History

 

God has been at work through St. John’s Lutheran Church and our more than 575 members since 1902. We are proud to share our story of worship and outreach. Have you ever wondered how we got started, and what brought us to this point?

 

history2Hallman

 

 Our congregation was founded on September 28, 1902 by Dr. S. T. Hallman, D.D., the highly respected theologian, who, after a long and distinguished career, was sent as a missionary to the Upstate where he founded the first two English-speaking Lutheran churches in the area (ours and Immanuel, Greenwood). He remained our pastor until 1927. We had seventeen charter members.

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Due to a significant gift from the Woman’s Missionary Society, the congregation was originally named Woman’s Memorial Lutheran Church. Our first sanctuary, located at 133 South Converse Street, was built in 1907 and was a work of faith, since thecongregation did not go into debt and owed no money when the construction was complete. That year, we hosted the Synod Convention in our new facility. By 1922, the baptized membership of the church was 135, and by 1926 it was entirely self-sustaining and no longer considered a mission.

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Rev. E. Bryan Keisler

Rev. Day B. Werts

Rev. Dr. Charles J. Shealy

After Dr. Hallman’s death in 1927, we called the Rev. E. Bryan Keisler (1927-1931), then the Rev. Day B. Werts (1933-1938) who helped us through the depression. Pastor Charles J. Shealy (1939-1953) followed. When he arrived, there were 200 baptized members. The pastor’s annual salary was $1,500, with a total congregational budget of $3,218.

 


 

In the 1930’s, we recognized a need to have an outreach program for the Army personnel at Camp Croft Troop Replacement Center. A Lutheran recreational center for soldiers was established in the church basement. Members volunteered to work there and hosted soldiers in their homes after Sunday worship services. Soldiers felt that they had a “home away from home.” In gratitude, two of the soldiers, Pvts. John and Francis Kline, gave the first gift to the Building Fund for a new church when they learned we had outgrown our original space and planned to relocate.

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On March 18, 1948, the name of the congregation was officially changed to Saint John’s Lutheran Church. Although the war delayed construction, a new building at our present location, 415 South Pine Street, was completed in 1949. The building was constructed for $112,000 and included a sanctuary, classrooms, a fellowship hall downstairs and office wing. By then, we had grown to 337 confirmed members.

 

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 9a Rev. Herman G. Fisher (1953-1963) was our next pastor, and church growth in membership and ministries continued. Two daughter congregations, Nativity (forerunner of Springs of Grace) and Holy Communion were founded by then, each with a nucleus from our church, making St. John’s the mother of Lutheranism in Spartanburg County.
 Aa The Rev. Everette L. Lineberger (1963-1990) followed, and during those years our growth again created the need to expand. A building program, completed in 1972, doubled our available space and changed the front of our church by adding a narthex with inside stairs. We incurred a financial obligation of $415,000, the largest debt of any Lutheran Church in our synod, at that time. Yet by 1989, the entire mortgage was paid off.

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 Our growth also led to increased staffing, first with interns (David Lohr, James Lyerly, Richard Smyth, Robert Wiley, and Bryan Fox), then associate pastors (Charles E. Fritz, Steven F. Marko, and Marion Clark) as well as Youth Ministers (Chris Sigmon and Rick Frederick). We increased our weekly worship services to an 8:30 service in addition to the 11:00 service each Sunday. After his retirement, Pastor Lineberger was named our Pastor Emeritus.

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 ca In 1988, Pastor Marion W. Clark was called as senior pastor, and he served until 2002 along with several Associate Pastors (Stanley E. Whitten, Jeffrey M. Erbskorn, and Glenn A. Engelhardt) and an Associate in Ministry, Pegi Roberts. A Wednesday mid-day service was developed, including Bible Study and a meal. The Columbarium and Memorial Garden were dedicated. A Parish Nurse and Caregiver’s Program were developed as well as a day care, and we found our ministries once again exceeding our available space.

After a very deliberate study to determine our needs, we initially broke ground on our 100th anniversary in 2002, and in 2004 our Parish Life Center was completed.

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Pastor Rammy Lybrand was called in 2004 and served until 2008.         

 

We again called interns and were blessed by the ministry of Marcia Shumate-Shultz, James Houck, and Eric Little as they served as part of their training, and we also hired Youth Minister Katrina Bue.

 

 

In 2005 another worship style was developed as we added our contemporary Praise Service, 4One5Alive! (In 2012 the name of the service was changed to Alive!)

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In 2010 we called Pastor Michael T. Shackelford and

in 2011 Associate Pastor Emily Edenfield.

In 2012 our first annual Endowment Fund Grants were bestowed.

In 2013 we instituted Vibrant Faith Ministries.


More than 3000 confirmed members have been listed on our rolls since 1902, and we now have an annual budget of over $600,000. We offer Bible School, Fine Arts Camp, a wide variety of music groups, plus fellowship and service groups for all ages from Young Families to ‘On the Go’ for seniors. We organized the Red Shirt Relief in response to Hurricane Katrina and helped resettle families displaced by that disaster. The first Red Door Festival was held in 2007, and half the proceeds of $24,000 from this large bazaar benefitted Saint Luke’s Free Medical Clinic with the other half going toward our debt reduction; the Red Door Festival has been held every second year since, and each has been a terrific success. Members have gone on many Mission Trips, some as far away as New Orleans, Louisiana and Nikiski, Alaska and even abroad to Africa and Papua New Guinea. Our members are involved in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, Mobile Meals, The Soup Kitchen, Greater Spartanburg Ministries, Mountainview Nursing Home, and Rosecrest, as well as helping a host of other ministries as we follow our mission of worshipping God through Word and Sacraments, sharing the Good News of Christ, responding to the needs of others, and serving all creation with our God-given gifts.

 Information compiled by Judy Lybrand, Archives Committee Co-chair


Congregational_history.pdf

 


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