Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church, Richmond County
Photography by Ashley Fetner
Mount Carmel Presbyterian Church, located on the Richmond-Montgomery county line near Ellerbe in central North Carolina, was organized in 1776 by the Rev. John Bethune. Mount Carmel is 11th on the Presbyterian Church in America list of its 50 oldest churches.
Rev. Bethune came with other immigrants from the Isle of Skye in Scotland to settle in this area of North Carolina. He was minister at Mount Carmel until 1779, when he was captured with other Highlanders in a skirmish with the Continental Army and was sent to a prison in Philadelphia. Eight months later he was released, and after the end of the war he traveled to Canada to found new churches.
In 1790, the Rev. Colin Lindsey came from Scotland to North Carolina and served as Mount Carmel's minister from 1799 until 1812. Since 1776, more than 200 ministers have served in the pulpit.
The church was located on what was the well traveled east-west Pee Dee Road, which put the church in harm's way during the Civil War. Other churches in the area sustained damage from Sherman's Army: bullet holes in the dome of the Ellerbe Springs church, messages on the walls and in the pulpits Bible of the Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church. But Mount Carmel was spared damage by Sherman's Army. In fact the Bible, printed in1838, remained on the pulpit and is still in existence today.
In 1944, the Mount Carmel congregation elected a building committee to start construction on a new brick church where services are held today, approximately 200 yards in front of the old wooden church. Members began restoring the original wooden church in 1981 and completed work in 1984. They made replicas of the original pulpit and pews and placed them in the same areas where they had been. They replaced boards, strengthened the floor, painted the building and restored the pot-bellied stove. The "old white church on the hill" is a testament to the faith and courage of those who were forced to leave their homeland to pursue freedom in a new land.