NC East Beginnings...

The NC East District of the Wesleyan church has deep and rich beginnings. 

Our denomination brought its passionate anti-slavery convictions to the South. 

Take a few minutes and learn about our humble, one-room church

that brought its message of love, unity and equality to a little town called Snow Camp.

Historical Roots...

The North Carolina East District of the Wesleyan Church consists of eighty Wesleyan churches and missions located from the Piedmont to the Coastal Plains of eastern North Carolina. Within these churches there is diversity in points of origin, history, traditions, ethnicity, and customs, but unity in love for God, a Wesleyan-Armenian theological perspective, and a desire to share God’s love with others.

The historical roots of The Wesleyan Church reflect a reform movement that began in mid-nineteenth century prior to the Civil War, and a revival movement that began near the close of the nineteenth century. This spiritual awakening reached across the United States and produced a renewed emphasis on holiness, the second coming of Christ, divine healing, and foreign missions.

Freedom's Hill Church, ca. 1848 - Artist Rendering

This reform movement found its primary focus in the issue of abolishing human slavery. Leaders and members of various denominations; including the Methodist Church, the home church of the early Wesleyans; feared that this issue might bring division within the church and the nation, and refused to address these concerns.

Rev. Orange Scott, one of the early leaders of what is now The Wesleyan Church, became a champion in the abolition of slavery. Others followed his example. This resulted in a number of churches leaving their denominational connection as well as the formation of a significant number of independent churches.

These churches were bound together by a common theological perspective and outspoken opposition to slavery. In 1843, a convention of pastors and people from these churches was held at Utica, New York. This group solidified and united their efforts by forming the Wesleyan Methodist Connection.

At the close of the Civil War some of the leaders of the movement felt that the issue of slavery had been settled and that there was no need for the continuation of the movement. Several of these reformers returned to their former denominational connections.

Other issues had not been resolved, however, and these issues were vigorously supported among those who did not return to their previous church affiliations. Over time the union took on the characteristics of a denomination and eventually became known as the Wesleyan Methodist Church.                                                          continued...

The first effort at establishing Wesleyan Methodist churches in North Carolina began as early as 1846, and the first church building was erected near Snow Camp. The church became known as Freedom’s Hill Church. The founding pastor, Adam Crooks, dedicated this log structure in March, 1848. Due to their stance on slavery, opposition in the community was very strong. This resulted in ongoing opposition from pro-slavery activists in the community, leading to many outbreaks of violence directed against the little but courageous band of Wesleyans.

On one occasion they even suffered shots being fired into the building during one of their meetings. Adam Crooks was the object of several of these attacks, including being dragged out of the pulpit at Lovejoy Chapel and beaten. A young boy in that community, whose family was sympathetic to the Wesleyan cause, lost his life in one of the incidents.

Crooks was subjected to public humiliation, falsely accused of crimes he did not commit and arrested and jailed. His food was even poisoned, leading to great physical injury to his health.

There was also the notorious public hanging of a leading layman in the Freedom’s Hill Church, Macajah McPherson. Fortunately, he was taken down and left for dead, but survived. He and his family moved from the community, but he became a prominent abolitionist speaker and traveled widely proclaiming the evils of slavery.

The Freedoms Hill Church was eventually closed after a century of service. The building has been preserved and was relocated to the historic Wesleyan campgrounds at Colfax. The building was later relocated to the campus of Southern Wesleyan University in Central, South Carolina, where it has been restored and is used for historical display.