In the postwar boom while the Southern Province through its Young Adult Fellowship was starting Konnoak Hills Moravian Church, New Philadelphia went an extra mile by starting a church on its own.
In 1951 New Philadelphia was very much in the country to the west of Winston-Salem’s city limits. A couple of miles to the north of New Philadelphia, on Robin Hood Road, lay the community of Mount Tabor, also in the country from Winston-Salem. It was on Robin Hood Road between Peace Haven and Polo Roads that New Philadelphia and its pastor, Henry Lewis, with help from the Province’s Church Aid and Extension Board, began a “home mission.”
The mission was called Messiah, and it met in a store building. Thirty-seven people attended the first service on September 2, 1951. The formal opening service was a lovefeast on October 7, and the store was too small for those who attended. About 50 outside had to listen by loudspeaker. Official organization as a church of the Southern Province was on November 18, 1951, when “the little store-church building was filled to capacity as the vows of the charter members of Messiah were spoken with due solemnity.”
There were just over 30 of them. Most of them did not have a Moravian background, but they loved Moravian customs.
Next came a place of worship. A 3 1/2 -acre site on Peace Haven Road was purchased. Groundbreaking was on April 12, 1953, and the cornerstone was laid and the building occupied on August 2. When Messiah offered to pay part of Br. Lewis’s salary, New Philadelphia responded by saying, “Put it in your building fund as a gift from New Philadelphia.”
Barely five years after moving into its new building, Messiah had paid off its debt.
Br. Ray Troutman, just graduating from Moravian Theological Seminary, was installed as Messiah’s pastor on June 28, 1953, and Henry Lewis could return to serving New Philadelphia.
Messiah grew quickly like its suburban neighborhood, and by the 1960’s it embarked on erecting a new sanctuary and Christian education building. Church Council approved the plans on January 6, 1963, and the cornerstone of the current sanctuary was laid and the first service held in it on April 26, 1964.