The Elon Community Church’s 125th anniversary will be this Tuesday April 19, and it celebrated this milestone at its 10:30 am worship service the Sunday before. This United Church of Christ (UCC) was chartered in 1891, a few years after Elon College's founding.
Most of the church’s pews were filled with members of the church and new visitors, including several Elon students. The majority of the population attending were older citizens of the Elon community.
The service commenced with a ritual of friendship wherein Reverend Nora Driver Foust, Placement Coordinator and Minister for Church Affairs for the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ, recognized the Elon Community Church (ECC) for its 125 years of work.
“125 years of lives serving this church is an important milestone and I’m glad you all are marking it,” Foust said.
The ECC’s gospel choir sang, “When In Our Music God is Glorified,” a hymn that a church attendee pointed out as commemorative because it was set by local community member of the church, Harriet Ziegenhals.
The UCC Southern Conference Minister Dr. Ed Davis led the UCC Statement of Faith. The entire congregation took turns to recite lines in the bulletin of their written beliefs according to the doctrine of the UCC.
New members Richard and Dony Denault, Loraine Morris, Muriel Sherman, Fred and Caroline Vetter and Janice Warrener were recognized after the Statement of Faith was recited. Reverend Randy Orwig explained where each new member came from and welcomed them to the ECC.
Father Gerry Waterman, Elon’s Catholic Campus Ministries Priest was invited to give the gospel lesson to the congregation before the homily commenced.
“I told Father Waterman that he could come here because we are proudly the 2nd biggest Catholic Church in Alamance County,” Orwig said.
Reverend Orwig spoke in his homily about the history of the ECC and reflected on past milestones, including its 100th and 75th anniversaries. He talked about the church’s founding and how it has grown over the past 125 years.
“I’d ask all of you to celebrate what those changes meant,” Orwig said. “There’s a growing sense of diversity, not unlike the movement of Elon University.”
The head pastor encouraged the congregation to embrace the ECC’s growth and look for ways to improve its inclusive environment.
“We are continually finding ways to include all who are around us,” Orwig said. “And yes I believe that we can change the world. I want to make that clear.”
After a powerful performance of “The Hallelujah Chorus” by the ECC gospel choir, Reverend and University Chaplain Jan Fuller spoke as the representative of the University’s appreciation for the existence of the ECC. She also gave the blessing for the service.
After a few other concluding prayers and hymns, the 125th ECC anniversary service finished with the procession of all religious leaders down the aisle to the front entrance of the church. As ECC members and visitors left the church, Reverend Orwig, Reverend Fuller, Reverend Tom Hamilton, Reverend Kuhn, Reverend Wheeler, Reverend Foust and Father Waterman greeted them and encouraged them to participate in the 12:30 p.m. luncheon and festivities that continued their celebration of the 125 years the ECC has thrived.