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Celebrating 150 years at Laurel Hill Lutheran Church

POSTED: November 1, 2012 6:25 p.m.
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Laurel Hill Lutheran Church, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary on Sunday.

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Continued from last week ...

In 1976, Laurel Hill Lutheran Church cemetery got a cyclone fence and the necessary updates were done to the church.  A committee planted new laurel trees to replace those which were missing on the grounds.  Mrs. George Allen did a church history to be published in the Effingham Bicentennial History book.

Concrete markers were placed on all unmarked graves in 1963.  It seems the women had kept great records of the cemetery, more complete than the church council.  The women equipped the kitchen to serve 100.

The first sunrise service on Easter Sunday was held by the Luther League of the parish at Tuckasee King on April 2, 1962. Breakfast was served in the parish hall after the service and this has become an annual event, even after Holy Trinity and later Bethel left our parish. We became known as the Clyo Parish.

In 1965, the purchase for the first choir robes was approved. A baptismal font was presented as a memorial to Marshall Edwards in 1966.  In 1967, we got new carpet, a new dossal for the chancel and refinished the altar brass.

On July 13, 1969, the council recommended that the church be air conditioned.

During 1970, the women made Christmons and began the tradition of a Christmon Christmas tree for the sanctuary annually.

When Bethel left the parish in 1987, the old parsonage was sold and the proceeds divided. The Clyo Parish purchased the old parsonage. A new parsonage was built later on a lot purchased on Kieffer Hill on Ash Street Extension in Springfield. Pastor Lester Cutter and family were the first occupants.

In the early 1970s new windows were installed in the church and different families donated them with brass plaques attached denoting the donor or memorial. An endowment fund was begun for perpetual upkeep of the cemetery.

In 1983, Mrs. George Metzger presented an original deed to the Laurel Hill land from W.W. Metzger to the congregation.

Discussion began to build a new parish hall in 1985, to accommodate Sunday school held jointly for the parish at Laurel Hill. In October, a bid was accepted to build the structure separately from the church building. The building was dedicated Oct. 5, 1986. Later that year, the old parish hall was divided into six Sunday school rooms.

Laurel Hill has participated in Sunday School Convention since May 1879. Family night suppers are held on the last Wednesday night each quarter. The second Saturday in July, Laurel Hill has an ice cream supper.  They had an annual “Preaching Mission,” a series of worship services in August or September with guest pastor and supper each night. In 1987, they voted and changed from the series of services to one Homecoming service. The church has Lenten services and Holy Week services. On the third Sunday night in December, there is an annual children’s program for Christmas.

Our church has been affiliated with the many organizations of the church assembly through the years. In 1987, we became part of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). We celebrated 125 years on Nov. 29, 1987, with the Rev. Dr. Gerald Troutman, D.D., in the pulpit. After a bountiful basket dinner, there was a history update session and the children led the congregation singing “We Love our Church oh God,” which was written for the occasion by Melissa Waller.

A handicap ramp was installed for the church entrance and years later, the wooden ramp was replaced with a concrete one donated by Kieffer Construction. In 1995, a carport was added behind the kitchen of the Parish Hall. Many updates were added and maintenance was done on the property. Pew cushions were installed for comfort in the sanctuary.

An addition was completed to the social hall and new sound system was installed. The parsonage was sold and a living allowance begun for the pastor in 2001.

The congregation began in 2009 to study changes coming with the ELCA.  At odds with the ELCA, adhering to their Bible based beliefs, the congregation took a stand against the ELCA’s resolution on marriage and human sexuality. On April 11, 2010, the congregation voted to sever ties with the ELCA and its termination was approved by the Synod in June. In June the congregation became affiliated with the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ). A new constitution was adopted.

Rev. Al Fernandez came to serve the Clyo Lutheran Parish in November 2010. The LCMC congregations are working closely, alternately hosting joint fellowship events.

The success of the church has been a blessing from God. The leadership and inspiration have come from its pastors and lay leaders.  The pastors are all listed in the complete history of Laurel Hill that can be found in Effingham Museum. Longest to serve as pastor was Rev. T.W. Shealy from 1900 to 1936, dying at a Holy Trinity church function at Tybee. The church is its people and Laurel Hill has always had close relationships among its members. Known for hospitality, it has hosted many events including the Georgia Synod in its first few years of existence.

For 150 years the faithful have worshipped at Laurel Hill. They brought babies for baptism, joined the church in the rite of confirmation, partook of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, went before the altar for marriage vows and they bore their beloved dead to their final resting place. Indeed, it can be said of Laurel Hill’s members today, “Faith of our Fathers, living still.”

Laurel Hill will celebrate its 150th anniversary on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. (there will be no Sunday school on this special occasion).Lunch will follow the worship service. An afternoon program will begin at 2 p.m. Rev. Al Fernandez and the congregation cordially invite everyone to attend.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society with information from “Laurel Hill Lutheran Church’s History.”  If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at:


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