north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

      John Godfrey Arends (also spelled Arndt), founder of the North Carolina Synod of the Lutheran Church, was born in Germany on December 11, 1740. In 1772, the newly formed Lutheran congregations in North Carolina looked to Europe for a trained Lutheran minister and schoolmaster. Arends arrived in Rowan County in 1773 to fill the position of schoolmaster. The Reverend Adolph Nussman, who was to serve as minister at Organ Church, Lutheran congregation in Rowan County, accompanied him. When Nussman left a year later, the Reverend Joachim Buelow of South Carolina ordained Arends into the ministry so that he could serve Organ Church not only as schoolmaster, but also as minister. He was the first man to be ordained a Lutheran minister in North Carolina.

      After receiving his ordination, Arends traveled extensively throughout the western part of North Carolina ministering to those who otherwise had no other form of pastoral care. By the end of his ministry he had served nineteen churches, most of which he helped establish. Although many in the Lutheran Church in North Carolina were supportive of the Crown, Arends dedicated himself to the cause of American Independence.

      Responding to the “outburst of intensive religious activity” and the “alarming deterioration of both faith and morals” during revivalism ca. 1800 known as the Second Great Awakening, Arends and other Lutheran ministers in North Carolina saw the need to organize and bring authority to the Lutheran Church. On May 2, 1803, J.G. Arends, three other ministers, and fourteen lay delegates met in Salisbury at St. John’s Church. The result was the organization of the North Carolina Synod of the Lutheran Church. It was only the third Lutheran synod in America, behind Pennsylvania and New York. Arends was elected the first president of the Synod.

      In 1776, Arends married Hannah Rudisill. They had eight children. Arends died in 1807 and was buried beneath the pulpit of the Old White Church in Lincolnton. His grave and the one of his wife were moved to the church’s cemetery in 1920. In 1973, a statue of the Lutheran minister was unveiled in Organ Church commemorating the two-hundredth anniversary of his arrival in North Carolina.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, I, 39-40—sketch by Austin Allran
Jacob L. Morgan, History of the Lutheran Church in North Carolina (1953)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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