Little Church on the Lane
The Moravian Church’s presence in Charlotte goes at least as far back as 1897, when Bishop Edward Rondthaler visited and found a “hearty interest” among Moravians living there.
With encouragement from Mr. and Mrs. William T. Wohlford, who always gave him “the most sunshiny of welcomes,” Bishop Rondthaler organized the Charlotte church on November 7, 1920, with 11 communicant members. Mrs. Wohlford gave further encouragement in 1922 by donating land in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood for the building of a church.
Then in 1924 as the church’s first full-time pastor, a young seminary graduate named Herbert Spaugh, was called. It was the beginning of a 42-year marriage of church and pastor. For the formal opening of the “parish house” on October 19, 1924, the band from Salem came down, and Bishop Rondthaler conducted baptisms. Other buildings followed: a community house in 1926, the parsonage in 1937, the church in 1949, and a youth building in 1956.
Not only did Br. Spaugh devote himself to his congregation, but he immersed himself in the growing, bustling city of Charlotte. He began writing a column in the local newspaper. It ran daily for more than 45 years and was syndicated in a number of Southern newspapers. When WBT went on the air, Br. Spaugh was ready to make the first broadcast of the Easter Sunrise Service, complete with church band assembled in the radio station’s studio on Great Sabbath in 1927. By 1929 the Easter service in Independence Park was drawing 3,000 worshipers. By 1933 Br. Spaugh had a regular radio ministry of as many as 13 broadcasts a month. He served on the city’s school board for 25 years, and his wise leadership as chair made peaceful desegregation possible in the 1960’s.
It was the radio broadcasts that gave the Charlotte Moravian Church its name. At first the programs were introduced as coming from Myers Park Moravian Church, the “Little Church around the Corner.” But there were several churches in Myers Park, and “Little Church around the Corner” was a New York expression. The suggestion was made for a name befitting the church’s location: “Little Church on the Lane.”
Bishop Herbert Spaugh retired in 1966, but his influence still lingers to this day. Little Church’s education building, dedicated in 1974, is named in his honor.