MONCURE — VinFast is making friends with its new neighbors in Chatham County.

The company announced Tuesday it would be donating three acres of its 1,700+ acre Chatham County site to the Merry Oaks Baptist Church for the purpose of relocating the church to a new home. The company has also pledged to assist in identifying other resources to support the relocation.

Merry oaks Baptist Church from the air.

Arial shot of Merry Oaks Baptist Church alongside Old US 1. Photo from the Chatham News + Record.

The church, located off Old US 1, was facing destruction by the NC Department of Transportation to make way for updated access to US 1, in part to facilitate construction and heavier traffic to the VinFast site. The congregation had been working to raise awareness and save the 135-year-old church, built in 1888.

“I’m 71 and I’ve been here ever since,” Jerry Holden, caretaker, said. “I was married here. Big part of my family still goes here.”

With its whitewashed picket fence, the church sits on the corner of Old and New Elam Church Roads.

This location puts it in the path of a new network of roads planned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to facilitate traffic to and from the VinFast factory.

“Changes are going to happen. We don’t mind seeing VinFast come in,” Holden said. “VinFast is not the one destroying the community.”

The state is waiting on environmental permits before it can make offers to property owners that include three businesses, 11 homes, and the church are in the path of the road projects.

First look: VinFast unveils rendering, site plan for Chatham County auto plant

The new proposed site is on Christian Chapel Church Road, approximately 3 miles from the church’s current site. The press release said that the Merry Oaks Baptist congregation is still deciding if they would like to relocate the church.

Merry Oaks congregation member, Jerry Holden was quoted in the press release saying, “We greatly appreciate that VinFast has made a generous offer to provide a new home for the Merry Oaks Baptist Church so the congregation can remain in the community we’ve called home for over 130 years.”

VinFast is planning a groundbreaking ceremony for this Friday, July 28 at the site of their planned 2.8 million square foot factory complex.