and that Dr. Broach would now be his pastor.
He married Eva Mae Patrick on December 6, 1889, at her parent’s home in Macon County, GA. They had three children, Phosa (1900-1991), Rose (1904-1994) and Chauncy Wright Durden, Jr. (1907-1986). Census records show the family lived at several different street numbers on Park Drive. His two daughters remained in Charlotte and were members of St. John’s until their deaths. His son was the sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Richmond VA.
Dr. Durden died July 30, 1952. His wife died on lung cancer on September 22, 1964. Dr. Durden and his wife are buried at Sharon Memorial Gardens in Charlotte.