In 1904 Concord Presbytery of the Synod of
North Carolina, Presbyterian Church in the United States, sent
the Rev. Joseph Porter Hall to the western mountains as an
evangelistic missionary, preacher, and teacher. After some
months in Banner Elk, he moved to Plumtree where he established
home base and served as head of the Plumtree School for Boys.
From there he reached out to organize churches and outposts. The
churches at Plumtree, Pineola, Hughes, and Crossnore with their
chapels, were an outgrowth of his work.
The Plumtree Church was organized as a church on July 26, 1905,
by Rev. Colin Alexander Munroe, Chairman of the Home Mission
Committee of Concord Presbytery and Mr. Hall.
By 1908 this church had evangelistic work in many places, one of
which was Walnut Grove. Plumtree shared their preachers with the
chapels. Walnut Grove Sunday School and preaching services were
held in an old house near the Wiseman sawmill.
On May 29, 1914, one acre of land was given by Mr. and Mrs. Bill
Aldridge and Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Mosley with the deed made to
Concord Presbytery. On this lot the old white church was built.
It was a one room building which housed worship, Sunday School,
and possibly a day school.
The pastors of the Plumtree Church continued to work with this
chapel. Rev. T. C. Guy served in 1917 and 1918. In 1920 Rev.
Edgar Tufts supplied until Rev. Joseph P. Hall was elected
pastor. Under Mr. Hall students from the Plumtree School for
Boys walked to the church to help in teaching and in the worship
services. One of these was Ralph Buchanan, who tells with pride
of his regular walk across the mountain to share in this
Early in 1923 Rev. Theophilus W. Clapp, who was teaching at the
School for Boys, became pastor. He was closely associated with
Rev. J. P. Hall and Rev. Edgar Tufts in the development of
schools and churches in Avery County. During the next forty
years he was pastor at Plumtree and its chapels and assisted
other churches in the area.
Bill Wilkins and Roderick Hall, who were active in Walnut Grove
as well as Plumtree, were elected elders in 1959. Mr. Clapp
asked them in 1963 to assist Walnut Grove on a regular basis.
In 1970 the chapels that had been developed as a part of
Plumtree began to become independent. On April 25, 1971, the
Walnut Grove Presbyterian Church was organized by a commission
of Holston Presbytery: Rev. James Murray, Rev. Paul Woodall,
Rev. Philip O. Evaul, Rev. Ernest Wilson, Ruling Elders, M. F.
Kuhn (Hughes), Robert E. Woodside (Crossnore), Bill King
(Plumtree), and Ralph Baird (Newland). Rev. Ralph W. Buchanan of
Piedmont Presbytery preached the sermon.
The charter members transferred from Plumtree were Beulah W.
Carpenter, Hallie Ingram, Tom Lipps, T. J. Lipps, Mary Jo
Thomas, Marshall Phillips, Mrs. Evelyn W. Phillips, Fred Stout,
Mrs. Gladys Stout, Emma Wiseman, Mrs. Susie Wiseman, Robert N.
Wiseman, N. B. Wilkins, Wilkins, Roderick Hall, Mr. and Mrs.
Jess Wiseman, Mrs. Clifton Ingram, Mrs. T. J. (Glenda) Lipps,
and Mr. Kenneth Thomas. Members received on profession of faith
and baptism: Clifton Ingram, Selena Ingram, Lila Carpenter,
Debbie Taylor, Alvan Phillips and Roger Taylor.
Ruling Elders were elected: Bill (W. B.) Wilkins, Roderick Hall,
and Fred Stout (these having served as Elders in the Plumtree
Church), Jesse Wiseman, and Thomas Lipps.
On June 13, 1971, at 7:00 p.m. the Commission to organize the
church convened to complete its assignment. The newly elected
elders of the Walnut Grove Church being present and having been
instructed, were examined in preparation for ordination and
installation. They were examined on Experimental Religion by
Wilson, on Beliefs by Baird and Evaul, on Government and
Discipline by Woodall and Murray, and on Duties of an Elder by
Bill King and M. F. Kuhn. All examinations were sustained as
The Commission then joined the congregation for worship.
Additional persons were received into church membership. Those
received by transfer: Mrs. Ray Lipps, Tommy Lipps. Jack Lipps,
Finley Love, Mrs. Edith Love, Rebecca Taylor, Rachael Taylor,
and Elaine Taylor. Those received by profession and baptism:
Bobby Lee Carpenter.
It was decided by the congregation to delay permanently the
election of deacons and to count all members received for one
year beginning April 25, 1971, as charter members of the church.
W. B. Wilkins, Roderick Hall, and Fred Stout were installed as
elders. Jesse Wiseman and Tom Lipps were ordained and installed
with the laying on of hands and prayer.
We have always had a good Sunday School. At first there were
only three classes. Now there are classes for all ages from
nursery and kindergarten through Juniors, Young People, and
Adults with an average attendance of 80.
Our new church building was begun in 1972. Stained glass windows
from the church building on Oak Street in Spruce Pine were
donated and installed in the new sanctuary. The building was
dedicated and the mortgage burned in November 1983.
Three additional acres of land were bought from the Jesse
Wiseman family in 1982 Later two acres were sold and the other
acre added to the cemetery which provides perpetual care far 300
graves when filled.
When the state of North Carolina began the Headstart Program for
kindergarten children, funds were provided by the state to equip
a playground, the basement of the church for teaching, and a
kitchen. Should this program be closed, the equipment belongs to
This congregation has always had regular worship services with
supply ministers. Rev. Walser Penland preached twice a month for
2 1/2 years after the organization. The Rev. Harold Stone,
pastor at Pineola and Crossnore, served as pastor here
1975-1980. Dr. Bill Bomar, an elder and lay minister from
Florida, moved to our area and became a professor at Lees McRae
College early in 1981. He was our minister for six years. Since
1985, Rev. Ken Lance has served the church as Stated Supply.
We have a present church membership of 74 with an average
attendance of 85 to 95. Thirty percent of our offerings are
given to Benevolences. We meet regularly the askings of the
Presbytery of Western North Carolina as part of our
We have a ministry in the community involving 15 families and a
Each fall we have an "Old Timers Gathering" when former members
and friends join us for fellowship and a worship service. All
are invited to dress in clothes appropriate to the early years
of the Sunday School. Many of them do. The day is climaxed with
a bountiful and delicious meal.
We are the youngest congregation in the Mayland Fellowship, and
we support all the programs of the Fellowship and attend all the