‘Church on Wheels’ — A Christmas parade favorite!

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Seen here with an enlarged photograph, Pastor Ray Griffin got the inspiration for his popular parade entry from a salt-and-pepper shaker made in the form of a country church.

VANCEBORO – Always upbeat, always positive, local evangelist Ray Griffin’s ‘Church on Wheels’ is one of the area’s best-known parade entries. In one way or another, Griffin has been doing this sort of thing since 1995!

During a brief interview this week, Griffin shared some recollections, and hinted at his motivation:

“I guess it all boils down to the fact that I’m just trying to make the world a little bit better!”


A feature in parades throughout the year, ‘Church on Wheels’ helps Griffin spread the Gospel.

The rig – mounted in the cargo hold of a 2006 Dodge Ram pickup – is homemade. Griffin’s original inspiration came from an unlikely source.

“Year and years ago, my momma had a salt-and-pepper shaker in the form of a small church. You could detach the front part – the doors and steeple contained the salt – and the pepper came out of the roof-part at the back of the shaker.”

And, sure enough, after a quick Internet search using weird keywords like ‘church-theme salt & pepper shaker’
Griffin was pleasantly surprised to find a photograph that brought back plenty of memories.

“Yep, this is almost the same thing,” said Griffin, acknowledging that the original replica no longer exists.

“When I was building my first one,” recalled Griffin, “I would set the little church shaker on a board across the top of a 55-gallon drum, and I would refer back to it again, and again.”

One fairly recent upgrade to earlier designs is a rotating cross – the first thing parade-watchers see as the truck approaches. A peek into the inner workings of Griffin’s ‘Church on Wheels’ reveals the engineering prowess of the former Police Department chaplain.

Look closely. You’ll see a power tool that drives a pulley around an old bicycle rim. Voila! A cross atop the rig slowly turns along the parade route!

“All it is – I took a 12-volt drill, which runs off the truck’s battery, and it powers a pulley around the rim of an old bicycle wheel and that slowly turns the cross on top of the church roof.”

Along the various parade routes, Griffin also uses a small PA system to play hymns, Christmas music, and he can even pick up a microphone to make quick announcements. This pastor has fun with his ‘Church on Wheels.’ However, Griffin turns serious when he discusses his true passion – teaching the Gospel.

“We’re not as spiritual in this country as we used to be,” said Griffin, shaking his head. “And, that really concerns me.”

This holiday season look for Griffin in any number of local parades. Here are a few that come to mind:

Saturday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. in the Town of Oriental. Be sure to check out Homemade Baked Goodies being sold by Silver Hill Christian Church; and hot dogs cranked out by the Pamlico County Historical Association – both set up on the grounds of Nautical Wheelers store.

Sunday, Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. in the Town of Aurora. For more information, call Gail at (252) 944-7868, or Linnie at (252) 322-4259. At the Aurora Fire Department, enjoy both a Craft Show and a BBQ Dinner.

Saturday, Dec 16, at 4 p.m. in the Town of Bayboro Most of Pamlico County turns out for the annual parade, sponsored by the Pamlico County Recreation Department. Prizes to be awarded in a number of categories. For more information, call Tonya at (252) 745-4240.

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