History of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

Salisbury, North Carolina

Rev. David Wise, Pastor, February 1, 1948 – April 23, 1950

In the spring on 1879, a small group of Lutherans from German and Dutch descent and adherents to the Old Tennessee Synod felt the need to organize. For some years, they worshipped out of doors, later holding services in an old school house known as the Old Cowan School in Locke Township in Rowan County. They organized Into St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church with 18 members and under the leadership of Pastor J. E. Moser. The first church was erected during the spring of 1880 and was dedicated October 3, 1880. The dedication sermon was preached by the Rev. A. J. Fox, president of the Old Tennessee Synod. St. Mark’s Lutheran Church was received in connection with the Tennessee Synod at the annual session held at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Catawba County, on November 11, 1880. The congregation was placed in a parish with Mount Moriah Lutheran Church, China Grove, NC, by the meeting of the Lutheran Tennessee Synod. The first building erected in 1880, as stated above, was a wood structure, 30 by 45 feet, with hewn framing. This building was erected on the Sam Wiley Estate, six miles southwest of Salisbury on Miller Road. Part of this original property is still owned by St. Mark’s congregation as the “old” cemetery located across the road from J. M. Yost’s is still used by some. Following the leadership of the Rev. J. E. Moser as the first Pastor, the Rev. Robert Cline served the congregation from 1881 to 1890. From 1890 to 1892 the Rev. D. J. Settlemyre served the congregation as the third pastor. The Rev. J. L Deaton served for one year, 1892-1893. Pastor Settlemyre returned to serve the congregation from 1895 to 1901 and the Rev. J. L. Deaton returned to serve the congregation from 1901 to 1903. The pastors of the congregation for the next eleven years were: The Rev. D. I. Offman, 1903 to 1912, and the Rev. C. M. Pence, 1912. The Rev. J. S. Wessinger was called to the congregation in 1914, a faithful servant of God to lead the congregation forward. It was in the spring of 1923, another great epoch in the history of St. Mark’s begun. The congregation under the leadership of Pastor Wessinger decided to rebuild and relocate. The new brick structure of the church was located on the Mooresville Highway, No. 150, five and one-half miles southwest of Salisbury and within one mile of the original location. The beautiful building furnished with the latest designs of Lutheran architecture, with a seating capacity of 400 was erected and built to the glory of God. This new structure was the result of cooperation, a willing spirit, and an ardent faith in the living God. At times during the program of building the new church, dark clouds would hover thickly over the work goingy on under the leadership of a godly man. The first service was held on the first Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1923. The church was dedicated on the second Sunday of October 1932. The sermon was preached by the Rev. J. I. Morgan, DD, president of the NC Lutheran Synod. A special dedication service was held at 2:00pm on the same day with Pastor Wessinger giving the sermon. Following Pastor Wessinger’s resignation in 1928, the Rev. Enoch Hite came to St. Mark’s and served until 1931. The Rev. E. R. Trexler then became pastor from 1932 to 1934.

