History of St. Philip's Lutheran Church
Whether or not the founders of St. Philip’s Evangelical Lutheran Church realized it, they were visionaries. There were only about thirty charter members, and they held their first service in the yard of Captain Philip Sligh. This was in August of 1881. They began erecting the first building in September and on November 6 of that same year, they eagerly held their first service in the incomplete building. One year later on November 5, 1882 the completed church was dedicated to the Glory of God by the pastor Reverend H.L. Wingard. Reverand I. Steck preached the dedication sermon.
This church building was near the seventh milestone on the road that led from Newberry to Hughey’s Ferry on Broad River. The site is located in the cemetery across the road from the present church. Mr. Romes Halfacre was the primary builder. The building was simply designed with a recessed front porch that had one room on each side. The sanctuary consisted of three sections of pews. The side pews angled toward the altar. Levi Troutman, a charter member, hewed out one of the sills used in constructing the church. Mr. Jeff Sease, who assisted with the ground-breaking of the present building, also helped construct the first church.
Serving St. Philip’s as its initial officers were Reverend H. L. Wingard, pastor; Adam Kibler, W. J. Metts, and J. L. Sease, elders; Melvin Dickert and Monroe M. Dickert were deacons. Other recorded charter members were Laura Kibler, Mary Sease, J. W. Sheeley, Anna Sheeley, Melvin Wicker, W. D. Wicker, Hattie Swittenburg, Bessie Lominick, Benla Metts, Mary Kinard, Grace Kinard, Joe Sligh, L.C. Sligh, Mary Ruff, Martha Metts, Frank Lominick, and J.F. Eckberg.
Rev. Wingard pastored our congregation until October 7, 1883. Re. S. T. Hallman began his ministry to the St. Philip’s congregation on November 29, 1883. During Re. Hallman’s service, 51 new members were added to the church roster, making a total of 93. The Women’s Missionary Society of St. Philip’s was organized on May 2, 1885 with 14 members: Presidet, Mrs. S.C. Halfacre, Vice-President, Josephine Sligh, Recording Secretary, Mrs. P.M. Bradburn, Corresponding Secretary, Miss Virginia Halfacre, and Treasurer, Mrs. Walter Ruff. Other members were Mrs. Willie Halfacre, Misses Nita Metts, Lilla Kibler, Grace Kindar, Mincy Ruff, Beulah Swittenburg, and Fannie Kinard. Honorary members were Mrs. Joe Chalmers and Mrs. Claudia Metts.
While Rev. Hallman was at St. Philip’s, the pastor’s salary was raised from $90.00 to $120.00; a pulpit, robe room, chancel chairs, and blinds to windows were added. A new stove was acquired, and the house was painted. A sun of $41.80 was raised toward the purchase of an organ. Rev. Hallman resigned in May of 1888 to become pastor of English Lutheran Church in Augusta, Georgia.
Professor J. B. Fox was called from Newberry College to assume duties as pastor on June 3, 1888. However, due to illness, he was unable to fulfill the responsibilities.
In his place, K.L. Sheely of the Lutheran Seminary assumed the appointment and continued to serve until October 3, 1888.
On July 6, 1888, John M. Kinard, Newberry County Clerk of Court, granted to A.H.E. Scheck, President of the Council, Adam Kibler and F. Lominick, Elders, L.C. Troutman and W. F. Ruff, Deacons, their associates and successors, members of St. Philip’s, a charter enabling the congregation to function as a corporation under the laws of the state of South Carolina.
Rev. John H. Wyse, who was called from Salem, North Carolina, began his duties as pastor February 2, 1890. He served the congregation until November 20, 1892. Upon his resignation, Rev. J. A. Sligh, assisted by his son, began serving the church as a supply pastor. He continued in this capacity until October 9, 1893.
At a meeting on November 26, 1893, the church council unanimously agreed to issue a call to Rev. J. D. Bowles, and he accepted. Rev. Bowles was also serving Bethlehem and St. Matthew’s parishes.
During this time the first Luther League was organized. There was a Central Luther League of Newberry County composed of St. Philip’s Luther Chapel (Redeemer), Grace, and St. Luke’s. At that time, this was the only regional organization in the South.
Rev. Bowles served as pastor until his resignation on October 2, 1898. The church then secured the services of Rev. J. J. Long, as supply pastor. He held this position until October 14, 1900.
