Hammonds' greatest joy is sharing the history of Charlie Soong with anyone who
walks through the church doors. ... “He was our most famous member. Who would know
when he was baptized that he would become the head of the Soong dynasty?” she says.
Above: The baptismal font used for Soong’s
baptism is still in use today. Right: Exterior of
the Fifth Avenue Methodist Church as seen
today with a granite marker commemorating
Charlie Soong’s baptism in the foreground.
WBM december 2018
TODAY, the story and
legacy of Charlie Soong
is still felt within the
walls of Fifth Avenue
Methodist. The fellow-ship
hall where the congregation enjoys
refreshments after the Sunday service is
named for him; the hall was dedicated
in 1921, just three years after Soong’s
Remembering the history was so
important to Hammonds and her family
that she took over the job of church his-torian
in 1993 and has held the position
“I just kept waiting for somebody
else to be the historian and nobody ever
did, so I started keeping up with the
records,” she says. “I grew up with it.
I thought everybody knew it, but they
don’t. So, as many people as I can tell,
I’ll be glad to do it.”
Hammonds' passion for the Soong
family and its history has taken her
halfway around the world — she visited
China in 2015. In the three weeks she
was there, she toured Soong’s home, vis-ited
his grave, and made stops in major
cities that had museums and monuments
dedicated to Soong and his family.
“It was overwhelming to me,” she
said. “I’m still not down off of cloud
Back at home, her greatest joy is shar-ing
the history of Charlie Soong with
anyone who walks through the church
doors. No matter if she is just arriving
or on her way out, if someone asks, she
says she always has time to tell people
all about what makes this Wilmington
sanctuary so special to her.
“He was our most famous member.
Who would know when he was baptized
that he would become the head of the
Soong dynasty?” Hammonds says. “It
doesn’t get in the way of our religion. In
fact, I think it enhances our church.”
Fifth Avenue Methodist Church historian Sue Hammonds holds a souvenir plane from her trip
to China. She wears traditional Chines attire during special events like the anniversary of Charlie
Soong’s baptism. She stands in front of a framed photographic history of Charlie Soong she hung
in the fellowship hall.