During the 1980s, the Columbia metropolitan area began to experience strong population growth and suburbanization was spreading quickly throughout the northeastern portion of Richland County. The South Carolina Synod recognized that this increased population growth created a need for a Lutheran witness in this rapidly growing area. The leaders of the Synod and the Lutheran Church in America, the national organization that preceded the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), sent a mission developer to form and build a congregation in Columbia Northeast.
Pastor E. Edward Long and his wife, Jewel, arrived in June, 1987 with the support of the ELCA. They bought a home and began to assess community needs and how they were being served by the Lutheran pastors and congregations in the area. On August 1, 1987 Pastor Long began work in the community and invited Lutherans and the unchurched to fellowship activities and meetings in the hopes of forming a mission congregation.
Fourteen persons met with Pastor Long and Jewel Long on August 28, 1987 and organized a congregation. Some modest office equipment was purchased, and Pastor Long’s garage became the headquarters of the new mission congregation. On September 1, five people formed a committee and started planning for worship, and on September 18th, a public interest meeting was held at Northeast Baptist Church. Pastor Long worked with synod and national leaders to secure 4.3 acres of land for a future building.
The first worship service of the mission congregation was held on November 15, 1987 in the Little Theater of North Springs Elementary School and fellowship activities took place in the cafeteria. A Sunday Church School was organized on January 10, 1988, and a charter was opened to form a congregation of the ELCA on January 24, 1988. The first service on the property of Living Springs Lutheran Church was held on Easter Sunday 1988.
On October 2, 1988, the mission congregation was officially recognized as a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The name, Living Springs Lutheran Church, was selected.
It symbolizes the living water of Christ which flows in us to reach all parts of our lives and through us to our community and world. The South Carolina Synod recognized Living Springs as a congregation and partner in mission and ministry.
Pastor Long was officially called by the congregation to be the first pastor of Living Springs on October 16, 1988. A congregational council was elected and ministry committees and organizations were established. The ELCA authorized Living Springs to enter the “building phase” of its development in December 1989. A capital funds campaign was conducted in April 1990, and a Building Committee was appointed in June.
Living Springs became self-supporting by January 1, 1991 and no longer received mission aid funding from ELCA. Schematic drawings of a church building were approved on April 7, 1991, and congregation leaders were authorized to sign construction contracts. A ground-breaking ceremony took place on February 23, 1992, and the new home of Living Springs Lutheran Church was dedicated on Sunday, December 13, 1992.
Pastor Long retired on June 30, 1995. Pastor Connelly served as interim pastor from July 1995 to May 1996 and Pastor Derald Edwards was called May 15, 1996. Pastor Edwards served until May of 1999. Pastor George Pejakovich served as interim pastor from May 1999 until November 1999 at which time he was called as pastor of Living Springs by special permission from Bishop Donges. Pastor Pejakovich served as pastor from November 1999 to August of 2001. During his tenure, the Educational and Living Springs Preschool/ ASC was erected in August 2001. Dr. Phil Baker was our interim from January 2002 until December 2002. In January 2003 we called pastor, Glenn Boland. In August 2004, Living Springs called their first Associate Pastor, Christine V. Stoxen. On December 31, 2006, Pastor Glenn Boland retired. In February 2007, Mark Buchan was called to a six-month term as a part-time Pastor. In July 2007,the call was extended to Pastor Christine V. Stoxen as Senior Pastor of Living Springs.
In June 2005, Living Springs entered the internship program and Vicar Mikki Gay was their first Intern. In January 2006, Living Springs began a long range planning process through the Institute for Organizational Leadership. In June 2006, our second Intern, Nancy Vogel, began her internship program . In August 2007 our third intern, Wade Roof, III began his internship at Living Springs. A new electric sign was erected on the corner of Hard Scrabble and Clemson Roads and was completed in 2008. A room was divided off from the fellowship hall in 200 to house our Confirmand Class. In July 2008, a Music Director was hired to expand our music program. In August 2008 our 4th Intern, Rick Reiten joined Living Springs. Reverend Robert Helton, Jr. was called by Living Springs as Associate Pastor and began September 2008.
In October of 2011 Pastor Stoxen moved on to a church in Rockhill, South Carolina. In November of that year pastor Jane Mitcham came to serve as our interim pastor.
Arriving in June 2013, the Rev. Eric E. Fink serves as Sr. Pastor at Living Springs. In October of that year, Living Springs celebrated their 25th anniversary. At this same time they began a Mission Vision process to find where God is leading them. While they have found currently 394 Spirit Tugs, this is an every evolving process, where new ministry and disciple areas will be developing. This is an exciting time at Living Springs Lutheran Church!