Historic Red Hill Universalist Church, south of Clinton at 7031 Taylors Bridge Hwy., just south of the Taylors Bridge Fire Station, will celebrate Homecoming Nov. 13. Activities will begin at 10:30 a.m. with music and fellowship. The regular service will begin at 11 a.m. led by church minister, the Rev. Dr. Doak Mansfield.
Special music will be provided by violinist Dr. Harry Goodman and pianist Phillip Teachey.
There will be dinner on the grounds following the service unless inclement weather requires the meal be held inside.
Billy Peterson, church moderator, says: “Homecoming is our way of honoring those who founded this church and those who have worked hard for and supported the church for the last 127 years.
Those early founders were brave enough to say they didn’t believe that a loving God would condemn any of his children to eternal punishment. This was contrary to the message that was being delivered in other religious meetings of the time.” Red Hill was founded officially in 1884, however, the early meetings of the Universalist minded people in Sampson and surrounding counties date back to the early 1800s. The group shared the Union Meeting house with other denominations. In 1840’s the current minister who had been converted to Universalism announced his plan to form a new Universalist congregation and asked those interested to remain standing after the closing hymn. Twenty-five people indicated an interest in Universalism thus the group remained in the meeting house as they were the majority and the others who were Baptist moved about a mile up the road and built another building which is now Mount Gilead Baptist Church.
Charter members of Red Hill Universalist Church numbered 96 by official records and circuit riding preachers provided services from time to time while traveling through the Carolinas and other southern Red Hill Universalist Church Home states introducing people to Universalism. The Church was often packed to over flowing with buggies and wagons pulled up to the windows to hear the service due to no seating inside. Red Hill Church members in the early days were baptized in the Six Run River. In those days Sunday School was sometimes held in a car and Bible School had to be scheduled each summer when children were not needed on the farm to help with crops.
A “Who’s Who” of renowned Universalist ministers from across the country preached at Red Hill from time to time in the 1800s and the first half of the 1900’s. Portraits of some of the most influential ministers who came to Red Hill in the early days hang in the Church Women’s Parlor. Of late, Red Hill has had various ministers who came weekly to provide Universalist Unitarian services. In April 2011, Dr. Doak M. Mansfield came to Red Hill as a settled minister and was joined by his wife, Peggy, in June of this year. Doak and Peggy are living in the church parsonage and are becoming involved in the Clinton and surrounding areas..
Dr. Mansfield, in describing the centuries old Universalist tradition, said, “The Red Hill Universalist Church continues to be a welcoming community for spiritual searching and celebrating by individuals and families. We are an inclusive faith.”
Peterson concluded by saying “Homecoming is a time that people come to celebrate and remember the ancestors in our church family. Descendants of past and present members and friends of the church and of our church family are always welcome, not just at homecoming. We invite anyone who is interested to come and partake of the spirit of fellowship and the good food always found at Red Hill.
For information about Homecoming or Red Hill Universalist Church contact Dr. Doak Mansfield at 601-498-0906 or email@example.com.