Wingard Memorial Lutheran Church was an outgrowth of an idea that a Sunday school should be established in the town of Clyo, which was springing up along the railroad tracks that had been laid in 1891. Clyo had a depot, post office and R. B. Mallory’s general store.
At a congregational meeting at nearby Laurel Hill Lutheran Church (established 1862), a building committee was appointed with the authority to raise funds and make other arrangements in order to erect a building. The committee consisted of: S.T. Metzger, D.E. Reiser, F.H. Metzger, R.P. Mallory, A.M. Morgan, R.B. Mallory, J.A. Exley and R.L. Groover.
The committee received money by private subscriptions, and materials for framing, outer walls and roofing were contributed by Laurel Hill members. Augustus Mallory donated a lot of land and work began in September 1905 and a church cornerstone was laid. A storm destroyed the building just after it was completed in August 1906.
Undaunted by disaster, the committee began planning again and secured a $500 loan from the trustees of the German Lutheran Congregations of Effingham County.
With material furnished by the members, work began to rebuild in summer of 1908. Over two years later, sufficient progress had been made to hold services. Laurel Hill notes in minutes on April 17, 1911, “A move to establish a Sunday School in Clyo carried.” The idea for the church came from long time Lutheran Pastor, the Rev. Dr. T. W. Shealy who was minister for the Bethel Lutheran Parish which included Bethel, Laurel Hill and Holy Trinity at the time Wingard Memorial was established. He believed all towns needed churches.
On Nov. 16, 1913, a constitution was adopted in conformity with the requirements of the Synod of Georgia and adjacent states. The name Wingard Memorial was selected in memory of the late Rev. Dr. Henry S. Wingard, D.D., a former Bethel Parish pastor.
The charter members of Wingard Memorial were: Maggie Bell (Morgan) Blackburn (Mrs. M.O.), Mrs Annie (Mercer) Morgan (Reiser) Coffee, William T. Greene, Mattie C. Green (Mrs. W.T.), Gussie (Hinely) Morgan (Mrs. E.J.), Josie (Mallory) Hollingsworth (Mrs. J.C. Jr.), H. Rawls Mallory, John G. Mallory, Alethea (Metzger) Mallory (Mrs. J.G.), Miss Mattie Z. Mallory, Norman W. Mallory, Paul G. Mallory, Ransley B. Mallory, Robert P. Mallory, Sallie (Rawls) Mallory (Mrs. R.P.), Robert J. Mallory, William A. Mallory, Miss Clara Metzger, Miss Emma Metzger, F. Howard Metzger Sr., Miss Frieda Metzger, Miss M. Lucille Metzger, Oscar E. Metzger, Susan (Kelly) Metzger (Mrs. O.E.), Robert J. Mallory, S. Theodore Metzger, Eliza V. Metzger (Mrs. S.T.), Maud (Greene) Mingledorff (Mrs. E.M.), Miss Emmie L. Morgan, Emmett G. Morgan, Ann M. (Morgan) (Mrs. E.G.), Miss Ruby L. Morgan and S. Gugie (Morgan) Morgan (Mrs. A.R.). These adult charter members along with their young children were the first members of the congregation. Some of the charter members were joined by spouses and children who were members of other churches.
First church officers elected Dec. 21, 1913 were: Elders S.T. Metzger, W.T. Greene, and R.P. Mallory. Deacons elected were: R.L. Sweat, E.G. Morgan, and R. J. Metzger, secretary of the congregation who served for 40 years. Sunday school superintendent was S.T. Metzger with E.G. Morgan as assistant. J.C. Mallory was sexton. Organist was Miss Mattie Mallory with S. T. Metzger as chorister.
Fred Dekle was treasurer for the church for 20 years. Hollis Morgan then served 34 years. Lottie Bell Hanberry was the treasurer about a year. Carolyn Morgan served for 27 years. Robbie (Hanberry) Partain is currently the treasurer.
When the church organized, the Rev. Dr. Shealy held services at the Clyo churches on the first and third Sundays in the Parish schedule and Bethel and Holy Trinity on the second and fourth with fifth Sundays off. Services are now held every Sunday.
Many pastors have served the congregation: Rev. Dr. T.W. Shealy 1913-36, Rev. J. Virgil Addy 1937-43, Rev. Thomas W. Weeks 1944-47, Rev. Roy T. Troutman 1948-53, Rev. George S. Derrick 1954-57, Rev. Robert “Bob” Swygert supply 1957, Rev. William B. Carr 1957-62, Rev. L.L. Swygert 1963-70, Vicar Larry Ort 1971-72, Rev. Don Myers supply 1972, Rev. Lester Cutter, Jr. 1972-74, Rev. W. Robert Hartman, Sr. 1974-76, Rev. Daniel Uzapan 1977-80 & 1987-88, Rev. Ronald N. Brown 1981-86, Rev. L. Allen Wertz, Jr. 1988-91, Rev. Roy Stackpole 1991-97, Rev. Allen Wertz supply 2000, Rev. David P. Hendrix 2001-10, Rev. Al Fernandez 2011 to the present.
Two from the congregation became ministers. Rev. Donald E. Hanberry was ordained a Lutheran minister in 1958 at Wingard Memorial. Native son Rev. E. Madison Morgan became a Methodist minister ordained in 1983.
In 1962, Holy Trinity left the parish. Later, Bethel became independent in 1986. Laurel Hill and Wingard Memorial formed the Clyo Lutheran Parish, and Pastor Al Fernandez serves both churches. Many organists have served and currently Julie E. Hynes plays for services.
The congregation is small and has seen many marriages, baptisms, confirmations and funerals. Because it is small, practically everyone gets the opportunity to hold office and function in a leadership role in the church.
In 2010, the church voted to leave the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and became affiliated with the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Missions for Christ).
The building was updated in 1949 and upkeep done through the years. Just recently the roof was replaced, new carpeting installed, hand-painted stained glass windows above the doors added and furnishings refurbished.
The women of the church have always been active raising money since shortly after organization when a Ladies Aid Society began to purchase items for the church including: paraments, refreshments for Bible school, part of the pastor’s salary in the depression, the organ fund and for so many other church functions. They donated from the sale of eggs and chickens, hand churning and selling ice cream, selling dinners at Sunday School Convention and many creative ways to help. Many changes have come and gone in the name of the organization and the ladies in the LCMC churches are now known as WOW (Women of the Word).
Sunday school and Easter sunrise service with breakfast are now held jointly with Laurel Hill. The youth meet as a parish and the men have joint quarterly fellowship meetings with the LCMC church congregations.
Wingard Memorial members, although small in number, have always served in harmony working united to meet the needs of the Lutheran Church body, congregation and community. For 100 years the congregation has stood firm in its beliefs and in Christian service to Effingham County and our world, and we hope that they continue to do so for many years to come.
Join Rev. Fernandez and the congregation at Wingard Memorial Lutheran Church in Clyo on Nov. 17 at 10:30 a.m. for their 100th anniversary celebration. All members, former members, family and friends are cordially invited to worship and have lunch and fellowship immediately following the service.
This was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society from a history written by Mrs. Edna Q. Morgan. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.