Wake Forest Historical Museum

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Rain Saves Lives at Olive Branch Baptist Church

It was February 10, 1946 when heavy rain struck–bringing with it a miracle that could be called fate, luck, or Providence.

As it was a Sunday morning, the children of Olive Branch Baptist Church were looking forward to Sunday School at nine o’clock and playing together in the churchyard before class. But because the weather was so very bad, the superintendent decided not to bring them out in the February cold and wet.

Instead, the bell was rung for morning assembly almost an hour later. What followed was a loud snap of metal and ripping of wood as the 150-pound brass bell splintered the porch ceiling and crashed through the floor.

Because of the rain delay there had been no first bell to call the children, no second bell to bring them inside, and no children on the porch. Nobody was injured or killed.

The original article says that, in its long and storied history, Olive Branch had never before postponed due to weather. The congregation was founded on the Wake Forest College campus in the 1830s and gained independence after Emancipation. In the 1940s, the wooden building was located on Juniper Avenue in the town’s northeast neighborhood, where the modern brick church stands today.

As for the bell, it had been in place for about fifty years. It was the old Wake Forest College bell, donated to the Institute at the first meeting of the Board of Trustees in 1834. When a larger bell was acquired around 1875, the old one was donated to a country school and later made its way to Olive Branch Baptist Church.

The eyewitness who related this story to to the Old Gold & Black said, “It looked like the hand of God.”

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