For the second time in the millennium, Peace Moravian Church is packing up its pipe organ for a move.
This time, though, its final destination is not yet known.
After about 12 years at its facility on six acres off Rea Road, the church representatives have sold the building and property to Hope Community Church and become, as the interim pastor describes, a “mobile community.”
For now the church holds its non-worship activities in the parish house on the property, which it is leasing from Hope Community for three years.
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“There’s some excitement about the future – they just don’t know what it is right now,” said the Rev. Keith Copeland, who became Peace Moravian’s interim pastor in January. “But at least we have time and space to figure that out.”
The church said goodbye to its sanctuary on Aug. 23, processing out with the Moravian seal and other important Moravian objects. The church’s brass band, a Moravian musical tradition, played.
Hope Community is going to do all of those things we had dreamed to be a part of.
The Rev. Keith Copeland of Peace Moravian Church
The organ will go into a climate-controlled storage space until church representatives choose their next steps.
Peace Moravian Church opened in 1963. It originally was named Park Road Moravian Church and was built on six acres on Park Road that were surrounded by pasture land.
SouthPark grew up around it, and by the late 1990s, the church’s building was in need of extensive renovations. The congregation also needed more space. When a developer offered the church $2.5 million and a lot on Rea Road, the congregation decided to move.
The church built a new facility where Rea and Colony roads intersect and renamed the church Peace Moravian.
Copeland said that the church, which has about 100 members, has had financial problems for a while. The building has been well used by community groups, but he said the congregation had not expanded.
“The congregation was not large enough to meet its obligations and hold and maintain the facility,” Copeland said. “It got too big for us.”
The church has long opened to other groups, hosting support group meetings and other churches. In March of 2013, Hope Community Church began holding a 9 a.m. church service there.
Meanwhile, Hope Community Church was established in 2002, when 70 adults and their children began meeting at the YWCA on Park Road in hopes of reaching the many college-educated young professionals who lived in the area.
The church outgrew the YWCA, and in 2008 it moved its Sunday worship service to Charlotte Presbyterian Church on Scaleybark Road.
In 2012, the church started a second Sunday worship service, said Matt Guzi, a pastor at Hope Community. By this time, many of the church’s members had married, begun having kids and moved into the Olde Providence neighborhood. The church representatives began looking for a worship space nearby, and Peace Moravian was an “ideal location,” Guzi wrote in an email.
Hope Community had a good relationship with Peace Moravian and the congregation loved the facilities and the location, Guzi wrote, so they approached the Moravian leaders about buying the building. They closed on the property this summer.
As part of the agreement, Peace Moravian will continue to use the Parish House and the church’s children’s classrooms for its Peace Preschool.
Hope Community Church already is making changes to the church building to accommodate its less traditional style. The pipe organ and choir loft have been removed to make room for more seating, and the church plans to expand the sanctuary and children’s ministry area.
A barn on the property will be renovated for a youth space for Hope Community’s rapidly growing middle and high school ministry.
Hope Community will continue to hold its 11 a.m. service at the Scaleybark location and meet at 9 a.m. on Rea Road. The permanent facility will help the church establish a presence in the community, Guzi wrote.
“We intend to use the facilities to benefit the community much as the Moravians have,” he wrote. “It will certainly help us develop our own sense of community within the church.”
Hope Community plans to host seminars and other congregational gatherings – including an upcoming college football kickoff party – at its new building.
While Copeland said there has been sadness about the transition for Peace Moravian, the church is glad that Hope Community will carry out the church’s plans to expand the building and will continue using it for the community.
“Hope Community is going to do all of those things we had dreamed to be a part of,” Copeland said.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope Community Church meets Sundays at 9 a.m. at 4418 Rea Road, and Peace Moravian Church meets for worship at that location at 11 a.m.