Friday, May 24, 2013
The New Jerusalem Church building was dismantled and the lumber sold as the new town of Winston began to grow around 1850. (Forsyth County was formed out of Stokes County by state legislation on January 16, 1849.) The Salem Moravian congregation sold the new county 51.25 acres of land for the new county seat. When the 71 lots went on sale, A.A. Vogler bought a lot for $79.25 and gave it to be used for the site of the Winston Methodist Episcopal Church, South. This lot was at Sixth Street and North Liberty.
Preaching was held in the courthouse while the building was in progress. The Jerusalem Church, although its members were predominantly women and young people, apparently moved intact to become the core of the congregation in Winston. The inflow of enterprising men, coming from strong Methodist congregations outside Wachovia, brought a respectability for being a Methodist which otherwise would have been much longer in coming.
The church was built spasmodically due to lack of money. When the money ran out, the work stopped. When there was money, the work resumed. The church, which was also known as Winston Station, was completed in 1856. Winston Station was the second church of any denomination to build in the new town (the Methodist Protestants were the first).
This church was in existence during the Civil War and thus had many issues with which to deal, both before and after the war. Regarding the issue of slavery, Larry Tise writes that the temperance movement received more attention. He writes, "Until the antislavery appeal became intense, local Methodists did not waste their time advocating social reforms. But when antislavery propaganda could no longer be ignored, it seems that these men took up the temperance banner in order to ease their consciences on the matter of slavery (Tise, 80)." Winston Station grew from 153 members in 1856 to 380 in 1880. The church outgrew its building. So....on to the next chapter!
In 1884, it was evident that a larger building was needed. A building committee was appointed, and the church was started in July of that year. While the new building was in process, services were held in Brown's Opera House. The name of the church was changed to Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The name "Centenary" was chosen because it was begun during the one hundredth anniversary of Methodism in the United States (1784-1884). The building was finished and occupied in 1886.
The church building cost $24,000. A pipe organ, which was installed in 1890, cost $3,000. The women of the church raised approximately $1,000 to pay for the pulpit furniture, communion service, collection plates, carpet, and the like. So, the entire outlay, including the lot, was less than $30,000! The church was described as "one of the most elegant churches in the South."
During this era, Centenary was one of the churches that took a lead in supporting missions. There were six organized mission groups which collected funds for both foreign and domestic missions. The Men's Missionary Society supported a missionary in Japan for two years and later supported one in Cuba. Centenary continued to play a role in the community with numerous groups either using the church as headquarters or for meetings. The church also responded to the call to assist the poor of Winston and Salem.