Andy Griffith rebuilds ties with church


First Posted: 5/20/2009

Actor Andy Griffith first became associated with Grace Moravian Church while living in Mount Airy in the early 1940s, and now that relationship has come full circle with his officially joining its congregation.
It has been learned that Griffith, who will turn 83 on June 1, and his wife Cindy were welcomed into the local church last week by an affirmation of faith, which could lead to them traveling here to worship in the future.
The Rev. Tony Hayworth, pastor, made that announcement to the Grace Moravian congregation during its worship service last Sunday.
Hayworth called the affirmation by the Griffiths an incredible event of celebration and joy that had a major impact on all those that were involved. It actually occurred in Manteo, the coastal North Carolina town where the Mount Airy native most well known for The Andy Griffith Show has resided for many years.
Griffiths age and health problems reportedly prevented the couple from venturing to Mount Airy to become members of Grace Moravian.
That prompted a local delegation including the Rev. Hayworth, his wife Laura and Emmitt Forrest, a childhood friend of Andy Griffith who has a vast collection of memorabilia from the actors career on display at the Surry Arts Council offices, to travel to Manteo.
I had mentioned last Sunday that I was going on a trip on Wednesday and Thursday, the pastor added in his announcement to church members this past Sunday, and indeed that trip did happen.
And with the approval of the (church) board of elders on Thursday morning, we welcomed into our congregation by affirmation of faith Cindy and Andy Griffith, Hayworth continued. The audience at the church is heard applauding in response to the pastors announcement on a recording of Sundays service.
In reference to his wife Laura accompanying him to meet the Griffiths, Hayworth added, I was glad that we had someone musical with us who was able to play the organ a little bit, a small pedal pump organ.
Along with being a longtime friend of Griffith, Forrest made the trip as a representative of the Grace Moravian congregation, Hayworth explained.
Unfortunately, they were not able to come here for this important recognition, he said of the Griffiths. Some time in the future they are very hopeful that they will be able to travel and worship with us and to visit.
A copy of Sundays bulletin from the church lists Andy and Cindy Griffith as new members of Grace Moravian and supplies two addresses in Manteo where cards or other correspondence can be sent to them.
In recent years the couple has attended a Methodist church in Manteo, a town of about 1,050 residents.
Membership in Grace Moravian Church could lead to Griffiths future interment in Gods Acre, the church cemetery bordering North Main Street where graves are marked with simple flat stones in keeping with Moravian tradition.
Forrest declined to comment on this possibility Wednesday, explaining that he wished to respect Griffiths privacy concerning the matter as well as the recent development regarding his religious faith.
Betty Lynn, a co-star on Griffiths TV series that has remained hugely popular in reruns, moved to Mount Airy several years ago.
Griffiths involvement with Grace Moravian began one afternoon in 1942 when he arrived at its back door wanting to learn to play the trombone, according to a history of the church. This led to his riding his bicycle two miles across town every Wednesday to receive lessons from the Rev. Edward Mickey, who had organized a church band.
Griffith also played tuba in the local churchs band. The instrument he performed with is at Grace Moravian now, due to efforts of Forrest.
The promising musical talent displayed by Griffith helped launch him on a path to stardom during the next decade, and The Andy Griffith Show was first beamed into American households a few years later in the early 1960s.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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