HISTORICAL EVENTS IN THE TAPESTRY OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING FROM THE BEGINNING THROUGH 1997
A BRIEF HISTORY OF QUAKERISM:
In 17th Century England, George Fox was bothered by unjust religious and political practices. He was a young man who left his work and began wandering about, earnestly seeking the Truth and talking with others. As a child and youth, he had read and learned the Scriptures and could find no harmony between the teaching of the Bible and the actual practices of so-called religious people. He received a lot of advice, much of which was entirely irrelevant, and was at his wits end, when in his musing he heard a voice within saying, "There is One, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition." From this experience and other promptings of the Spirit, George Fox went about the country telling of his experience. He was eagerly joined by other seekers and they called themselves "Friends of Truth." From their seeking and enlightenment, tenets or testimonies emerged, i.e., Equality, Integrity, Peace, Simplicity, Community, Sharing, Strength of Conviction and Respect toward Others. In trying to change society, they found themselves at odds with the "powers that be" and they were thrown in prison, some many times, for their adherence to their convictions. Because they felt they could not call themselves "The Church," as all Christians are of the Church of Christ, they began calling themselves "The Society of Friends." In John 15:14, we read. "You are my friends if you do what I command." In contempt, they were called "Quakers" by some who witnessed their absolute sincerity and awe of the power of God, and Friends good-naturedly adopted this name also. Not only was the message of Friends spread in England, but to other parts of the world. William Penn, son of an English nobleman, was converted to Friends beliefs and experienced religious intolerance. In 1681, when he was granted the colony of Pennsylvania, he remembered Protestants in Europe he had met on a Quaker pilgrimage and promised religious tolerance if they would join Friends in settling this colony. The religious tolerance really existed for the settlers of many faiths, such as Quakers, Baptists, Lutherans, Moravians, Schwenkfelders, Mennonites (out of which came the Amish), and other groups.
FRIENDS IN NORTH CAROLINA:
The earliest documentation of Carolina Quakerism occurs in the Journal of William Edmundson, an Irish Friend, supported shortly afterward by that of George Fox. Fox confirmed the date of Edmundson's first visit as April 1672, when the latter met in the home of Henry Phillips, of whom he had apparently already heard. Phillips had become a Friend in Massachusetts and moved to Albemarle, where he had not seen a Friend for seven years, Edmundson reported. It is on the basis of this statement that historians have regarded 1665 as the date for the coming of Friends to the Carolinas.
George Fox joined William Edmundson in November of the same year. As a result of their preaching, the first organized religion in the Carolinas began. It was in Edenton that Fox convinced Friends that the Indians were not depraved savages, but were open to the Light and Spirit of Christ also. At that time, the proprietary charter provided for freedom of worship according to conscience. The Society of Friends grew, expanding along the coast to what is now known as South Carolina. The growth of Quakerism during the next 26 years justified the beginning in 1698 of North Carolina Yearly Meeting, which has continued without interruption. With the planting of the Church of England and the Vestry Acts of 1701 and 1715, religious tolerance was no longer practiced and problems for Friends increased, in the economic as in the political and religious realms. As these problems accelerated, Friends moved further inland. They were concerned not only in outreach to the other settlers and Indians, they were confronted with the serious matter of making a living under the circumstances of economic as well as religious intolerance.
According to Stephen B. Weeks, the ablest and most adequate of all the historians of Southern Quakerism, about 13 meetings had been established in the years from 1665 to 1750: in North Carolina - Little River, Symon's Creek, Core Sound, Carver's Creek, Bath, Dunn's Creek, Contentnea, Falling Creek, and possibly Narrows and Newbegun Creek; in South Carolina - Charleston, Wateree (possibly the same as Fredericksburg), and possibly Edisto. (From Friends in the Carolinas by J. Floyd Moore.) The Meeting now known as Nahunta appears to have begun as Falling Creek Monthly Meeting in 1748, probably located near the present town of Kinston. It was the judgment of the meeting held in 5th month 1772 that "as Friends are mostly removed by death or otherwise from the meeting at Lower Falling Creek, that the next ensuing meeting be held at Richard Cox's near Upper Falling Creek." But in the 9th month of that year it was held at Great Contentnea located about five miles northeast of what is now Fremont. "From this time, the name of Falling Creek Monthly Meeting disappears and Great Contentnea takes its place." It is later known as Contentnea Monthly Meeting. Richard Cox moved to a site that later became Neuse Friends Meeting.
The earliest Contentnea women's minutes, which begin in 1774, mention the following as members: Elizabeth Gilbert, Jane Saint, Sarah Kennedy, Mary Cox, Huldah Davis, Elizabeth Bryant, Sarah Edgerton, Hannah Hinds, Christian Musgrave, Lidia Morris, Hannah Overman, Phoebe Cox, Elizabeth Parker, Mary Newsome, Sarah Price and Guleemus White. This monthly meeting continued to be held at Contentnea until 1851. The men's minutes prior to 1814 have been lost, but other family names appearing in the women s minutes during this period are as follows: Beeman, Bogue, Hollowell, Pike, Pearson, Hall, Mayo, Wooten, Arnold, Copeland, Bundy, Douna, and Outland.
