Reformation Lutheran Church (Columbia, South Carolina)

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Reformation Lutheran Church
AffiliationLutheran, ELCA
LeadershipThe Rev. Timothy Bupp, Pastor

Joshua Greer, Director of Music

Mikita R. Showers, Church Administrator
Levi Boyd, Custodian
Sam Ruff, Parish Treasurer
Dr. Dorothy Jeffcoat, Financial Secretary and Coordinator of Ministries

Anna Carter, Seminarian
Year consecrated1952
LocationUnited States 1118 Union Street At River Drive, Columbia, South Carolina
Geographic coordinates34°01′22″N 81°02′49″W / 34.0227°N 81.047°W / 34.0227; -81.047Coordinates: 34°01′22″N 81°02′49″W / 34.0227°N 81.047°W / 34.0227; -81.047
Architectural stylePostmodern
Direction of façadeWest
MaterialsGranite, Brick, Marble, Glass
Reformation Lutheran Church

Reformation Lutheran Church (RLC) is a church in Columbia, South Carolina, and part of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.[1]

RLC is a member of the Reconciling in Christ initiative of the ELCA (RIC).[2]

RLC is a congregation of Christ's church and welcomes everyone to join with us in a journey of faith. We are committed to providing worship programs, ministries and pastoral care to all; regardless of religious background, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, religious background, color, ability, economic status, or national origin. Everyone is welcome in this place, where the love of God is the foundation of all we say and do.[3]


The following notes and history are based on our history book Legacies of Faith 1926-2001 and on our historical update for the SC History Book project in 2012.


· Reformation Sunday, October 25, 1925 at 3:00 pm first gathering with 105 attending

· Led by Seminarian Wynn Boliek and Rev. Walton H. Greever

· Organized on January 3, 1926 with first worship on January 10, 1926

· Charter was signed by 87 adults and closed on February 7, 1926

· Built a wooden chapel in February, 1926

1926 - 1951 RAPID GROWTH

Rapid growth for 25 years: Buildings, building funds, numerical growth

· Wynn Boliek began a 28-year ministry on June 1, 1926

· Congregational life unfolds and develops

· Built brick church in 1933

. Preaching missions, Sunday school, radio broadcasts

· First pipe organ in 1941

· In 1947 and 1948 respectively, they built an annex and parsonage

· Called first staff to assist pastor: Sr. Pearl Eckard (49 - 50); Sr. Delphine Dasher (50 - 60)

· Membership grew to 1287 by 1951 and declined to 1149 by 1954


Stability but numerical decline as ministry deepens with strong programs & activities

· Decline in membership started in 1951

· Boliek resigns in 1954 and Kenneth Hewitt begins in 1954

· Active programs and cramped spaces led to new facilities by 1960

· Built current church facilities (including offices and education space)

. Hewitt retires in 1966 and Stafford Swing begins in 1967

· Complacency about the steady decline, probably hidden with successes

· Pastors became overwhelmed with growing need for pastoral care

· Requests made for pastoral assistance

· Membership declined to less than 1000 by 1968


Visions of renewal begin: Growing anxiety amid challenges for outreach

· Purchased Columbia Avenue lots (now used for parking) in 1969

· Swing dies in 1980 and Shelton Moose becomes interim

· James Nichols begins in 1981 - 1988 Congregation challenged for greater outreach and service outside its walls

· Day Care Center (1983), Soup Kitchen work begins (1982), Word and Witness study

· Purchased Columbia Avenue lots (now used for parking)

· Demolished old brick church and remodeled offices and educational space

· Henry Fulmer begins as organist

· Edgar Lindler serves as interim

· Lynn Bailey begins 1988 - 1995

· Worship practices enriched

· Taize worship begins

· Upgraded Moeller pipe organ installed in 1960 building

· Dis-ease and anxiety emerging over ministry shifts and membership decline (330 in 1995)

· Clarence Stucke begins as interim 1995 - 1997

· Some healing and recovery even as the anxiety over vacant pews continued


Transformations seeds sown: Reviewing, reflecting, trying, and testing

· Ozzie Herlong begins in 1998 - 2005

· Ongoing ministries begin to shape the congregation for the future

· Opening facilities to Red Cross for use as disaster shelter if needed

· Workshop training: Healthy Congregations; Mid-size congregation transformation (2001)

· Studied the draft document of the Human Sexuality Statement

· Thanksgiving Dinner for/with Somali Bantu refugees

· Inviting neighborhood for Blessing of Animals on the lawn

· Beginning SPLASH program with Lutheran Family Services (LFS) for refugee children

· Weekly celebration of Holy Communion

· Begin tower bell project with 4 bells installed by 2007 in the bell tower built in 1960

· Herlong resigns in 2005


Transformation growth begins: Changed people & new opportunities. Fresh visions emerge

· Nichols returns as interim in 2006

· Five attend ELCA transformation ministry training in Chicago for a week

· Five changed people begin to change the congregation

· Prepared, adopted, committed to A Covenant for Transformation Ministry

· Commitment to outreach grows

· Identify the facilities as a primary asset for ministry (not money and not a lot of people)

· Earlewood community has started to grow with LGBT people moving in

· Congregation applies for a $10,000 grant for outreach ministry and receives it (2007)

· LFS approaches the congregation about a partnership to rent office space (2007)


Old Church launches new ministry: Outreach and inclusiveness give fresh focus

· G.W. Bill Eiwen begins September 2007 - June 2012

· Approve the partnership with LFS (2007) and they relocate in fall of 2009

· Hold study of ELCA study document Journey Together Faithfully (2008)

· Explore being a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) congregation (2008)

· Approve a welcome statement for all and becomes RIC (Nov 2008)

· Change worship schedule and early worship format (Nov 2008; begin Jan 2009)

· Conduct a community visit to introduce new schedule and welcome (2008)

· Newspaper reports action of the congregation (Nov 2008)

· Gay community leaders read the reports and share the welcoming news

· On First Welcome Sunday, 150 visitors attended worship (Jan 2009)

· Bishop Yoos preached at Second Welcome Sunday observance (2010)

· Participated in a year of renewal study with monthly video conference

· Started Welcome Weekends with Bishop Herbert Chilstrom as first guest (2011; third year of RIC congregation)

· Hosted second Welcome Weekend with The Rev. Dr. Barbara Lundblad guest (2012; fourth year of RIC congregation)

· Congregation received 112 new members, lost 64 and now (2012) has 225 members

· Eiwen retired

· Congregation has planned for and been awarded a Green Congregation status (2012)

· Nichols returns for a second interim (2012)

. Pastor Timothy Bupp was named pastor of RLC on August 14, 2013. His wife is Kathy Bupp.

Interesting Facts Along the Way

· Partnership with Southern Seminary to help train seminaries since 1946

· Commitment to synod and churchwide ministries with both volunteers and financial support

· Appreciation for members, and others, who have served in the military since WW II

· Long term service by musicians and lay volunteer leaders

· Scouting was a major activity for the congregation from 1940 until at least 1971

· Annual retreat at Coastal Retreat Center since 1982

· Regular Taize service has continued since early 1990's

· Guest speakers, leaders, and teachers have enriched the congregation and expanded its vision

· Thirteen members of the congregation have attended seminary

· Worship, Stewardship, Education, and Organizations; focuses of Ministry 1925 - 2005

· Worship, Outreach, Service; focuses of Ministry 2006–present [3]


The church offers Holy Eucharist Worship each Sunday. Services are typically at 9:00 am (Informal) and 11:00 am (Classic), except on the fifth Sunday of a given month where there will be one service at 10:00 am. Summer worship service: early July through early September worship service is at 10:00 am; exact dates are announced.

Pipe organ[edit]

Reformation's pipe organ contains nearly 2,000 speaking pipes that range in size from over 8 feet tall to smaller than a pencil. The organ was installed in 1960 by M.P. Möller, of Hagerstown, Maryland, once America's largest and best known manufacturer of pipe organs. Complete tonal revisions were completed in 1993 at a cost of over $75,000. Reformation's organ has been played at more than 2,500 worship services. Currently, total replacement costs for the instrument is nearly $750,000.[4]

Interesting Facts and Characteristics[edit]


Sunday worship: Informal: 9:00 am; Classic 11:00 am (Except fifth Sunday at 10 am);

Memorial banners for liturgical season/days (1995); weekly communion

since 1997; communion of all baptized since 1998. Used Common Service

Book til 1958, Service Book and Hymnal 1958 - 1979, Lutheran Book of

Worship 1979 - 2006, Evangelical Lutheran Worship and others 2006.


Site for Richland Co., Ward 3 voting; site for neighborhood association for many years;

P-Flag; NAAC; PrimeTimers; site for Taize worship monthly 1990's-2012.


Lutheran Social Services (LSA) Offices have used our space since 2009;

First Steps/Early Head Start (since 2013); Red Cross partner since 2000;

partners with Southern Seminary to prepare seminarians since 1946;

commitment to SC Synod and ELCA ministries with both volunteers and

financial support; long time participant in Breast Cancer Walk. Operated a

Fair Trade store on Sundays, 2012 - 2017.


