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Churches - St. Luke's Episcopal Church

St. Luke’s Parish, established by and act of Colonial Assembly, 1753, extending to the Pacific Ocean West, Salisbury N.C.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 131 West Council St., just one block west of the old court house and community building.  Formed in 1753, the building was erected in 1828 with additions in 1885 and 1909.  This postcard has been hand colored. 

51587 Buerbaum’s Bookstore, Salisbury, N.C. (Germany)

History of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was established in 1753, shortly after the establishment of Rowan County.  At this time, North Carolina was an English colony and the Episcopal Church (Church of England) the established church of the colony.  By 1754, a petition was sent to Governor Dobbs requesting that since they were yet without clergy, could William Miller, residing in Rowan County and employed as a schoolmaster, be ordained and inducted into “the Parish from which he was recommended.”   He was established as the rector of St. Luke’s sometime before 1756.  But there were numerous problems and Miller never received a salary. 

The parish and the county feuded over the required fees imposed by the marriage, vestry, and parish acts.  Rowan County was settled largely by German Lutherans, Scotch- Irish Presbyterians, and a large settlement of Baptists who migrated from New Jersey.  These settlers began a protest, stating that “England was endeavoring to intrude on their civil rights…”  As a result, Rev. Mr. Drage, who had been sent to officiate over St. Luke’s in late 1769, left Rowan County in 1773, and the church almost died at the same time.  Several efforts were made to revive the church through the next fifty years, without much success. 

In 1823, St. Luke’s Parish was organized by Bishop John Stark Ravenscroft during the eighth annual convention of the Diocese held in Salisbury.  The following year at the next convention it was admitted to the Diocese.  In 1827, an advertisement appeared in the Western Carolinian requesting bids for 80,000 brick and a quantity of pine and oak lumber, planks, and shingles.  The bricks were provided by the widow of General John Steele and the grounds for the church were given by Major John Beard, with a deed of September 15, 1827.  The Gothic Revival style church, designed by Rev. Francis L. Hawks, was built in 1828.  Hillsborough mason and John Berry built the Gothic Revival church out of brick in Flemish bond.  The church opened under the ministry of Rev. Thomas Wright, who stayed until 1832. 

With the coming of Rev. Francis J. Murdoch in 1872, the church underwent major expansion in the parish.  He was an astute business-man and made major contributions to the area’s economic growth.   He also was committed to education in the county. 

  St. Luke’s has undergone numerous additions.  In 1910, the southeastern end of the church was extended.   A parish house was completed in 1937 and in 1945, the bell that had been in a wooden tower behind the church was installed in the bell tower.  The wooden bell tower was removed in 1948.  During the early parts of World War II, the church was without a rector when Rev. Mr. Guerry was called to active duty.  With the arrival of Rev. W. Moultrie Moore, the church once again flourished.  Though getting a shaky start in its early days, it is an active established church today. 

Source: 

Henderson, Archibald Centennial Address: The History of St. Luke’s Parish and the Beginnings of the Episcopal Church in Rowan County An address delivered in St. Luke’s on October 19, 1924.

Hood, Davyd Foard The Architecture of Rowan County North Carolina: A Catalogue and History of Surviving 18th, 19th, and 20th Structures  Salisbury: Historic Salisbury Foundation, 2000

Powell, William S.  St. Luke’s Episcopal Church 1753-1953 Salisbury NC:  St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 1953

St. Luke’s Church http://www.stlukessalisbury.org 

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