Our History

Fairgrove Church: A Thriving Legacy (1830-Present)

With roots dating back to 1830, Fairgrove United Methodist Church boasts a rich legacy stretching over three centuries. Yet, our vision remains firmly set on the future. We’re excited to celebrate our 200th anniversary of ministry very soon – a testament to our ongoing commitment to serving God and our community.

Rooted in Faith and Humble Beginnings

Early Methodism thrived in small, local groups led by lay preachers, with ordained circuit riders visiting regularly to administer sacraments. Our story begins with Reverend Alson Gray establishing the church amidst a grove of tall oak trees and baptizing Elijah Chilcutt, who would become a cherished and long-standing member of the church community. For several years, early members gathered for worship in a local schoolhouse.

Elijah Chilcutt 1795-1874

The First Church Building

The church’s first building was constructed adjacent to the present-day location and served the congregation during the era of camp meetings, where families camped on the grounds for week-long religious gatherings. This log-built structure served the community until 1856.

A Century of Collaboration and Growth Within the Haw River Circuit

In 1856, the congregation constructed a large frame meetinghouse, serving the community for over a century. This significant year also marked Fairgrove’s entrance into the Haw River Circuit, a network of Methodist churches fostering cooperation and shared ministry. Following the division of the original Guilford Circuit, the Haw River Circuit was formed with churches north of the Reedy Fork River. The Circuit’s composition saw several shifts over the following century, with as many as 12 local congregations joining at various times, reflecting a remarkable spirit of unity and adaptation. These were: Bethel, Brown Summit, Fair Grove, Flat Rock, Friendship, Midway, Mizpah, Sandy Cross, Oak Level, Palestine, Sharon, and Union.

Growth and Transformation

By 1962, four churches (Brown Summit, Fairgrove, Friendship, and Mizpah) remained and the Circuit became the Haw River Charge. A short time later, the church building itself underwent a transformation from ground-breaking on October 9, 1966, to the start of construction in December, to its opening date on July 9, 1967. The beloved frame structure was replaced with a new brick sanctuary, reflecting the church’s growth and dedication to its mission.

Sunday morning services were held bi-monthly until 1973 when the church employed a Duke Divinity student through the Duke Endowment. This marked a turning point, leading to the official formation of a Parish in June 1976 with two full-time pastors and a part-time secretary. However, the composition of the Parish shifted in 1978 when Brown Summit and Friendship congregations departed.

Throughout the years, the church grounds have undergone significant improvements. Since 1967, landscaping projects, paved parking areas, and upgrades to the church building’s interior and exterior have enhanced the overall facilities. The cemetery has also benefited from improvements, including walkways, gates, and the addition of a prayer garden. More recently, the fellowship shelter received an enclosure and climate control system in 2002, allowing for year-round use.

A pivotal moment arrived in 2005 when Fairgrove took a bold step by becoming an independent church, separate from Mizpah in the Haw River Charge. This decision allowed for a dedicated minister and the establishment of weekly Sunday worship services.

A Look Back, A March Forward

As we approach our bicentennial in 2030, Fairgrove UMC celebrates its rich heritage. Here are some notable milestones that mark our journey of faith:

  • 1840, ’48, ’63, ’83: Four Annual Conferences of the Methodist Protestant Church were held at Fair Grove.
  • 1930: The church celebrated its Centennial under the leadership of Rev. Joe L. Trollinger.
  • 1969: Dedication of the new brick church building on November 9th, marking a new chapter for Fair Grove UMC.
  • 2000: A steeple was added to the church in memory of Olivia and Russell Christopher.
  • 2002: Stained-glass windows were installed in the sanctuary. They were later dedicated on April 23, 2003, in a service honoring our loved ones past and present.
  • 2005: Fairgrove UMC became an independent church, allowing for a dedicated pastor.
  • 2007: The church was incorporated as a non-profit and the name officially changed to Fairgrove United Methodist Church.

Enduring Strength: Rooted in God’s Faithfulness

While we’ve faced challenges in recent years, our spirit endures as we trust God’s faithfulness. In 2022, we joined forces with Glencoe UMC as part of a new charge, fostering collaboration and growth in our faith journey.

These days, our congregation celebrates every victory, big or small. We’re a welcoming community dedicated to deepening our relationship with God, and we invite you to join us! Come experience the warmth of our fellowship and feel the spirit of our long and storied history as we continue to serve our community for generations to come. We give thanks to God for continued guidance and the opportunity to write a new chapter in Fairgrove’s story.

To read about our history in greater depth, check out this 1990 entry in The Journal of Rockingham County History and Genealogy.