During the summer of 1892, having service underneath a Big Jack tree, from services that were held in a house for some time the idea of planting anew church was born. The minister at the time baptized Mr. Sidney James, Mr. M.C. Robinson, and Mr. Sam Massey from Big Zion A.M.E. Zion Church (New Mt Olivet) in Rock Hill and decided, “We need another A.M.E. Zion Church." Mrs. Martha Massey, mother of Mr. Charlie Massey gave one and a half acre of land off what is now Porter Road to be used for the building of a church. The church, a small frame building, was erected and named New Salem Church. As time passed the church was renamed, Rock Grove A.M.E. Zion Church because the church sat in a beautiful grove of trees with big rocks on the landscape. It was a quiet and serene site. Rock Grove A.M.E. Zion Church became the center of life for the community of newly freed slaves, tenant farmers and sharecroppers.
Later on the grounds of Rock Grove an elementary school named, Rock Grove School, set up from a grant funded in the name of Julius Rosenwald, President of Sears & Roebuck, to construct better quality black schools throughout the South. This fund aided in the construction of over 5,000 school buildings forever changing the rural Southern landscape. 500 buildings were constructed in South Carolina. At a time when State support for educating African American children was woefully inadequate, Rosenwald Schools played a critical role in educating these children in South Carolina.
Rock Grove A.M.E. Zion Church has a legacy that has lasted for over 125 years. This church is rich in history and continues to be an active church in the community. Rock Grove and its members continue to strive and reach higher heights. This church continues to serve the present age and age to come.
Dr. Titus A. Thorn serves as the Pastor of Rock Grove AME Zion Church in the city of Rock Hill, SC. Before beginning his kingdom assignment at Rock Grove, he was the successful Pastor of Mount Vernon AME Zion Church in Fort Lawn, SC.
Under Dr. Thorn’s leadership, God is using the Rock Grove Church to impact the city of Rock Hill and beyond with tremendous effectiveness. Since his arrival in October 2013, the congregation has grown numerically and spiritually. Dr. Thorn has led the completion of several physical, logistical and technological upgrades as well as equipping the members to minister to this growing congregation. Additionally, several innovative ministry initiatives have launched and impacted the community, making Dr. Thorn the “Community Pastor” of the people.
A natives Fort Mill, SC, growing up in the Paradise Community, Dr. Thorn holds a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Livingstone College in Salisbury, NC where he graduated Summa Cum Laude. His hunger and desire to enrich intellectually and spiritually led him to matriculate at Hood Theological Seminary located in Salisbury, NC where he earned a Master of Divinity degree and Doctor of Ministry degree. Dr. Thorn’s dissertation is entitled “A transformative module that teaches adolescents the proper response to racial profiling at the Rock Grove AME Zion Church.”
Dr. Thorn currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Sophia Mackey Center in Fort Mill, S.C. He volunteers as a York County South Carolina Auxiliary Probation Officer and with The Peace Keeper Movement in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Thorn is a proud member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated.
Dr. Thorn is married to Lourdes Thorn and they have been blessed with three children, Shanele, Isaiah, Anjay and grandson Lucah.