Raleigh Moravian Church
On December 31, 1896, Frank Hege of Raleigh wrote to Edward Rondthaler, president of PEC, to ask for a church to be organized in the state capital for the benefit of all the Moravians in the area. In response, PEC sent Howard Rondthaler and J. Kenneth Pfohl, who was then a student at Chapel Hill, to Raleigh to investigate Br. Hege’s request, and they reported that “prospect for the future was very favorable.” PEC concluded: “Another visit is recommended, for some convenient occasion.”
The Raleigh Moravians had to wait half a century for that “convenient occasion.”
In early 1951 Anne Borhek Manning, a Moravian transplanted from Bethlehem to Raleigh, expressed interest in starting a church and wondered what she and her husband could do to help. She was told that the first step was to write to J. Kenneth Pfohl, who by now was president of PEC. Contacts were made with other Moravians in the Raleigh area, and a survey was conducted. Interest grew. Raleigh’s “first Moravian service ever” took place on December 7, 1952, in the Presbyterian church on the southwest corner of Capitol Square. The Rev. Edward T. Mickey led the Christmas lovefeast and candle service, and 40 Raleigh Moravians attended as did 12 Moravian students from North Carolina State College and a number of Moravians from Winston-Salem. Less than a year later, on October 4, 1953, Raleigh Moravian Church was organized, and Walser Allen Jr. was installed as its first pastor.
The Presbyterians had been generous in offering their facilities, and for a time services were held in the YMCA building on the N.C. State campus. But the new Moravian congregation needed a home of its own. The task seemed arduous, the expenses astronomical. In July 1954 a three-acre tract on Ridge Road was purchased. Building costs forced a scaling back on plans from a handsome church edifice to a more modest fellowship hall, and delays “strained the patience and tested the faith of all concerned.” But all doubts faded when the $62,000 building was opened on March 24, 1957, though the organ was not quite finished.
Despite the addition of a $30,000 Christian education wing in 1964, a fellowship hall could not meet the need for a sanctuary, so in January 1977 planning began for the construction of a “real church.” Raleigh Moravian’s long-held dream became a reality on August 29, 1982, when the first service was held in the new $358,000 sanctuary, though the organ took much longer to finish. An additional education wing was opened in 1997.
In the late 1990’s, in conjunction with the Board of Evangelism and Home Missions, Raleigh Moravian embarked on a new experiment in church growth to be the headquarters or “mother church” of one or more new congregations in the Triangle area, an exciting prospect for a church that waited so long for that “convenient occasion” to begin.