In October of 1900 a new pastorate was organized consisting of St. Philip’s, Bachman Chapel, and Mt. Olive. The councils of these organizations met in joint session on November 7, 1900. As a result, they extended a call to Dr. S.J. Hallman. Dr. Hallman accepted, thus returning to serve St. Philip’s He served until January 27, 1901.
Rev. H.P. Counts became pastor of St. Philip’s and Bachman Chapel congregations on February 3, 1901. He was succeeded by Rev. P.H.E. Derrick, who served from March, 1902 until 1905. Then, Rev. J. C. Wessinger was minister from November 26, 1905 through March 28, 1909. Rev. J. J. Long again served from April 11, 1909 until October 16, 1910.
In 1910, the new pastorate of St. Philip’s, St. Paul’s and Bachman Chapel was formed. Providing their services for this parish were Rev. J. A. Sligh, pastor and Rev. Y. Von A. Riser as assistant pastor. When Rev. Sligh retired, Rev. Riser became the only minister of the parish.
During his term, St. Philip’s congregation decided to erect a new church building and remove the previous structure. This momentous occasion happened in 1914.
The following furnishings were donated: Baptismal font in memory of Martha Elizabeth Dickert, pulpit in memory of Rev. Henry S. Wingard, our first pastor, lectern in memory of Miriam Esther, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Taylor ,alter cross in memory of Mrs. Sallie Lominick and Mrs. Mollie Ruff by the H.H. Ruff family, and stained glass window over the altar entitled “Kneel and Pray” in memory of Thomas Eugene Folk by Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Folk and family. Mr. Willie Koon made the offering plate stand. Toda, these furnishings are used on the stage in our Fellowship Hall, and the stained glass window is located in the hall behind the organ at the top of the stairs. Mr. Koon also made the lectern that is now being used by the Adult B Sunday School Class.
This church building, with some additions and renovations, served our congregation until July 1, 1962, when we moved across the road to our present edifice.
Rev. Riser served until December, 1915. He was succeeded by supply pastor Rev. Andrew Jackson Bowers, D.D. from Newberry College.
Then, on December 1, 1916, Rev. Samuel Patrick Koon began what was to become one of the longest terms of ministry at St. Philip’s. During his service, some significant events occurred. On November 14, 1918, the South Carolina Synod became a part of the United Lutheran Church in America. Prior to that time, beginning in 1886, the South Carolina Synod had been a member of the United Synod of the South. Through the years, the governing body of the church was called the Council, but its members were known as Elders and Deacons. After this synod merger, the members became Councilmen. Nevertheless, the old terminology lingered on for some time.
Under the capable administration of Dr. Koon, the debt of the new church was paid and additional improvements were made in 1922. On April 28, 1923 the church building was dedicated free of debt. A large two-story parsonage was build across the road from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and is still standing today. The congregation at this time numbered 240 with 109 attending Sunday School. Rev. Koon saddened the entire congregation with his resignation in December 1930 after serving us for fourteen years. Upon is death in 1954, he was buried in St. Philip’s Cemetery.
Rev. Glenn S. Eckerd became our pastor on June 3, 1931 and served a little more than four years. During his tenure, St. Philip’s enjoyed steady development in a number of ways. As a result of a special effort to encourage every member to become affiliated with church organizations and the church school; there was an increase in membership and a revival of interest in the Sunday School Light Brigade, Luther League, and Missionary Society. After four years of service, Pastor Eckerd resigned on June 15, 1935.
Rev. JA. Keisler, Jr. became pastor of the parish on September 1, 1935. Under Pastor Keisler’s guidance the congregation purchased a minister’s robe, altar cloths, and green velvet choir curtains. A choir rail was also installed around the newly-arranged choir pews. In the summer of 1937 the church was rewired and appropriate light fixtures were installed before connecting to the R.E.A. power line.
On September 20, 1936, a son of St. Philip’s, Vigil Alozo Cameron, was ordained into the Gospel Ministry by tge South Carolina Synod in Silverstreet Lutheran Church. His parents were Chester A. and Mary C. Livingston Cameron. The only son of St. Philip’s, the Reverend Cameron died June 1, 1978 and was buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, Columbia, SC.
Rev. Keisler resigned on December 15, 1937. From then until April 15, 1938, the church was served by seminary students and visiting pastors, on of which was Rev .J. B. Harmon.