In 1767, Richard Cox's daughter, Sarah, married Thomas Edgerton, Jr. and settled in the northern part of Wayne County at a place called Nahunta. William and Nathan Edgerton, sons of Thomas and Sarah Cox Edgerton, both raised large families and some of their descendants still live in the Nahunta community. During this time, a number of Contentnea Friends moved into the community, and they met in meetings for worship in the home of Matthew Pike, a descendant of Samuel Pike, a prominent Quaker who arrived in America in the seventeenth century. In first month 1751, Contentnea Meeting approved holding preparative meetings alternately with the Nahunta Friends, and five months later they approved holding the monthly meeting alternately between the two places. After 1856, Contentnea Monthly Meeting was always held at Nahunta and soon, or at least before 1863, it became known as Nahunta Monthly Meeting. In 1866, Matthew Pike gave land to the Nahunta Monthly Meeting for a meeting building site. For over fifteen years, the Friends meetings were held in this building. During this time, Friends started the Nahunta Friends First Day School, which was the first rural Sunday School organized in Wayne County. The meetinghouse was located just east of Pike's cemetery on property owned by the Howard family, descendants of the Pikes.
A committee was appointed in 1881 to secure funds, select a site, and build a new meeting house. Nathan T. and Mary Edgerton deeded two acres to the Meeting where the present meeting house and parsonage stand. The size of the building was thirty-eight feet by fifty feet and was completed in 1882. The bricks used were locally made near Nahunta Swamp. An interesting feature of the building was a small porch with a rail across the front. Financial assistance was provided by the Charleston Fund of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and the meeting house was completed in 1882 in time to host the last quarterly meeting of that year.
This early history of Nahunta Friends Meeting is gathered from Contentnea & Nahunta Minutes (Women's) 1774-1833; 1855-1882, also Contentnea & Nahunta Minutes (Men's) 1814-1895; Nahunta Minutes 1896-1943; Hinshaw Book, Vol. 1 pp 279-280, Deed Books in Office of Register of Deeds, Wayne County, NC, Book EE30 pp 547-548; Book XX49 pp 127-128. Notes passed down through generations of devoted Quaker Christians were also used. It is a history of a country church and its religious development in a community whose influence has been far-reaching. May this continue for many generations to come!
MINISTERS AND MINISTRY OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
Nahunta Meeting has been served by many good ministers. In earlier times, local and itinerant preachers served the meeting. Prior to 1925, the names of fourteen ministers are known. Since then, there have been twenty, each serving two or three years except for Jack Caughron who was pastor for twenty years (1966-1986) and Steve Lawrence who has pastored since 1989. Preceding 1964, Nahunta held worship services one Sunday a month, with Hood Swamp, Oakland, New Hope, and Nahunta sharing a pastor. Afterwards, Nahunta and Oakland shared the same pastor, holding services two Sundays a month with Nahunta furnishing the parsonage. In 1964, Nahunta began employing a pastor full time. Adlie Barefoot began to hold Sunday morning and evening services during his pastorate (1963-1966). His leadership left a lasting impact in that he set the present committee structure. He believed all committees should function effectively and report monthly to the meeting.
Of the thirty-four known pastors, two have been women: Lola Simpson and Lela Sills Garner. Pastor Garner had a great influence on the lives of many as a result of her sincere dedication and soul-searching sermons.
During Jack Caughron's pastorate, great emphasis was placed on Bible study and other study courses. Missions was an area in which he inspired interest so that for years, the meeting enthusiastically supported missions with finances as well as hosting conferences and sending workers to mission work camps.
After Jack Caughron's retirement in 1986, Dale Matthews served Nahunta Friends. His fine voice and the musical talents of his wife, Marilyn, were certainly assets to the music of the meeting. Marilyn taught piano lessons to several young people in the meeting. Dale's visiting ministry was much appreciated, particularly by the shut-ins and older members. In 1989, Steve Lawrence became the pastor. He brought to Nahunta the gift of prayer. Prayers have been answered and the meeting has been blessed. His thoughtful and Biblically-based sermons have also been a blessing, as well as his beautiful tenor voice and the voices of his wife, Carol, and daughters, Stephanie and Lettie. Carol's ministry is rich and varied, and much appreciated.
In 1981, the meeting experienced an inner renewal through a Lay Witness Weekend. Ministry and Counsel had engaged in daily prayer meetings prior to the weekend when twenty-five Christians from Virginia, Indiana, South Carolina, and North Carolina arrived. After intense sharing of God's love, most of the eighty-five who participated from Nahunta in coffee hours, testimonials, fellowship meals, and praise, sensed a renewed desire to grow in the knowledge of God's love and to share it with others. This enthusiasm resulted in twenty-four people becoming active members, seventeen by profession of faith and seven by transfer. Soon after, a men's prayer breakfast was organized and continues to meet as does one of the cottage prayer groups. Two Bible study groups formed. The spiritual uplift seemed evident through increased church attendance and in a greater feeling of oneness and compassion for others.
