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St. Matthew’s Lutheran — Creston, South Carolina

SC Picture Project  |  Calhoun County  |  St. Matthew’s Lutheran

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St. Matthew’s Lutheran

The rural community of Creston in Calhoun County is home to this beautiful church. Formed in 1737 by the Reverend John Ulrich Geissendanner, this congregation is said to be the oldest continuous Lutheran congregation in the state. A large influx of German immigrants had settled in South Carolina in 1735 due to the promise of land within established townships.

St. Matthews Creston

Pete Lawrence of Sumter, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Parts of what are now Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties, along with several other areas throughout the state, began as townships created in the 1730s to attract European immigrants to help defend against Indians and increase the white population. By the mid-eighteenth century, there were such heavy French and German populations in South Carolina that the Church of England (then the state’s official church) tried to impose its denomination on non-British communities. Places such as Creston resisted the change.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Church Creston

Dennis Church of Charleston, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

While Episcopalian by law, St. Matthew’s maintained a German language service. Reverend John Geissendanner (nephew of the church’s founder by the same name) even supplied parishioners with copies of the Book of Common Prayer in German. By 1760, St. Matthew’s had officially returned to Lutheranism and was the impetus behind the formation of several other Lutheran churches in the area, including Resurrection lutheran Church.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Marker Creston

Dennis Church of Charleston, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Members of St. Matthew’s originally worshiped near the current site. A building was constructed on the present site in 1826 and replaced by this one in 1900. The South Carolina Synod sold adjacent land that the church owned sometime after the new building was completed. The money from this sale was used to start a Lutheran church and school in Japan. Though small in numbers, the congregation of St. Matthew’s is still vibrant today and maintains an active partnership with Lutheran parishioners in Japan. The church is also in a dual parish with nearby Resurrection Lutheran Church in neighboring Cameron.

St. Matthew's Lutheran Creston

Dennis Church of Charleston, 2013 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Info

Address: 1628 SC 6, Creston, SC 29030
GPS Coordinates: 33.617822,-80.671561

St. Matthew’s Lutheran Map

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One Comment about St. Matthew’s Lutheran

Lynn Teague says:
May 21st, 2019 at 11:13 am

This entry includes a common misunderstanding, one promoted in part by SC historian and archivist A. S. Salley. The Orangeburgh German-Swiss Genealogical Society (www.ogsgs.org) has conducted extensive research. The Swiss settlers and Rev. Giessendanner were Swiss Reformed (Calvinist, like Presbyterian and Huguenot denominations), not Lutherans. Rev. Giessendanner’s congregation converted officially to the Church of England entirely because the colony paid ministers of the established church, but not those of other denominations. They put theology aside for convenience. In any case, they were never Lutheran, and while Rev. Giessendanner’s ministry in the Amelia Township predates St. Matthews Lutheran, his ministry is not the same as the congregation that became St. Matthews Lutheran. The Lutheran settlers who founded St. Matthews were from Germany, and arrived around and after 1750, 15 years after the Swiss Reformed settlement in Orangeburg. The petition for the incorporation of St. Matthews Lutheran Church, dominated by German immigrants, is at SCDAH (Series: S165015 Year: ND00 Item: 02579): Bookard, John; Bookard, John N.; Fagle, Peter; Frick, John M.; Haigler, H. A.; Haigler, J.; Haigler, P. A.; Hufman, Lewis; Karick, Adam Jr.; Mcclure, D. C.; Rast, Adam; Stoudenmire, Henry; Watt, William.


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