Rev. J. Emmet Roof became the pastor of St. Philip’s on April 15, 1938. He capably served this congregation for more than nine years. Under his guidance, noticeable progress was made in physical equipment, financial gifts, numerical strength, and in spiritual development. With competent and dedicated leadership, Miss Julia Kate Sease revived and reorganized the Luther League. Because of her determination, it became an active organization of the congregation’s youth, today known as Partners In Christ (PIC). Over the years, other advisors have followed in Miss Seases position. These have included Mr. and Mrs. Earl Dickert, Sr.; Mr. and Mrs. Paul Kibler (who served in this capacity for about 25 years), Mr. and Mrs. Clifton Shealy, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Harmon, Mr. and Mrs. Claude E. Wicker, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Wicker, Mr. and Mrs. Claude C. Wicker, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Henry Ruff, Mr. and Mrs. Billy Derrick, Mrs. Alliene Sease, Edie Sease, Brian Hare.
Miss Mary Elizabeth Shaffer, a Lowman Home resident, was “adopted” by the Luther League members. For many years she was visited often by the group and remembered with gifts on special occasions.
Also during Pastor Roof’s tenure, the interior of St. Philip’s Church was totally renovated, and Sunday School classrooms were added. Pastor Roof’s resignation became effective August 15, 1947 upon his acceptance of a call to St. James in Sumter, S.C. This resignation was chiefly a move to encourage the division of the parish. The work had become too much for one pastor to do effectively. This division came about to the gratification of the pastor, and a grand future for the two separate parishes was anticipated.
The St. Philip’s Congregation had now become an independent parish, having withdrawn from the St. Paul’s Parish at the end of Rev. Roof’s term as pastor. As a result, the church council held a meeting and appointed a pulpit committee to secure a pastor. A call was issued to Rev. Clarence H. Stucke who had been ordained in 1946 and was serving at Fairfax, S.C. He and his wife Dorothy made our congregation very happy by accepting. St. Philip’s Congregation now had a pastor all its own.
From the beginning of Rev. Stucke’s pastorate in 1948, our church family worked hard together to encourage progress. In October of 1948, a brick parsonage on Hwy 219 was completed and made debt-free before the year’s end. While the new parsonage was under construction, a house on Hunt Street in Newberry was rented for the Stucke family including Lynn, Carl and Gregg. When the Stucke family moved into the new parsonage, they became the frst of five families to call it home. This house served our pastors for years until the present parsonage was built in 1983.
Under Rev. Stucke’s ministry a Brotherhood was organized, electing W. David Kibler as president. Vesper Services and Luther League meetings were held weekly on Sunday evenings. Also during this time a new roof was put on the church, restrooms were added, and gas heaters were installed.
There is no record of a cemetery constitution until April 16, 1948. Rev. S. P. Koon wrote the Constitution of the St. Philip’s Graveyard Association. This document was mailed to Mr. J.B. Wicker. It appears that Mr. Wicker and Mr. M.E. Enlow were in charge until undertakers began digging graves.
The congregation had attained a membership of 380 confirmed members and 303 communing members during the time of Pastor Stucke’s ministry.
Rev. Stucke saddened our congregation by resigning in February 1952 upon acceptance of a call to Faith Lutheran Church in Batesburg, S.C.
Rev. Clarence L. Richardson began his ministry with our congregation on June 1, 1952. His wife Floy and their children Martha, Julia, Clarence and Joe became active members of our family of faith right away. St. Philip’s has recorded a great deal of progress during the time since Rev. Richardson became our pastor.
On October 12, 1952 the Sunday School voted to apply offerings of the second and fourth Sundays to an “educational building fund,” thus beginning our building fund for a new church structure. On November 1, 1952, our congregation adopted a new constitution, which was based on the model constitution for congregations.
Another major step toward erecting a new church took place June 29, 1958. The congregation voted to purchase the St. Philip’s School property for $1,100. A congregational called meeting was held September 28, 1958 to act on the two following propositions: (1) that a new church building be erected, (2) that the site be on the old school property. Both items carried.
On February 22, 1959, the congregation voted to accept the recommendation of the council and employ an architect. At the March meeting of that same year, the church council appointed a building committee. Charlie C. Lominick served as chairman. Other members were W. David Kibler, William R. Lominick, David Luther Ruff, and James T. Wicker, Jr.
