Our History

Every Day, We’re Making History At St. Philips

At St. Philips, we’re proud of our Moravian and our African-American history and are working to keep these traditions alive and growing for a new generation. In 2012, St. Philips celebrated its 190th anniversary and still remains the only Black Historic congregation in the country. St Philips is a source of education for hundreds of school children from all parts of North Carolina and for foreign and out of state visitors on a daily basis as they visit the African- American Complex at the Old Salem Museum and Gardens. As a member of the Salem Creek Regional Conference of Churches St. Philips participates jointly with member churches, Home, Trinity and Messiah Moravian to foster the ideals of Moravians and enhance the growth of our churches and the care for our youth and senior membership.

We’re hoping that you and your family will become a part of the next chapter of the St. Philips story.

Our Historical Roots

The St. Philips African-American Complex in Old Salem is a sacred place significant to the unusual and unique history of this community, and it is a touchstone of the African-American experience.

The African and African-American Moravian congregation, organized in Salem in 1822 among a mostly enslaved population, is one of the oldest Black congregations in the United States. It is the only historic Moravian African-American congregation in the country. Consecrated December 15,1861, St. Philips Moravian is the oldest African-American church standing in North Carolina. Freedom was announced in the church on May 21, 1865, by a Union Army cavalry chaplain.

The St. Philips African-American Complex at the Old Salem Museum and Gardens includes:

  • the Reconstructed 1823 African Moravian Log Church,
  • the 1861 Brick Church and Sunday School Addition,
  • Strangers’ God’s Acre (1775-1815),
  • Negro God’s Acre (1816-1859), and
  • the Path to Happy Hill Overlook.

St. Philips in the Modern Era

From the beginning of the slave worship services in Salem, The Brick Church was called the Slave church, the Black church, the Negro church, the Colored church, or the African-American Church, until on December 20, 1914, Bishop Edward Rondthaler bestowed upon the Southern Province’s only African-American congregation the name of St. Philips Moravian Church.

In the spring of 1952 the last regular service was held at the Brick Church location. The St. Philips congregation was moved to the community house in the Happy Hill Garden Complex. Services were held there until April 5, 1959, when a new chapel located on the Corner of Mock and Vargrave Streets, was consecrated. The congregation remained in the Vargrave Street location until it learned that the plans for US Highway 52 would send the highway through the church property. Instead of building a new church the Southern Province located an existing one, the former Bon Air Christian Church on Bon Air Avenue.

On May 4, 1967, the 144th anniversary Sunday of the congregation, our current church on Bon Air Avenue was formally dedicated.

For more information about St. Philips Church, please contact us at the church office at 336-770-5933 or visit Old Salem Museum and Gardens.

St. Philips African-American Complex in Old Salem
913 South Church Street. Winston-Salem, NC 27101
www.oldsalem.org/stphilips