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Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church West Columbia, South Carolina

Volunteer commitment, Southern hospitality, and dedication to the Word of God have been hallmarks of Holy Trinity since the time of its founding in 1965. Like the rain which comes from heaven, so the Word of God has caused His goodness to spring up and bear abundant fruit. You might say that Holy Trinity is a “grass-roots ministry.”
This grass-roots effort began with groups of conscientious families who could not remain with their current churches because of the false teaching in those church bodies. Some members had discovered a new Bible curriculum being put out by the Lutheran Church of America. It stated that the Bible contained errors and myths, and it denied direct Messianic prophecies of Jesus. Lay members were led by the Spirit to search their Bibles and get back to the basic truths of Scripture for themselves.
A series of meetings and worship services was held in a member’s basement, leading to the formation of a new congregation in May of 1965. Mr. John Lindler was elected as lay leader of the congregation and was responsible for leading the congregation in Bible instruction in those early days. Property was donated, and a church building was completed almost entirely by lay member labor.
After a series of preachers, the Spirit led the congregation into contact with a CLC congregation in Winter Haven, FL. In 1967 they called Pastor Paul F. Nolting to be their pastor. He was the steady shepherd the congregation needed to guide and teach them, and to deepen the roots of the Spirit in the decade to come.
Christian education has been a major focus of Holy Trinity throughout its existence. In 1972 the investment of conscientious Christians sprouted into the starting of a Christian day school. Under the heat of the summer sun, a lay-led construction crew completed the school building in a matter of months. To this day, the school has remained a key component of the church’s ministry.
The congregation has also been blessed with dedicated teachers, including many who came from within the congregation itself. Many children have been led through the private day school and onward to ILC. The congregation supports families who want to send their children to ILC through a weekly Sunday School offering. Today Holy Trinity School has been blessed with an enrollment of thirty students.
The ladies’ group meets each month for Bible study and to discuss other ministry matters. The ladies also organize book clubs and Bible studies at members’ homes. One of the highlights of the year is the CLC Southeastern Women’s Retreat in November. It has been held in Savannah, Georgia; and also Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on the Atlantic coast. All of the church’s members are blessed to enjoy the fantastic cooking of the ladies. If you ever plan a vacation down this way, be sure to check the calendar for the next congregational meal!
Two years ago, the men started meeting monthly for an evening Bible study and meal. More recently they have shifted to an informal meeting on Saturday mornings in men’s homes. Individual laymen lead discussions on topics such as “giving,” “servanthood,” and “God in the workplace.” The men have also used this ministry to help members in difficult situations who are in need.
Holy Trinity has a very active youth group right now, covering ages 8-13. One of the recent highlights of this group has been the annual Christ Explorers Camp in August. Last year we had over thirty in attendance, including some non-members and some from other CLC congregations. This is a great time for visitors to squeeze in a late-summer vacation and plan a trip to the beach.
One of the opportunities and challenges that the congregation faces is how to keep the third generation of families “rooted” in the responsibilities of the ministry and property. Work days and volunteer efforts such as the 2019 summer re-roofing project have proven an important way to bring the young and old together in love and fellowship.
The congregation has been working to get its name out into the community. One of these efforts is our ministry to a local teen homeless shelter. The members serve meals there, offer mentoring, and invite residents to church events. The mission committee also advertises at a local Kids’ Day in April where they hand out materials like “God’s Questions and Answers,” invitations to VBS, and, of course, freeze pops.
Because there are no other CLC churches in South Carolina, the ministry serves members all across the state and into North Carolina. One regular preaching station is in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina. At one time there were preaching stations in Hendersonville, North Carolina, and also Atlanta, Georgia. Holy Trinity’s support of the Atlanta group led to the founding of a CLC mission congregation, which is now located in Loganville, Georgia.
Holy Trinity is located in West Columbia, just off of I-26, in the midst of a larger metropolis. Just a few miles to the east and over the scenic Broad River is Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. Columbia is filled with South Carolina history relating to both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. It is also the home of South Carolina University. Of course, others will want to be sure Clemson University is mentioned. These two schools are bitter rivals, and during the fall football season the lines are clearly drawn: are you a Gamecock or a Tiger?
Despite its nearness to the busy metropolis, the church is quite secluded, surrounded as it is by pine trees and ponds, with a small creek running through the property. It is a quiet setting for the school kids to run around in at recess, and a nice place for the called workers to live. A parsonage, teacherage, and apartment are all located on this large campus. One of the most beautiful times to visit is in late winter to early spring, when the azaleas begin to bloom.
Previous and current teachers include Marion Fitschen 1972-2009, Jan Hallauer (Davis) 1974-79, Tricia Shealy 1973-80, Joyce Ridgell 1976-77, 1988-89, Jan Stockman (Summerville) 1977-78, Beth Nolting (Kranz) 1979-80, Ross Roehl 1979-82, Lynette Roehl 1980-82, Stephen Salter 1982-87, Ann Long 1982-01, Sharon Schierenbeck 1985-95, Joe Lau 1992-95, Bob Long 1995-00, David Lundin 1995-98, Chris Fossum 1998-01, Leah Fossum 1998-01, 2012-present, Nathan Wales 2001-19, Laura Ude 2009-12, Sara Kloke 2012, Amy Osborne 2013-present, Deana Pfeiffer 2019-present, and Vanessa Wales 2019-20.
Men who have served as pastors for Holy Trinity are Paul F. Nolting 1967-79, Fred Archer 1979-80, M. Earl Eargle (vacancy pastor) 1980, John Schierenbeck 1980-95, Warren Fanning 1995, Vance Fossum 1995-2016, and David Pfeiffer 2016-present.
From the commitment of volunteers, to the hunger for Christian education, to the hospitality of the church family, the Word of the Lord continues to cause its good purpose to sprout forth. “For you shall go out in joy, and be led forth in peace.” (Isaiah 55:12 ESV)
David Pfeiffer is pastor of Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in West Columbia, South Carolina.