MILESTONES IN THE LIFE
OF
MT. ZION - ST. LUKE LUTHERAN CHURCH
 

1827 First log church building on J.F. Robinson land.
1837 Macon County formed.
1838 Reverend Jacob Kleckley, Licensed Missionary arrives.
1838 First official records of the church appear.
1840 Second location, called Ebenezer, on Tom Coogle's land.
1840 First Church Building at St. John built.
1843 Rev. Jacob Kleckley ordained by the S.C. Synod.
1854 Mt.Zion Church Roll: 17 white males, 28 white females,
        15 colored males, 19 colored females.
1858 Third location on Ellaville Rd. - renamed Mt.Zion
1860 Georgia Synod formed.
1861 Second annual meeting of Georgia Synod held at Mt.Zion.
1911 St. Luke Lutheran Church organized in Oglethorpe, Ga.
1919 Annual meeting of Georgia Synod held at St.Luke.
1928 Formation of Georgia-Alabama Synod.
1947 Dr. Charles A. Linn elected first full time Synod Pres.
1949 Purchase of first Parsonage - Dr. C.A. Greer home.
1951 Building of first Parish House completed.
1953 First Homecoming - Dedication of Jacob Kleckley Monument.
1953 Merger of Mt.Zion and St.Luke Nov. 1st. Adoption of new        Constitution.
1954 Purchase of second parsonage - Nelson House.
1955 Purchase of first organ.
1960 The famous Barbecue at Homecoming.
1961 Fiftieth Anniversary of St.Luke.
1961 First Live Nativity Scene.
1963 Renovation of the Church building and Parish House.
1968 Mt.Zion-St.Luke separates from St. John.
1969 Purchase of third parsonage - on W. Anderson St.
1974 Homecoming services moved from Mt. Zion to St.Luke.
1976 Parish House burns and is rebuilt.
1977 First female elected to Church Council.
1978 Altar Rail installed.
1979 D.C. Smith, Sr. memorial window installed.
1981 Purchase of new organ (Allen).
1982 New Constitution adopted.
1983 Interior of Nave remodeled and chandlier installed. Ramp for handicapped added.
1984 Old Mt.Zion building torn down. Nothing left but cemetery.
1984 Commemorative marker at Mt.Zion site dedicated.
1985 Five stained glass memorial windows installed
1986 75th Anniversary celebration for St.Luke.
1987 Stained glass memorial windows over front doors.
1988 Mt.Zion-St.Luke becomes a part of the E.L.C.A.
1988 A new additon to the Parish House - doubles the size.
1990 Pictorial Directory of Church members published.
1994 Historical marker at Mt.Zion site dedicated.
1996 First full time paid organist employed.
1996 Installation of Virginia Martin memorial window.
1996 Purchase of a new organ. (The third one.)
1996 Seiler Room (old section) of Parish House remodeled into new office, conference room, reception area and nursery for small children.
1997 Communion schedule changed to first and third Sundays and all  festival days.
1997 Installation of an Audio-Video System connecting Nave and Parish House. (Wireless microphones.)
1998 Completion of a new metal roof on Church building.


Rev. Jacob Kleckley


S.W. Bedenbaugh 1850-1860


John Bowles 1863-64


Wm Tigner 1864-1870


J P Margart 1872-77

 

A BRIEF HISTORY
SAINT LUKE LUTHERAN CHURCH

Compiled And Written By Dan Harvill
On The Occasion Of The 75th Anniversary
February 9, 1986

The original Lutheran settlement and first Lutheran Church in Macon County, Mount Zion, was located nine miles west of Oglethorpe.  It was established in the early 1800's and was followed by a second settlement and church (Saint John's) some years later. Saint John's was located in what is commonly known as the Cut-Off community. Both churches were served by the same pastor, with services held on alternate Sundays. By the early 1900's, a number of Lutheran families had moved into the town of Oglethorpe; some entering into business, some wanting to be nearer the high school, and some for various other reasons. From this group of families, St. Luke was organized in 1911 and plans were completed to construct a church building ... the one in which we sit today. Among the prime movers of this undertaking was Martin Luther "Luke" Shealy, who gave the land and, with other members of his family, gave the largest portion of the initial funds. It was from the love and respect of his fellow church friends that the name of the new church was chosen—— St. Luke.

