St. John’s traces its heritage to 1747, when German immigrants settled into this Yadkin Valley area from Pennsylvania and the Shenandoah Valley. They would eventually form Rowan County and its county seat of Salisbury (1753). The first generation of these early settlers worshipped in homes, until John Lewis Beard offered land for a church and cemetery. Salisbury’s first place of worship – what would later be known as St. John’s -- was a log structure built in 1768 on North Lee Street. Although the church has long since disappeared, the cemetery still exists, known as the Old Lutheran Cemetery. 1800s
A joint venture between Episcopalians and Lutherans built a new church on the same site in the early 1800s. This second house of worship was in use until 1857 when the congregation moved to a larger worship space at North Main and Liberty streets and was officially named St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church. Early 1900s
By the early 1920s, increasing membership resulted in the purchase of property closer to downtown. The first worship service for the 900 seat sanctuary was held Jan. 2, 1927. By the mid-1950s, St. John's was the largest Lutheran congregation between Washington and Atlanta and housed the largest Sunday School in the United Lutheran Church.
In 1967, an education building and chapel were dedicated. A Memorial Garden and Columbarium was added in 1997, and the Child Development Center (CDC) was completed in 1999. A former law office located at the corner of Council and Church streets, was purchased in April 2012 and dedicated as the Community Ministry Center (CMC). The CMC provides free office and gathering space for area non-profits. 2000s
September 12, 2015 marked another historic event in the life of St. John’s: the dedication of the Faith Center. The Faith Center provides space for contemporary worship, youth ministry, children’s ministry, and a central gathering area (Peeler Hall).
The History and Heritage of St. John's
Honoring the rich history of St. John’s, Martha Agner and Martha Hines Morehead published “The History and Heritage of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church through 1983.” The 549-page, two volume book was published in 1988 and provides a fascinating look into the beginnings of Lutheranism in Rowan County and the mutual growth of St. John’s and the city of Salisbury. Volume 2