The mission of St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ through Worship, Learning, Witness, Service and Stewardship. Our calling is to be individually and collectively a redemptive people of God’s love in the world.
Early records of our congregation were destroyed by fire, but there is ample evidence to date its organization to the year 1830. In a report to Synod, Dr. John Bachman stated: "A church, 40 X 50, is building at Lexington Court House and is in a considerable state of forwardness. This, when completed, will be the only church in that flourishing village. The location is favorable for a large congregation." The minutes of Synod also state that St. Stephen's was "dedicated on the 5th Sabbath in October, 1831." Records indicate that the land for the church and the old part of the cemetery was donated by Mrs. Barbara Corley.
We have had three houses of worship prior to our present one. The first building was not only the first church in the town of Lexington, but the first in the community with a gallery. Around this building cluster memories both tender and tragic: tender and hallowed by reason of its connection with our Southern Seminary and the development of Lutheranism in S.C.; tragic because it was wantonly burned by vandals during Sherman's raid on Lexington in 1865.
By 1870, a new house of worship was built and dedicated on the same spot as the previous one, in the corner of the present cemetery. It had two stories, a tower used as a narthex and a belfry with a spire. However, that structure too met the same fate as the first one. Old records of the era report that it "caught fire under mysterious circumstances" and was destroyed with some of the other buildings in Lexington in 1897. However, before this happened, a third worship structure, across the street from the first two and where our present sanctuary is now located, was already under construction. Since slow progress had been made on its construction, it was not ready when fire took out the second structure. The cornerstone for this third structure, a rock church, was laid on Tuesday, October 7, 1896, but it was not until 1900 that our congregation moved into its third worship facility. This beautiful stone structure served St. Stephen's for 57 years - until 1957, when it was torn down to make way for the sanctuary and educational building that continues to serve us today.
The fifth major structure for St. Stephen's was constructed between the summer of 1972 and October of 1973. That construction gave us our present Social Hall, kitchen, parlor, music room, and some much-needed storage space. In 1979, the Pells pipe organ in the church was replaced by a Moeller organ which was installed in the balcony and the choir was moved from the transcept to the balcony.
There is another building in our history which also has been of tremendous service to our congregation. It's a small cement block building adjacent to the sanctuary. It is now used by the Scouts, AA, our Youth groups, Sunday Church School, and various other groups. While not magnificent in structure, it has an interesting history, too, and has served our congregation well. This building was constructed around 1951 by some Lexington High School students under the supervision of the late Mr. C.E. Black, the Manual Arts teacher at LHS for quite a number of years. Since we had no true Social Hall until 1973, this building served us in this way from 1958 until 1973 and was the site of numerous wedding receptions and other congregational and community functions during that time.
Today, St. Stephen's is involved in an exciting venture called "For God ... For Others ... Forever." We are looking to the future by addressing some of our facility needs that will enhance our current ministries and assist us in expanding our ministry in the Lexington community.We have added an educational space for our growing Sunday School and our youth and pre-school programs, administrative space with offices and meeting rooms, extra seating and improved sound in the sanctuary, a covered drop-off area, an elevator to provide better accessibility, and a larger ministry center where our whole congregation can assemble for fellowship, recreation and other activities, with space to invite the community to join us!