A hidden gem at the N.C. State Fair: The Church in Heritage Circle

The Historic Chapel in the Heritage Village at the N.C. State Fair, is a hidden gem amongst the food, rides, games and more. Each weekend of the N.C. State Fair, the North Carolina Campers on Mission host two church services on Sunday morning(s) for staff and fairgoers alike to attend. Whether you need a breath of prayer, a word of encouragement or a touch from the Holy Spirit, the Historic Chapel in Heritage Village is the place to spend Sunday morning at the fairgrounds.

In 1857, the Historic Chapel in Heritage Village was known as the home of Ephesus Church in Raleigh. It served a lot of people until 1927, when it was relocated to the Lincolnville, A.M.E. Congregation on Nowell Road. Through the years, the pews have seen a lot of tears, prayers and raised hands as people from across the county came to worship. In 1983, the building was purchased and relocated to the N.C. State Fair, with the original pews, to give life, love and history to Heritage Circle. Since that time, the church has served as an emblem of hope throughout the year, especially during the N.C. State Fair.

Trilling notes on the piano and lifted voices of the choir began the service on Sunday morning, Oct. 15, 2023. The words “since Jesus came into my heart” and “wherever He leads I’ll go” rang out as the congregation raised their voices in worship. When the last notes on the piano had been played, Reverend Nate Leonard took the stage and began his message entitled “Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5: 22-23

The message began with the description of a farmer, working hard to grow crops like the giant pumpkins often found and adored at the N.C. State Fair. “The bounty of the harvest takes a lot of effort from the farmer, but someone greater and more powerful is at work with them,” said Rev. Leonard. “God works hand in hand with the farmer. Just like the farmer is intentional with his planting and harvest, so must we be intentional about seeking God and asking for His help showcasing the fruits of the Spirit in our daily lives.”

The fruits of the Spirit are not only a gift from God, but a goal that people continue to work for throughout their earthly and spiritual lives. Human nature is often the direct opposite of these characteristics. For example, people are naturally born impatient, so we have to ask God for His help and strength to be patient. “We can’t make ourselves do any of these things, we need God’s power to help us accomplish them on a daily basis,” said Rev. Leonard.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Philippians 4:4

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit that is massively important but is often confused with happiness. “Happiness and Joy are very different things,” said Rev. Leonard. “Happiness is fleeting and highly dependent on circumstances. Joy, however, comes from the Lord. It is the Holy Spirit working within you and does not depend on your circumstances. The only condition that joy is dependent on is having the Spirit of the Lord within you.”

Life is full of highs and lows. Joy stays consistent in the valley and on the mountain top. “If you have God with you and within you, then you always have a reason to rejoice,” said Rev. Leonard. In the same way that Paul worshipped in the prison cell, we can worship, praise and have joy no matter what life throws our way. All it takes is intentionally pursuing the Lord, establishing a relationship with Him and depending on His strength day to day.

Don’t miss the next church service(s) in the Historic Chapel in Heritage Village, taking place on Sunday, Oct. 22nd at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Not only can you get a touch from the Holy Spirit and find Jesus at the fairgrounds, but also enjoy a historic building that is steeped in prayer, love and hope.

About Rollercoaster

"Life is short, so do the things you love with the people you love." Rollercoaster is the fair-themed nickname for Taylor Harris, an information and communications specialist in the Public Affairs Division of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. An alumni of N.C. State University and former Marketing and Sales Assistant with Scott Farms, a sixth-generation family farm out of Lucama, NC, she is no stranger to the world of agriculture. Football and singing are her biggest passions. While at the fair, her "must do" items are a pineapple smoothie from Tropical Delight and a ride on the Fireball, now referred to as F5.

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