Over a century of Methodist church records donated to Wilkes museum - journalpatriot: News

February 10, 2016
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Over a century of Methodist church records donated to Wilkes museum

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Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013 4:11 pm

Over a century of records of Moravian Falls United Methodist Church and its predecessor churches have been donated to the Wilkes Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro.

Nancy Ferguson Brown of Morganton, who grew up attending the church, organized the records in several three ring notebooks. They include handwritten weekly reports of attendance, worship services and more, with each page preserved in plastic sleeves.

Based on her research of archives of the Western N.C. Conferene of the Inited Methodist Church in Charlotte, interviews and personal knowledge, Mrs. Brown wrote several pages of information about the records and history of the church and included this to help readers understand the materials. Also included are numerous photos of the church and church members in prioer decades.

Her intent is for the materials to be available to people researching genealogy and local history. The Wilkes Heritage Museum is developing a research library. Mrs. Brown donated an Epworth organ, which had been at the church since about 1900, to the museum in 2005.

The Methodist church minutes donated to the museum were given to Mrs. Brown by Allen B. Woody of Cullowhee, a nephew of the late Martha Pricilla Hix, and by the estate of the late Lucille Scroggs Phillips. Ms. Hix and Mrs. Phillips were both longtime members of Moravian Falls United Methodist Church.

Mrs. Brown also donated records of the Moravian Falls Methodist Charge in the late 1930s, which included some of the county's other small rural Methodist churches that no longer exist. These include Adley, Ferguson and Lebanon.

The roots of Moravian Falls United Methodist Church go back to Sharon and Shiloh Methodist churches, which began at least in the early 1830s.

There are records of Francis Asbury and other itinerant Methodist ministers, called circuit riders, holding services in Wilkes in the late 1700s. In a January 1828 deed for land in Moravian Falls, Nathan Duncan conveyed one acre “on waters of Cub Creek near the house where Benja. Johnson formerly lived on the Burke Road to erect a place of worship for members of Methodist Episcopal Church.”

According to a history of Methodism in Moravian Falls, written by the late Lucy Hubbard Critcher in 1967 and included with the records donated by Mrs. Brown, Sharon Methodist Church and campground were about a mile from Moravian Falls on the Wilkesboro Road and Shiloh Methodist Church was about a mile and a half south of Moravian Falls on the old road to Boomer.

Mrs. Critcher wrote that Shiloh’s log building was used as a school during weekdays.

She described week-long camp meetings held in late summer each year at Sharon’s arbor and natural amphitheater.

“Those camp meetings were the high spots of the religious activities of those days…. Folks came from all over the area, bringing their families and food and cooking over open fireplaces. The campground had permanent posts over which each family stretched a canvas to make a tent for sleeping,” she wrote.

“There were usually six or eight of the best preachers available at each meeting, and the neighborhood women brought feather beds for the visiting preachers to sleep on in the church.

Center Methodist Church was established in 1876 when Sharon and Shiloh were combined and at first held Sunday school and worship services at Edgewood Academy, which was between the old Sharon and Shiloh churches.

Also in 1876, R.L. Hix, W.H. Hubbard and Joel Gilreath were appointed to oversee construction of a new place of worship for Center on property donated by R.L. Hix.

Roland Lloyd Scroggs and James Monroe Sloop were hired to build the new church. They completed the 30-foot-by-40-foot place of worship in 1877, and the name of the church was changed from Center to Beulah the same year.

A belfry added later and a small church bell was originally hung from a pole in front of the church. R. Don Laws donated a larger bell in 1908.

The name of the church was officially changed to Moravian Falls United Methodist Church in 1966. It was changed to New Moravian Falls United Methodist Church in the spring of 2003 when Methodist leadership designated the property as a Hispanic place of worship.

The initial membership of what now is Crossfire United Methodist Church on N.C. 115 near North Wilkesboro came from Moravian Falls United Methodist Church, but Crossfire wasn’t officially established as a Methodist mission until 2003.

The Rev. Steven and Kelly Brooks bought the Moravian Falls Methodist Church property in 2011 and have since established a new non-denominational ministry called the Holy Place Worship Center there.

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