Aldersgate Methodist Church is the first
Methodist Church to bear this name in the North Carolina Annual
Conference. The church was begun at the 1955 session of the Annual
Conference on the recommendation of Dr. W. L. Clegg, Durham District
Superintendent and Rev. Thomas A. Collins, Conference Director of Church
Henry I. Glass, a distinguished senior pastor of this
conference, was appointed to be the first pastor.
Glass began visiting in the community and searching for a church site. The
property, on which there was a building formerly used as a dance hall, was
selected as a meeting place, and with help from the Annual Conference Ten
Dollar Club formed in 1953 by the Board of Missions, on recommendation of
Rev. Collins offered a grant to match funds raised through a solicitation
by Dr. Clegg, District Superintendent, from the churches of the Durham
District. With these funds the land and building at the corner of Duke
Street and Horner Street was purchased with one lot donated by Mr. W. C.
Carver, Durham Realtor and active Methodist layman.
The first goals were, of course visitation,
for which a religious census was helpful. Dr. Glass and Rev. Tom Collins
led in the census taking with the assistance of assigned Duke Divinity
students. During this time the conversion of the building was being
accomplished with appropriate furnishings and equipment for worship and
The site was outside the city limits which
posed problems of access to water and necessitated the digging of a well,
138 feet deep, more than 100 feet of these through solid rock. For the
conversion from a dance hall to a church much had to be done: the
arrangement of a sanctuary, classrooms, painting and acquiring the
necessary furniture and equipment. Durham churches donated some supplies
and furnishings, the remainder was purchased.
Through a "Tom Sawyer Party",
consisting of the District Superintendent and a large number of Durham
District Methodist pastors, a substantial part of the painting of the
inside was done. Mr. Shaw of Shaw Paint and Paper Company and Mr. Claude
May, donated the paint. Men of the Church did much of the remainder of the
painting; most of it at night after their day's work had ended.
For the equipment the following gifts were
made: Communion Table, Durham Furniture Company; Communion set and
Clothes, Mrs. Dolian Harris; Pulpit Chair, Mr. & Mrs. J. W. Chappell;
a second Pulpit Chair by Mr., & Mrs. John T. Blalock; Hymn and Church
School Report Boards, Mr. & Mrs. E. C. Garrard; Pulpit Desk and Bible,
Dr. & Mrs. H. I. Glass. In addition the pastor through personal
solicitation among Durham Methodists and personal friends raised a
Methodist group in the community was not the largest, constituting less
than 30%. There was no sponsoring organization and no gifts of members
from other Methodist Churches, so building the membership meant winning
them one by one. It meant also welding these Methodists with those of
several other denominations who chose to unite with us in this task, and
molding them into a united fellowship.
Sunday School classes and Sunday Worship
began early in the fall of 1955. The first Worship Service was held on
October 30, 1955. This was followed a few Sundays later by the
organization of the Church School with three divisions, the Children, the
youth, and the adults.
On March 6, 1956 the Woman's Society of
Christian Service was organized with 16 charter members. During the summer
of this first year a Vacation Bible School was held with 41 children and 9
On Sunday, January 8, 1956, following
morning worship, District Superintendent W. L. Clegg formerly constituted
the Church with 32 Charter Members. Among those taking part was Rev. Tom
Collins, who brought greetings from the Conference Board of Missions and
Bishop Paul Neff Garber. The Mission Board had declared Aldersgate
Methodist Church a Ten Dollar Club Church and assisted with a grant of
approximately $15,000 in funds for this new congregation to help pay for
land and building.
As this is written in 1957, there are 68
members of the Church, 127 in the Church School, 26 members of the WSCS,
17 members of Methodist Men's Club, and 14 members of our Cub Scout Pack.
The budget for 1958-59 has been adopted in the amount of $3,518.05
subscribed by our members. Prospects are good for the starting of a
Parsonage for the Church at an early date this year.
The organization of this church and the
fine service it is rendering has changed the tone of this community. It
has provided a means of growth in the Christian Life, and a channel of
service for those who compose her membership.
