New community to receive once-historic Germanton church

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GERMANTON, N.C. -- Depending on who you are and where you're from, witnessing the move of Saint Philip's Episcopal Church represents a beginning or an ending.

The 121-year-old church started its trek from Germanton to Chapel Hill early Thursday morning.

The Episcopal Dioceses of North Carolina approved the move of the historic church, which -- according to area natives -- hasn't had a congregation since the early 20th century or worship services since the 1980s.

By this weekend, Saint Philip's will be The Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill. The sanctuary will house a nine-year-old congregation that purchased land for the church on Merin Road.

The move has upset some Germanton natives, who saw the dormant church as a historic treasure.

Blake Movers company began prepping Saint Philip's for the move weeks ago, removing the steeple and boarding the windows. On Thursday morning, they hooked up the more than 56-foot flatbed to one of their trucks and prepared it to inch the structure along back roads in Stokesdale and Reidsville.  The truck will travel at seven to eight miles per hour.

"It's a lot of change for our parrish because we've been sort of nomads for nine years," said Nancy Trueblood, one of several Advocate members who traveled to the Piedmont Triad to observe Saint Philip's move.

According to Trueblood, the church purchased land for the church two years ago.  She said they are still fundraising to complete the move.  In the interim, they've wroshipped at a Jewish synagogue and one other church.  It will still be several months before the congregation moves into their new sanctuary.

Trueblood said seeing the move was exciting, but bittersweet.

"I really feel deeply for the people here, because it's such a loss.  But at the same time it has not been fulfilling its purpose, which is to be a house of worship," Trueblood said. 

"If it saves one soul, it's worth it," said Richard Craddock, a Germanton native who arrived at Saint Philip's around 6:30 a.m. with his son, James.

The two said they wanted to witness history.

"I suspect it to be the first church in Germanton," Craddock said as he gazed at the church from the passenger seat of James' pickup. "It's been here as long as I can remember.  When I started school, it was here.  Now it's gone."

It took a couple of hours to actually get the flatbed and structure on Germanton Road and off on its journey across Stokes County.  Mike Blake, owner of Blake's Moving, expects to arrive in Chapel Hill by Dec. 8.

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