A Sunday School had been organized and was operating for several years when the Lutherans in the town of Summerville decided to organize a congregation and establish a preaching mission. The first meeting for the purpose of organizing was held on May 29, 1892. The birthday of the congregation, however, dates to August 25, 1892, when the charter was accepted by the congregation. To vote and to hold office in the church organization as it was constituted by the founders, one had to pay an annual fee of $8.
First services were held in the town school house. It was agreed that a church building was needed and the lot on which the church is located was purchased. The laying of the cornerstone of St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church took place in January 1893. The original membership was composed mainly of members of the Lutheran churches of Charleston who had moved to Summerville.
In February 1897, the Baptists were given permission to use the church for six months; the time was extended to January 1898, at which time their building was completed.
The first full-time pastor, W. A. Raiser, was called on June 1, 1917. A special service of rededication was held on September 19, 1920, at which time the stained glass windows were dedicated. Nine of these were memorials. The windows were purchased from and installed by F. J. Cooledge & Sons of Atlanta, Georgia, at a cost of $1,365. The other nine ranged from $175 to $40.
In May 1922, a parsonage at the corner of Main and Second South Streets was purchased. The first Sunday School building was erected in 1928 and a year later a library was added to it.
In 1931, a Moller pipe organ was installed. A rededication was held on September 17, 1936 at which time new memorial gifts were blessed — pews, pew screens, altar, brass lectern, pulpit, brass altar missal stand, and 2 hymn boards. The interior walls and ceiling of the nave were originally constructed of bead board and later covered with sheet rock and carpet was purchased.
The Parish Building and Improvement Fund was started in January 1939. In 1950 the parsonage on Main Street was sold and a new parsonage was built on land formerly known as the Alston property.
A major addition to the physical property was the erection of the Parish Building in 1952. It was dedicated in 1954. This building replaced the one constructed in 1928. As adjoining property became available it was purchased for future expansion. For example, in 1863 the congregation bought the Chinners property, which bordered the church on the north side. This was to become the location for the Fellowship Hall. In 1964 the Weston property was acquired. This purchase completed the church’s property as far as the land is concerned.
The Parish Education Building was renovated in 1971 and the Fellowship Hall was completed in 1972. The Fellowship Hall was later renovated in 2008.
In 1972 a Kindergarten program was started for four and five year old children. In 1979, three year old children were added. A mother’s Day Out program for three days a week was organized in 1978. The Full Day Care Center was establish in 1982.
In mid-1983 a building committee was appointed to study the congregation’s need for a larger sanctuary. An architect was hired, plans were drawn and approved . Ground was broken for the new church on Sunday, February 8, 1987. Construction began the next morning. The new sanctuary was dedicated for use in December 1987. The original 1931 Moller organ was moved into the new worship space.
Continued growth during the ensuing years necessitated the building of a new Education Building. This building was dedicated for use in January 1993. Since it’s completion it has become the primary home for several outreach ministries of St. Luke’s.
In 1995 the congregation voted to begin another new ministry. The ARK (Adult Respite Care), a program to provide for the care of Alzheimer’s disease victims, was started in January of 1996 and has become a model for programs such as this throughout the state. In 2012, the ARK changed its name to Alzheimer’s Family Support Services to reflect the broad range of services provided in the community.
In 2008, the Moller Organ was updated and moved back to its original home in St. Luke’s Chapel. As St. Luke’s celebrated its 120th Anniversary, a 1981 Schantz Organ was installed and dedicated on August 26, 2012.
Today St. Luke’s Lutheran Church is an active congregation of over 800 members. Our purpose is to Glorify God with our Gifts to Serve All. As St. Luke’s continues it’s long history of outreach and service in the Summerville community and beyond, it also continues its tradition of training new leaders and passing faith onto the next generation!
Full-Time Pastors who have served St. Luke’s
Bernard Repass, 1913-15
W. A. Raiser, 1917-18
*George W. Nelson, 1921-26
Paul McCullough, 1927-28 and 1963-64
Voigt R. Cromer, 1929-1930
Waldemear H. Lefstead, 1931-50
J. Kenneth Webb, 1950-58
Dermon A. Sox, Sr., 1959-63
T. Parker Dominick, Jr., 1965-74
Hartmut Fege, 1975-82
Leon A. Rawl, 1983-94
Barry J. Harte, 1986-90
James P. Blalock, 1993-2006
Susan J. Briner, 2003-2012
Kara J. Stewart, 2008-2009
Stephen N. Troisi, 2009-2012
Andrea Rice, 2014-
Nathan Rice, 2014-
* During the years 1919-1920, St. Luke’s was under the guidance of Rev. A. J. Bowers and Mr. P. M. Counts,
who was a Theological student from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary at that time.
St. Luke’s has also served as an internship site for more than 30 seminary students.