Olivet Moravian Church
Olivet Moravian Church traces its history back to at least two Sunday schools, Olivet and the older Spanish Grove.
The truth is we don’t know when Spanish Grove began. Our earliest mention of it is in an 1828 list of member schools of the Stokes County Sunday School Union. We do not know how long Spanish Grove had been in operation before then. Spanish Grove’s connection with Bethania and the Moravian Church goes back at least to November 29 (not 22), 1835, when George Frederic Bahnson preached there.
We have a more definite date for the Olivet Sunday School. It was begun in 1878 to “supercede” the Spanish Grove schoolhouse, which Br. R.P. Leinbach declared was “falling to decay” by then. The consecration of the Olivet chapel on December 22, 1878, was a grand affair despite icy weather, with Bishop Emil de Schweinitz presiding. Three days later Olivet observed Christmas with a lovefeast, and “candles were distributed to the children.”
The two Sunday schools, along with a third one called Pleasant Ridge two miles east of Olivet, were more or less regularly served by Bethania’s pastors well into the 20th century. By 1925, though, a movement was afoot for a new building for a combined Olivet and Spanish Grove. Land was selected on what is now Olivet Church Road, and as they had done for the first Olivet chapel, the men went into the woods to collect timber for the new church, which was constructed with brick veneer. Bishop Edward Rondthaler consecrated the fine new building on June 30, 1929.
Continued growth over the years meant it was finally time for Bethania’s “daughter” church to be a separate congregation of the Southern Province. The arrangement was completed on July 1, 1955, and Alan H. Barnes became Olivet’s first full-time pastor.
With further growth and expansion and celebration of a 150th anniversary on April 1, 2001, Olivet Moravian Church looks forward to another century of service in its community.