Historic Providence Christian Church Serving God Since 1763
Providence Church has been at the heart of much of this area’s history. The first structure, made of logs with floor constructed of sun-baked bricks, served as a church, public meeting house, school and gathering spot for the early settlers leading up to the formation of the United States of America, being located on the stage coach line between Hillsborough and Charlotte. As early as 1794 Providence become part of the Christian denomination (one of its first churches), influenced by Benjamin Rainey, early leader at Providence and James O’Kelly, founder of the Christian denomination. Rainey also taught school at Providence. It hosted court sessions for western Orange County.
The school at Providence, which maintained one of the first public libraries in the state of North Carolina, had many distinguished teachers. In 1849, court was held at Providence Church and Alamance County was given birth at Providence Church on April 24, 1849. There the idea for the county seat town of Graham was put in place. During an early court session at Providence, a poll tax was set up to provide for public schools in the new county.
The current sanctuary was started about 1865 and finally ready for use about 1872. It was located about 225 feet north of its current location (in the cemetery). In September 1888, the Christian Conference held an historic, watershed meeting at Providence Church and voted to establish a new four year school. The pastor of Providence Church, Dr. William S. Long, Sr. became the organizing and first president of Elon College. Another pastor of Providence, Dr. W. W. Staley, also served Elon as president. Other pastors at Providence, who served as deans at Elon, include Dr. D. J. Bowden and Dr. Ferris Reynolds.
In 1902, the Providence Memorial Association was formed to care for the cemetery. On June 12, 1927, the church started the process to expand the cemetery and moved the church building 225 feet south. John W. Long, who built the first buildings at Elon and the Courthouse led the bricking the outside of the building.
By 1939, Providence added a fellowship hall. In 1955, a major project was completed with the remodeling of the sanctuary. and building an educational building.
In 1959, a parsonage was built. In the 1980’s a new shelter, curb and guttering, and railroad track removal was completed. Since 2000 the original roof on the sanctuary was covered with a new steel roof. An entry arch to the cemetery, an historical marker, and granite markers of the original site of the present building were added, along with a solid brick and wrought iron access ramp. All facilities were upgraded inside and out leading to 2013.
Many churches in this area have their roots at Providence. Providence has always shared its pastoral leadership beyond its doors. Rev. John G. Truitt helped develop the Elon Orphanage (Elon Homes for Children). Rev. W. A. Grissom, volunteered as a Navy Chaplain during the war in the 1940s. Rev. John Littiken, helped start and develop the Graham Housing Authority. Rev. Darryl R. Peebles, helped start the Alamance County CROP Hunger Walk, Allied Churches of Alamance County , served the county library board, the Graham Fire Department, the Lions Club, the Graham Historical Society, the world as a professional entertainer, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.