Organized 1971

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 ministry.

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 satisfactory.

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 the church.

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 Benevolences.

We have a ministry in the community involving 15 families and a blind missionary.

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 gatherings regularly.

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