Originally the All Saints Chapel and located on the sound side where the original cottages and homes were first built, it was designed to provide a place of worship for the vacationing planters and others of the Anglican faith to worship during their summers away from Edenton and Elizabeth City. Many came to Nags Head to, of course, enjoy the beach and sea but it was also an attempt to escape the dreaded yellow fever of those days in the mid-1850s. The original chapel was built and opened in 1850 but it was short-lived, as Union troops destroyed it during the Civil War and used the lumber to build housing for runaway slaves who were placed on Roanoke Island. In the end, the church was reimbursed after the war in the amount of seven hundred measly dollars for the damage wrought, yet the members added tithes and other funds to keep their services alive in Nags Head by worshiping at various cottages. Finally, in the early twentieth century, a new chapel was consecrated in an adjusted location in 1916.
The new location over the years struggled in dealing with shifting sands and standing rainwater, not to mention significant shifting of the structural foundation and it was decided in 1937 to relocate the now St. Andrew's -by-the-Sea Episcopal Chapel. With the new beach road in place, it would be easier to reach and would be seen by the start of visitor traffic to the beautiful shores, but it was never out of the woods due to weather. A severe storm caused problems in 1944, yet they were structurally corrected and St. Andrew's is still in that same location. And it grew and prospered and as the beach became busier with more year-round residents and visitors, it has continued to grow. Despite the preponderance of Baptists and Methodists in Eastern North Carolina, it is fitting that the church located not far from where Virginia Dare was christened into the Anglican faith in 1587 would have a home for a vibrant Episcopal Church membership on the beach. St. Andrew's even founded a chapel in the northern beaches in the 1950's which today is self-sufficient as well.
Now, it's well and good that a bit of background of this church has been offered here, but more importantly, what does this history say about the Christian faith. I think it offers something very important that we Christians should remember and cherish and it's this. No matter what trials and tribulations are faced by the faithful on this earth, be they natural or man-created, if we Christians of all denominations keep our faith strong and our hearts open we can conquer all. Why? Because when we fill our hearts with the love and Spirit of the Lord and Savior we can never be beaten down.
Think of it this way. Most of us don't want to admit it, but deep down inside we know that the Christian faith is being maligned by many all over the world, even here in the United States. We are often ridiculed, scorned and mocked, yet what we see here is almost nothing compared with the things happening in other lands, including torture, rape, murder and some of the most heinous things imaginable. Yet, despite all of that, notice that the Christian faith lives on despite the hardships. People are yearning for God's Word everywhere, including throughout the Middle East, China, even North Korea, despite the penalty if caught which is usually death. Why? Because it's all about forgiveness and salvation based on love. When we accept the forgiveness of Sin which was offered to us at the moment Jesus died on the Cross, our acceptance means we believe in Him by faith, we accept Him as our Lord and promise to live for Him and thereby receive his promise of Everlasting Life. So, in the end, even if they kill us, we live on in a new and better form in the presence of God the Father and the Son courtesy of the Holy Spirit and what He has given us in our hearts.
Those people at Nags Head faced many trials and tribulations starting a new church in a rough and rugged environment and yet they labored on for their faith was that important to them. They persevered and they thrived because of faith. Without that, they would have failed miserably and that's the message that this beautiful little church says to me. I hope it might touch you the same way as well.