The spiritual condition report of the year 1981 ends by saying, "Our desire is that the inner renewal of our members will grow into an even greater movement. We have caught a glimpse of a closer walk and of the opportunities awaiting us. May this glimpse enlarge into a broader look which will encompass not only ourselves, the individual members, but the total membership and the mission fields we encounter daily."
Ministry and Counsel also started having cottage prayer meetings six weeks prior to revival. Out of this grew the desire to reach out to Woodard's Care rest home for monthly sharing times of devotions and singing.
In 1973, Ministry and Counsel initiated the publication of a quarterly news letter with Doris Gurley as editor for thirteen years and Elizabeth Caughron as typist. Originally it was called the "Nahunta Pow-Wow." Dale Matthews became editor during his pastorate followed by Andrea Moen who was editor of both the newsletter and the children's newsletter. Presently, newsletters are edited by Sheila Pate-Main and Linda Holcomb, and the children's newsletters are edited by Jackie Hare. Ministry and Counsel members have always delivered the newsletters either by hand or mail.
During the 1980's, for several years, members gathered annually one Sunday in July at the Wildlife Pond to participate in Sunday School and worship. After a worship service by the lakeside, members shared a picnic lunch followed by boating, swimming, and games such as horseshoe, volleyball, scrabble or dominoes.
A long-standing tradition at Nahunta has been Homecoming the second Sunday in October. Returning former members and friends along with present members fill the meeting house for a worshipful experience at which the roll is called of present members and memorials are given for those who have passed on to glory. Following this event, lunches are spread out on the tables and a blessed fellowship takes place. In earlier years, wire tables were used outside, but when the Fellowship Hall was completed in 1977, the meal was spread inside for an air-conditioned and bug-less fellowship.
It has been customary for a week's revival to follow Homecoming, but for the last few years, two four-day revivals have been scheduled, one in the spring and one in the fall.
A prayer chain was organized in 1986 and continues as a means of sharing common concerns. A Nurturing Committee has been formed with regularly scheduled visits in the community to those who are sick and homebound.
In 1991, to fulfill several needs, including recognizing visitors, attendance records were placed in the pews for all to sign each Sunday.
Once annually, Gideons hold worship services at Nahunta. During this time an offering is taken for the organization, Offerings taken each month at the men's prayer breakfast also go to the Gideons.
In the summer of 1989, Nahunta Friends invited the local churches to join together to pray for rain. After the rain, the churches met to express gratitude to Almighty God for answered prayer. They then decided to continue to meet each Tuesday at different churches to worship and to pray for each other and for other needs that arise. In 1993, Little Rock Church, a black Baptist church, joined the group. Out of this group came the idea of community-wide Thanksgiving services which have been held on a rotating basis since 1991.
Two young people have gone into full-time Christian service: Jean Edgerton and Mark Caughron. After working effectively several years with the young people of Nahunta, Jean Edgerton entered full-time ministry at Archdale Friends Meeting in 1991 as Associate Pastor. She was recorded as a Friends Minister at Yearly Meeting in 1994. Mark Caughron is serving as Associate Pastor at Holly Spring Friends Meeting, and was recorded at Yearly Meeting in 1996. Another member, James Bryce, was recommended to the care of the Recording Committee in 1991, attended Barclay College in Kansas, continued his education in South Carolina, pastored a Friends meeting in Moore County, N. C., is back home in Tarboro, and plans to further his education. Harry Moen, our gifted and dedicated treasurer, was placed under the care of the Recording Committee for supply pastoring in 1992. He has ably filled the pulpit at Nahunta, as well as other pulpits in the quarter. Steve Lawrence stresses a ministry for each member, using gifts.
Formerly made up of nine elders in the meeting, Ministry and Counsel currently has some members who are in their twenties and thirties. Many young adults are assuming strong leadership roles in the meeting.
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
As mentioned previously, Nahunta Friends First Day School was the first rural Sunday School organized in Wayne County, beginning sometime between 1860 and 1863. Members of other churches in the community attended Sunday School at Nahunta for many years, even after they could attend Sunday School in their own churches. By 1935 the Sunday School had expanded so much, Sunday School rooms were added to the meeting house. In those early years, the name of Martha Garris stands out as one who taught the little children for many years. A Sunday School class is named in her honor. Another member, Pearl Pierce, is especially remembered for her piano playing. She would sometimes stop in the middle of a song and say, "Sing up now, You're draggin' this song." She also taught Sunday School and served in many other capacities in the meeting. Her family recently hosted an outstanding celebration of her one hundredth birthday.
The Christian Education Committee puts a great deal of effort in planning for Sunday School and ordering the study material, Vacation Bible School, Christmas celebrations, Promotion Day, and the annual banquet for graduating seniors.
Classes are grouped somewhat by ages with Promotion Day taking place the last Sunday in August. During this time pins for perfect attendance are given. Rena Belle Pike received her 43rd year pin and Ruth Odom, her 4Oth pin in 1997. A program is presented and children entering kindergarten receive a Bible of their very own.
The young adult class of about 40 members, called the Aldon Gurley Class, has met from time to time on Saturday evenings in the home of Peter and Judith Aycock for studies such as "The James Dobson Series on Family Life" or Quaker Studies. Out of a recent study, some of the attenders became "Convinced Friends" and joined the meeting.
The Sunday School register on the wall keeps attenders aware of attendance compared to a year ago, the amount of offering, and the number who studied the lesson. For many years a banner was given monthly to the class having the best percentage of attendance and number who have studied the lesson. The Dock Edgerton Class, the oldest class of around 25 members kept the banner for studying lesson for quite a while.
For years, the Sunday School had summer picnics, going to White Lake for the day, Woodland Lake or Cliffs of the Neuse in Wayne County, or having a Saturday afternoon family fun time at Nahunta. In 1982, this was combined with a worship service at the Wildlife Pond. In 1989, under the leadership of Allen Sasser, Vacation Bible School culminated into commencement followed by games and refreshments outside. Carol Lawrence helped with planning these events, and one year the children made "Nahunta's Longest Banana Split," stretching it out long ways on several tables.
Vacation Bible School had its beginning in 1947 when Theodore and Eugenia Perkins came from piedmont North Carolina to be its directors. This was a ministry they performed in many Friends Meeting. In earlier years it was held in the daytime for three hours. The school began with a procession followed by pledges to the U. S. flag, Christian flag, and the Bible. Times change, however, and the church must adapt. With both parents at work and children no longer able to attend in the mornings, Bible School was moved to evening. Often attendance runs over 100. Music, crafts, and Bible study have always been important features. Vacation Bible School has been a special time in the community when families and friends can come together to fellowship and learn about God's word.
Quaker Lake Family Camp, which began in 1977, has remained a special time each fall as around eighty-five gather for a special time of building individual and church family ties. Morning praise by the lakeside, discussion about family relations by leaders such as Bob Medford, afternoon game time or strolls, followed by evening folk games make a rewarding Saturday. Nahunta families bring food and cooks are employed. Everyone shares delicious meals as they fellowship. The climax is always a special inspirational worship experience, such as placing candles on the hillside in the form of cross in the water to designate the spreading of the gospel, or a soul-searching time around a campfire or the fireplace in the lodge. Sunday morning worship service always brings a fitting climax to a weekend of growing as individuals, families, and church families in closeness to each other and to God.
THE CHILDREN OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
Nahunta Friends Meeting has always shown concern for its young people's spiritual well-being. For many years regularly scheduled meetings have been held for the teens in the Nahunta Community in addition to the Sunday services. But the spiritual concerns have not stopped with the teens. Eventually groups for preteens and younger formed. The names for these groups may have changed through the years, but the spiritual concerns are still the same.
In the l940's, Virginia Edgerton, Blanche Davis, Ruby Sauls, Alice Overman, Alma Pierce, and Alice Howard met with the youth to continue the youth work started by J. Waldo Woody, Hazel and Vernon Forbes continued these meetings for the teens in the Nahunta community. Any teen interested in Christian fun and fellowship was welcomed. This meant a great deal to the local teens. They now had a Christian meeting they could enjoy and their parents would let them attend. The good times and Christian fellowship spread until eventually ages five through eighteen had a scheduled youth meeting.
Nahunta has continued to show love and concern for our youth by instruction in God's teachings. Besides the weekly or biweekly youth meetings, there are opportunities for all ages. In 1981, Monthly Meeting approved forming (on a trial basis) a Children's Church group. This group was to meet for the full Sunday 11:00 a.m. service once a month on the second Sunday. Vicki Pate saw the need for a children service and has continued to be the coordinator. Children's Church became such a success for the children ages four through twelve that in 1983, Monthly Meeting approved an every Sunday Children's Church service. This was to take place during the 11:00 a.m. worship service after the opening services. Today, our children still enjoy their "sermon" time and once each month they sing to the adults in worship service a song they have learned in Children's Church.
In order to provide the children an opportunity to show their God-given talents of acting and singing, in the summer of 1981, a musical presentation entitled "God's Kids" was organized by Beth Peele. The performance was presented to the local churches and "God's Kids" continued singing and presenting programs.
June of 1984 brought clowning to Nahunta. The Senior FYF, under the leadership of Jean and Janet Edgerton, sponsored a clown ministry where they could visit shut-ins and hospitalized adults and children. The group's clowning talents were shared several times in the worship service bringing laughter and fun-filled gospel lessons. God loves smiles and happiness.
In 1988, the youth had everyone quaking, trying to raise money for the Youth Quake in Denver. They sponsored donation dinners, sold stock in each participant, promoted yard sales and other fund raising events. A lot of hard work was involved, but enough money was raised to send twenty-one youth and chaperones to the Youth Quake. Later, our young people worked hard to raise enough money for the 1994 Youth Quake in New Mexico.
Nahunta Friends Meeting shows concern for children in our community, also. The Monthly Meeting approved the Fellowship Hall to be used for Cub Scout and 4-H Meetings.
The leaders for children and youth activities share so much love for God that the children and youth learn to do the same. This is reflected in their enthusiasm in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Walk-A-Thons for United Church Ministries, for Cystic Fibrosis organizations, and other activities in which they have participated. Those who participate in the musical groups, Serenity and Psalm 98, as well as Yearly Meeting and Mexico Missions do so as a response to God's leading. Gregory and Jackie Hare, Paul Aycock, Freddie Pierce, Marvin Holcomb and Vicki Pate have been dedicated leaders.
The old kitchen was turned into a nicely furnished children's library by Chris Claiborne and Carol Lawrence, and they have sponsored summer reading programs so children could read and watch videos showing God's love being applied to everyday life.
High school seniors are honored each June with a banquet and a gift of the Bible to each graduate.
Father God, we love you and thank you for blessing us with happy, loving children.
THE MISSIONS OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
From the beginning, Nahunta Friends have had an interest in outreach, as evidenced by starting new meetings around the Goldsboro area. Lending a hand to friends and neighbors in need has been a great part of the life of Nahunta Friends. One of the most diligent workers in the missionary circle was Cora Aycock. She was very much interested in Friends' missionary efforts, and always wanted to be sure that a good part of the meeting's budget was used for benevolent giving. Thus, for many years, an amount over and above our Yearly Meeting askings has been set aside for missions. Like Elijah's mantle, this concern dropped on her daughter's shoulders, and Joyce Pope has carried on her mother's love and efforts for mission work.
In the early 1960's, Doris Gurley was instrumental in forming a circle for the women in the meeting who had public jobs and couldn't meet in the daytime with the original circle. This circle was named for Lona Edgerton who was a staunch leader in USFW. The Friendship Circle and the Lona Edgerton Circle have contributed monthly by supporting USFW projects, carrying on home projects, making clothing for the American Friends Service Committee, sending baby layettes to mission hospitals in Africa, sending clothing and other items to Indian Centers, and sending hygiene bags to the AFSC and to local migrant workers. Red Cross blood drives have been sponsored by Nahunta, beginning with the leadership of Melinda Caughron. The circles participate in the USFW reading program. Lona and Crethie Edgerton were two members who received reading certificates for many years. A group of young adult women have recently begun a new circle called "Friends in Faith," and the Lona Edgerton Circle is providing baby sitters for their meetings.
One of Nahunta's ministers, Jack Caughron, was given permission by the meeting to serve as chairman of the Yearly Meeting Missions Committee for six years, beginning in 1978. The meeting was aware that this would require, in effect, sharing his time with the work of missions. Jack and Harold Richardson had already been to Mexico on a work camp, helping build a structure for residents of a village near Matamoros to use for worship and study. Later, Jack and J. D. Howard went to Mexico to build a cement floor and benches for this building. In 1980, Vivian Caughron participated in a work camp in Mexico. In 1985, Deborah and Rebecca Howard went to Jamaica as work camp volunteers. In 1990, Jean and Christy Edgerton and Rebecca Howard went to Mexico to help with Bible School for the mission children. Doris Gurley served for nine years on the Yearly Meeting Missions Committee. Learning of a need for Bibles written in the Spanish language, Bill Crawford donated a case of Bibles to the mission center in Mexico.
Nahunta participates in the Faith Promise program for missions. For the past several years, we have participated in the Adopt-A-Bed program for the Lugulu Hospital in Africa. We have hosted and attended many missionary conferences on the Yearly Meeting level, and some of our members have attended international conferences. Nahunta is also a member of the United Church Ministries, a joint effort of fifty-three churches in Wayne County to serve needy families with financial help and with the food bank, to which we contribute regularly. Hazel Edgerton has served as contact person for Nahunta since 1989.
Nahunta Friends try to take seriously the commands of Jesus who said, "Go ye into all the world" and "Feed my sheep."
THE MUSIC OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
Music has always been a vital part of the worship service at Nahunta Friends. Many years ago, the music centered around old-fashioned congregational hymns. Through the years, an increased variety of music has improved our praise and worship service.
The Jack Caughron family came to serve Nahunta in 1966. Our meeting began to grow and our worship services were enhanced by their great musical talents. In 1967, Jack and Elizabeth organized the Nahunta Men's Chorus. This group of men sang in our own meeting each first Sunday, in neighboring churches occasionally, and twice at Yearly Meeting. In the late 1970's, the men's chorus joined with the choir in presenting an Easter program and enjoyed it so much, they joined with the choir and added much to the quality of the music. About this time, Beth Caughron Peele became the choir director, having completed her music studies at Mount Olive College.
The family of Caroline Stephenson had donated the piano which was used many years in the worship room and which is now in the music room, still very much in use. An organ was donated to the meeting by the Mack Pierce family in 1970, and in 1985 a baby grand piano was given by the Caughron family. Hymnals were purchased in 1973. In 1997, new hymnals were purchased in honor of Pearl Pierce.
During the 1980's, strides were made in improving and increasing our musical outreach. Beth Peele organized a group of youth and called them "God's Kids." This group performed musicals often for our meeting and for other churches. Through the years, many of our young children have performed individually and in moving Christmas programs. As they matured, these children have proved to be great assets in school choruses and in our choir.
