The Methodist Episcopal Church was first established on Ocracoke Island in 1828.
In 1844 the national body of the church became divided over the issue of slavery and eventually separated into two ecclesiastical structures, one aligning with the North, the other with the South.
As a result of this national schism and local disagreement over church practices, from 1883 to 1937, tiny Ocracoke Island was home to two rival congregations of the Methodist Church, the Northern and the Southern. Some of the less-devout Ocracokers recall that during this time strains from both choirs could be heard wafting through the village and on one Sunday morning the Southern church sang “Will There Be Any Stars In My Crown?” while, simultaneously, the Northern Church launched into “No, Not One.”
In 1939 three national Methodist organizations, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church united to form the new Methodist Church. The union of the churches was welcomed by most Ocracokers as the original source of the conflict had mostly been forgotten.
By 1943 both churches had been dismantled and a new building was constructed using much of the material and furniture salvaged from the older structures. Many members of the congregation, men and women, helped build the new church. It was dedicated on July 4, 1943.
Step inside the church and notice the hand-made wooden cross which rests on the altar. This cross was constructed by Homer Howard, and painted gold by his wife, Aliph. The cross was made out of salvage from the ship on which island native, James Baughm Gaskill, served. He lost his life when the ship was torpedoed and sunk offshore by a German U-boat on March 11, 1942. Shortly after the sinking, James’ cousin found his framed license cast up on the ocean beach. Later, the ship’s nameplate and other debris washed up at his family’s dock, at the old Pamlico Inn. The cross stands today as a memorial to James Baughm Gaskill, 3rd mate in the USS Maritime service.
The bible on the altar, printed in 1633, was given by Dr. and Mrs. T.V. Bennett in memory of their infant son. The baptismal font and prayer desk were handmade by members of the congregation: the font by Mike Riddick and the prayer desk by Lawton Howard.
Stop two – Methodist Church
Running time: 5:21 – Size: 3.9 MB
Around Creek Next Stop – Ocracoke School
Around Creek Previous Stop – Howard Street
The Around Creek audio tour was narrated by Philip Howard and Lou Ann Homan. It was originally designed to begin at Village Craftsmen on Howard Street, but you can join the tour at any point. To start at the beginning, go to the audio tour page for instructions.