It is not only a field of service; it is an
organized force working for Kingdom ends. A finer fellowship, a greater
Christian zeal, and a greater willingness to work for the Lord you will
rarely ever find. I am certain you may look to the future of this Church
Dr. Henry I Glass, Pastor
1965, a small sanctuary seating 135 persons, a choir loft seating 12, and
3 small classrooms were built. On March 13, 1966, the first service was
held in the new sanctuary. For the next 24 years, the Aldersgate
congregation continued to grow under the leadership and guidance of
Rev. Bobby Black 1957-1958 Rev. Bill Spears
Rev. Rudy H. Hodge 1967-1969 Rev. Waylon
Rev. James B. Godwin 1969-1972 Rev. Tom
Rev. William C. Simpson 1972-1975
Rev. Ben Potter 1975-1978
Rev. Robert Wallace 1978-1990
Rev. Charles Pollock 1990-1994
It was a church at the crossroads, serving
the Durham community with a Christian outreach.
On May 18, 1980, the decision was made to
leave the Duke Street and Horton Road building and relocate to a new
church building in Northwest Durham County. This decision was a difficult
one, but the vision for the future remained the driving force. Thus, on
May 28, 1985, in a worship service, the congregation deconsecrated the old
building and the building was demolished on June 3, 1985. The members met
in the North Carolina Korean Church on Massey Road for one year. The
members referred to this time as "our time in the wilderness".
On July 14, 1985, ground was broken for a
new church at the corner of Umstead Road and Bivens Road during a morning
worship service in the trees. The design and building of the church was
created from input from all church members. It was decided that the cross
would be the overall theme of the church architecture.
By design, the
sanctuary was built on a North-South axis so that the worshiping
congregation is facing north, where, on Sunday mornings the sun shines in
the window at the rear of the sanctuary casting a shadow of the cross on
Click here to see a guide to the Sanctuary design.
The cathedral ceiling and clear glass
windows reflect the congregations desire to be the body of Christ looking
outward into the world. This desire to be a people of God ministering to
the community is the strength of the congregation.
The building design also brings a part of
its past into the present sanctuary. The only stained glass windows in the
church are the windows brought from the first sanctuary. These were placed
in the former church as a gift from the United Methodist Women.
The large chairs placed at the sanctuary
entrance are also from the original church building. To preserve
Aldersgate’s tradition, the original small brass baptismal bowl is held
within the large baptismal font in the front of the chancel by special
design. It is the desire of the congregation to have a designated place
for this special bowl, because every Aldersgate baby has been baptized
from this small vessel.
The present sanctuary was also designed to
reflect the body of Christ that cares for one another in its midst. The
pews are angled so that the worshipers can see one another rather than
being seated in straight rows.
The 6 X 9 foot cross with the communion
table dominates the chancel area and it is the focal point of the worship
center. The large window behind the cross repeats the theme of the cross,
and is visible from any point in the sanctuary. The window reminds
Aldersgate worshipers of God’s beautiful creation as reflected in the
seasons of the year.
This building was consecrated on September
14, 1986 in a service that included preaching, baptism and a service of
Holy Communion. The next Sunday, Homecoming, was celebrated as the 30th
anniversary of Aldersgate.
program enhances the worship and includes the chancel choir, 2 children’s
choirs, a youth choir, a handbell choir and a brass ensemble.
The United Methodist Men’s group is
active with fund raising activities such as Brunswick stews and the annual
Christmas tree sales. The United Methodist Women promote their mission by
4 active circles. They have received recognition on the conference level
as a "7 star unit". It is through the tireless efforts of the
UMW that Aldersgate is recognized as a Rainbow Covenant Church. The
Aldersgate youth groups provide exciting opportunities for middle and high
school young people in leadership and Christian service. Aldersgate
reaches out into the local community sponsoring a Boy Scout troop, as well
as Cub and Brownie Scouts, and a preschool and after school program.
With leadership of dedicated Sunday School
teachers, Aldersgate offers classes for all age levels and interests. Four
mobile classrooms were erected to accommodate the overflow Sunday School
The faithful commitment of fellowship and
teamwork that existed from the early years continues to ignite and fuel
the moving spirit of today. It is a church that is the cornerstone of a
caring Christian community and embraces newcomers into its fellowship.
Aldersgate is a church that celebrates and witnesses to God’s love with
a steadfast vision for the future while building on its rich heritage.
1994 - Present
The Family Life Center was
consecrated on February 20, 2000, after many years of discussion,
planning, financial campaigns and actual construction. A detailed report
covering Aldersgate's recent history from 1994 to the present, including
the Building of God's Vision, will soon
occupy this space.