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Celebrating 100 years at Holy Trinity Lutheran
1940s Holy Trinity
Above is the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, as shown in the 1940s.

Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized by the Bethel Parish Pastor Rev. Dr. T.W. Shealy and a committee appointed in the mid 1900s from Bethel Lutheran Church. As the Brinson Railroad was being built in Springfield, they saw the need for a Lutheran Church in the growing town. Drawing from the strong faith of the Salzburgers who had settled at Ebenezer in 1734, establishing Lutheranism in our area, the church was first called “Salzburger Memorial” but later named Holy Trinity.

The cornerstone was laid in 1909, and the church was formally organized on June 9, 1912. When the cornerstone was laid, the first secretary of the congregation, Thomas Zipperer, placed a stick pin among items placed in the cornerstone. On Sunday morning, June 10, the cornerstone will again be opened, and we will find out what is inside after 100 years. During the afternoon session of the celebration, the contents will be shared with the congregation. We shall see what has weathered the test of time.

Through the years the beautiful sanctuary has remained somewhat the same. There have been many improvements. The custom of separate entrances for men and women in 1912 and church seating separating men and women was abandoned when the church was remodeled with a central entrance in 1959. The pump organ was replaced with an electronic organ and now a lovely pipe organ and chimes provide beautiful music for services.

Many stained glass windows have gradually been added, enhancing nearly all of our sanctuary windows, with the last one soon to be added. Modern lighting, heating and air conditioning were installed. A Savannah College of Art and Design team did a survey for establishing a historical district for the city of Springfield. The SCAD team noted our church sanctuary as a landmark for Springfield and worthy for possible inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, should the congregation desire to pursue the designation.

The social hall was built and dedicated in February 1951, having been rushed to completion for Effingham Academy, which was destroyed by fire, to use for classrooms that were scattered in churches over town.

In 1964, Grace Lutheran Church in Stillwell did not have enough members to continue as a congregation. Most of the Grace members moved their membership to Holy Trinity, and the congregation merged, retaining the name of the larger congregation. Stillwell Cemetery, held in a joint trust agreement, is now the only physical property that remains of that merger.

The church has had three ministers to come from our congregation: Rev. Dr. Charles J. Shealy (who preached for our 50th Anniversary), Rev. Ernest T. Burns and Rev. A. Jackson Zipperer Jr.  Rev. Zipperer, the only survivor of the three, will be guest pastor for the worship service on Sunday, and he is also the grandson of the first secretary of the congregation. His father Jackson Sr. was employed to pump the organ, open the doors and windows of the church in summer or bring in wood and light the stove providing warmth in winter for services.

Fourteen pastors have led our congregation through the years. Until 1962, Holy Trinity was part of the Bethel Lutheran Parish, sharing a minister. From that point forward, we have had a full-time minister. Our present interim pastor is Rev. Dr. James L. Cavanah II, who is a blessing to the congregation with his Bible-based ministry.

Through good times and bad, our congregation has endured. We have been fortunate to acquire property across the street behind the church, providing us an enclosed play area and an outreach center/church office. Our last property acquired is an empty lot across from the church on Laurel Street used for parking.

In 2010, our congregation took the stand to follow our Bible-based teachings, leaving the Southeastern Synod of the Lutheran Church in America, who had become at odds with our beliefs for their stand on human sexuality. We are now affiliated with the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and join four other congregations who have done the same sharing fellowship among the LCMC sister churches. Holy Trinity has been a vital part of the community of Springfield, Effingham County, our nation and world through our missions and service to mankind.

The reflection on 100 years would not be complete without mentioning our members who have been the backbone of the congregation. Our committee for the anniversary recognizes that there have been many leaders through the years too numerous to name. Esther S. Pruett was the first woman to blaze a trail for female leaders to be able to serve in the church for the last half of the past century. Until that time positions were all filled by men.

Multiple generations in families have been members over the century. The faces of some of these members are pictured on bulletin boards in the fellowship hall, prepared for the celebration. It is not the buildings who are the church, it is the people. We remember those who have passed on into eternity and honor those in today’s leadership.

Looking forward hopefully to growth, we pray for God’s blessings in the future. Who will find the items we place in the cornerstone for the next generations? The next decades are yet to be written in the pages of history.

Please join Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church for our celebration beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday with the opening of the cornerstone on the front lawn and a group photograph.  The worship service of Holy Communion will begin immediately following with lunch and fellowship after worship.

An afternoon session to reveal the contents of the cornerstone, recognize the members and distribute a written history of the church will begin at 2 p.m. A program of photographs will be shown in the sanctuary following services until the close of the day.  Join us all day or in the afternoon.

If you cannot attend, please offer a prayer for our milestone. God has blessed us and we look forward to our celebration embracing our visitors including former pastors and their families, former members, current members and people in our community.  
This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. Susan is a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and author of the 100-year history of the church. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: