If the history of Hopewell went back only to when it was a Moravian church, it would begin in 1932, when we bought it from the Lutherans. We paid $50. But Hopewell — and its connection with the Moravians — go back more than a century before that.
A Lutheran congregation must have been worshiping at Heinrich Rippel’s, about four miles south of Salem, for a number of years when on March 17, 1811, they consecrated their new church and the Moravian band played for the occasion. Gottlieb Schober, a Moravian who had been ordained a Lutheran minister, was their pastor. By 1815 the name Hopewell was being used.
Schober was a pioneer of Sunday schools in North Carolina. When he learned that some of the Salem teachers wanted to start one he invited them to Hopewell. A beginning was made there on September 8, 1816, with 25 young people to “learn to read German so they might be able to read the Bible in their own language.”
Though Hopewell was a Lutheran church, Moravian ministers, principally from Friedberg, preached there over the years. Following the Civil War, W. A. Lutz, a Lutheran minister, served off and on as Hopewell’s pastor, and a new church was built in the 1890’s. On August 11, 1907, a “one hundredth anniversary of the organization of the First Sunday School in North Carolina” was held at Hopewell.
Despite such activity, a period of decline set in at Hopewell until James P. Crouch, a mail carrier by trade and Moravian lay pastor by devotion, sparked a revival in 1931 with a series of services. That November 17 the Hopewell congregation asked the Provincial Elders Conference to organize them as a Moravian church, and the transfer from Lutheran to Moravian began. Formally organized as a Moravian congregation on Sunday, June 19, 1932, Hopewell now embarked upon building a new brick church, which was dedicated on July 4, 1937.
More construction followed World War II, with a Scout hut in 1959 and a parsonage completed in 1960 for Norman Byerly, Hopewell’s first full-time resident pastor. Hopewell’s current sanctuary and Christian education building were constructed in 1964.