Our History

The first Church of the Redeemer building.
Circa 1910

Our History

In 1906, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina decided that a mission was needed for the “colored” Episcopalians living in Greensboro. The organizer of the mission was Mr. William Thomas Wallace, Sr., who was educated at Saint Augustine College in Raleigh, North Carolina. While at Saint Augustine, he met Archdeacon Clarence Delaney, who would become his lifelong friend.

Mr. Wallace assembled approximately twelve communicants in his home who shared with him a vision to have a mission that would grow broader through ministry, deeper through discipleship, warmer through fellowship and larger through evangelism. In 1909, Archdeacon Delaney sent a letter of authorization to Mr. Wallace to begin a mission in Greensboro. The letter detailed how to establish a mission and from whom to seek help. S.B. Sebastian and Frank Debrum were named to assist him. Joseph McDonald, a lay reader from Saint Augustine College, delivered the Archdeacon’s letter and was sent to conduct worship.

The first step was to secure a place of worship. President James B. Dudley of the Agricultural and Technical College for the Colored Race (later named North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University) permitted Sunday services to take place in the campus chapel. Nine congregants attended the first worship in June, 1909. In the fall of 1909, the services were moved from the college to the Masonic Lodge on South Davie Street. Attendance continued to increase to such an extent that to accommodate future growth, additional space was needed.

Parishioners formed a committee to explore available and affordable lots for sale. Land in the northeast district of the city located on the east corner of Market and North Dudley Streets was purchased from a Greensboro businessman. An existing one-room structure suitable for conversion into a chapel was on the lot. The congregation heartily engaged in remodeling the building.

The Reverend James Satterwhite became the first vicar to serve the new mission. Mr.Edwin Fisher was the first superintendent of the Sunday School; Mrs. Marie Byers was the first organist; Mr. S.A. Sebastian was the chorister; Ms. Margaret Wallace, sister of William Thomas Wallace, was the first Episcopal parochial school teacher. Through evangelism, the church flourished so much that it had to be dismantled and rebuilt in 1927 to accommodate a larger congregation.

The Right Reverend Bishop Cheshire conducted the first confirmation service for the new mission. Mrs. Emma Friday Wallace, wife of William Thomas Wallace, Sr. was among the first to be confirmed at the mission. Olive Lucille Wallace, daughter of William Thomas and Emma Friday Wallace, was the first baby baptized there.

Mr. Sebastian donated a one-room house located on Beech Street to the mission. This became the first rectory. In 1948, it was remodeled and Sampson and Linnie Bernice Foster were married there on December 27, 1948.

From 1928 to 1952, Deacon Jordan J. Greene, a dynamic and charismatic leader, led the mission. All the parishioners loved him and the mission grew by leaps and bounds. Additional renovations were done for the third time. In 1930, Father Greene was ordained to the priesthood. He organized a building campaign which was given to the next administration.

Father J. Howard Thompson succeeded Reverend Greene as vicar. In 1954, the old white church building was condemned and Father Thompson requested and received a grant of $12,500 from the National Church. On November 4, 1956, the first unit of a new building complex was opened for worship. The building was designed by Mr. William Streat, a parishioner, and was built by Latham Construction Company.

During the 1960s and 1970s, under the leadership of Father Hicks and Father Wickens, respectively, the Redeemer was engaged in many activities and saw many changes. It often served as the meeting place for the Civil Rights organizers during the days of desegregation. The Redeemer boasts of hosting the citywide Ash Wednesday Services of the Episcopal Greensboro Convocation for 34 years in celebration of its active participation in the Civil Rights Movement!

In 1966, the Reverend Carlton Owen Morales from the Diocese of Panama became the vicar of the Redeemer Mission. In 1969, after the completion of the sanctuary, the new church was consecrated along with the blessing of the parish rectory. In 1970, the Leary Room was dedicated. In 1976, Mrs. Fannie Leary, Senior Warden, made application to the diocese for parish status for the Redeemer.

In 1979, at the 163rd Diocesan Convention under the leadership of Bishop Thomas A. Frazier, the Church of the Redeemer received full parish status.

The years 1980–1999 saw the remodeling of the kitchen, the organization of the Servant Center, the installation of new pews and storm doors in the sanctuary and the church became debt-free. After thirty-three years of faithful and dedicated service to the Redeemer and to the City of Greensboro, Father Carlton Owen Morales retired in 1999.

In March 2000, Father Clifford Coles served as Interim Rector.

In May 2003, Father Wheigar J. Bright was called to serve as the second rector of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. During his tenure, the Redeemer celebrated its Centennial with an activity of celebration each month during the year of 2006. Prior to the end of his tenure in July 2007, Father Bright oversaw the process to obtain the charter of the Piedmont-Triad Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

From July 2007 to November 2008, the Reverend Frances Cox served Redeemer as the Supply Priest.

In November 2008, the Reverend Dr. Alicia Alexis from the Diocese of Maryland became the third Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer. Rev. Alexis continues to build upon the ministry of her predecessors of uplifting the kingdom of God, spreading the gospel, increasing their spirituality, and assisting with the creation of a peaceful and harmonoius world. Rev. Alexis has a deep passion to see that all people are healed from their brokenness and are made whole.

The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer today.
%d bloggers like this: