Rockwell church celebrates homecoming
By Shavonne Potts
ROCKWELL ó Grace Lower Stone Church will celebrates its homecoming with Erskine Theologicial Seminary Professor Dale Johnson.
The church, which was organized more than 260 years ago, will have the South Carolina professor at its Sunday service.
Johnson is a professor of church history at the college in Due West, where he teaches German reformation, modern church history and Christianity in America.
He will speak at 9 a.m. during this Sunday’s church celebration.
The church will have an 8:30 a.m. breakfast, a 10 a.m. worship service and lunch following the service.
Church Pastor the Rev. Spencer Swain, attended Erskine, where Johnson was one of his professors.
“He’s spent his life studying in this tradition that’s so rich in this church and this community,” Swain said.
Swain described Johnson as a man who loves the Lord, who is warm, funny and very humble.
Although there have been other events at the church since Swain was ordained Jan. 11, the annual homecoming is one of the most historically significant for the church and Swain.
“It’s amazing to pastor a church with over 260 years of all the saints that came before who built this church. Through commitment and faith through many years, the church is still standing strong, not just the building, but the people,” Swain said.
Many people who attend the church have German ancestors, he said.
The church has long been known as Lower Stone Church. It began with the influx of German settlers into the piedmont area, who were mostly from Pennsylvania, according to church history.
The church was organized in 1745 and is one of the oldest churches in North Carolina. The present church building dates from 1795, which replaced an earlier wooden structure known as the “Hickory Church,” built around 1754.
In 1901, a bell tower was added to the roof of the church. Grace Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A church document written in 1798 said: “This house shall be called Gnaden Kirch (Grace Church), because the eternal life and the means of grace for the same are gifts from God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“At Grace Lower Stone we believe we have to make church relevant to people’s every day lives teaching truth and contending for the faith in a way that makes sense,” Swain said.
Johnson will speak on “Martin Luther and the Three Principles of Protestantism.”
He said he thinks it’s a good introduction into the topic and is appropriate for the homecoming celebration.
Johnson will also speak during the morning worship service about the message of grace.
“I think the message of grace cannot be overemphasized, and is certainly one of the distinctive features of our faith,” Johnson said.
Grace Lower Stone Church is located at 2405 Lower Stone Church Road. For more information about the Sunday service, contact the church at 704-279-4176.