Our History

Our History

Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church began as a gathering of two families, the Otto's and Nitz's, in June 1968. With no Wisconsin Synod (WELS) church in the vicinity, this group of friends attended a local Missouri Synod congregation. By July 21, 1969, a Virginia-based civilian WELS Chaplain who ministered to armed forces members and retirees made the first of many monthly home visits to lead the Ottos and Nitzs in worship and to serve Holy Communion. Wendell Otto led the group in their worship services during the interim weeks. Over the next nine months, the group expanded by five more families.

The fledgling group began receiving guidance and assistance from the Florida Mission District Mission Board, and registered in South Carolina as a non-profit organization. On May 20, 1970, the group, now consisting of thriteen families, held its first worship service under that name. During the summer months, when the group was without pastoral support, they received written sermon texts that they could read as part of their worship services. Hymns were sung to the accompaniment of tape recordings.

With members homes unable to accommodate the growing numbers, a building at 3000 River Drive was leased and later purchased from the Seventh Day Adventist church with the inaugural service on September 27, 1970. On March 10, 1971, the fledgling group officially became Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church. With limited opportunity for outreach in the established neighborhood surrounding the church, Hope soon began looking to relocate. In 1974, the River Drive property was sold, and the church began meeting at a rented loaction in the West Columbia area. A new chapel was built and dedicated on January 29, 1978.

By the early '90s, Hope again looked to move, in an effort to reach more people with the Gospel. The Irmo community was experiencing tremendous growth with many young families looking for a church affiliation, so it was selected as the new home for Hope Lutheran. In a "leap of faith," the congregation gave up its building in West Columbia and returned to using a rental facility, this time a dance studio, in Irmo. On Sunday, March 13, 1994, Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church opened its doors at the new Irmo location. In 1997, Hope purchased 15.5 acres at the intersection of Hollingshed and Kennerly roads in Irmo. On September 8, 2002, the congregation dedicated its current facility.