The Southern Pines Chapel, located at 240 East New Hampshire Avenue in The Historic District, is a beloved neighborhood/community chapel known to many. Amidst the old train station by the tracks, The Icecream Parlor, Betsy's Crepes, Java Bean Roasting Company and Coffee Shop, The Southern Pines Brewery, The Sunrise Theatre, and several other numerous and popular sites and businesses in the Historic District, stands The Southern Pines Chapel. The cornerstone to this Southern Pines landmark was laid in 1928. In 2018, after a long run as a place of worship, the property was about to be put up for sale. However, God desired to maintain this property as a House of Worship and as a symbol of hope and light in the Greater Pines Region. God placed the desire to preserve this property as a church on the heart of Kathy Virtue, a longtime resident of Southern Pines, and Director of a family-owned foundation focused on building churches, schools, orphan homes and medical clinics in Africa. She said at the time, "These are the buildings we want to save. This is what makes Southern Pines.” She added, “When I was driving down the road and saw the ‘for sale’ sign going up in front of the Chapel, I felt it in my spirit, we need to save this old church.” Virtue and her foundation stepped out in faith and purchased the church, trusting only in God to provide. She believed that God would provide a Pastor and Church Family who shared the same vision and would desire to purchase the historic property. Sadly, after five years it seemed as if her Godly hopes and vision for this property were coming to an end. The foundation was about to place the property on the market, saddened that it would no longer serve the greater community as a church. This is when Fr. Michael McKinnon, a priest in the Anglican Christian tradition, who recently with his family moved to Moore County, NC to plant a new church, heard that the property was about to come up for sale. "I was meeting with a mutual friend of Kathy Virtue for coffee at Java Bean in the Historic District who informed me that Kathy and her Christian missionary organization was about to list the property. I too felt in my spirit, as Virtue had five years earlier, 'we need to save this old church'. It needs to remain a church." McKinnon added, "When I first viewed the church, I could hear the voice of God saying, 'Welcome Home. Feed my people.'"
Thus, Ninety five years after the cornerstone to this church was laid, the little brick church on East New Hampshire Avenue is once again to remain a neighborhood/community church. However, McKinnon and his church family only held their first services on Sunday, September 18, 2022. Thus, they have a less established financial history. The new church is establishing a two-tier campaign to help them purchase the church in the immediate future. Firstly, they are looking for a minimum of 200 people in Moore County who desire to help them preserve this historic building and Chapel as a place of worship to make a one time donation of $200. McKinnon said, "We have not even officially announced this campaign, and already checks for $200 are coming in. We are so blessed to see people in the community helping us to preserve this chapel as a House of Christian Worship and support to the greater community. We need an ol' fashioned neighborhood church in the Historic District." Secondly, they are receiving donations to their new capital campaign drive. "$10, $50, $100, or $20,000 will help. "The smaller the mortgage loan, the more we will be able to invest in our community. This is my heart, to help those in need. We are committed to serving our community. Please help us to help others." McKinnon said.
Fr. McKinnon is already active in our local community, serving as Chaplain to The Southern Pines Fire Department who recently celebrated their 125th anniversary, is a proud member of The Southern Pines Rotary Club, and volunteers with Meals on Wheels, serving those in need in both Southern Pines and Aberdeen. He also serves on the Faculty and as Dean of Students for All Saints Christian Academy, Cameron. McKinnon believes, "A priest must be involved in his local community, serving all in need. We believe that God himself came from heaven in the person of Jesus Christ, not to be served, but to serve. If I believe this, and I do, then I too must be among God's people as one who serves."
The Anglican Church of the Advent will celebrate their grandopenning in The Southern Pines Chapel at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 26. McKinnon said, "All are welcome to join us as we worship God in Word and Sacrament." He added, "Ever wonder what the earliest Christian Church was like? If so, then please, 'Come and See.' We offer the same Holy Scriptures, Worship life, Faith, and Ministry as the earliest Christian Church without addition or deletion. We are committed to Christian Worship, Evangelism, Discipleship, Outreach, and local and global Mission. Together, we can make a difference."
The Church of the Advent is a new Christian church plant laying down roots in Moore County and at least initially in Whispering Pines. The Reverend Michael J. McKinnon, known as, "Fr. Michael," has been ordained for twenty-seven years and is a priest in the Anglican tradition. Fr. Michael and his family recently relocated to North Carolina from Marlborough, Massachusetts where he served for eighteen years. "It was hard to say goodbye to my church family after so many years, but I am excited to see what God has planned for us now in North Carolina," said Fr. Michael. The new church plant is starting from scratch. While many church plants begin with a core group of people, some financial support, and a place to meet weekly for worship and study, Fr. Michael accepted the call to plant this new church from scratch; no people, no initial financial support, and no place to meet. "It may sound a bit scary," he said, "but I know the Lord goes before us and that He will bring to fruition what He has planned. Jesus said to His disciples, 'Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.' That is what I am planning to do.”
Although the new church has yet to have its first worship service, things are already beginning to come together. Saint Paul Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Whispering Pines is graciously providing The Church of the Advent with a temporary place to worship, share fellowship, and study on Sunday mornings. "They are certainly practicing Christian hospitality by providing us a temporary place to worship on the Lord's Day and we are very grateful." The new church already has its first members in addition to the McKinnon family. The Reverend Dan Hardin, a full Colonel and Chaplain in the U.S. Army, and his family have joined The Church of the Advent and "Fr. Dan" will be serving as an Assisting Priest on most weekends. "This is God at work," said Fr. Michael, adding, "I knew my friend Fr. Dan lived somewhere in the Carolinas, but I did not know he lived only two miles from the house we recently purchased and that the Lord had placed a desire in his heart to plant a new Anglican church in Moore County." Fr. Michael will also be teaching Christian Apologetics to middle school students at All Saints' Christian Academy which meets at Hillmon Grove Baptist Church, Cameron; a school committed to an affordable classical Christian education serving Moore, Cumberland, Harnett, and Lee Counties. Lastly, Fr. Michael was an active member of his community in Marlborough, MA including serving as Chaplain to the City's Fire Department and as a member of The Marlborough Rotary Club. He hopes to continue to serve in these ways locally in NC.
When asked to briefly describe Anglicanism Fr. Michael said, "Anglicanism is both Evangelical and Catholic. As such, Anglicanism offers biblical teaching and preaching, recognizing the Holy Bible as God's Word and containing all things necessary for salvation. At the same time Anglicanism maintains and offers the same Scriptures, Sacraments and Worship, Creedal Faith, and Apostolic Ministry as that of the undivided Catholic Church with an emphasis on the first five hundred years of Christianity. Simply put, Anglicanism offers early Christianity for people today."
The Church of the Advent will offer: Worship in the Great Tradition, Evangelism, Discipleship, Outreach, and Mission and plans to be very active in the greater community. They will serve those who serve, ministering to our military and first responders and their families.
Information: The Church of the Advent will be meeting at 11:30a.m Sunday at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Deese Chapel, 1517 Luther Way, Southern Pines, NC 28387. The first worship service in the new space is scheduled for Sunday, October 16th and will continue in this space for the time being. If people would like to inquire about The Church of the Advent, they may call Fr. Michael at 910-585-4305 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org The church website is: thechurchoftheadvent.org
The Church of the Advent Chapel at historic Southern Pines Chapel
Fr. Michael and Fr. Dan celebrate Mass during Easter.
Music is essential to Anglican worship. The Church of the Advent seeks an experienced and qualified pianist/organist to lead us in our songs of praise and thanksgiving. Interested musicians should contact Fr. Michael using the chat button below.