Grace Church, known also as Lower Stone for its relationship to Organ Church in the same community, was founded in the 1740s or 1750s by German settlers who had migrated down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania. The Germans brought with them their German Reformed religious beliefs. The first direct evidence of a church on the location is found on a February 1774 Rowan County deed. Lorenz Lingle conveyed sixteen acres to Andrew Holtshouser and John Lippard for the use of a “Calvin congregation on the land adjacent to the Meeting House.”
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The present building, constructed of irregular field stone in 1795, replaced the first, wooden structure. The church’s dimensions, nearly 51 feet long and 41 feet wide, with 27-inch thick stone walls, is almost identical to those of Organ Lutheran Church, considered by many local historians Grace’s “sister” church. The most intriguing architectural features of the building are the placement of stone tablets over the northern, southern, and western doors with German inscriptions, and a final tablet with the inscription, “In the Year of 1795, With God’s Help.” Although built in 1795, for reasons unknown, the church was not officially dedicated until November 1811 during the pastorate of the Reverend George Boger.
Grace Church is considered the mother church of many of the Reformed churches in Rowan County. In 1957, Grace Church became a full member of the United Church of Christ (UCC) upon the merger of Evangelical and Reformed Church with the Congregational Christian Church. However, in 2005 church members chose to remove themselves from the UCC and become independent.
Davyd Foard Hood, The Architecture of Rowan County (1983)
James S. Brawley, The Rowan Story, 1753-1953: A Narrative History of Rowan County (1953)
Jethro Rumple, A History of Rowan County (1974)
Kathy S. Petrucelli, Heritage of Rowan County (1991)
Grace (Lower Stone) Church, Evangelical and Reformed, Rockwell, N.C.: 200th Anniversary of the Church, 150th Anniversary of the Building (1945)
Grace Lower Stone Church website: http://www.gracelowerstonechurch.org