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Abandoned but not forgotten: Little white church’s tradition continues

By Ellen Bishop

To the Enterprise

“The Church in the Wildwood” by Pitts was a very fitting prelude to play at the Cherry Hill Church homecoming Sunday, July 25, where the Rev. John C. Elam of Franklin led the morning worship service.

Indeed, it was a sweet clear Sabbath morning in the little white church that sits up on a woody knoll at the corner of Point and Cherry Hill roads in southern Davie County.

According to the bulletin, on Oct. 26, 1873, a group of Lutheran members from the New Jerusalem Lutheran Church and part of the Old Dutch Meeting House or Heidelberg Evangelical Church, organized Reformation Lutheran congregation which was also called Cherry Hill. The organization took place in the log schoolhouse which was across the road from the present church.

The names of 15 males and 24 females comprise the list of the original members.

Mathias Miller gave the land for the church site and cemetery on April 17, 1874 and the cornerstone was laid on Aug. 22, 1874.

Although there has not been a regular service since about 1933, the members and community have never quite let it go.

Except for a few years during World War II when gasoline was limited, and last year due to the pandemic, the doors have been unlocked once a year.  Many of Mr. Miller’s  descendants, those of former church members and friends from the surrounding area have continued to worship on the last Sunday in July.

Writer Ellen Myers Bishop attends the reunion in 1954.

According to the Twin City Sentinel dated July 30, 1954, “I was one of the youngest to enjoy the good food to be had at this homecoming. One of my fondest childhood memories is of attending this once a year event. So, this past Sunday the 25th, my husband and I, along with my sister, Mary Poole, joined in fellowship with others to sing the old hymns, listen to God’s word and to have a great meal on the grounds.  My hope is that the newer generation will continue to take part in preserving this treasure of a church and its history.”

And, it looks as if they will.

Trent and Makayla Berry and their baby Adalynn were in attendance on this Sunday along with their extended family and many others.  It was great to see that the tradition of homecoming was alive and well in this little church  – even though it’s only once a year.