The Miracle in the Hills Church

In the early 1900’s a small group of believers met in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Potter Brown for Sunday School and worship. Since no minister was available, Dr. Eustace H. Sloop led the service.

In 1916, a small chapel was built at the cost of $300.00 on land given by Mr. Brown. It was located about a quarter of a mile southwest of the present location. In 1917, the congregation petitioned the Holston Presbytery for permission to be organized as an official church. On May 18, 1918 the Presbytery formed a commission consisting of Dr. C. C. Canon of Bristol TN, Dr. J. A. McMillan of Johnson City, TN, the Rev. Edgar Tufts of Banner Elk, and Elders E. C. Robbins of Pineola and Dr. W. C. Tate of Banner Elk for this purpose.

There were thirteen charter members received on this occasion: Mary Martin Sloop, E. H. Sloop, A. F. McKinney, Minnie McKinney, Gwendolyn McKinney, Newton Clark, Mary J. Clark, Jemima Biggerstaff, Mary L. Duncan, Mary S. Pfaff, Effie Vance, Georgie Biggerstaff and D. F. Presson. At the close of the service, a congregational meeting was led by Rev. Tufts in which E. H. Sloop was elected elder and A. F. McKinney as deacon.

In the early 1920’s, the congregation began planning to build a bigger church. They approached Will Franklin, a local stonemason and carpenter, who at that time was 70 years old. He reluctantly agreed to help. Groundbreaking was a memorable day with Cordelia Dellinger Kidder and her sister Ruth digging the first shovelful of dirt. The story of “Uncle” Will Franklin and the building of the church is told in Miracle in the Hills (pages 159-166), Legette Blythe’s book about Dr. Mary Martin Sloop, founder of Crossnore School, Inc.

Uncle Will could not read or write but he built the church from plans prepared by the architect, Leonard White of Greensboro. Work on the stone building began in the summer of 1924 and continued in 1925.  Two hundred loads of rocks were hauled by horse and wagon from the banks of the Linville River. High above the pulpit, on the inside wall, it is possible to see where work stopped one year and began the following.

The stained glass windows over the cross are in three sections, symbolizing the Holy Trinity. Scores of other Biblical symbols may be seen set into the windows of the nave. Certain windows along the side aisles swing open on unique hinges. The pulpit was obviously built for permanence and for tall preachers. Into the front of the pulpit the builder placed a thick sheet of metal bent into the shape of an open Bible. On each of the two flower pedestals he placed twelve raised stones to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles. The ceiling is made of chestnut bark and the life-size hand-hewn cross is from a century old log of local white pine. When first built, the church was lighted with electricity generated at the power plant built by Dr. E. H. Sloop on the Linville River, half a mile below the church.

The first worship service was held in the sanctuary on August 8, 1926.

The first pastor of Crossnore Presbyterian Church was McCoy Franklin who served from 1919 until 1933. Since that time, the following have served: John W. Bolick (Supply), Ira H. Rawles (1939-1941), J. S. Johnson (1947-1950), W. A. Nicholson (1950-1952), Earl M. Miller, Jr. (1952-1968), Ted Blackwell (1972-1974), Harold Stone (1975-1980), Fred J. Stevens (1980-1988), E. O’Dell Smith (1986-1987), Dewitt T. Smith, Jr. (1987-1989). A series of guest ministers then filled the pulpit and Dr. John Craven served as Interim Pastor for a year prior to the call of the reverend Dr. Paul S. Smith (1991-2008). The Reverend McCoy Franklin (son of the first minister) was the Interim until the Reverend Kathy Campbell was called in June, 2009.

Crossnore Presbyterian Church • 200 Chapel Drive • PO Box 386 • Crossnore, NC 28616 • 828-733-1939 •