By Yustin Riopko
WAXHAW – Since 1888, a cozy little community building has given Church Street its name. Waxhaw United Methodist Church will turn 130 years old soon, and a lot has happened in the meantime.
Waxhaw UMC was chartered one year before the town itself. It was originally located one block north of its current location. The old wooden building was moved by horsepower across the street to its current location in 1906 and then rebuilt entirely into its current Gothic Revival style in 1924. Church records say the cost of the current building was $17,000 – or $232,000 in today’s value.
Anniversary committee historian Susan Johnson discussed some of Waxhaw UMC’s rich history with Union County Weekly. Officials performed a wedding for Mack Price and Mary Richardson in the church before it was even finished. Another story involved a pastor so scared of horses he walked seven miles to church every day, just so he wouldn’t have to ride a buggy.
Pastor John McGill said the church is focused as much on its legacy as its future. The pastor believes the key to staying relevant is connecting the two.
“It’s beautiful to walk into a sanctuary that’s almost 100 years old, but nobody wants to walk into a 100-year-old bathroom,” McGill said laughing. “We want to celebrate in our rootedness and longevity, but we want to have modern conveniences at the same time.”
To that end, Waxhaw UMC has renovated and added features like paved parking and WiFi.
Most of the congregation’s hard work has been for everyone around them though.
One of Waxhaw UMC’s biggest outreach programs is called Fixing It For Christ. Every
summer, teams of workers head out into the community to paint, landscape, patch holes and generally fix up homes.
Project coordinator Jim Howie explained that Fixing It For Christ started after a group from the church went to Pascagoula, Miss., in 2006 to help with repairs after Hurricane Katrina.
“We had members that wanted to participate but couldn’t take the time to get to Mississippi or anywhere else far off,” Howie said. “The next year, we decided to stay here and work on folks’ houses at home.”
Fixing It For Christ has gained momentum, as Waxhaw UMC has begun partnering with 12 other churches and expanded its definition of “home” to stretch from Monroe to Lancaster, S.C. Last year, the program affected 24 homes in four days.
“As Christians – as followers of Jesus – we’re called to help our neighbors,” Howie said. “It provides a blessing for the people whose homes we work on, but it also provides a blessing for the workers, getting to help someone and give them a foot up to help them out of a problem.”
This year, Fixing It For Christ will take place June 20 to 23.
Waxhaw UMC also works to provide meals throughout the year for the homeless shelter in Monroe and partners with Angel Tree to provide Christmas gifts to children whose parents are in prison.
McGill doesn’t think pastors are appointed to just churches. Instead he said they’re appointed to “parishes,” or whole areas.
“Whoever has physical needs or needs love or compassion – that’s who the pastor and church are there for,” McGill said. “We have to always have our heads up to look around and check on the people around us.”
Want to celebrate?
Waxhaw UMC celebrates its 130-year anniversary during the first week of October. Call 704-843-3931 or email Amy Howie at email@example.com for details. The schedule consists of the following activities:
Saturday, Oct. 6
Outdoor picnic at church grounds
Food and entertainment provided
Open to the community
Bring a lawn chair
Sunday, Oct. 7
Extended morning service
Free catered lunch