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Community Congregational Church

of Southern Pines
 

 

THE CHURCH IN SOUTHERN PINES

On April 5th, 1895, a group of devoted Christians consisting of local businessmen and “winter visitors” from New England, met and formed the First Congregational Church in Southern Pines.   The Congregational denomination, founded by the Pilgrim Fathers when they disembarked from the Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, was a prominent denomination in the New England states but rare in the South.   It was founded on the principle of “Laity Rule” in which the individual members of the church reserved the right to own their own property and make their own decision on faith and finance.   With such a structure, many churches became “community churches” where everyone regardless of religious background was welcome.   Such was the function of the First Congregational Church of Southern Pines.

The original wooden building was completed in 1898 and served all church purposes for 30 years.   By the early 20’s the church had become known as a community church and its slogan was “a church of wide fellowship.”   With the rapid increase of tourism, a larger building was built.   In 1927, with the dedication of the new sanctuary, the name was officially changed to “The Church of Wide Fellowship, (Congregational)” to reflect its being open to all denominations.   The old building was used as educational classrooms until a fire of unknown origin in 1950 destroyed the old building and the present education facilities were built.

In 1967, after the merger of the Congregational Christian and the Evangelical and Reformed churches to become the United Church of Christ, this church became a part of that denomination, still remaining a community church open to all.   To reflect this idea, the congregation recently renamed this church “The Community Congregational Church – United Church of Christ”.

Denominationally, we are ecumenical; theologically, we are liberal in the sense that each member has the right to come to God in his or her own way; socially we are inclusive.

Upon the heels of the completion of the present sanctuary in 1927 came the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression.   A great burden was placed upon the membership through the decade of the 30’s.   When the Presbyterian Church was formed in 1948, and later the Methodist Church in 1954, new Sandhills residents were inclined to migrate toward congregations of their former denominations, whereupon the membership of The Church of Wide Fellowship fell to 80 active members.   During the last thirty years, however, this Church resumed a pattern of growth numbering approximately 400 active members at the turn of the millenium, and approximately 180 presently; among whom nearly every major Christian denomination is represented.

From the beginning, and continuing still today, this Church was founded with a primary interest of serving the community in which it rests, instead of a particular denomination.   With thanks to those who have gone before us, we enjoy the facility which we have today.   We are drinking from the wells of privilege that we did not dig, and enjoying the fruits of the vineyard which we did not plant.   We see this not only a Blessing, but also a continuing responsibility as we attempt, with God’s aid and guidance, to serve the Sandhills in Christ’s name.

 

Stone from original structure.

 

COMMUNITY CHARACTERISTICS

      Moore County, North Carolina is located approximately halfway between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, Ga., and halfway between the North Carolina coast and the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are approximately 5.9 million people living within a 100-mile radius of this gently rolling area known as “THE SANDHILLS.” We are blessed with a moderate climate, long leaf pines, and some of the best golf courses in the country---The home of Pinehurst “The Golf Capital of the World”, and some thirty other great golf courses. Not everyone plays golf. Since the early 1900’s, the “horse country” has offered residents an opportunity to be a spectator or participant in Equestrian events. The area has become an important center for the training of hunting and racing Thoroughbred horses.

Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill are about 75 miles to the north where several of the State’s major universities are located--Duke University, North Carolina State University, and The University of North Carolina.  Raleigh, the State capital, is home to the Carolina Hurricanes (hockey).  Many major corporations are located at Research Triangle Park, along the I-40 corridor between Raleigh and Durham. To the west is Charlotte, the State’s largest city with its professional sports team, the Carolina Panthers (football), the State’s banking center and great shopping facilities. The Triad area of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem are approximately 100 miles to the northwest---the heart of the furniture industry. To the East is Fayetteville, the fourth largest city in the state and the home of Fort Bragg and the Famous 82nd Airborne Division.

This excellent location is just one of the reasons the quality of life here is so exceptional. The towns of Southern Pines, Aberdeen, Pinehurst and Whispering Pines continue to grow and enjoy a healthy economy.   We have the mild dry climate, a good educational system, quality transportation networks and exceptional health care.   It is this wonderful mix that affords us a superior quality of life.

 

Service to the Community

Sandhills Coalition for Human Care

Sandhills Interfaith Hospitality Network

American Assn. of Retired Person

NARFE-Retired Federal Employees

Fellowship Pre-School