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Our History

The History of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church

The Lutherans in western Rowan County were Germans who had migrated south from Pennsylvania.  Those who lived in the Bear Poplar community had been worshiping at Salem Lutheran Church since 1850.  In June, 1869, twenty one people met on the property of Mrs. Catherine Kistler in Mount Ulla Township (across the road from our church) and resolved to form an Evangelical Lutheran congregation.

The new congregation purchased property from Mrs. Kistler in the Bear Poplar Village and laid the cornerstone on May 9, 1871.  The building contained only one large room with pews being elevated from the chancel to the rear of the church.  As soon as the congregation was organized in 1869, one of the first items for consideration was the matter of education.  In 1872, a subscription school was organized in the home of Jesse W, Miller.  A parochial school was built in 1880 and St. Luke’s provided a school for the community until 1897 when it closed due to public schools moving into the area.

The Women’s Missionary Society of St. Luke’s now known as Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (WELCA) was the first to be organized in the North Carolina Synod on April 14, 1885. St. Luke’s was the first church in the NC to organize the Children’s Missionary society in 1886.

St. Luke’s shared pastorates with  Salem, Grace, Concordia or St. Mark’s, Mooresville until 1920 when the congregation was financially able to call a full time pastor.  The church building was remodeled in July, 1930 for a cost of $18,000.  Fourteen Sunday school rooms, two assembly rooms, two restrooms and a basement were added.

In 1936, The Lord’s Acre Plan was adopted to obtain money for the debts of the congregation.  Members were asked to donate money from an acre of cotton, wheat, corn or whatever crop they could.  When crops were gathered in the Fall, members gathered for a meal prepared by the ladies in the basement of the church and gave their donations.  In 1938, this festival was changed to “Ingathering” and has been held on the second Friday night in November ever since.  Monies given are used for special projects and upkeep on the church property.

By September, 1949, membership had grown and more space was needed for classrooms.  The ground breaking service for the Educational Building was held on September 16, 1951.

One hundred forty three years since St Luke’s congregation was formed and members are still reaping the blessings of the sacrifice and devotion of all who carried out our Lord’s commission to be his witnesses in all of the world. The past twenty five years have given St  Luke’s members an opportunity to experience outreach to others through (1) Haylift in 1986, when the entire southern U.S. suffered severe drought, Mid-western states were able to share their abundant harvest of hay with our area (2) Haylife in 1988, when the south was able to re-pay the favor of their abundant hay crops with the Mid-western states (3) Missouri Flood Relief (1993) – sent money, food, building supplies and manpower to help with clean –up and rebuilding projects. St. Luke’s  members are always willing to respond in a time of need through outreach to others through our Christmas in the Mountains ministry, which has become an annual project since 1994.  Our congregation continues to witness also through our youth programs, music programs, Sunday School program, Meals on Wheels, Rowan Helping Ministries, Habitat for Humanity  and quilt ministry service projects.  As our community continues to change, St. Luke’s congregation remains committed to being faithful witnesses to serve the needs of others.