Garr Church turns 80. 1930 – 2010
This year marks the 80th Anniversary of Garr Memorial Church, and on this anniversary I’d like to share the awesome story of the church’s history. The story has been copied verbatim from the cover of the Jubilee 50th Anniversay album which was recorded back in 1980.
On Sunday, May 11, 1930, during the depths of the depression, Dr. A. G. Garr and his family began a revival in Charlotte, NC. This crusade ultimately resulted in the establishment of Garr Memorial Church.
The first service was in a tent on Erwin’s Pasture where seventeen people gathered to worship at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon. From this modest start, God began to touch thousands of lives. People seeking prayer jammed in and around the tent. Untold numbers were saved and healed.
A few months later, with winter approaching, a large wooden tabernacle seating 2500 persons was constructed. Materials for this tabernacle were obtained by tearing down an old race track. For heat, crank case oil was burned in large oil drums which had been made into stoves. God’s Spirit was there, and crowds came in spite of the often bitter cold weather.
As the revival entered its second year, interest was expressed in establishing a permanent church. Because of the depression, construction of a new building seemed impossible. It was a situation calling for much prayer. Dr. Garr spent many nights in prayer seeking God’s guidance.
Information was received indicating the Charlotte City Auditorium at Fifth and College streets was for sale for $225,000, at the time an unreachable goal. But God, to Whom nothing is impossible, assured Dr. Garr that it was His will to establish a church. During a visit to the auditorium, he walked up on the stage, raised his head and arms toward heaven, saying, “God, I thank you for this building.”
A few months later it was announced that the city auditorium was to be torn down. Locating the demolition contractor, Dr. Garr purchased the building materials, one million bricks plus the structural steel, for $2,500 (approximately 1% of the originally quoted price). God had produced another miracle in answer to prayer.
A corner lot was purchased close to the tent and the building materials were trucked to the site. The Spirit of God moved on the people, men and women, boys and girls, offering their services to clean the brick at night so that workers who would come during the day could construct the walls. The women faithfully brought food each work day. Many people who worked elsewhere would take their lunch time, go to the construction site, and give Dr. Garr twenty five cents, fifty cents or a dollar to meet the daily payroll. This continued for more than a year. Though the interior was not quite complete, services were begun on June 18, 1933.
As the ministry grew, Mrs. A. G. Garr felt a call to minster on the radio. On February 15, 1937, she launched her first series of programs. This radio ministry continues today as, “The Morning Thought” broadcast.
With the death of Dr. Garr in July 1944, God’s anointing fell on Mrs. Garr and she accepted the responsibility of becoming pastor. Led by the Holy Spirit, she was able to successfully guide the church for twenty nine years.
Upon his return from wartime service in Europe, Alfred G. Garr, Jr., saw the need to minister to the youth of the church and community. The construction of a summer camp project was begun at Lake Lure, North Carolina, and named “Camp Lurecrest”. The camp, since its inception, has been a focal point of summer Christian activities. It continues to serve all ages from many local area churches and other states as well. During thirty two camping seasons, hundreds of young people’s lives have been turned toward Christ.
In August of 1976, under the leadership of Pastor Alfred G. Garr, Jr., the church moved into new facilities. Here God has added many dozens of families to this body of believers. Recent real estate acquistions have provided 42 acres of land at the new church site, adjoining East Independence Boulevard. This land is planned for future expansion of the church’s ministy and outreach as the Holy Spirit directs.
This brief narrative presents only a glimpse of the great drama of how God established this church in Charlotte, NC. for 80 years, Garr Memorial Church has been the threshold to the Kingdom of God for countless numbers of people who have been saved and filled with the Spirit, with many becoming missionaries and ministers. The history of Garr Memorial Church is phenomenal. It is the Hand of God working at each step and every plateau of its existence. the ministry of this church continues as a testimony of the manifestation of God’s power through His Holy Spirit.