A Sentimental Journey Back Home– Part One

I was invited by Jeff Sugg, a lawyer in Asheboro N.C.,representing the committee for the 200 anniversary celebration (yes you heard right) of Mt. Olivet Church (founded by a Rev. Spinks, one of Asbury’s own circuit riders) to come back to where my ministry really began on the Coleridge Charge in Randolph County N.C. in the middle of August, and preach their anniversary sermon (and enjoy the vituals thereafter). Now Randolph County is the county next to Guilford County in which can be found High Point N.C.— my home town. For the years 1980-83 I was the pastor of four very different Methodist Churches out in the country in Randolph and Chatham counties. And by and large these were wonderful years. Our son David was born there in Siler City hospital (a town which Aunt Bea of Andy Griffith fame called home), our daughter Christy began to become a young lady there, and I also began to teach at High Point College and Duke Divinity School while pastoring these four churches and putting the final revisions on the dissertation. It was a jam packed time in our lives, and I look back on it with joy— for among other things I met many wonderful Christian country and small town folk whom I still consider my friends. Jeff Sugg was a young man back then. Shoot, I was not quite 30 when I came there. Life was good with a furnished parsonage, lovely parishioners and $12,500 a year plus gas allowance. What more could a young pastor/teacher want?

In this post I will share with you pictures of Mt. Olivet Church which is well and truly out in the country, nearer to Seagrove and Whynot than to Asheboro. In subsequent posts you will see Concord and Maple Springs Churches, Seagrove, and Jugtown.

Here first of all is Teague’s store and filling station. It’s still going, and the Teague boys (no longer boys, but rather grown men not far from my age) can still on occasion be found in the back room from time to time. You can still get a Cheerwine and a little pecan pie if you go there today. Some things never change, and I am thankful.

There were many wonderful families at Mt. Olivet that befriended Ann and I and our kids, and the Teagues and the Suggs were two of them. I remember vividly walking into Wayne Sugg’s house and there up on the wall was a Civil War soldier. I said “oh that must be your grandfather”. “Nope,” said Wayne with a gleam in his eye, “that was Dad”. A Dad who came home from the Civil War, married a young woman who had three children all of whom were still alive and my parishoners in 1980!! Today, as in 1980, that church had about 25-35 regular attenders. Seems like time stands still in Erect (which is the name of the place where Mt. Olivet Church actually is).

The church members at Mt. Olivet have done a marvelous job of keeping this church in beautiful condition, and it looked truly pristine for the anniversary/homecoming festivities. Here is the church sign—

And the church itself–

And the graveyard across the street–

And the trees under which the anniversary pig-pickin’ is held after church (of course!).
(noting the permanent stone picnic tables).

But I’ve saved the best for last— the inside of this old church itself–

It was here where I preached every other Sunday (serving the churches two at a time on a Sunday), and here our two children were baptized by Dean Dennis Campbell of Duke Divinity School. It was here we made fast friends, and got lots of good wisdom on how to grow into the ministry. I sometimes think the folks in my four churches helped me far more than I helped them. On anniversary Sunday I preached on ‘Eternal Treasures in Earthen Vessels (2 Cor. 4) and Harold Teague said I hit it out of the park…. so I reckon I did alright. One thing I know— that food under the trees was out of this world.

A special thanks to Rev. Carter, who currently serves the Coleridge Charge, for letting me come and have such a big blessing.

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