A HISTORY OF HOLY COMFORTER
The Episcopal Church of the Holy Comforter has a long, inspired history. For over 150 years, our parish has been an important part of the community with a deep sense of service and outreach to all.
Holy Comforter began when a group of Episcopalians organized in common faith and purpose in 1867. By 1880, the young congregation built the attractive wooden church St. Athanasius in the town of Company Shops, now Burlington. This church still stands today and is used for special services. An historic cemetery and memorial garden are also maintained nearby.
The congregation grew quickly, and by November 5, 1911, a new, larger church was dedicated. Both the building and land were donated by Margaret and Lawrence S. Holt in memory of their daughter Emily who had died at age five. That dedication was remembered and celebrated again, one hundred years later, on November 8, 2011, in a special service led by Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop.
In the ensuing years, St. Athanasius Church became a ministry to the deaf community. Two mission churches were begun; Calvary Church, in Burlington in 1934 and St. Andrew’s, Haw River in 1941.
The 1940s saw special prayer services and supportive projects for World War II. Many young men in the congregation were away in the military.
In 1965, the congregation accomplished a large building program. Our space almost doubled with new classrooms, offices, a modern kitchen, and the Great Hall. This addition has provided room for more parish and community events. The list includes Happy Time School for children with special needs, Inner City Youth (ICY), city basketball teams, Vacation Bible School, and the ECW bazaar. In this time also Episcopal women and girls were now becoming leaders in our church and in the diocese.
In 1985, Holy Comforter’s current tracker organ, designed and installed by renowned organ builder, Lyn Dobson, was dedicated, greatly enhancing the music program. Also in 1985, the church bought and renovated Comforter House, giving space to many community agencies.
Our spirited outreach continues in this century. The Free Dental Clinic, hosted in the Great Hall in 2006, 2007, 2008, treated hundreds of patients by volunteer dentists. A bilingual preschool was begun. Today, the Newlin Project supplies tutorial help, support to Newlin Elementary School. LEAF reaches out to Elon University students. Others are Allied Churches, Meals on Wheels, Foster Children’s Christmas, the community wide Sunday morning breakfasts, Thursday morning Men’s Breakfast. Constant are the good works of the Episcopal Women’s Auxiliary and the Altar Guild.
Holy Comforter continues its legacy from a handful of people with a vision long ago, to a strong church forever teaching Christianity and promoting social justice, care and compassion for all.