St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church
1905 Greenville Highway
Flat Rock North Carolina
Type of Prayer Place
This historic church and church yard/cemetery set amidst tall firs and hardwoods is an incredible place of beauty and contemplation. The church is listed on the National Historic register and the original building was begun in 1833. As you walk up toward the church from the parking lot, you find yourself immersed in deep shade and wrapped in natural beauty. One by one you pass ancient cross shaped headstones which invite you to stop and admire the variety of sizes and carvings and the soft green moss. Upon entering the sanctuary you are greeted by hand carved wooden pews with doors that swing open to allow you to sit and meditate. There are beautiful ceiling trusses holding up the vaulted wooden ceiling and soft colorful light filters through the front stained glass windows in the altar area.
The church had it’s beginning in 1827 as a private chapel for a Charleston, SC family who built a summer lodge in the area to escape the heat and malaria of the coast. Other Charleston families followed and the area became known as “Little Charleston in the Mountains” and also as “The Wilderness.” In 1836 a parish was formed and the church was deeded to the Episcopal diocese.
How I used this place of prayer
I had passed by this church many times before on my travels through Flat Rock to Hendersonville and had always been struck by the beauty and mystery of the church nearly hidden in the thick trees. On a recent visit I decided to make it my destination for solitude and meditation. I began by following the signs up a driveway that circles up to the entrance of the church. (There is no parking near the church door with the exception of handicapped spaces.) I was intrigued by the many tombstones fashioned in the shape of the cross. My favorites were those with deeply carved flowers and a plain one that was nearly as tall as me with moss clinging to it. The feeling of sanctuary was incredible.
When I entered the sanctuary, I felt the hush of the dimly lit chapel with dark wood wainscoting, a dark wooden roof with beautifully designed trusses, frosted diamond pane windows and vintage pews. I felt like I was experiencing a piece of our religious heritage and thought about those who have gone before us in the faith. I sat a few minutes contemplating the symbolism of the altar area and then continued my exploration of the church and church grounds.
Hours of Operation & Admission Requirements
Free Admission. Open Tues-Sunday 9 AM to 4 PM
Contact Information / Sponsoring Organization
The church website says that the gates are locked promptly at 4 PM and that any cars left in the lot will be locked up overnight until 9 the next morning.
Added by Karen Barber on October 6, 2014