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Parks Crossroads church celebrates 175 years

RAMSEUR — Parks Crossroads Christian Church held its 175th anniversary celebration in May at the annual Memorial Service.


The church was organized in April 1849. There had been a small Christian church at the Buffalo Ford School since 1842, founded by former Quakers. The church was moved to Parks Crossroads on land donated by Robert Barker. Land for a cemetery was donated by Washington Parks in 1871.


The original church building was a log structure that stood at the northeast corner of the old cemetery. In 1880, a new frame building was erected at the site of the present structure. 


In 1907, a new sanctuary was constructed and the old building was donated to the Black community, currently Cox’s Chapel. 


In 1932, more classrooms were added, with the church having about 200 members. The church was again modernized in 1953, and a classroom wing built in 1962. The parsonage was built in 1966. The church was brick veneered in 1971.

“The building’s gone, but the church remains.”


This has been the theme verse for the church since a fateful New Year’s Eve and Day of 1991 and 1992. Arson completely destroyed the sanctuary, constructed in 1907, and the oldest Sunday school rooms.


With the ashes still smoldering New Year’s Day, the majority of the congregation gathered around its remains. 


Some searched through the rubble looking for any keepsakes. Some picked up pieces of the stained glass windows for mementoes. Others found the remains of a charred Bible. 


While searching through the debris, church members Doug and Suzie Young found the pieces of an old room that was home to the many songbooks, musical items, and children’s songs and stories. However, the only readable piece of paper they found said “Great is thy faithfulness.”


There was never any doubt that the church would be rebuilt. Pastor James Turner made the statement, “When this church is finished, I want to invite everyone here. I want to tell them: ‘You have seen what man has done, now look at what God has done.’ ’” Immediately, a building fund was set up and donations began pouring in from all over the world.


Lifelong church member Annie Stout Cox, then age 89, requested to be driven past the church after it burned. Her comment was, “I’ll never live to see it rebuilt.” On March 24, 1993, her funeral was held in the new building. Because the church was not completely finished, special permission was obtained to hold her funeral there. She only missed the dedication of the new church building by one month and eight days.


May 2, 1993, marked a milestone for Parks Crossroads Christian Church. Over 250 voices rang out singing “To God Be the Glory” as the church dedicated its building in a special ceremony. The crowd — scattered with church members, firefighters and guests who gave donations — listened as Pastor Turner dedicated the building to the Lord and “to lift up Jesus Christ, so when people enter the door, they see not what man has done but what Jesus has done.”