Irvine B. Leslie, A. I. A, was signed by contract to serve as architect in May 1959. Preliminary drawings were approved by the congregation November 1, 1959.
The St. Philip’s congregation took a giant leap of faith in bringing to fruition a goal toward which they had worked for make years. On July 2, 1961, this family of faith voted to accept a bid of $135,258.00 by Cannon Construction Company of Newberry and awarded contract to same.
Then, the “Ground-Breaking Service” was held July 16, 1961. Dr. Karl W. Kinard, S.C. Synod President, preached the sermon. Others taking part in this momentous event were MR. Jefferson D. Sease, oldest man of the congregation at 100, Mrs. Lizzie C. Lominick, oldest woman of the congregation at 90, Charlie C. Lominick, Chairman of the Building Committee, W. R. Lominick, Vice-President of the congregation, Jerry Allewine, Sunday School Superintendent, James T. Wicker, Jr., President of the United Church Men, Mrs. Juanita F. Sease, President of the United Church Women, and Jimmy Allewine, President of the Luther League.
As the church was being erected Charlie Lominick visited the site daily. While serving as the Building Committee chairman, he wanted to make sure construction was going smoothly.
Special concern was given to an appropriate window design over the main entrance to the church. After much planning by Pastor Richardson and MR. Leslie, a stained glass window was designed. As a result, a depiction of the human nature of Jesus and the risen, ascended Christ whom we know and love, graces the façade of our church. It is hoped that this window speaks effectively for our Lord to all those who pass by as well as those who father to worship. The window was given in honor of Pastor C.L. Richardson and his family by the congregation.
On Sunday, July 1, 1962, the St. Philip’s Congregation experienced a realized dream for may as they held worship services in the new sanctuary for the first time. Four Sundays later, on July 29, 1962, the Cornerstone Laying and Dedication was held. Synod President Karl W. Kinard returned to preach the sermon and assist Rev. Richardson with the day’s program. The Service of the Cornerstone Laying was held in front of the church. The congregation then proceeded inside for the Dedication Service. In the afternoon, open house of the church and fellowship hall was held.
The following furnishings were given to complete the new church:
In memory of Robert L. Lominick and Aris Counts Lominick by their children
In memory of dr. William Dickert and Ida W. Dickert by their children
Altar Vases and Candle Sticks
In honor of John W. Dickert, Sr. and Virginia L. Dickert by their children
Altar Missal Stand
In memory of A. P. Ruff and in honor of Lela S. Ruff by their children
In honor of Annie L. Felker and in memory of Orlando A. Felker by their children
In honor of Charlie C. Lominick by his wife
In honor of L. Hamp Sease and in memory of Bittie Ruff Sease by their children
In honor of Elizabeth Sease Lominick by her husband
In memory of George Elmer Meetze by his parents and sister
In honor of George Willie Wicker and Willie Ray Wicker by Muriel S. Wicker
In honor of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Wicker by their children. In honor of Wayne and Carl Wicker by their parents
In memory of Drayton T. Wicker and Elizabeth L. Wicker by Daisy Wicker and Draty Wicker and family
In honor of Florence C. Wicker and in memory of George C. Wicker by their children
Nave and Choir Front Screening
In honor of Elizabeth C. Lominick and in memory of Arthyr E. Lominick by their children. In memory of Willie May Wicker by her parents.
In memory of Steve Luther Sease by his parents
Fireproof File Cabinet
In memory of Willie Mae Wicker by her parents
Also, in 1962, the United Lutheran Church (of which we were a part) merged with the American Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Augusta Lutheran Church, and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to form the Lutheran Church in America.
In 1964, much time and study was given to the care and maintenance of our cemetery. On Sunday, November 22, 1964, the congregation adopted an article of incorporation placing St. Philip’s Cemetery in perpetual care. The cemetery is technically a separate entity from the church.
Rev. Clarence L. Richardson saddened our congregation when he resigned July 28, 1965 after 13 years of faithful service. He accepted a call to a mission church in Gaffney, S.C.
We were fortunate to have Dr. K. Grady Cooper from Newberry College to serve his first time as our supply pastor. This was the start of Dr. and Mrs. Cooper’s long association with St. Philip’s.
On May 28, 1966, Rev. Carroll L. Robinson began his ministery at St. Philip’s. His wife Greta and young daughters Teresa and Dana completed our parsonage family.