For a number of years. Pastor J. S. Elmore had been living in town and was, at that time, the County Ordinary (now Probate Judge). He had dreamed of establishing a church in town because of the distances to Mt. Zion and St. John's. He had discussed his dream on occasion with a young pastor from Plains, Georgia, the Rev. Charles A. Phillips. Pastor Phillips was a frequent visitor and preacher in Oglethorpe. It was one month to-the-day after the death of Pastor Elmore in January, 1911 that the new, in-town congregation was organized. Under the leadership of Pastor Phillips, the group met on February 12, 1911, at the home of M. L. Shealy and formally organized with 27 charter members. At that meeting, $3,525 was pledged toward the construction estimate of $3,500. The first church council was elected and consisted of M. L. Shealy, George Elmore, D. P. Coogle, R. L. Shealy, and E. D. Derrick. Lumber was placed on the lot on May 26, 1911, and, with the building nearly completed, the cornerstone-laying ceremony was held on August 17. Services were held that morning, followed by dinner on the grounds and another service that afternoon at which the formal laying of the cornerstone occurred. Speakers for the occasions were the Rev. T. W. Shealy and the Rev. A. J. Bowers.

At this point in time an unexpected delay in holding regular services in the new building occurred. This was caused by lack of pews and new furnishings. It is also likely that some of the inside work may have been delayed for lack of funds and unpaid pledges. At any rate, we are told that the
first service held in the new church took place on October 16, 1912, (over a year after the cornerstone laying) when the wedding of Miss Pearl Elmore and Columbus T. "Lum" Harden was solemnized. Pews and furnishings were borrowed from the Baptist Church and were hauled to St. Luke by mule and wagon. Through the influence of "Lum" and one of the city councilmen, the newly-installed town generator was cranked up so they could have electric lights for the mid- afternoon ceremony. M. L. Shealy died in October of 1913 and probably was the first to be buried from St. Luke.

Pews and furniture finally arrived and were installed in December, 1912 and regular services were begun. For the next several years the parish consisted of St. Luke, Mt. Zion, and St. John's and was served by one pastor. Among them were Charles Phillips, L. A. Thomas, and C. E. Weltner.
Pastor Charles J. Shealy served first as a supply and then for two years as a full-time pastor. During World War I, E. F. K. Roof was the full-time pastor and the church had five members in the armed forces—Hugh Shealy, Martin Shealy, Paul Palmer, Oliver Coogle, and Arnold Alien. Pastor Phillips was now a camp pastor (Army Chaplain). When Pastor Roof left in 1919, Phillips assumed the parish full-time, residing in Plains and teaching at the Thompson community school. He would be the pastor until 1924 when the parish began using supply pastors for several years. The minutes of the Georgia-Alabama Synod for 1926-27 show that Home Mission Aid was cut off because the parish refused to call a permanent pastor, apparently  referring to continue to use seminarians as supply. The congregations' reasons for this decision are not known. We do know the Pastor A.. Bowers was called but stayed only about four months in 1927. Georgia-Alabama Synod for 1926-27 show that Home Mission Aid was cut off because the parish refused to call a permanent pastor, apparently preferring to continue to use seminarians as supply. The congregations' reasons for this decision are not known. We do know the Pastor A. J. Bowers was called but stayed only about four months in 1927.

Pastor Dewey Heglar began his pastorate in June, 1929, and some of our present members were baptized and received catechetical instruction from him. He taught school and was popular among the younger set because he was still single. During his nine years here, he married Miss Elsie Counts from Haralson, Georgia, and their son Dewey was born. It came as a distinct shock when he resigned in the summer of 1938 and accepted a call to a congregation in Silver Street, South Carolina.

In those days, there was a critical shortage of Lutheran pastors, and our "poor" rural parish could not compete with the larger, more affluent congregations for the few pastors that were available. Another disadvantage was the distance between the three congregations in the parish and the
expectations of each that special attention from the pastor would be due them. Then, too, low salary was a factor, even with the Home Mission Aid that had been restored. Teaching school had come to be expected of the preacher so he could make an adequate living. Such was the situation when John Zeigler arrived in September, 1939. He, too, would be with us for nine years. He officiated at the wedding of this writer and his bride that November; his first and our first. He taught in the high school and would see some of his boys march off to war — some of whom would not make it home. He met his bride at school where she, too, was a teacher. World War II saw renewed interest in the church; and after it ended, Pastor Zeigler organized the first congregational Brotherhood for the men. In 1947, an attempt to arouse interest in building a parsonage failed; and in the next year, the Zeiglers moved to Chapin, South Carolina.

