Wilson’s Mills Christian Church History
1875 – Present
Wilson’s Mills Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was established with 23 members in 1875 through the instigation of Dr. John J. Harper and the interest and land given by Mr. and Mrs. John Marshal Wilson. The original church was a one room building which later became a school when the current church was dedicated in 1888. Dr. Harper was our first pastor and served for 26 years. He was also a founder of Barton College (formerly Atlantic Christian College) in Wilson, North Carolina and its first president.
For many years, two worship services were held only on the first Sunday of each month. Only in 1984 did worship services begin being held every Sunday of the year. Part-time ministers served our congregation until 2001 when WMCC called its first full-time minister. Now, in addition to Sunday services, we gather for worship on other occasions such as Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Christmas Eve. During Advent, we hold two additional worship services: Hanging of the Greens on the first Sunday evening in Advent, and a healing service held on the third Thursday evening of Advent.
Our current worship environment commemorates our history. In 1885, the church steeple and bell were added to the building. This same bell is rung every Sunday morning signaling the worship hour. The communion set used each week was given in the late 1800’s, so we truly join the communion of saints each time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. Many of the bells in our five-octave handbell set were given as memorials as were our hymnals, choir robes, and baptistery. All of these elements allow us to celebrate how the Spirit has moved through our history and our predecessors each time we join for worship.
In addition to our local church history, we also share a history with our denomination, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). WMCC has been a member of the Mill Creek District of the North Carolina Region of the Disciples of Christ since 1884. We participate in district meetings, regional meetings and special projects. Moreover, WMCC has adopted Edgewater Cabin in Camp Caroline (a Disciples of Christ camp) which means that we provide maintenance, cleaning, and supplies as needed. Christmount Christian Assembly in Black Mountain is another camp, conference, and retreat center for Disciples. Both Christmount and Camp Caroline sponsor camps (sailing, horseback riding, etc.) for all ages and can be used by the Disciples of Christ churches for retreats, etc.
In keeping with the Disciples of Christ commitment to cooperation with other denominations, WMCC enjoys friendly relationships with our local churches. Early on, these churches participated in activities such as quilting bees, meal preparation for the needy, Vacation Bible School, and sports. More recently, our joint efforts have included a Live Nativity, an annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Service, and a Spring Fling Children’s Event. In addition, the community churches gather for worship on Thanksgiving Eve as well at sunrise on Easter morning.
Though the 1888 sanctuary is still being used, additions and renovations have taken place during the past 132 years. Sunday School rooms were added to the back of the sanctuary in the 1940’s, an educational wing in 1954, fellowship hall, church parlor, and renovation of back of church in 1989. In 2006, we renovated our sanctuary. This renovation not only enhanced the beauty of our worship space, it also greatly improved our acoustics and restored the historical integrity of the sanctuary.
Our membership has always had strong lay leadership. The Christian Women’s Fellowship (CWF – since 1905) and Christian Men’s Fellowship (CMF) groups have been active in the life of this church. The CWF has taken the lead throughout the years in providing activities such as fellowship suppers, the Fall Bazaar and Flea Market (through which it raised over $75,000 to support mission efforts) and specific church projects. The CMF also sponsors activities such as its annual spring BBQ fundraiser, Valentine dinners, and other church related projects.
Since 2003 LOGOS has been a defining ministry that nurtures children and youth by encouraging them to build relationships with adults and with God. Children of all ages gather on Thursday nights for Bible Study, Worship/Mission Study, and crafts and recreation. The highlight of the evening is a family style meal which allows the children to interact with other children and with adults. Not only do we teach our faith, we teach basic manners and social skills. Although it is labor intensive, LOGOS is an integral part of our church’s ministry and we hope that it will continue to grow.
During the last few years, the opportunities for spiritual growth increased. This is due in large part to a “Faithful Planning” process that WMCC undertook in 2007. The result of this process was a defined mission for our church: “In recognition of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20), the mission of Wilson’s Mills Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is to reach out in ways that bring both people from the surrounding community and within the church into a relationship with Jesus Christ resulting in faithful, passionate discipleship.” This mission has led us to not only reach out to the community but to also educate our current membership in discipleship and spirituality. During any given week in the church year, you may find general Bible study, Men’s Bible Study, Logos, lunch and learns, socials, retreats, Sunday School, CMF, CWF, and other events centering around worship or community outreach.
We are pleased that WMCC is currently in a time of growth. Since 2005, we have seen a 30% increase in membership, we have more than doubled our budget, and we have almost tripled our congregation size for worship. However, we believe that numerical growth will not happen without spiritual growth, so we are thrilled that the Spirit is on the move at WMCC. With respect to our past, we enthusiastically embrace our future.
In the first century church in Jerusalem, as described in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit moved among the people so that “All the believers lived in wonderful harmony, holding everything in common…so that each person’s need was met.” (The Message Translation) Wilson’s Mills Christian Church (WMCC) has taken that example and endeavored to assist those less fortunate especially in our own community. Our church mission statement reflects this emphasis:
“…the mission of Wilson’s Mills Christian Church is to reach out in ways that bring both people from the surrounding community and within the church into a relationship with Jesus Christ resulting in faithful, passionate discipleship.
Our discipleship will be defined by our love (Do we love God, our neighbors, and each other? Matt. 22:36-40), our service (Do we serve God, our neighbors and each other? Matt. 20: 26-28), and our witness (Do we witness for God to our neighbors and to each other? Matt. 24:14; 28:19).”
The efforts of WMCC to make a difference in this community has influenced the way our congregation perceives itself. This influence may best be described by the comments of two of our members:
“Our church is an island in a sea of judgment,” and “we are small but mighty.”
About the Disciples
We are Disciples of Christ,
a movement for wholeness
in a fragmented world.
