"St. Philips African Moravian Church at Old Salem Museums & Gardens is holding a Christmas Lovefeast on Thursday, December 11 to commemorate the first service held in the church on December 15, 1861. The Lovefeast will begin at noon and is free and open to the public. It will include traditional Lovefeast buns and tea as well as special music featuring the Voices of God’s Children, an all-volunteer choir dedicated to the preservation of Negro Spirituals.
Historic St. Philips African Moravian Church is the oldest African American church still standing in the state of North Carolina and one of the earliest in the entire country. Built for the African American congregation, the church matched most of the other churches in the area built at the same time with the large brick, Greek Revival style. The church was expanded in 1890 with the need to add more classroom space downstairs and above in the balcony. The church extended out into the graveyard, which later caused structural issues on the front walls. The congregation moved out of the building in 1952, and the church sat vacant until restored for use as part of Old Salem Museums & Gardens tours. The steeple, which had been removed in the 1920s, was part of the exterior restoration. The original pews and other details are back in place inside the building.
It was from the pulpit of this brick church that on Sunday, May 21, 1865 a Union Cavalry Chaplain announced freedom to the enslaved community in and around the town of Salem, now Winston-Salem.
About St. Philips Heritage Center
The St. Philips Heritage Center in Old Salem is a sacred place significant to the unusual and unique history of this community, and it is a touchstone of the African American experience. The African and African American Moravian congregation, organized in Salem in 1822 among a mostly enslaved population, is one of the oldest Black congregations in the United States. It is the only historic African American Moravian congregation in the country. The Center is comprised of the African Moravian Log Church, St. Philips African Moravian Church, the Strangers Graveyard, the African American Graveyard and the Path to Happy Hill Overlook.
About Old Salem
Old Salem Museums & Gardens is one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions. Its museums—the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), and the Gardens at Old Salem—engage visitors in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South. Old Salem Museums & Gardens is located at 600 South Main Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call 336-721-7300 or visit oldsalem.org."
- A Press Release