It took a lot of prayer, determination, fish fries and bake sales to put life back in a historic church in Lincolnton. Greater Moore’s Chapel AME Zion Church had their first service in the original chapel on New Year’s Eve after being closed for two decades.
The congregation is small but mighty. Despite receiving initial estimates of millions of dollars to repair the church, the congregation held firm. The opinion of several contractors was that the foundation was unsafe, and reconstruction would be costly and dangerous. In 2003, the church committee decided to tear down the church and rebuild. After an outpouring of support from the community, however, a campaign was put in place to raise money to repair the church.
The church was established in 1863 and brought into the AMEZ connection in 1869. Over the years, it has weathered storms, both from nature and civil unrest. It was ultimately determined that water caused the damage that had to be corrected.
“The church was rebuilt after a fire in the 1940s,” Stan Rendleman, one of the trustees of the church said. “It was a common thing for them to take masonry and put it around an existing wooden frame. We thought we had structural damage and the towers were leaning. Come to find out, that wasn’t it. The church was never condemned. We took it upon ourselves to move out because we thought it was unsafe.”
While the money was being raised and the repairs being made, the congregation met at the former Oaklawn School for several years. Then a small modular building was moved to the rear of the property and services were held there.
“There was a lot of empty hopes and promises, but we stood fast and did what we had to do,” Rendleman said. “We had a lot of fish fries and lots of donations which got us back here. Once people saw us start doing things, it was like a ball of fire and here we are today. It might have been easier to tear it down, but there were so many fond memories here that we held firm. We stood fast and made some right decisions. I’m sure there were naysayers and doubters on the outside looking in. There was always the question of ‘what are you going to do with the church?’ ‘We’re going to get back in.’ We might have a re-dedication fish fry one day. Moore’s Chapel’s here to stay.”
It’s hoped that the church will now grow in numbers.