Soup Kitchen 1982-2007; Day Care 1983-1990; Red Cross Shelter 2000+;

Thanksgiving with Bantus/LFS and friends since 2004; Blessing of Animals

2004-now; SPLASH 2004-2014; Welcome Sunday since 2008; PRIDE

booth since 2008; Sights and Sounds of Nativity in 2014. Trunk or Treat.


Bible study group; choirs; Sunday School for all ages; Retreat at the

beach since 1982; Boy Scouts 1940-1971; a variety of service

opportunities; annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper and event;

fellowship opportunities, including covered-dish meals.


Give beyond budget to synod and churchwide (ELCA) ministries including

Newberry College, Lutheridge, Lowman Home, Southern Seminary,

Lutheran World Relief, Disaster Response, Harvest Hope, World Hunger,

and other projects. (Helped give an airplane to Liberian mission field in

1956.) Supported needs of the church with extra anniversary offering

goals which were met, often $1000 for each anniversary year; raised

about $113,000 in 5 years for the tower bells; raised $89,000 for organ

repair in 1989. Raised $50,000 for the Day Care Center and Newberry

College in 1982.


First issue of The Reporter was 1934. Annual reports have been printed

1978, 1985, 1999 to present. River Drive sign was updated in 2000. First

web site was 2005 and updated about 2008 and continues today.

Facebook and Google groups provide up-to-date information.[5]


First Gathering[edit]

Reformation Sunday, October 1925, 4 pm

Organization date[edit]

January 3, 1926

First Worship Service[edit]

January 10, 1927


1118 Union St at River Dr., Columbia, SC 29201

Facilities & Property[edit]

1926 - 1933 Wooden Chapel on River Dr.

1933 - 1987 Brick Church on Union Street (mid block)

1947–present Annex Building (or 1952)

1948–present Parsonage

1960–present Current church, office, and educational building

1969–present 3 lots on Columbia Ave. for parking with at least one house used

1987 - Brick church demolished and Educational building remodeled

Rostered Leaders Serving in this congregation[edit]

1926 - 1954 Dr. Wynn C. Boliek (Pauline)

1949 - 1950 Sr. Pearl Eckerd

1950 - 1960 Sr. Delphine Dasher

1954 - 1966 Dr. A. Kenneth Hewitt (Jane)

1964 - 1966 Dr. Lloyd W. Mitcham (Rev. Jane), Assistant

1967 - 1980 Rev. Stafford L. Swing (Dot)

1975 - 1977 Rev. William S. Ketchie (Kathy), Assistant

1979 - 1983 Rev. J. Shelton Moose (Evelyn), Assistant

1981 - 1988 Dr. James H. Nichols (Mary)

1988 - 1989 Rev. Edgar Lindler (Elaine), Interim

1989 - 1995 Dr. C. Lynn Bailey (Martha)

1996 - 1998 Rev. Clarence H. Stucke (Dorothy), Interim

1998 - 2005 Dr. W. Osborne Herlong (Virginia)

2006 - 2007 Dr. James H. Nichols (Mary), Interim

2007 - 2012 Rev. G. W. “Bill” Eiwen (Ginny)

2012 - Dr. James H. Nichols (Mary), Interim

Periods in Congregations History[edit]

1925 - 1926 Getting Started

1926 - 1951 Rapid growth for 25 years: Buildings, building funds, numerical growth

1951 - 1969 Stability with decline: Deepening ministry with programs and activities

1969 - 1997 Visions of renewal begin: Growing anxiety amid challenges for outreach

1998 - 2005 Transformations seeds sown: Reviewing, reflecting, trying, and testing

2006 - 2007 Transformation growth begins: Changed people and new opportunities

2007 - 2012 Old Church launches new ministry: Outreach and inclusiveness give fresh


Reformation Lutheran Church Archive Committee[edit]

In 2015 the Congregation Council named an archives

committee to develop a working archives for

Reformation Lutheran Church. To accomplish this task a group

set up working space and worked on procedures and

guidelines to guide the preservation as well as the

maintenance of files and records. At the same time the

group worked to sort, organize, catalog, and store

the files and records.

Thank you to those who served on/with this team:

Barbara Burton, Raymond Cook, Rhett Culclasure,

Staci Hook, Dot Jeffcoat, Libbie Poole,

Jim Prater, Daisy Ritchie, Jenny Temple,

Chelsea Morton, and Wendell Gulledge.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Based on Legacies of Faith 1926-2001 and a historical update for the SC History Book project in 2012.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Reformation Lutheran Church Archives
  6. ^ Reformation Lutheran Church Archives

External links[edit]