As part of the one body of Christ,
we welcome all to the Lord’s Table
as God has welcomed us.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), while founded on American soil in the early 1800s, is uniquely equipped to live up to its identity that it is a “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” The denomination was born in the 1800s, and continues to be influenced by its founding ideals of our unity in Christ with openness and diversity in practice and belief.
The Disciples Vision, Mission, Imperative and Covenant statement calls the communion to be a faithful, growing church that demonstrates true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice.
The Vision of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
To be a faithful, growing church, that demonstrates true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice. (Micah 6:8)
The Mission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
To be and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, witnessing, loving and serving from our doorsteps “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The church is identified with the Protestant “mainstream” and is widely involved in social and other concerns. Disciples have supported vigorously world and national programs of education, agricultural assistance, racial reconciliation, care of the developmentally disabled and aid to victims of war and calamity.
The denomination now counts about 700,000 members in the United States and Canada in about 3,700 congregations. Numerically, the strength of the Disciples of Christ runs in a broad arc that sweeps from Ohio and Kentucky through the Midwest and down into Oklahoma and Texas.
For more information, please visit www.disciples.org.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What kind of church is Wilson’s Mills Christian Church?We are a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregation. We practice open communion which means that we welcome all to the Table. We affirm freedom of belief. Our only creed is Christ, and people are free to follow their consciences guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit, study and prayer, and they are expected to extend that freedom to others. We practice baptism by immersion but other baptism traditions are honored. We believe in the oneness of the church and that all Christians are called to be one in Christ and to seek opportunities for common witness and service. We practice the ministry of believers. Both ministers and lay persons lead in worship, service, and spiritual growth. For more information, see www.disciples.org.
- How do I join Wilson’s Mills Christian Church? What are the expectations for membership?Our constitution states that people may join our fellowship by the transfer of membership, baptism, or affirmation of faith. As stated above, we accept the baptisms of other traditions and do not require people to be re-baptized. The expectations for membership at Wilson’s Mills Christian Church depend upon each individual’s conscience. We trust our members to interpret for themselves how they wish to participate in the life of their faith community, but we also recognize that the ministries of the church are dependent on the commitment of members in terms of time, talent, and treasure.
- What does Wilson’s Mills Christian Church believe about Jesus? The Bible? God?We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world. We hold the centrality of scripture, recognizing that each person has the freedom – and the responsibility – to study God’s Word within the community of the church. We anticipate God’s coming reign, seeking to serve the God – Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer – whose loving dominion has no end.
- How big is Wilson’s Mills Christian Church?We have approximately 65 households. We average between 50-70 people each week in worship.
- How do I get on the newsletter mailing list?”The Pilgrim” is published once a month and may be received by postal delivery or e-mail. You may request either form of delivery by contacting the church office at 919-934-2751 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How do decisions get made at Wilson’s Mills Christian Church?As a Disciples church, Wilson’s Mills Christian Church has a congregational polity. This means that the whole congregation is the ultimate decision-maker. Our church constitution provides the operational framework for this process. In handling day-to-day matters, staff, committees, and the General Board make a variety of decisions that affect their various areas of responsibility in the life of the church. However, when an issue is raised that affects the entire congregation-such as the budget, hiring of staff, ordination of ministers, and other matters that affect how we do our life together in significant ways-those questions are put before the entire congregation for a vote. A 2/3 majority vote at a congregational meeting is required to make these decisions.
- How can I get involved at Wilson’s Mills Christian Church?Most people first encounter our church when they attend a worship service. We recommend that a person who is interested in getting involved attend Sunday school held prior to worship each Sunday. There are classes for children and youth as well as an adult class. Participation in one of these classes provides contact with a small group of people and an environment in which to get to know them while wrestling with questions of faith. There are also fellowship opportunities with the Christian Men’s Fellowship (CMF) which meets the third Monday of each month; and the Christian Women’s Fellowship (CWF) which sets its meetings throughout the year.Another good way to get to know Wilson’s Mills Christian Church people is by participating in a LOGOS. LOGOS is a congregational ministry. Children come on Thursday nights for Bible study, crafts, recreation, and a home-cooked dinner served family style. There are opportunities to teach, mentor, and wash dishes – something for every skill set! LOGOS is a great way to get to know our family of faith.
If you are interested in serving the church, volunteer opportunities abound. Although members of our General Board must be church members, participation in our music ministries, committees, and study groups, assisting with children’s and youth activities, and most other roles in the church do not require church membership. Most committees have a defined membership that is set by our nominating process, but all of them are open to input and assistance from new persons.
Breaking into a new congregation is not easy for many people, so we try to ease that transition as best we can. The minister is always happy to provide advice or assistance if you decide that you want to become involved in our faith community.
- What does Wilson’s Mills Christian Church offer my children and youth?At Wilson’s Mills Christian Church, we want to create a safe, caring environment where our children and youth can learn and grow on their faith journey. On Sunday mornings, we offer age-appropriate classes that are structured to teach the fundamentals of faith and how we practice faith in the real world. On Thursday evenings, we offer LOGOS for children of all ages (see question 7 for more details). We have many periodic activities such as a summer worship and music camp which help our children and youth learn more about faith. We also provide safe, fun social activities in which our children and youth can participate such as picnics, supper studies, and parties.
- What is worship like at Wilson’s Mills Christian Church?Worship at Wilson’s Mills Christian Church seeks to provide a sacred space for all to approach and respond to God. Worship is purposefully planned to assist the congregation in gathering for worship, experiencing and responding to God’s word, and going forth to minister.Participation in the seasons of the Christian year, use of the Revised Common Lectionary, and periodic opportunities to worship with persons from other faith traditions in the community provide worshipers at Wilson’s Mills with valued ecumenical connections.