Our History

     On Sunday, July 10, 1853, at a service attended by a congregation that overflowed the Court House, Luther Chapel was organized with 21 charter members under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Thaddeus S. Boinest. In November the congregation was received into the South Carolina Synod and into the General Synod of the Lutheran Church in the United States, a predecessor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In December, the congregation was chartered by the General Assembly of South Carolina.

     The first Church building was completed and dedicated debt-free in December 1854. The impressive Gothic-style edifice was located on Boundary Street, facing north, opposite McKibben Street (now Nance Street). On the same lot was built the first parsonage in 1873, and it stood for almost 100 years until the widening of Nance Street required its demolition.
     As host congregation in 1885, Luther Chapel also participated as one of 12 congregational Missionary Societies organizing the Women's Missionary Society of the South Carolina Synod. Youths from the congregation were involved in the organization of the first Luther League in South Carolina in 1895, and some men were involved in a Lutheran Mission League organized in South Carolina by 1907.
     In 1895, the congregation then numbering more than 300 members decided to relocate and purchased the present site bounded by Johnstone, Wilson, and Boundary Streets. The second Church building was completed in 1897, and the name was changed to The Lutheran Church of The Redeemer. The Annex for educational and social purposes was completed in 1924 and 1925. Baccalaureate Services and other functions of Newberry College were conducted in the Church and Annex from 1897 to 1964.
     Planning was begun in 1957 to remodel the second Church and Annex, but in 1960 the decision was made to construct a new building instead. That decision also involved providing a new parsonage, located at 2111 Evans Circle.
     Construction of the present Church began in 1964 when the second Church building and Annex were dismantled. The Church bell of 1853 was retained and kept in storage for restoration to regular use as part of a future building program.
     For 19 months following the concluding Service in the second Church on March 1, 1964, the congregation worshiped in Boundary Street Elementary School. The Service of Groundbreaking for the new Church was conducted on Sunday, May 17, 1964.
     November 21, 1965 was the happy day for the Consecration and First Service of the present building. The Community Interdenominational Thanksgiving Day Service on November 25, the First Communion Service on November 28, and the Service of Blessing of Memorial, Honor, and Special Gifts on December 5 completed the opening celebration.
     Sunday, May 29, 1966, Newberry College held its last Baccalaureate Service at Redeemer, and since then the college has used Wiles Chapel on campus. Sunday, July 17, 1966, the long-awaited new Schantz organ was dedicated. This three-manual instrument was initially installed having 24 ranks with a total of 1,496 pipes and the 21-note chime set from the former organ. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Leonora Epting donated funds for the addition of two new ranks, completing the cornet division of the choir organ. A decade later, Mr. James W. Ingram, Jr. donated funds for the addition of a cymblestern in honor of Organist-Choirmaster W. Darr Wise. Next, two ranks for 16' and 8' Bourdon were added, these being electronic ranks, since no more space was available in the organ chamber for additional pipes. And most recently, a gift from the estate of Mr. Kernie Wessinger made possible the addition of the Trumpet-en-Chamade, located on the back balcony wall of the Church. So in its present form, the Schantz organ has grown to a total of 29 ranks.
     The 13-year-old building program, begun in 1964, was completed by air-conditioning the Administrative Wing and the Education Building in 1971. The faceted stained-glass transom and decorative hardware at the Church front entrance and the four faceted stained-glass narthex windows were added in 1972. The 17 faceted stained-glass windows on the Wilson Street side were completed in 1973.
     In the 1980's the congregation began looking at constructing a multi-purpose facility that would better serve the fellowship needs of the members. It was decided that a Family Life Center would be constructed on the site of the former parsonage. This building was dedicated in 1988 and incorporates the Martin Luther window from the 1897 church as well as the bell from the original church.
     In 2000, a study team was established to look at the current needs of the congregation. It was decided that the facility would receive an addition and updates. In 2002 the Growing in Grace, Building to Serve program was initiated. This capital funds campaign raised over half of the money necessary to complete this project. In February 2003 renovations to the administrative wing commenced. This wing now houses four state of the art classrooms for preschool age children with nursery and crib room facilities. The McCullough Music Ministries room received several updates to accommodate the extensive music ministry of the church. A special room for the archives has been added. After Easter Sunday 2003, the congregation worshipped in the Family Life Center while the church building was renovated. The church was repainted, plaster was repaired, new lighting was added, the furniture was refinished, and new carpet and tile were laid. A new church parlor was added and named after St. John the Evangelist because this room incorporated another window from the 1897 church. The St. John room serves as a suite for brides, place of gathering for bereaved families before a funeral, and a place of fellowship on Sunday mornings.
     The congregation moved back into the church and old administrative wing in September 2003. As this move was completed, the Education Building was emptied. This building received extensive renovations. The new office suite was added to better provide for the staffing needs of the congregation. Old classrooms were modified to accommodate the changing needs of the parish. Handicapped access was upgraded by removing the steps from the hall and installing a ramp, and an elevator was added to access all three floors. With the renovations completed, the facility now offers state of the art classrooms and a library and conference center.
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