The History of the Lumbee Conference Book

To obtain a hard copy for $30.00  contact the Conference Secretary, Dianne B. Belcher at 910-844-5364

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 Sample of whats inside

The Calvin C. Lowrey Family, along with L. W. (Luke) Moore Family, and many other Indian Leaders and Families of the Robeson County area, were members of the Methodist-Episcopal Church, South   of the Blue Ridge Atlantic Mission Conference. Four sons of C. C. and Maria Lowrey, Henry H., Canada, French, and D. F., became ordained ministers in the above named conference. Henry H. was the first Native Ordained Pastor (Blue Ridge Conference Minutes 1892).

Rev. H. H. Lowrey, having obtained seniority among his colleagues, was accepted in the Methodist-Episcopal Church in 1893. His acquired leadership skills to govern a group of people and his competent ability to teach and preach the Word of God had proven his spiritual worth to his peers. But "non-whites" continued to be denied the full right to exercise their leadership skills and abilities. Indians and Blacks were not allowed to hold positions on the conference administrative level. Rev. H. H. Lowrey is quoted as having said: "If I am intelligent enough to write up conference reports, I am intelligent enough to present the reports to the conference."

In October, Rev. Jonathan Sanford, Pastor of Centenary Methodist Church of Rowland NC, wrote to the Raleigh Christian Advocate in regard to his charge for 1886. He wrote concerning the Croatan Indians of Bethel Church (now known as Dogwood Baptist):

"This church is separate and independent of all others, a congregational Methodist-Episcopal Church served by the preacher in charge of the Robeson Circuit in accordance with their own choice. The government and doctrines are the same as the M. E. South, except the Pastor is Bishop and Presiding Elder and has absolute control officially, as well in money matters, which is separate from his salary on the circuit. They have 115 communicants, and there is not a white person nor freedman among them.---They have a good church almost finished, the middle pew reserved for white people who sometimes out number the Croatans. The protracted meeting this year was  the best in the history of their church and they will, I think, pay every dollar of their assessment, besides their gifts to our preacher. During the revival Rev. Henry Lowry was present part of the time and preached finely for his age. He is 22 years old, son of Calvin Lowry, was educated at Greensboro, N. C., belongs to the Methodist-Episcopal Church, and is a Nephew of Henry Berry Lowry." 

Significant educational accomplishments were made during the latter decades of the 1800s, and religious affiliations and denominational changes occurred as well. But, in the midst of good, evil is always present. Racial prejudices and oppressions began to inflict the "spiritual lives" of the Croatans. After 1870 the Methodist-Episcopal Church - South decided to "separate-out" non-white members from its church rolls. Croatan religious leaders, immediately, organized native congregations and maintained already established churches.

Church services were led by Class Leaders. The Methodist-Episcopal Church - North began to interact and encourage the native congregations in their efforts to organize and maintain their churches. The Methodist-Episcopal Church - South, seemingly, was intimidated by this racially undaunted association between the two groups. The MEC-South soon re-drew the district boundary lines of the Blue Ridge Conference to include the native congregations in the ME Church-South district. 3

Many Native Preachers and Leaders and church members grew tired and weary of the constant upheaval of church and conference relations that denied them equal opportunities and they wanted a


Hopewell    Holiness    Methodist    Church


change. They wanted to be free to govern and lead the Croatan Indian Churches in the work of the Lord.

It is with this concept in mind that Rev. H. H. Lowrey approachedhis dad, Rev. C. C. Lowrey, with the idea and suggestion of organizing a local Indian Conference to govern the Indian Churches. His dad was not pleased with this idea and tried to discourage his sons from pursuing it. But they were determined to press on. Family members believe that the ensuing action of his sons in this matter became very stressful and deeply disturbing to Rev. C. C and possibly hastened his death on June 10, 1892.

In the latter 1800ís and early 1900's, some Croatan/LumbeeIndian Churches were placed under the supervision of the newly formed Atlantic Mission Conference. A Church Record Book of the Methodist-Episcopal Church, kept by Rev. H. H. Lowrey, is a record of Croatan/LumbeeIndian Church history from 1884 until 1892 the information is recorded under seven (7) headings.8

I.       Pastors: Pastoral assignment of Rev. H. H. Lowrey in 1886 and 1892.

II.   Official Members: The last names of some official members were as follows: Lowrey, Oxendine, Brayboy, Jacob, Bullard, Chavis, Moore, Spaulding, Mainor, Sanderson,Smith, and Revels.

III.Classes: Union Chapel, New Prospect, Thessalonica, Bethel, and Bear Swamp Academy were recognized as Class Churches in these records. (Note: On page 8, a line was drawn through the name of Bear Swamp Academy and the name Hopewell was written underneath, A date was not recorded on this page.

IV.  Members In Full Connection: Members In Full Connection were recognized by church membership. Although not recognized as a Class Church, a church
membership roll was recorded on New Hope ME
Church in 1884-85.(Pages 20 - 35) The names of Rev. C. C. Lowrey, his mother and father, his siblings, his wife and children are recorded on these church rolls. It is within this section, too, that Hopewell Church is mentioned (Page 36, 37, 86& 87). Members are recorded as having moved their membership from Bear Swamp Methodist-Episcopal Church to Hopewell Church in 1893. Rev. Welton Lowry, son of William (Billy) Lowrie, says, "The Rev. C. C. Lowrie family, as well as other Lowrie Families, first went to church at New Hope ME Church. From there they went to the Bear Swamp ME Church, and from there to Hopewell at the current location." Although not documented, there's speculation that the Bear Swamp ME Academy/Church was located on or near the grounds of Bear Swamp Baptist Church. Bear Swamp Baptist Church was organized in 1882. It has been said that the Bear Swamp ME Academy/Church was a religious school that was used to train people for church leadership.However, due to the racial tensions of that period, the congregation believed that their church (like others) had been mysteriously burned.



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