The St. John’s congregation dates its origins to the 1742 arrival of Dr. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, the father of the Lutheran Church in America. He stopped for two days in Charleston on his way to visit the Salzburger colony at Ebenezer, Georgia. He returned a month later and spent three weeks waiting for a ship to Philadelphia during which time he held services, taught catechism to the children of the German residents, and held services with communion on Sundays.
Rev. Dr. John Bachman (1790-1874) brought a golden era to St. John’s in the nineteenth century, but it ended abruptly when Charleston and St. John’s were devastated by the War Between the States.
A brief period of racial enlightenment largely disappeared after the Civil War, but had made an important mark in American Christian history while it lasted. Three of the nation’s most important early African-American leaders came from St. John’s, and the first group of Lutherans to send an American missionary to Africa also took place within the congregation.
Figures in St. John’s History
John Nicholas Martin (1725? – 1795)
Reverend John Nicholas Martin was the Pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church until 1778, when he was banished from the city by the British because he refused to include in the prayer of the Church the required petition for the King of England.
MARTIN, John Nicholas, clergyman, born in the duchy of Deux-Ponts, Rhenish Bavaria, about 1725 ; died 27 July, 1795. He came to this country about the middle of the 18th century, in company with a Lutheran colony, as their pastor, and finally settled in a district between the Broad and Saluda rivers, South Carolina, where he remained many years. In 1776 he took charge of the Lutheran church in Charleston, which was his last field of labor. When it was ascertained that he would not pray for the king, he was interdicted from preaching and placed under arrest, and his property having been confiscated he was driven from the city. He remained in the interior of the state till 1783, when he returned to his congregation, and preached till his retirement in 1787.
Source: Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 Virtualology.com
Why Lutheran Churches Have Red Front Doors
Recently there was a question about the red front doors on the Lutheran churches. This article was found in the History Room was published in The State newspaper, that discussed this question. We have reprinted the article as it appeared.
The closest most South Carolinians get to Lutheranism is passing by a Lutheran church and the red door to its sanctuary.
Why do Lutheran churches always have red doors? According to Dr. Richard C Hoefler, dean of Christ Chapel at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, the use of the red door is “relatively recent.”
Not all Lutheran churches have red doors, but they have been popular in the Southeast for a few decades. Hoefler said Lutherans view red as a symbol of the blood of Christ.
Christians, Hoefler said, have “entered into worship, into the presence of God, through the blood of Christ.” In the earlier history of the Christian church, the doors often had “the whole life of Christ carved on them. That symbolized that by the deeds of Christ, we enter into worship.”
Lutherans view worship as sort of “an inhaling, exhaling process,” Hoefler said.
“We come out of the world and into the church. We are called into the church by God, where He equips you, and then we are sent out again” to witness and minister.
The State newspaper, Columbia, South Carolina
Sunday, November 6, 1983