St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church celebrates 150th anniversary

2014 is going to be a big year for St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church.
January 5, 2014 3:36:37 PM PST
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Not only is the Chapel Hill church celebrating a storied past, but they are also preparing for a huge move in their future.  

During its rich history, the small brick building has withstood the test of time on the border of Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

To mark their milestone in 2014, the church kicked off a yearlong celebration this weekend.

In addition to honoring their past, they will also be holding events all year long to benefit their future.

"We're also looking forward to holding a groundbreaking service in late October for the new worship and conference center we're building in the Rogers Road community," said Sr. Pastor Thomas Nixon.

Although it will likely take a couple years to complete, the finished project will sit on 20 acres and be enough space for a new sanctuary and affordable housing development, along with many other amenities, such as a gym, a childcare center, and a health clinic.

When it is done, it will not just be for members of the congregation.

"This is for the whole community, all of Chapel Hill, for wherever people come from," Pastor Nixon said.

"We're adding to the many needs that are in our community...whether it be affordable childcare, affordable senior housing, affordable apartment housing, recreation," he added.

When they make the move, the church is hoping to preserve the building by either selling it to another congregation, or physically picking it up and moving it to the new site where it could serve as a museum.

The church hopes to continue to preserve a past that began when 10 African American families first came to the spot at the corner of Merritt Mill Road and Franklin Street to worship under a simple grapevine.

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