On August 16, 1984, Pastor and Developer Marion C. Brazell moved with his family into the parsonage purchased by the ELCA in the Coastal Heights subdivision to begin his new ministry. About the same time, a four-acre site at our present location on Highway 501 East was purchased for $140,000 from Burroughs and Chapin.
The first fellowship activity was held on February 3, 1985 at the Western Steer Restaurant in Conway, South Carolina.
We celebrated our first worship service on March 24, 1985 with 120 people in attendance in our 2500 square foot leased storefront on Highway 544 that was to be our home for the next four years.
Over the following eight months, Pastor Marion made more than 5,000 calls to invite people to church.
On June 25, 1985 we began our first Sunday School classes.
On our Charter Sunday, October 13, 1985, 106 people signed our charter.
Our formal organization as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was on Sunday, February 16, 1986. We were joined by representatives from various area and synod-wide churches. Bishop Herman W. Canuble preached the sermon and led the service of organization.
At a meeting following the service, the church Council voted to issue a call to Pastor Marion C. Brazell, who agreed to serve as the first Pastor of the new congregation. Our first Confirmation class was confirmed on June 6, 1987 and we began conducting two morning services on that date.
On October 22, 1987 approval was given by the ELCA Division of Missions for us to begin our building program. Gifts received toward our new sanctuary included about $70,000 pledged (most received) led by the Lutheran Laity movement; $14,000 in gifts from the South Carolina Lutheran Men in Mission; a $15,000 gift from the Chapin Foundation through St. Philip’s Lutheran Church used for pews and the donation of our first organ from St. Philip’s.
On a warm, wet Sunday afternoon on January 15, 1989 we had our long-awaited ground breaking on our permanent land site on Highway 501 East. The 7,000 square foot building was erected by Bass Construction Company at a cost of $45 per square foot and completed in early May.
Our first service in our beautiful church was held on June 4, 1989 and in 1991 we became a fully self-supporting congregation.
Since we completed and entered our beautiful facility in 1989, our ministry has expanded. As we grew, we added part-time positions of organist-director and office secretary and contracted church cleaning services.
In recent years we have witnessed the progress of our handbell choir and our youth and children’accs choirs. In 2002 we began sponsorship of a refugee family from Sierra Leone.
In 2004 we received the gift of a Rogers organ from St. Paul’s Episcopal church in Conway. Through the gifts of members we purchased new choir robes.
In 2005 we dedicated our new 5,000 square foot fellowship building, built for $260,000 at a cost of about $45 per square foot. The people of our church renovated our older facility space in the main building, adding Sunday school classrooms, a sacristy, a music room and a conference room.
In 2006, our organist-choir director Kim Bodkin began additional duties as Director of Care and Outreach and expanded her hours to full-time service.
In 2007 we began a landscaping project completed in 2008.
We have recently grown our serving ministries, supporting such programs as Churches Assisting People (CAP), the Shepherd’s Table, Christmas Market (for Lutheran World Relief), Christmas baskets and Habitat for Humanity.
Over the course of 2009-2010, our congregation became part of Lutheran Congregations in Mission to Christ (LCMC), a relatively new association of Lutheran churches.
In December 2012, we refinanced our mortgage to a 20-year loan with a 10-year rate adjustment with Thrivent Financial for Lutherans for $440,000 to take advantage of lower interest rates, lowering our mortgage payment and freeing up funds needed for capital improvements.
We celebrated Christmas with a newly resurfaced parking lot. In early January a completely new roof was installed over our church building, and our sanctuary was completely repainted.
Today, we rejoice in every blessing the Lord has given us through the years, with a current membership of nearly 300 Baptized members, with an average of 170-190 attending worship.
On July 7, 2013, Pastor Marion announced that he would retire effective August 18, 2013. Since it was never his intention to abandon his congregation, he agreed to serve as supply pastor until the end of the year, while we define and solidify our ministry and search for a new pastor.
On the evening of August 18, our Congregation Council formed a seven-member Call Committee from volunteer members, consisting of men and women, seniors and youth.
On October 6, 2013, Pastor Marion accepted a call from New Life Lutheran church, about 7 miles south of Christ the Servant. Since we now had no pastor and only occasional supply pastors, some members of the congregation stepped forward to deliver the message and conduct the service.
On October 27, the congregation held a dinner in honor of Pastor Marion’s 27 year service as our pastor. Attendees also presented Pastor Marion with two plaques, one for his home and one to be mounted on our sanctuary wall as a reminder that he will always be part of our church that he served so well.
The Call committee formulated a questionnaire, distributed it and compiled results, showing the congregational wishes for directions in ministry and the qualities of a new pastor.
Our congregation leaders worked with Shalom ministries to get an Intentional Interim pastor. On November 13, the Council and Call Committee met with Pastor Warren Baker and Pastor Michael Bonham from the Shalom ministry team.
On December 15, we received Intentional Interim Pastor Jan Putnam at our Sunday worship service. Pastor Jan left in May 2014 after accepting a call from a congregation in Texas, near his home and family.
What followed was a challenge for the Call committee as they searched through resumes for qualified candidates. They felt that with a congregation of our size a pastor with at least a Master’s degree in a divinity discipline was needed. Few candidates emerged with that qualification, especially since LCMC churches and pastors were largely grouped in the Midwest area of our nation.
At this point in the search, three candidates remained, and the Call committee scheduled them to preach at our church and meet with our congregation. Two were considered strong possibilities, but one withdrew for health and family reasons, and one accepted a call from another church.
And so we were back to the square one. Filling the void every Sunday were a few congregation members, a priesthood of believers who delivered a message and conducted the service. Communion was rare since many members felt they should only receive the sacrament from an ordained pastor, contrary to Martin Luther’s basic beliefs that any true believer can stand as a priest and be blessed by God.
On August 31, 2014, a local hospital and hospice chaplain, Rev. Rick Weidman agreed to supply preach at our church and distribute communion. At the time he was the Hospice Chaplain/ Bereavement Coordinator at Heartland Hospice in Conway, SC.
His moving message prompted the Call committee to ask him if he would be interested in becoming our Interim pastor until the congregation knew him better. He agreed for a period of four months, to be renewed at the end of that time.
Rev. Rick met all the qualifications the Call committee was looking for in a candidate but one. He had not been ordained as a Lutheran pastor although his early roots are Lutheran.
He graduated from Philadelphia Biblical University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Bible, Religion and Bethany Divinity College & Seminary with a Masters in Theology. He is currently working on his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), with Concentration in Christian Counseling.
At a congregational meeting on November 9, 2014, with about two-thirds of our voting members present, we voted unanimously to call Rev. John Richard (Rick) Weidman Jr. as our Pastor. It was a two-year contract call, allowing Rev. Rick time to complete his study requirement with LCMC.
Conversations with LCMC identified the differences from their requirements in Rev. Rick’s education, and he is working diligently with LCMC to complete his Lutheran pastoral requisites.
At our church service on December 28, 2014, Rev. John Richard “Rick” Weidman was ordained and installed as our pastor by our former pastor, Rev. Marion C. Brazell, Pastor Emeritus of our church.
Moving forward as a congregation, we intend and hope to follow the direction offered by the Gospels and the Holy Spirit. We celebrate the birth and life of our Lord in peace. Please join us in welcoming Pastor Rick, wife Elaine, and son Charles to our Church Family.
Praise The Lord! Amen.