The history of the Church of the Ascension at Fork spans nearly the whole of the twentieth century. Throughout the past century, despite obstacles and its rural environment, a community of faith has continued to flourish and the Church of the Ascension has become a hallmark of the Fork community.
The church had its beginning with the baptismal service of Mrs. G. Sanford (Cora Thompson) Kimmer. The Reverend Thomas Lee Trott baptized Mrs. Kimmer on October 30, 1904 and in all probability the baptism took place in the hall of the Cooleemee Plantation. On May 1, 1905 the Laird family (or Lloyd) were also baptized at the Cooleemee Plantation. Throughout 1906 there continued to be private services at the Cooleemee Plantation.
The first public celebration of the Holy Eucharist was held at the historic Methodist Episcopal Church, South at Fulton on Trinity Sunday, June 10, 1906. The Reverend E. A. Osborne presided at the service. The following persons received Holy Eucharist: Mrs. Nat Peebles, Miss Julia Peebles, Miss Chaffin, Mrs. Sanford Kimmer, Miss Agnes Hairston, Miss Ruth Hairston and Mr. Peter W. Hairston. It is believed that the services were for a brief time held at Fulton on the second and fourth Sunday afternoons of the month. Our ties with Fulton United Methodist Church continue to this day with our joint Thanksgiving Service.
On June 18, 1906, Mr. Milton Foster and his wife, Julia A. Foster deeded one acre of land to the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. The deed for $50.00 sold the land on the west side of a public road leading from Fork Church to Bixby. The idea for building the Church of the Ascension came from Bishop Cheshire, Miss Agnes Hairston and Miss Ruth Hairston (both of Cooleemee Plantation). The lumber for the church came from the Cooleemee Plantation and the parishioners built the parish.
On October 15, 1909 The Right Reverend Joseph Blount Cheshire, Bishop of North Carolina, consecrated the Ascension Chapel at Fork Church, Davie County. The following clergy were present: Archdeacon E. H. Osborne, The Reverend Henry T. Cocke, The Reverend S. J. M. Brown and The Reverend Thomas L. Trott, priest in charge. The consecration sermon was preached by The Reverend Cocke from the Gospel According to Luke 19:46, “It is written, my house is the house of prayer.”
Succeeding The Reverend Thomas Trott was The Reverend Simeon J. M. Brown, a deacon who served as pastor from 1910 to 1919. In the ensuing years a number of other clergy served the parish. Many were recent seminary graduates who served Ascension as their first cure. In later years, the priests were retired who were serving the parish in a part time capacity. Over the past 30 years Ascension has shared its clergy with the Church of the Good Shepherd, Cooleemee.
In 1952 plans to construct a parish house for the Church of the Ascension began as a community venture with workmen from several denominations donating their services. On June 9, 1953 The Reverend Lemuel G. Robinson was ordained to the priesthood and the groundbreaking ceremony was conducted for the parish house. The Right Reverend Edwin A. Pennick presided.
As Mr. Harvey Gobble recalls, “The Hairston’s donated the timber for the building and the people of the church, including the preacher, went to the woods and cut the timber. We used a cross-cut saw. We did not have a chain saw. The timber was dressed at the saw mill. We did not borrow any money to build the addition. Everyone volunteered in building the Parish House.”
This has been the spirit of the Church of the Ascension to this very day. The Church of the Ascension is a parish that truly believes that is has been called into God’s service and the people of the parish have always responded. The Church of the Ascension has always answered God’s call without being concerned about its size or location. Throughout our history we have pulled together as a parish family and met the needs of our community.
On Ash Wednesday, February 28, 2001, The Reverend M. Kathryn Rackley assumed the duties of the Vicar of the Church of the Ascension. On the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, May 31, 2001, The Right Reverend Michael B. Curry, Bishop of North Carolina, formally installed The Reverend Rackley as the seventeenth vicar of the parish. The Reverend Rackley was the first dedicated Vicar at the Church of the Ascension in some thirty years.