Weathermen will tell you a hurricane hit the coast of North Carolina in 1876, but the people in the small town of Swanquarter say it was a blessing from God.
Swanquarter lies on the coast of the Tarheel State. It’s so small it’s unincorporated – the only unincorporated county seat in America. Swanquarter’s people have fished the waters of the Pamlico Sound for hundreds of years. But the waters, and God, never played a more dramatic role than they did on September 16th and 17th, 1876.
In the mid-1870s the people in Swanquarter decided they needed a church building. The congregation had been meeting in homes and other buildings, but there was no full-time church. So, they formed a building committee, found volunteers to construct the building, and took up a collection to buy land.
After praying, the committee members found a perfect piece of land. It stood on a corner had a beautiful view of Swanquarter Bay. The committee members knew the lot was an answer to their prayers. But the landowner had other plans for the property and refused to sell.
The committee found another lot. The congregation was disappointed. Volunteers began to build the church, and, as soon as the structure was closed in from the weather, the congregation showed its thanks by holding services.
On the night of September 15th, a storm began to blow in from the Atlantic. By the next day, the people in town were sure a hurricane was on the way. Water rose to five feet above street level, and houses began to flood.
On September 17th, the hand of God arrived. As the wind and water increased, townspeople were shocked to see their unfinished church break free of its foundation and float into the street. It sailed down the center of the road and missed other buildings.
The church gently bumped into the town’s general store doing no damage, turned 90 degrees, sailed across a canal, hit a couple of saplings, and turned to face the street. It had stopped on the original lot in the exact place the committee members had originally wanted to build their church.
The landowner was as stunned as the church members. He met the committee chairman at the courthouse, and he donated the property to the church congregation. The grateful members voted to name it Providence Church.
A newer brick building stands on the spot today, but around in back the old wooden building is still serving God by hosting Sunday school classes. And above the front door is the sign – “The Church Moved By The Hand of God.”