The history of a church is written in the lives of its people as they live out their faith in all that occupies them, be it jobs, families, friends and community. However, that would clearly be a large book to write, for there have been many people who have worshiped at and served St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church since it was founded in 1835 and could never reflect the changes in community the church has undergone.
St. Andrew’s was founded by a group of German immigrants under the direction of the Rev. Michael Rauch. The first worship building was located on St. Andrew’s Road, at the site of the church’s current cemetery. The “St. Andrew’s Community,” in fact, derives its name from this church. After a fire destroyed the building, another was erected in its place. Eventually a new sanctuary was built along with Sunday School space to meet the worship and education needs of the congregation. In May of 1944, the congregation decided to relocate to its present location at the intersection of Broad River and Bush River Roads. Under the guidance of the Rev. John Mangum, the first sanctuary at this location was built and the first service was held on March 4, 1949. The first education wing was completed in 1958, the second in 1963.
The congregation continued to grow, and members began to look toward the construction of a larger sanctuary. Ground was broken for the present sanctuary in 1976, and the first service was held with the Rev. Donald E. Woolly presiding. Of course, over the years other renovations and changes have been made. Many of these reflect the change in the surrounding area from one of rural, to suburban to urban populations and influences.
St. Andrew’s is indeed now a “metropolitan” church: a mixture of the strong “Dutch Fork” Lutherans who grew up and raised their children in this area, families who have more recently settled in the older neighborhoods, single young adults living in newer apartment complexes nearby, individuals and families who drive significant distances from other areas of the Midlands to belong to the St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church community, and other people of various races, backgrounds and nationalities.
St. Andrew’s is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest organization of Lutherans in North America, comprised of 5.2 million members and 11,000 congregations. The Lutheran church is the oldest protestant church in the world, with more than 70 million members.