The historic Southern Pines Chapel returns for worship this Sunday.
Southern Pines Chapel, located at 240 East New Hampshire Avenue in the historic district, is a beloved community chapel known to many. Amid the old train station by the tracks, the Ice Cream Parlor, Sunrise Theater and several other popular sites stand Southern Pines Chapel. The cornerstone of this Southern Pines landmark was laid in 1928.
In 2018, after a long run as a place of worship, the property was about to be put up for sale. God placed the desire to preserve this property as a church on the heart of Kathy Virtue, a longtime resident of Southern Pines and director of a family-owned foundation focused on building churches, schools, orphan homes and medical clinics in Africa, according to a news release.
Virtue and her foundation stepped out in faith and purchased the church, trusting only God to provide. She believed that God would provide a pastor and church family who shared the same vision and would desire to purchase the historic property.
After five years, her hopes and vision for this property seemed to end. The foundation was about to place the property on the market, saddened that it would no longer serve the greater community as a church.
This is when Father Michael McKinnon, a priest in the Anglican Christian tradition, who recently moved with his family to Moore County to plant a new church, heard that the property was about to come up for sale.
“I was meeting with a mutual friend of Kathy Virtue for coffee at Java Bean in the Historic District who informed me that Kathy and her Christian missionary organization was about to list the property,” said McKinnon in a news release. “I too felt in my spirit, as Virtue had five years earlier, ‘we need to save this old church.’ It needs to remain a church. When I first viewed the church, I could hear the voice of God saying, ‘Welcome Home. Feed my people.'”
Thus, 95 years after the cornerstone of this church was laid, the little brick church on East New Hampshire Avenue is once again to remain a community church. However, McKinnon and his church family only held their first services at a rented location on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022. Thus, they have a less established financial history.
The new church is establishing a two-tier campaign to help them purchase the church in the immediate future. First, they are looking for a minimum of 200 people in Moore County who desire to help them preserve this historic building and chapel as a place of worship to make a one-time donation of $200.
McKinnon said, “We have not even officially announced this campaign, and already checks for $200 are coming in. We are so blessed to see people in the community helping us to preserve this chapel as a House of Christian Worship and support to the greater community. We need an ol’ fashioned neighborhood church in the Historic District.”
Secondly, they are receiving donations to their new capital campaign drive. “$10, $50, $100, or $20,000 will help. The smaller the mortgage loan, the more we will be able to invest in our community. This is my heart, to help those in need. We are committed to serving our community. Please help us to help others.” McKinnon said.
Fr. McKinnon is already active in the community, serving as chaplain to The Southern Pines Fire Department, which recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, is a proud member of The Southern Pines Rotary Club, and volunteers with Meals on Wheels, serving those in need in both Southern Pines and Aberdeen. He also serves on the faculty and as dean of students for All Saints Christian Academy in Cameron.
McKinnon believes, “A priest must be involved in his local community, serving all in need. We believe that God himself came from heaven in the person of Jesus Christ, not to be served, but to serve. If I believe this, and I do, then I too must be among God’s people as one who serves.”
The Anglican Church of the Advent will celebrate its grand opening in Southern Pines Chapel at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26.
McKinnon said, “All are welcome to join us as we worship God in Word and Sacrament.” He added, “Ever wonder what the earliest Christian Church was like? If so, then please, ‘Come and See.’ We offer the same Holy Scriptures, Worship life, Faith, and Ministry as the earliest Christian Church without addition or deletion. We are committed to Christian Worship, Evangelism, Discipleship, Outreach, and local and global Mission. Together, we can make a difference.”
The church will host a campfire, S’mores, and open house on Saturday, Feb. 25. The event will take place at Southern Pines Chapel from 4-6 p.m.
“We all know that S’mores prove the existence of God,” joked McKinnon. “No way S’mores are an accident. On Saturday, February 25 we will be holding a camp fire, with s’mores, and an open house event for the neighborhood and the greater community.”
To help secure the Southern Pines Chapel, you may donate by clicking here.