The first Lutheran minister in this section was the Rev. Johann Gottfried Arndt. In 1771, Christopher Lyerly and Christopher Randleman of Rowan County went on horseback through the wilderness to Charleston, S. C., and there sailed for Germany and brought back the Rev. Adolphus Nussman to preach and John
Gottfried Arndt to teach. They arrived in North Carolina on September 12, 1772.
John Gottfried Arndt was born December 11, 1740, in Goettingen; graduated from the Teachers Seminary in Hanover, Germany, and his certificate as a school teacher to North Carolina bears the date October 16, 1772, indicating that he was 32 years old when he came to America. For two years he taught the children of the old Organ Church in Rowan County, and then upon the recommendation of the congregation and the pastor, the Rev. Adolphus Nussman, he was ordained as a minister of the Lutheran Church on the 11th Sunday after Trinity, 1775, by Joachim Beulow, missionary and inspector over North and South Carolina Lutherans.
He was the first minister ordained in North Carolina. About 1786, he moved to Lincoln County where he preached until his death, on July 9, 1807. He became the acknowledged founder of the Lutheran Church west of the Catawba River. During the last four years of his life he was disabled by blindness so that the Rev. Philip Henkel served his congregation. He was one of the organizers of the North Carolina Lutheran Synod, and its first president. He is said to have been a Chesterfield in manners; was blue-eyed with fair complexion and auburn hair which reached to his shoulders. He married Hannah Rudisill, daughter of Michael Rudisill, the pioneer. Their eight children were: John, Catherine, Hannah, Elizabeth, Susan, Jacob, Frederick and Mary.
During the period form 1807 to 1855 the only information available is that four pastors served Grace congregation: The Reverends Philip Henkel, Henry Graver, Adam Miller, and Polycarp C. Henkel.
Dr. Alfred J. Fox preached his introductory sermon at Grace Church on January 7, 1855, using as his text John 5 : 39.
The following words were written on March 5, 1868: “Dr. Fox had to contend with difficulties, Satan and the World. By his faithful and energetic labors the Church prospered and her number increased from 45 to 123. We, therefore, deem it a congregational duty to compliment him; WHEREFORE, We return our most hearty thanks for his benevolent services, and desire his continuation with us as our pastor to break the bread of Eternal Life and administer the ordinances of the Church.
Resolved: that the above resolution be registered in our Church Book for memorial to oru worthy and faithful Pastor so that future generations may see how he labored in his Lord and Master’s cause in building up this church, and many others. It was his meat and drink to do his Master’s will while in the ministry, and we humbly hope with love and gratitude that his latter days may be prosperous and happy as his former ones have bee glorious and honorable.”
Dr. Fox died June 10, 1884, at the age of 66 years, and was buried at Salem Cemetery, where he was ordained.