We trace our roots back through the mid-17th century, when early Lutherans came to America from Europe, originally settling in the Virgin Islands and the area that is now known as New York. Even before that, Martin Luther sought reform for the church in the 16th century, laying the framework for our beliefs.
The Lutheran Church was founded by Martin Luther’s followers after attempts to reform the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages. Born in Germany in 1483, he was highly educated, earning a Masters’ Degree at the University of Erfurt. He entered an Augustinian Monastery, then became a priest in 1507. He became a professor at the University of Wittenberg in 1508. In his studies as priest and teacher of the Bible, he saw that some of the practices of the Roman Church did not conform with Holy Scriptures. On the eve of All Saints’ Day in 1517 Luther nailed an invitation to debate the subject of indulgences on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. This event began the Protestant Reformation.
In 1522 at Wittenberg he began organizing the new church. He translated the Bible into German, so the words of God could be understood by all. He helped write the Augsburg Confession in 1530 to establish the reformers’ Biblical doctrines. He wrote 37 hymns, (restoring congregational singing in worship) and wrote over 400 other works, from brief pamphlets to large books. He married Katerina von Bora in 1525. They had 6 children. Martin Luther died in 1546. His key belief: we receive salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, apart from our works.
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 CORINTHIANS 3:11
LUTHERANS IN GREENWOOD COUNTY.
The history of Lutheran Churches in Greenwood County began with the arrival of Norwegian pioneers. They first arrived in 1857, and settled in the Upper Fall River area 10 miles northwest of Eureka. The Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1869 at the home of Ole Ladd. A church was built on land donated by Berul Johnson in 1884. The original building was destroyed by a tornado in 1920. In 1921 the new Upper Fall River Lutheran Church was built; it is still in use today.
Norwegians, Swedes and Danes were also settling southeast of Eureka near Climax and in Otter Creek Township. In 1871, Otter Creek Lutheran Congregation was established, meeting first in homes, then at Pleasant View #27 school house. A small cemetery was built next to the school.
St. Paul Lutheran Church was built in 1921 for the settlers who could no longer farm, and moved to Eureka. One minister served three congregations; Upper Fall River, Otter Creek and St. Paul. The St. Paul Church was sold when the merger of the Upper Fall River and Christ Lutheran Churches took place in 1958.
Christ Lutheran Church was organized in 1873 by Jacob Rizer who came from Maryland to settle. They met in homes and school houses before the building of a church in 1882. In 1924 a new church was built across the street at 4th and Elm Streets. Sunday services are still held at Upper Fall River Church and Christ Lutheran Church with one minister conducting both services.