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A Church Named Providence

By Steve Bietz

Burke County

steve bietz Burke County

It happened in Swan Quarter North Carolina.  Swan Quarter is out on our North Carolina coast in the Pamlico Sound area of the Outer Banks, just south of Nags Head.  It is a small community, named after Samuel Swan who was a wealthy plantation owner in that area in the 1700s.  The population today stands at around 400 people.

In the 1870s, a small group of Methodists wanted to build their own church and began the search for property in Swan Quarter, North Carolina.  As I just noted, it was a small group so they did not have a large amount of money with which to buy any expensive property.  There was a piece of land situated on Main Street that seemed to be the perfect spot for a church and the small Methodist Church family felt impressed by God to ask the owner of the land if he would sell them the property so that they could build their church.  The owner of the land was a man named Sam Sadler.   After spending time in prayer, the Methodist Church Pastor and another leader in the church went to ask Sam Sadler if he would sell.  Sam was understanding of their desire to build a church but stated that he already had other plans for the property that they wished to purchase and so he would not sell it to them.

Because they did not have a lot of money, the Methodist Church ended up purchasing land that was not ideal.  It was described as low land and swampy and prone to flooding if enough rain fell in a short time period.  But putting their trust in God and deciding that they would build their white-framed church on brick pilings, they proceeded.  What a fantastic day it was when they finished building their church and had the dedication on September 16th, 1876.

Three days after the dedication, a Hurricane-like storm hit Swan Quarter and the surrounding coast of North Carolina.  The storm did not pack a punch with major winds, but rather the destructive power was the heavy rains. The small town of Swan Quarter was flooded.  The water level rose to the point that it lifted the brand new Methodist Church right off the brick pilings that it had been built on.  The church floated out onto Oyster Creek Rd and then made a turn onto Main Street.  It proceeded to float down Main Street until it stopped even though the water was rushing down the street.  But instead of floating with the flow of water, the church made a mysterious turn and stopped on a vacant piece of land.

As the water level dropped after the storm passed, the town folk came out to see the damage.  Many had seen the church float by and wondered where it went.  The citizens were stunned to see that the Methodist Church had landed on Sam Sadler’s land, yes the very same piece of property that the small Methodist Church family had felt impressed by God to ask Sam to sell it to them so that they could build their church.  Well when Sam saw the white-framed Methodist Church sitting on his property, he was astonished.  He said this must be the Providence of God.  Sam Sadler was so impressed by the event, that he donated the land to the Methodist Church of Swan Quarter.  Everyone felt that God’s providence had indeed been the reason that their church had to change its address.  So it was decided.  From that day forward, the little white-framed church was called the Church of Providence.

I wonder, do we see God’s providence in our church and our lives?  Many today would have us believe that an indescribable fate determines the course of history.  Many suggest that destiny is left to mere chance.  They claim that history and the future are just a series of unrelated circumstances.  I believe that these kinds of conclusions are false.  I believe that God’s providence, which is to say God’s Hand of guidance, has and will continue to guide in the affairs of our planet, and in particular those who accept the Lord as their Creator and Redeemer.

There is perhaps a no greater example of God’s providence in history over centuries but to have the world ready for the incarnation of Jesus.  Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4 “the fullness of the time had come.”  I hope that you and I are anticipating the soon second coming of our Lord and Saviour.  The Bible conveys that Christ’s soon return is a guarantee.

I would call His plans to come and get us, the providence of a loving God.  He has it all planned.  All He needs is us to make it complete.  May we this Thanksgiving, thank God for His wonderful providence in our lives.


Steve Bietz is the pastor at Morganton Seventh Day Adventist Church. You can read more good Christian news from Pastor Steve Bietz HERE.


Blue Ridge Christian News covers Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, Madison County, in North Carolina,  and Christian news from around the country.