A portable cassette player was purchased by Margaret Aycock, and our choir, under the direction of Beth Peele, began using tapes for accompaniment in Christmas and Easter cantatas. Just before the closing of Nahunta School, local singers from community churches were invited to join the Nahunta choir in performing a Christmas program for the Nahunta community. This program was given at Nahunta School at the suggestion of the principal, who was perfectly willing to have a Christian and evangelical program in the school. The community singers enjoyed working together in this inspirational program.
A sound system was installed in memory of J. D. Howard in 1985. This system has allowed our services to be heard more clearly and provides an opportunity to tape our services and share them with shut-ins in our church family. Another improvement provided in 1985 was the donation of choir risers to our meeting.
Beth Peele organized another group of Singers known as the "Quaker Notes" in the 1990's. Their songs brought us closer to God as they used their talents to serve Him. A chorus of ladies began singing in 1997. They call themselves "Friends in Song," and their songs have been very much appreciated.
As an outgrowth of our Children's Church ministry, the children now sing for services each first Sunday and on special occasions.
One of the highlights enjoyed by all is the fifth Sunday "Singspiration" that began in the mid 70's. This song service is devoted to God's praise in music (or other talents) and takes place during the 11:00 worship service. Anyone so moved or invited may participate.
Several young people in the meeting have participated in two state-wide Friends music groups called "Serenity" and "Psalm 98." Angela Hollis, Christy Edgerton, Vivian and Mark Caughron sang in the "Serenity" group. Allen Sasser, Vivian Caughron Byrd, Mark Caughron, Ken and Melinda Caughron participated in "Psalm 98." They performed around this and other states, ending at Yearly Meeting. Chords of music have brightened the tapestry at Nahunta Friends Meeting as people praised God through songs.
STUDY COURSES AND SPECIAL EVENTS OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
Basic to the weaving of the tapestry of Nahunta Friends Meeting have been the countless study courses, workshops, and special emphases that have shaped and strengthened the fiber of the individual lives into more dedicated, useful workers in God's Kingdom. Different pastors have had their own influences in these events. For example, J. Waldo Woody, early on began training courses for teachers.
Pastors Lewis Dillman, William Guthrie, and Adlie Barefoot, placed strong emphasis on Bible Study and other study on membership training, Quaker beliefs, and evangelism. Three examples are an evangelism workshop taught by Ralph Smallwood. "Evangelism Explosion, " Drum Beat of Love," and "The Edge of Adventure," are books by Keith Miller and Bruce Larson that were used. Many interesting discussions arose as the group studied books under the leadership of Jack Caughron, who challenged us to think.
Strengthening families is a recurring thread in the tapestry. Quarterly family nights with a special message by some outstanding person like Bob Medford, artist Oscar Williams (who also played the saw), or Max Reese followed by games and refreshments with about 75 people attending were common in the 70's. Jack Kirk led a study of the Gospel of Mark. Jack and Elizabeth Caughron led a marriage encounter day with around ten couples growing closer through marriage examination experiences. In the Spring of 1996 and 1997, Darlene Pittman, Christian Education Director for the Yearly Meeting, led family enrichment weekends.
Two threads in the tapestry, both of which began in 1976, tie the senior citizens into the composite. One is the annual Senior Citizens Appreciation Day in which senior citizens of the meeting are honored with a special program and lunch. The other, "Nahunta Community Senior Citizens," brings together people from five churches. Molten Gurley was the first president for seven years until his death while Edna Thomas, as treasurer, and Doris Gurley, as program chairman, have served for more than twenty years.
Members have taken occasional trips that have bound them together, such as a bus trip to Greensboro to the Triennial Sessions to the United Nations, when U Thant, Secretary to the United Nations, was speaker. Some others have been to the "Sword of Peace" outdoor pageant at Cane Creek, the Easter pageant, "Worthy is the Lamb" at Williamston, or a Billy Graham crusade.
A program planned by the Peace and Social Concerns committee led by Karen Collins on drugs and alcohol drew over 100 people with teenagers attending.
Homecomings, held the second Sunday in October, have always been a special time. The 1988 Homecoming was unique in that it featured remembrances of Nahunta School which was closing after that school year. Dale Matthews, pastor, organized a very special program for that event.
Goal setting sessions are essential if progress is to occur, such as the one with Billy Britt in 1979. This session revealed that most members were either born into the meeting or married someone in the meeting. Some of the goals for the physical facilities have been met, but membership and attendance have remained about the same, around 180 church members. Sunday School attendance has declined.
The main projects that came out of the revitalization program of 1992 were a look at the physical facilities with suggestions for renovation plans which were completed in 1994, and a Nurturing Committee to meet the need for regular visits to shut-ins and others needing encouragement and friendship.
Under the leadership of Steve Lawrence, our present pastor, we engaged in a series of meetings in which, through questionnaires, activities, and discussion, we analyzed our personality types and spiritual gifts. Through this experience, we grew in understanding of ourselves and each other. We better understand reasons for responses to situations and ways of dealing with each other as well as our best areas of service.
Through the years, we have taken advantage of countless Quarterly and Yearly Meeting workshops, and Ministry and Counsel and USFW conferences for enrichment experiences.
These special events and people have added significant colors to the tapestry of the history of more than 131 years of Nahunta Friends Meeting.
HISTORY OF THE MEETING HOUSE:
The Meeting House on the present site was built late in 1882 with financial assistance from the Charleston Fund of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Forty-eight years later, in 1930, the need for a parsonage became a reality. After the parsonage was completed, the first Sunday School rooms were added in 1935. Construction events that occurred to the Nahunta Meeting House in the 1940's are as follows:
- On Mother's Day, 1942, new stained glass windows for the sanctuary were dedicated. These windows were donated by several families and individuals in memory or in honor of a loved one.
- During 1942 and 1943, electric light fixtures were installed with a gift from Hubert and Caroline Stephenson, and the inside of the meeting house was redecorated.
- In 1949, an expansive building program began. This included building a small vestibule on the front and a Sunday School annex to the rear. Russell Stephenson drew the plans and Worth Aycock served as chairman of the Building Committee. Financial help came again from the Charleston Fund and a contribution from Mr. and Mrs. Milford Mitchell.
During the 1950's, renovations provided comfort, safety, and an improved appearance. These included:
- A new heating system for the sanctuary in 1950.
- A fire escape stairway built at the rear of the building in 1953.
- Replacement of the old meeting house floor with hardwood in 1955.
- In 1958, carpet was installed in the sanctuary.
The era of the 1960's saw several projects established for improvement, such as:
- New pews in 1960 with Clee Davis as head of a fund-raising project for these.
- An acoustical ceiling for the Sanctuary financed by the youth group in 1961.
- A choir loft in 1962.
- Addition to the parsonage in 1963.
- A building fund started in 1964 and, under the leadership of James Ray Johnson as chairperson, a new Sunday School wing built and remodeling completed in 1969. A new heating and cooling system for the sanctuary installed with electric heaters installed in individual classrooms.
In the 1970's, renovations continued along with steps taken to accommodate Nahunta's growth. Among the advancements were:
- In 1972, a church marker placed in the front yard in memory of Clee Davis.
- Carpet put down in the Clee Davis Class by Blanche Davis and children.
- A fresh coat of paint for the parsonage and meeting house.
- Interior remodeling completed in 1973. A new pulpit railing given by Floyd Edgerton in memory of his wife, Lona Edgerton. Paneling below the chair railing financed by Milo Pierce and Family. Wallpaper in the sanctuary, stairwell and downstairs hallway financed by the Oland Peele family.
- In 1976, a cement floor was poured in the sanctuary and carpet reinstalled.
- In 1977, work on a Fellowship Hall under the leadership of James Ray Johnson and J. D. Howard with donations of labor from many other members.
The 1980's provided several achievements for Nahunta. These accomplishments include the following:
- In 1980, a one-half acre of land behind the meetinghouse purchased; another acre leased that was later purchased. Pew cushions purchased.
- Sheet rock hung on the walls and ceiling upstairs in 1981. The large William Penn Classroom renovated by Ralph and Steve Pate into a nursery and a classroom. Improvements to the hallway and men's rest room.
- A trophy case built by Joe Caughron to house the numerous trophies won by the men's and women's softball teams through the years in competing with other churches.
- In 1982, ahandicap access built by Charles Ray and Frances Hare with help from others. Drain tile installed beside the building to help relieve a drainage problem.
- In 1986, a new parsonage with a price tag of only $52,816.65 completed. Pastor Dale Matthews and family were the first ones to use the new parsonage. One member, Harold Richardson, a contractor by trade, built the parsonage in just a few months. Meeting house painted and repaired.
- In 1989, window air conditioners given for classrooms by Frances Hare in memory of Charles Ray Hare.
The most expansive renovation project to date began in the interval of the 1990's:
- In 1993, a building steering committee was formed and work began in September. Committee members were: Junior Hawley (Chairman), Larry Pierce, Peter Aycock, Milo Pierce, Gary Radford, Harry Moen, Jack Caughron, Johnny Howard, and Steve Lawrence (pastor). The contract was awarded to Best Contracting Company, of Goldsboro, NC, with Gregory Nichols (a resident of the Nahunta Community) in charge of the work. Gregory was interested in preserving the integrity of the building, and planning was done on this basis. They started by tearing down the old vestibule and steps and building a new structure with a large greeting area, men's and ladies' rest rooms with handicap accessibility, a corner for the sound system, and coat racks. The ground was built up and sloping walkways poured so that there are no steps to the front entrance, and anyone can walk or roll in without difficulty.
- The renovation of the building included: new walls to combat moisture in the sanctuary, indirect lighting, new carpet throughout all downstairs areas, new paint on the walls, fluorescent lighting in all areas. Following suggestions of Gregory Hare, the middle aisle of the sanctuary was enlarged and spaces were left open for wheelchairs. A large carport was built outside the fellowship hall door and an additional access ramp was poured for easier accessibility. New heating and air conditioning systems were installed for the sanctuary, all classrooms, and halls. In addition many other repairs and installations were made.
The renovation project was completed in March, 1994. A dedication service was held on Sunday, May 22, 1994, at 4:00 p.m. to honor and give thanks to God for the work.
In 1997, men of the Aldon Gurley class painted and installed new carpet to the upstairs hallway and classrooms. The class also added venetian blinds and new curtains, along with providing decorations to enhance the appearance of the classrooms.
After completing this project, the men of the Aldon Gurley class decided to meet once a month, inviting other men of the meeting, to plan other work which they have accomplished, such as washing down the parsonage, repairing and cleaning windows, and other ongoing needs of the meeting and community.
THE FINANCES OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
The hymn writer has said, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, all your money, talents, time and level consecrate them all upon the altar, while your Savior from above speaks sweetly, trust Me, try Me, prove Me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and see if a blessing, unmeasured blessing, I will not pour out on thee." (From Malachi 3:10)
Through the years, the members of Nahunta Friends Meeting have promoted good stewardship. This can be seen by the progress shown in all areas of the meeting.
Let us now focus on the financial area of the meeting's stewardship. The new building additions and remodeled facilities demonstrate faithful administration of God's resources. One can glean more evidence of devoted service through reviewing the meeting's budgets through the years. For example, in 1970-71, the total budget was $12,798.00. In 1983-84, the budget grew to $42,236.00. In 1994-95, the total approved budget was $70,240.65. This did not include the debt retirement on recently completed remodeling. Records show the pastoral support grew from $9,000.00 in 1974-75 to $22,672.00 in 1991-92. The budget increased from $100.00 for literature to $3,750.00 for Christian Education in the same period. The present $500.00 allocated to the audio cassette tape ministry was not included in the 1991-92 budget. In 1948-49, the Yearly Meeting askings were $100.00. Compare this to the $11,976.00 Yearly Meeting askings of 1996-97. These are a few examples of the advancements Nahunta Friends Meeting has attained over the years, and a testimony to God's faithfulness in furnishing the resources to meet our obligations.
Some of the treasurers who have served, including John Sasser, Kenneth Edgerton, Cora Aycock, J. D. Howard, and Harry and Inez Moen, have seen many changes. They worked along with the dependable stewardship and finance committee members. At one time, the primary source of raising the budget was through a harvest sale and supper. This method was discontinued and replaced with systematic giving and love offerings. These are working well. Faith Promise giving also supplies money for missions.
As in the hymn, we have "trusted in God, brought tithes and offerings, and God has poured out many blessings upon us."
THE FUTURE OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS MEETING:
Nahunta Friends Meeting has an optimistic look toward the future. Continuing from the humble beginning as Falling Creek Monthly Meeting through today's Nahunta Monthly Meeting, Nahunta Friends have striven to be examples of Christ's love, ministry, and leadership. They are using their spiritual gifts to worship God and minister to the needs of others.
The people of Nahunta have attempted to follow the model of ministry exhibited by the early Christians in the Church at Antioch. That church was innovative, evangelistic, fruitful, discipled, generous, worshipful, and dedicated to a missionary purpose (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3).
Nahunta Friends have attested to their vision of pursuing this example by encouraging people to spend time with Jesus, serving Him in ministry, and following their statement of purpose, which reads:
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE OF NAHUNTA FRIENDS
As a meeting we purpose to make disciples of Christ by:
Attracting, and leading the unsaved to Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8)
Encouraging uncommitted Christians to consecrate themselves to God's plan for their lives. (Romans 12:1, 2)
Providing a climate in which personal spiritual growth and worship occur. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Equipping believers for effective ministry to reach the Nahunta area and beyond. (1 Chronicles 16:27-29; Mark 12:70, 31; Matthew 9:35-38)
God has poured out His blessings upon the people of Nahunta for which we are most appreciative. Our future is beaming with possibility and opportunity. This potential may be observed through active, effective leadership, new members, persons being called into ministry, involved youth, and active children's ministries. The Lord encourages us as He manifests Himself among us, fashioning His people into His special design.
The poetic writer gives perception into the unique tapestry that is taking shape in the lives of individuals and families at Nahunta Friends Meeting.
Our life is like a tapestry
Of intricate design
With lovely patterns taking shape
As colors intertwine,
Some of the threads
We weave ourselves
By things we choose to do -
Sometimes a loving Father's touch
Adds a special hue.
And though tomorrow's pattern
Is not for us to see -
We can trust His perfect hand
Through all eternity.
The Master Weaver reveals to us the 137 year history of Nahunta Friends Meeting portrayed in a beautiful tapestry, depicting the rich heritage of a country church and its expansive influence. This tapestry is a testimony to the faith and devotion of dedicated Friends who desired, and continue to desire, to serve God after the pattern of Jesus, who went about doing good. (Acts 10:38)
Tomorrow holds a bright hope for the people of Nahunta Friends Meeting. Although God's future pattern is not for us to see, we trust that He will continue to enable us to serve Him and that individual lives might be influenced for many generations to come. Blessed be the name of the Lord, both now and forevermore! Amen.
Prepared by the Committee for Vision 400
Doris Gurley, Chairperson
In the Year of Our Lord, 1997
(Some additions and updates by the
committee named to prepare the history:
Doris Gurley, Allen Sasser,
and Elizabeth Caughron)