CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A historic church’s services could be moved to a new location to make way for expansion at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Steele Creek Presbyterian Church dates back hundreds of years. Its cemetery is home to Revolutionary War veterans and the Rev. Billy Graham's parents.
Its pastor, the Rev. Jeff Pinkston, said he’s seen the change coming.
“A lot of the neighborhood is just gone. They’re buying up houses, the airport and, for the most part, they’re tearing them down immediately after they’re purchased.”
He is getting ahead of the inevitable by selling most of the church’s land surrounding its property to the airport.
The church is considering a potential deal to sell the main campus, which includes the sanctuary.
“In the 1960s, this church was a 1,000 member-plus congregation,” Pinkston said. “A lot of our longtime members used to live where the runways and the towers are now.”
Walter Neely is a 10th-generation member of the church.
“Having to leave a place that has the history that this does -- it’s not easy to leave that,” Neely said.
The church is considered the second oldest church in Mecklenburg County.
Neely said he’s not surprised about what’s happening.
“I think the path had been out since 1973 when the airport expanded with its third runway,” he said.
In the meantime, Steele Creek Presbyterian Church has started to merge with a neighboring church.
There are plans to make it official Easter Sunday.
“We chose Easter symbolically,” Pinkston said. “It is a resurrection of a church that, in some ways, will cease to exist but will be reborn as something new.”
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