July 8, 1934, marked another milestone in the life of the congregation as Mount Moriah and St. Mark’s congregations dissolved parish relationships and each became self-supporting with a full-time pastor. The first full-time pastor for St. Mark’s was the Rev. D. F. Swicegood, who became pastor on June 9, 1935. The Rev. Wade Yount served from 1938 to 1940 and the Rev. J. S. Wessinger was again called as pastor, serving for the next seven years. Under his leadership this time, the church basement was completed, and adequate parish facilities were improved. The Rev. David Wise became the pastor of St. Mark’s on February 1, 1948 and served until April 23, 1950. A new electric Hammond Organ was dedicated on May 8, 1949, the church was carpeted, and the interior was renovated in 1949. On September 1, 1950, the Rev. J. A. Seaboch was called as Pastor to St. Mark’s congregation. A Parish building was constructed in 1951 at the cost of $7,500.00, with most the work done by the members of the congregation. On Sunday, October 24, 1954, tragedy struck as fire was discovered in the church building about 1:30pm. The fire had gained such headway that nothing much was saved of the church or its contents. Under the leadership of the Rev. J. A. Seaboch, the church council met with the Rev. F. L. Conrad, DO, president of the NC Synod, at the parsonage on the same day, while the rubble was still burning, and resolved to build again under God’s guidance and will. Having received permission from the County Board of Education, services were then held in Patterson School from October 31, 1954, to May 6, 1956. On February 13, 1955, the preliminary plans were accepted by the congregation and Howard Bangle was selected as the architect, Wagoner Construction as general contractors ($69,587), Cohen Plumbing ($1,678), Justice Sewell Heating ($6,624), and S. B. Stevens for electrical work ($4,550), and Southern Desk and Chair Co. for furnishings ($6,447), making the total cost $88,886.00. On Sunday July 24, 1955, a ground-breaking service was held. The Rev. O. G. Swicegood President of the Conference represented the President of the Synod, with Pastor Seabach officiating. Construction began the following day. On November 27, 1955, it was necessary that the congregation take a loan for $40,000.00 with Rowan County Savings and Loan in China Grove. The first service was held in the new church on May 13, 1956. The Rev. F. L. Conrad, DD, President of the North Carolina Synod, and Pastor Seaboch officiated at the service along with the laying of the cornerstone. Following the service, a picnic was held and a special baptismal service at 2:30pm. Melanie Ruth McKinney was the first baby baptized in the new church. The church is very attractive with a contemporary design that retains much of the beauty of the traditional church architectural beauty. A reception was held in the afternoon of the first service and members and visitors from many areas came for the open house. Pastor Seabach resigned on February 1, 1959, and the Rev. Karl Park was extended a call on March 3, 1959. He was installed on April 15, 1959. The congregation became debt free on May 14, 1963. Pastor Park resigned on November 30, 1963. On June 9, 1963, the church council set the time for dedication of the church for August 11, 1963, with the Rev. George W. Whittecar, DD President of the Synod delivering the sermon.

The Rev. Roy L. Trexler served as pastor from July 1964 to June 1968. The congregation was then served by the Rev. Ernest Misenheimer, DD, and assistant to the Synod President as Vice-pastor for fourteen- months. The Rev. Edward H. Orinson began his ministry on August 1, 1969. A new parsonage was bought in Westmont Addition. The old parsonage, built in 1935, was sold and removed to make room for parking space. The congregation black-topped the parking area at the cost of $13,400.00. Four and one-half acres were bought from the Goodnight Estate to increase space for the cemetery. A 13-rank Zimmer Pipe Organ was dedicated on November 7, 1977 at the cost of $33,000.00, plus the additional chamber to house the pipes at the cost of $2,000.00. On Nov. 3, 1979 a Centennial Banquet was held, followed by the Centennial Service on November 4, 1979, with the Rev. Ernest Misenheimer, DD, President of the NC Synod as the speaker. On May 19, 1979, a congregational meeting approved for the LCW to carpet the church. Rev. Orinson resigned in August of 1982. On March 6, 1983, a congregational meeting approved a bid from G & S Metal of $33,031.50 to air condition St. Mark’s. The Rev. George L. Rhyne was called as pastor and began his duties on June 1, 1983. By September 24, 1983, the air conditioning bill was completely paid. A Parish Building Fund was started. On September 16, 1984 the congregation voted to plan a new parish building. A plan was presented to the congregation on February 1, 1987 for its approval. The congregation approved the plan to enlarge and renovate the old parish building. After work began it was soon discovered the old building would have to be demolished and a new building sprang up. The major part of the work on the $6,500.00 building was done by members and friends of the congregation. The congregation had most of the money in hand before the construction began. Dedication of the new parish building was held on September 13, 1987. The Rev, Michael C. D. McDaniel and the Rev. George L. Rhyne officiated the service.