A brand new church in a brand new town. That was Mayodan Moravian Church in Mayodan, North Carolina, in 1896.
The story actually began six years earlier when on September 11, 1890, the Home Church Sunday School took an excursion on the new Roanoke and Southern Railroad to the falls of the Mayo River several miles upstream from the Dan. There they picnicked and in the afternoon held a Moravian lovefeast.
Col. Francis H. Fries probably remembered that excursion when in 1895 he chose those falls as a perfect site to generate power for a cotton mill and mill town that he would build. Industrialist Col. Fries was also president of the Home Church Sunday School, and so it was natural that he invited his pastor, Bishop Edward Rondthaler, to ride out from Salem on August 27, 1895, and select the site for a Moravian church.
The Bishop probably took a special interest in this work, because his son, Howard Rondthaler, was called fresh out of seminary to be founding pastor. Subscriptions were raised, a handsome church was begun, and on July 26, 1896, with 200 people assembled before Mrs. Higgins’ hotel, Howard Rondthaler laid the cornerstone in the “first Moravian service . . . held in the new town of Mayodan.” On the “worst day in November,” Sunday the 29th, Bishop Rondthaler joined his son to formally organize Mayodan Moravian Church. Despite the raw, rainy weather, the 225-seat church saw a “good congregation.” In the December 1896 Wachovia Moravian , editor Edward Rondthaler devoted the front page to Mayodan, even publishing a drawing of the church, only the third news illustration to appear in the Provincial magazine.
The Mayodan church prospered, providing the mill town with its first public school and library. When Col. Fries began another mill town called Avalon only two miles away in 1900, many of the Mayodan church moved to work in the new mill and start a Moravian church there. When the Avalon mill burned in 1911, many of them returned to the Mayodan church. A preaching station called Kallam flourished for a time in the 1920’s with assistance of Mayodan’s minister and members. Leaksville Moravian Church got its start with strong assistance from Mayodan.
Mayodan church itself grew with the addition of Sunday school rooms in 1937, a new parsonage in 1954, a new church tower in 1961, a new Christian education building in 1963, and a facelift of the old wooden church building with a brick façade in 1970.
In 1996 Mayodan Moravian Church celebrated its 100th anniversary, looking to the future with faith and expectation.