Bath, North Carolina has been blessed in many ways through the years. One blessing came in the form of an Episcopal priest named Alex C.D. Noe. Before retiring, this North Carolina born rector spent the last seventeen years of his ministry at St. Thomas Episcopal Church – North Carolina’s oldest remaining church – here in Bath.
During his tenure in Beaufort County, he oversaw the restoration not only of St. Thomas, but of Trinity Church in Chocowinity and Zion Church of Washington. This picture lets you see the state of St. Thomas Church before its restoration.
Along with his understanding of the need for saving these historic structures, Noe had a very thoughtful soul. I suppose writing sermons didn’t provide all the opportunities he needed to transfer his thoughts to paper, and he became quite a good poet, writing on topics such as morality, nature, the family, our country, etc. He wrote prolifically and a book full of his poetry was actually published by Exposition Press Inc. of New York in 1959. The book, dedicated to “my beloved wife” Elizabeth Barber Noe, is entitled Above the Rim and Other Poems for Inspiration and Use.
One of his poems may have been written and shared in an effort to get others to recognize the need to protect this Colonial gem and it is one of my favorites. A portion of the c. 1790 Van Der Veer House exhibit building on site is dedicated to Noe’s restoration efforts and this poem has its place on the wall. During the month of April, our country recognizes National Poetry Month and I would like to share this special poem of a special place written by a special man with you now.
The Shrine of St. Thomas
The fathers might have raised a shaft
Of bronze or brass or stone,
With every name cut deep and large,
That all men might be shown
Who settled here and owned the soil
And manned the halls of state;
They might have built a monument
Proclaiming they were great.
The fathers might have anchored here
A shrine to fame and sword,
But better still, they builded well
A temple of the Lord.
They majored faith and courage here,
And pledged the twain their troth;
And every brick is sacred to
The memory of both.
Aye, every brick and board and beam
Through years that are to be
Will be a monument to faith
And stalwart piety;
And pilgrim bands from near and far
Will follow trail and path
To where their sires put first things first,
St. Thomas Shrine at Bath.
Today, St. Thomas Church is open to all visitors who come to Bath. They invite you to participate in their worship services offered each Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. http://www.stthomasparishnc.org/.