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At a school house in the Pleasant Spring Community of the Dutch Fork in South Carolina, members from Bethel, High Hill and Zion, Twelve Mile Creek gathered to worship starting in 1812.
By 1813 they understood their need for an English-speaking congregation and founded Saint Michael’s Lutheran Congregation. Within a year, a Church was constructed and they affiliated with the North Carolina Synod, on October 18, 1814.
German settlers arrived in South Carolina, bringing with them their evangelical Lutheran faith from the Palatine area of the Prussian Empire (now Switzerland) in the 1740’s, settling in the Orangeburg District and the Saxe Gotha Community near the fork of the Broad and Saluda Rivers. This area became known as the “Dutch Fork” because of its deep attachment to its German roots. The first building on the site, now occupied by the Church, Parsonage and Cemetery, was a one-room schoolhouse which served a short time as the place of worship for the group of young people seeking services, education, and devotional life in the English language. The first Holy Communion recorded by the English-speaking group of Lutherans was celebrated on the fifth Sunday in June, 1814. St. Michael’s was received into membership in the North Carolina Synod at Organ Church in Rowan County, North Carolina on October 18, 1814.
As was common during that time in the Up-Country of South Carolina, adherents to the polity of Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed Churches founded congregations that met both communities’ needs for faith and life. St. Michael’s first Elders reflect that tradition with four Lutheran Elders—John Dreher, Thomas Shuler, Samuel Wingard and John Wyse, and in addition to these Lutherans, a “Presbyterian” Jacob Hemiter served until his death in 1816. John Dreher also gave six acres of land for the use of the Church and for a Cemetery.
The first Church was built in 1814 and was 24x32 feet, with a gallery for the use of the enslaved people in the community. The Church was painted blue on the exterior and was called “The Blue Church”. In 1880 the Church was expanded to 32x50 feet, painted white on the exterior, and the ceiling of the Sanctuary was painted blue, preserving the name into the twentieth century. In 1921 the present Church was built in the Carpenter-Gothic style at a cost of $8,000, much of that offset by member donations of material and labor.
For much of its history St. Michael’s has been yoked to other congregations in a parish—Pastorate #9, most notably with St. Andrew’s. In 1950 the last parish arrangement ended and a new parsonage was built across River Road (on the site of the schoolhouse). The former parsonage, still located near Highway 6, had been sold in 1923. In 1954 a Christian Education Building was added next to the Church, and a Fellowship Hall was built in 1988. An accessible ramp to the Church was added in 2007, and a Memorial Garden for cremated remains was created in 2010.
The South Carolina Synod was founded at St. Michael’s in 1824 and meetings of that organization were held here in 1826, 1857, and 1924. A special Conference of the Synod of North Carolina was held at St. Michael’s on April 30, 1816, which was the first Lutheran ecclesiastical meeting in the State.
Godfrey Dreher 1812-34
Preached in English beginning 1812
at the Pleasant Springs Schoolhouse.
John Yost Meetze 1814-22
Licensed (1812) Ordained (1822)
John Christian Hope 1834
John G. Schwartz 1835
George Haltiwanger, Sr. 1836-40
George Haltiwanger, Jr. 1840-50
James D. Stingley 1850
Jesse B. Lowman 1853
James H. Bailey 1854
Daniel M. Blackwelder 1861-65
J N. Derrick 1866-70
William Alexander Houck 1871-73
John Eusebius. Berly 1877
Levi Bedenbaugh, Supply 1874-75
Jacob H. Hawkins 1876-78
Peter Miller 1880-83
Willis Alexander Deaton 1891
Henry Julian Mathias 1898
Shadrack Laban Nease 1902
Victor Clarence Ridenhour 1905
William Pinckney Cline 1907
Henry Maxwell Brown 1913
M. D. Huddle 1914
R R. Sowers 1919
John Wesley Magnum 1923-25; 1946-49
David Bittle Groseclose 1925-28
Fred Louis Lineberger 1929-32
John Carnahan Peery Sr. 1932-39
James David Kinard 1939-42
George Frederick Schott 1942-44
James Kivett Cobb 1945-46
Stafford LeRoy Swing 1950-53
David Frederick Castor 1955-59
Robert Martin Weeks 1960-64
Henry Newton Brandt 1965-1977
Dwight C. Wessinger 1978– 2016
Frank W. Anderson 2016-present