Crooked Oak Moravian Church
Crooked Oak Moravian Church in the mountains of Virginia arose from a deep need. It was the summer of 1920, pastor C. D. Crouch relates, when Alfred M. Dawson, a member of Willow Hill Church found a nearby area which lacked opportunity for religious services of any kind. Moved by this absence, he arranged for a service the following Sunday “at a crooked oak tree by the side of the road,” and a goodly number of people attended. Thus encouraged, Br. Dawson continued services by the side of the road “when rain and storm did not prevent.”
When Br. Crouch was placed in charge of the mountain work for the Moravian Church, Br. Dawson approached him for help, and “so on May the 13th, 1923, pastor and layman walked down the mountain 6 miles to the place beside the road where a good sized congregation awaited service.”
Preaching by the roadside had sufficed so far, but for more permanent services, more permanent arrangements were called for. Land was donated, and construction began on a church. Work went slowly, but at last on July 17, 1927, the building was consecrated by Bishop Edward Rondthaler, just a week before his 85th birthday. The congregation itself, though, was not formally organized.
Although Crooked Oak was faithfully tended by Br. Dawson and Br. Crouch and other ministers, the congregation did not grow over the years as it should. Finally in 1955 a discouraged Provincial Elders Conference voted to discontinue it.
That wasn’t the intent of the Crooked Oak members. They were determined that their church would continue.
From that rocky bottom Crooked Oak received new life in the 1960’s when Bethabara members began to take an interest. Where Alfred Dawson left off Br. Clayton Hall took up the lay work.
The congregation still hardly nudges growth charts, but the little church on the side of the road is still well maintained, acolyte Gary Easter faithfully tends to services — and PEC lists Crooked Oak as a part of the Southern Province.