Church History in Iredell County

As many welcome the Passover and Easter season, we are focusing on the rich church history in Iredell County. The Iredell Presbyterian congregations began in the 1750s, when this area was still Rowan County. Other denominations began to spread throughout the county, with churches appearing in the midst of groups of families. The church was the central part of the colonial communities in America. Because of this, church records are valuable tools in genealogy research and church histories are essential to understanding the development of rural communities. 

The Presbyterian Church in America experienced a split in doctrine in the late 1700s, which resulted in two factions: The General Association and the Associate Reformed Presbyterians. These two sects resulted in the earliest congregations in Iredell County. The name “Fourth Creek” is etched into the history of this area. In fact, before Statesville earned its name and became the county seat in 1789, it was called the Fourth Creek Settlement or Fourth Creek Congregation. We believe the church, which would become First Presbyterian, began meeting between 1751-1753. 

Coddle Creek
New Sterling Tharpe

Coddle Creek ARP is thought to be the first Associate Reformed Presbyterian church in Iredell County, founded as early as 1753.

New Sterling ARP was named after the region in Scotland from which most of its charter members came. The first land deed for the church was written in 1801. The church in this photo was built in 1904 and was later remodeled in 1968.

Centre Presbyterian

One of the first congregations in the county, Centre Presbyterian dates back to 1765 and is located in South Iredell. Its cemetery contains some of the early settlers of what would become Mooresville, including the Baker family whose cemetery was 
 relocated to Centre during the installation of Lake Norman.

Grassy Knob Tharpe

Grassy Knob Baptist is the first Baptist congregation in Iredell County, established in 1789.


Clarksbury Methodist Tharpe
Eagle Mills Heritage

Clarksbury Methodist was established near Irvin’s Meeting House in 1832. The older building in this photo was built in 1884 but is no longer standing.


Eagle Mills Church is one of the mysteries of Iredell County. This is the only photo known to exist of the building. Taken some time in the 1930s or 40s when the building was torn down, it shows one of the early Methodist churches in North Iredell. Although we know very little about the congregation, we believe it was connected with Mt. Moriah, which was the forerunner of Wesley Chapel near the Yadkin County line.


Remains of Old Mt Pleasant Church, SP, NC
Stony Point Methodist

Although Stony Point Methodist is currently located in Alexander County, it’s early beginnings as Mt. Pleasant Church took place right on the county line prior to Alexander’s formation. Ethelred Ellis was a popular Methodist minister who had established other churches before coming to Iredell County. Around 1820 he formed Mt. Pleasant with other local families. The church moved to its current location in 1861 and changed its name at that time. The photo on the left of the original building was obtained from the Alexander County Ancestry Association. The photo on the right is from the Record & Landmark taken in 1976.


Fifth Creek Presbyterian
Midway Heritage
Holly Springs Tharpe

Fifth Creek Presbyterian, est. 1846


Midway United Methodist, est. 1911


Holly Spring Baptist, est. 1847


Southside Baptist

As a result of a growing Mooresville and the presence of industry in Iredell County, Southside Baptist Church formed in 1913. Mooresville Baptist (now First Baptist) was the parent church, and most of the charter members of Southside came from here.

Key Chapel Catholic Heritage
Zion Baptist Tharpe

The first Catholic church in Statesville was established in 1898 by the Key family. Now appropriately named “Key to Escape,” the building serves as an activity center and escape room. St. Phillip the Apostle was also known as Key Chapel. The tallest obelisks in Oakwood Cemetery stand in the Key family plot as reminders of the influence of this wealthy Iredell family.


Zion Baptist Church was established in 1825. The congregation originally met in a local schoolhouse before building a place of worship. The current building was built in 1889 and has been remodeled.


Scotts Methodist Heritage
First Bapt old

Scotts Chapel Methodist, est. 1885

Emmaus Baptist Church was established in 1874 on Rickert and Jefferson Streets by Rev. Caesar Allison and others. The church moved to the corner of Green and Garfield in 1883 and changed their name to First Baptist. Located in the heart of the historic  African American community in Statesville, the church is still active and has relocated down Garfield Street. 

Western Avenue Baptist
Union Grove Methodist

The original building of the Western Avenue Baptist Church which was started in 1901. The mill and manufacturing industry took off in Statesville in the 1890s, causing workers to migrate closer to work. The influx in these populations resulted in new religious congregations. Western Avenue was one such church.

What would become Union Grove Methodist Church began around 1846 at Crater’s Mill. Legend has it that the brush arbor in a grove of trees inspired the name of the township in which the church sits. A fire destroyed the original building, but the 
 congregation continues to worship in this 1919 structure.

Front Street Baptist

(Left) Another industrial era church was Front Street Baptist, which  began as First Baptist in 1907. The name change occurred in 1911.