A large and joyful congregation gathered on Sunday, September 23, 2012 to celebrate Oak Grove Moravian Church’s 125th anniversary. The service included a lovefeast, special music by the choir and band, and an anniversary sermon preached by Bishop Graham Rights.
After singing “Sing Hallelujah Praise the Lord” accompanied by organ and trumpets, the congregation processed outside for the dedication of our new Prayer Garden. As part of our anniversary year celebration, a beautiful prayer garden with flowers, shrubs, 2 benches, a mosaic Moravian seal, and a brick walk with honorary/memorial bricks was added to the front landscaping of our church. The day concluded with a bountiful covered dish lunch.
Oak Grove has been celebrating its anniversary all year with special events, including a Heritage Night, dedication of a new arch and fence around God’s Acre, July 4th Picnic, Old Fashioned Lawn and Birthday Party, and sharing of Oak Grove History Moments during worship the first Sunday of each month.
Begun in 1887
The story of Oak Grove Moravian Church began in the spring of the year 1887. Many Moravians had settled in what is now northeastern Winston-Salem and several families had affiliated themselves with Providence Moravian Church. But because the distance was so great for horse and buggy in those days, it was impossible for the pioneers of our church to attend services regularly.
In the spring of 1887, Richard Westmoreland invited James Leinbach, Sunday School Superintendent of the Southern Province, to assist in organizing a Sunday School in this community. During the summer, many families met for worship and study in an old log cabin belonging to Douglas Day.
As that summer drew to a close there was a revival and at a brush arbor meeting, many souls were born into the kingdom. Plans were quickly made to organize a Moravian Church. On Sunday, September 25, 1887, Rev. Christian L. Rights went to Oak Grove and organized a Moravian congregation with 16 charter members joining that day.
Immediately, a movement began to build a church. Joshua Sell and George Hammock gave land for a building. Rev. Christian Rights, Rev. John McCuiston, Rev. John Clewell, and Mr. James Leinbach came to Oak Grove for the cornerstone laying. The church was completed and consecrated May 8, 1888.
The 1888 church stood until 1951, being remodeled and added on to twice. In 1951 a new building was constructed with a Fellowship Hall and Christian Education wing. In 1957 the current sanctuary was finished and occupied June 2. In 2010 the sanctuary was completely remodeled.
Today our congregation averages 110 for Sunday worship and we have a good mix of all ages, from older adults to babies. We have an excellent band and choir, active Women’s Fellowship, Men’s Fellowship, Youth Fellowship, Sunday School for all ages, midweek Bible study, and Quilters. We are actively involved in missions and outreach in our community and beyond. We are currently in a capital campaign “Continuing the Vision…Building Our Future” to raise funds for a new kitchen, restrooms, covered drop-off, and expanded fellowship hall.
We thank God for these 125 years and how He has blessed us in our service and witness. We celebrate what God is doing among us in the present. We look forward to the future with hope and anticipation as we remain faithful to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Matthew W. Allen is pastor at Oak Grove Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C. Photos courtesy of Matthew.
From the December 2012 Moravian Magazine