Mt. Nebo's History from 1878 - 2003


A few years before the breaking out of the Civil War some Lutheran families from Shenandoah and Rockingham counties crossed the Blue Ridge and settled in Madison County within a few miles of Rochelle. They were members of congregations connected with the Tennessee Synod. Before and during the war they heard no Lutheran preaching unless they attended the Hebron Church. But this was some miles distant and connected with a different synod, that of Virginia.


As early as 1866, Rev. James E. Seneker of the Concordia Synod, who was then located in Augusta County at Koiner's Store, visited these scattered Lutherans and preached for them in the old Methodist Church at the east end of the village of Rochelle. He found at least eight members of the church. They were Col. Noah I. Henkel, Mary M. Henkel, Samuel Tussing, Philip Lohr, Catherine Lohr, Mary Kipps, Benjamin Lowry, and Rebecca C. Sommers. He continued his work about ten years and added eleven more to this number.


Rev. Seneker was succeeded by Rev. L. A. Fox, who began his work as pastor, January 7, 1877. He was then pastor of the Bethlehem church in Augusta County and lived in the parsonage near the church. He too only visited them once a month and held service. Interest in the work had grown, and there was a desire to organize a congregation. This was done on Saturday, November 2, 1878. It was effected in the Methodist Church with about twenty members. It is beleived that the Rev. Seneker organized the congregation.


The next work was to build a church. The determination to build and the work of collecting funds for that purpose was begun at least as early as 1875 under the pastorate of Rev. Seneker. But it was slow and difficult work for so few members. They, however, persevered. Their friends in the Valley, as well as their brethren of the Hebron church, came to their assistance financially and assured the success of their undertaking. A lot of one acre at Rochelle was given by Mary Jackson. The deed was made to the trustees on July 13, 1878. the cornerstone was laid on April 14, 1879, and the building was not completed till the following fall. The dedication ceremonies were held November 2, 1879, the Rev. L. A. Fox himself preaching the sermon. The cost of the building was about twelve hundred dollars.

The following served as pastors of the congregation following Rev. Fox:Rev. W. G. Campbell, Rev. J. N. Stirewalt, Rev. J. S. Moser,Rev. Bachman S Brown, Rev. J. S. Koiner, and then by pastors of Hebron but still retained its connection with the Tennessee Synod. Because of its distance from other congregations of that Synod and its nearness to the other Lutheran churches of the county, they were admitted to the Virginia Synod in 1922 and became a part of the Madison Lutheran Parish. *

The church continued to grow and it was felt that there was a need for Sunday School rooms and a Parish Hall. Since there were graves surrounding the building, it was decided to move the church forward about 150 feet so that these could be added. In 1962 ground was broken and the church was moved.

In 1974 with the help of the Board of Missions Mt. Nebo called Rev. Hans Hill-Irmer as pastor of Mt. Nebo and Mission Developer for Orange. As a result of this, Good Shepherd was organized and the two churches became the Rapidan Parish.

*This material is taken from History of the Hebron Lutheran Church from 1717-1907, by Rev. W. P. Huddle