During Pastor Robinson’s service the following accomplishments took place
Our of love for the young people of the church, Mrs. Lizie Koon furnished the library for their use and all others who would have need of it.
Pastor Robinson’s resignation from St. Philip’s became effective on December 31, 1968. He left to begin his ministry at Holy Communion Lutheran Church in Spartanburg, S.C.
Once again Dr. L. Grady Cooper, accompanied by his wife Meriam, served as our supply pastor. Dr. Cooper’s pleasing personality and his love for all people quickly gained him a place in the heart of every member of St. Philip’s. Many people still today recall fond memories of this gentle college professor. Retreats with the youth, teaching confirmation classes, conducting or assisting with worship services, being active in JOY Fellowship, and teaching Weekday Church School are only a few of the services he rendered. Although he served officially from January, 1969 through September 1969, he and Mrs. Cooper continued to take an active role in the work at St. Philip’s and were honored along with our Golden Agers until their deaths.
The Rev. Clarence J. Walck, Jr., his wife Dorothy, and their children Charlotte and Buddy, came to St. Philip’s in 1969. Pastor Walck began his ministry here on September 1.
Emphasis was placed on getting family members active through Lutheran Church Women, Lutheran Church Men, JOY Fellowship, and Partners In Christ (PICs), the new name given to the youth organization for grades 6 and up.
In early 1970, the Cherub and Youth Choir were organized. With parental support and encouragement, these choirs grew in numbers. Mothers and grandmothers made red robes for the Cherubs and blue robes for the Youth. These robes were dedicated Palm Sunday, March 22, 1970. Beautiful forest green robes with reversible gold and white stoles were given for the Senior Choir by the family of John Alan Wicker, Sr. as a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. John Alan Wicker, Sr. and brother Ernest Wicker. These robes replaced the long-used black skirts and white stoles. They were dedicated August 23, 1970.
Many other additions and improvements were made during the tenure of Rev. Walck.
On Sunday, September 16, 1971, the congregation voted to change the spelling of the name of the church from St. Phillip’s to St. Philip’s.
During the next decade, St. Philip’s continued to grow in many ways. We obtained the following gifts through the generosity of friends and members
A momentous occasion is 1975 was the burning of the church mortgage. This joyous event was celebrated on Sunday, November 3. Former pastors taking parting this special service were Rev. Clarence L. Richardson and Rev. Carrol L. Robinson along with Rev. Clarence Walck.
St. Philip’s members joined in celebrating our country’s bicentennial with a patriotic worship service, picnic lunch, and hymn sing All members were invited to wear bicentennial attire.
Also, in 1976, Jane Lominick Ringer became the first woman elected to serve on the Church Council. She paved the way for other ladies who have also capably functioned in this capacity.
On December 31, 1978, Pastor Clarence G. Walck, Jr. resigned. He served St. Philip’s for nine years. Rev. Walck then became minister of a church in China Grove, North Carolina.
Seminarians conducted our Sunday worship services during this vacancy. In March, 1979, a Pulpit Committee was formed. Serving on this committee were William Kibler, chairman; Phil Frick, Barbara Hare, Olin Lominick, Sr., Karen Sease, and Edith Wicker. On their recommendation, the congregation voted June 10, 1979 to call Rev. Willburn Dean Miller from the Indiana-Kentucky Synod. Pastor Miller accepted and conducted his first service at St. Philip’s on July 8, 1979. Installation services were held August 12, 1979, with S.C. Synod Bishop Herman Cauble present. The congregation hosted a reception for Pastor Miller and his wife Joann that afternoon.
During Vacation Church School on 1979, an area designated as “Churchland” was set up. Organized by Mrs. Jane L. Ringer, it was composed of historical items about St. Philip’s. Many members shared pictures, newspaper clippings, and other facts of interest. This informative display was enjoyed by everyone.
During Pastor Miller’s ministry we celebrated numerous events and gratefully received many generous gifts.
A most memorable occasion was that of the Centennial Anniversary Celebration of St. Philip‘s Evangelical Lutheran Church on August 22 and 23, 1981. Many weeks of planning and days of preparation made this event a success. A book of our congregational history was compiled by Jane L. Ringer and Glenn Kunkle. It was distributed to each family of the church. A sunny, warm Saturday was spent in fellowship playing games, square dancing, singing hymns, and, of course, eating. Members enjoyed perusing church memorabilia that was displayed in the Fellowship Hall.