Thursday, June 08, 2017

Island Churches

Today Ocracoke has two church buildings, the United Methodist Church and the Assembly of God (a Roman Catholic mass is also celebrated, on Fridays in the Methodist Rec. Hall). At one time, before the Assembly of God was established in the late 1930s, islanders also had their choice of two churches, but they were both Methodist!
Methodist Episcopal Church, South

Methodist Episcopal Church

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, traced its roots to 1828 when itinerant Methodist preachers proselytized here. When the national church split in 1845 over the issue of slavery, the Ocracoke congregation became part of this "Southern Church." In 1883 a branch of the Methodist Episcopal Church (the "Northern Church") was established on the island. According to island native, Fannie Pearl Fulcher, who heard the story from her grandmother, "a young singing master" came to the island who "wanted to teach the choir to sing by note." This led to a division, and eventually to the establishment of the two Methodist Churches.

A national syndicated 1923 newspaper story about Ocracoke tells the story slightly differently:

"The natives tell a simple story of the division in the church. The original church was the Southern Methodist. An elder wanted an organ and another said the idea was preposterous, insisting musical instruments had no place in houses of worship. When the progressives rolled the organ into the building he secured a missionary and established the Northern church. The congregation now are about equally divided and equally strange is the fact that although in the heart of the “Democratic south,” most of the men of the Northern church are Democrats and those of the Southern branch are Republicans."

In past Ocracoke Newsletters I have written histories of both the Methodist Church and the Assembly of God. There you will find much more information.  

Out latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Aleta, Ocracoke's mailboat from 1944-1952, compliments of the Core Sound Museum. Click on the following link for photos, text, and audio recordings about this iconic vessel:

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