In early 1949, Dr. C. A. Linn, the first full-time president of the Georgia-Alabama Synod, preached at a union service for the three churches. The service was held at St. Luke, with a congregational meeting following. Linn's message was plain, clear, and loud; "If you want a pastor, you must get a parsonage and be willing to make a greater contribution to his salary!" The Home Mission Board would help, but the main effort had to begin here. We got the message. There would be no more Lutheran pastors in Oglethorpe who would need to teach school in order to make a living. With many young families now in the church, the time had come to move toward self-sufficiency. The leaders of the church started things moving. The C. A. Greer house was purchased and remodeled by the members themselves. D. C. Smith, Sr. was the vice-chairman and made sure he did not miss anyone! Pledges were made and paid. Dr. Linn returned two months later and was amazed at what he found. He then announced that he would have a man here the next Wednesday night to preach a trial sermon. Lloyd Seller accepted our call and moved here in March, 1949.

From 1949 until 1955, we saw a lot of change and a lot of work in the church. We started using the entire liturgical service, joined in forming an area Brotherhood, began a monthly Family Night, started using vestments, got our first organ, started having services every Sunday, got off Mission
status, tripled attendance, purchased our second parsonage, merged with Mt. Zion, hosted the Newberry College singers, adopted a new church constitution and built our Parish House. This was five years of great progress and it brought many of us into active participation in church affairs. New
life had been breathed into this congregation. Pastor Seller resigned in February, 1955, to accept a call to the Mission field in Rossville, Georgia. Once again, this resignation was a surprise and great disappointment to the (now, two) congregations.

It was during this time that the pastor who had "built" this church agreed to move back and serve as our resident supply. Pastor Phillips, having lost his wife some years back, and, living in retirement in North Carolina, welcomed the opportunity to return to the fields of his youth. He boarded
with the Wick Hammock family where his wit and charm made life pleasant among the eight or nine people who began a newsletter at the Lions Club, preached, and attended to his pastoral duties — all with vigor. He was happy and so was his flock. It was Pastor Phillip's idea to buy our first
electronic organ. It was purchased in the summer of 1955 shortly after Pastor Harry Rau and Barbara came as our new parsonage family. Another event of note took place that summer when Pastor Phillips and Mrs. Mabel Coogle were united in marriage by Pastor Rau.

The Raus were here for only one year. Both had health problems and needed to get away, this being a parish that made unusual physical demands on its pastor. Charles Phillips again took over and, in October, Pastor J. Arthur Linn (brother to Dr. C. A. Linn) answered our call. He and Mrs. Linn had been serving as missionaries in Japan for a number of years and their ministry here for the next two years was one of a teaching and visiting nature...a slow, quiet pace...just as we wanted.

When Pastor Linn retired in December 1958, we began to use seminarians again at the suggestion of Pastor Phillips. He felt that we needed to be exposed to other preachers and it was his nature not to assume any position unless he was asked, or he felt it necessary. He filled in on occasion but it was mainly seminarians. Ronald Miller, a Junior at Southern Seminary, supplied several times that winter and spring of 1959 and then came as a resident supply for that summer. He boarded at the Hammock's, and his youthfulness brought the young folks into a closer involvement with the
church, Luther League, and Sunday School. That fall, various other seminarians come to supply. One sad note was the passing of our good friend and pastor, Charles Phillips in February, 1960. Failing health had been one of the reasons he no longer wanted to supply regularly.

During the winter of 1959-60, William H. Martin, a senior at seminary, came to preach for us several times. When he finished school in the spring of 1960, he accepted our call to this parish. He began an intensive program of work with the teenagers. Their baby daughter, Ernlie, had to wear a corrective cast on both legs and our hearts to meet life's challenges. It was along about then that some of us young adults thought it was time to build a new church building .. but the older members soon changed our minds about that.

Two notable events that occurred during Billy Martin's pastorate here were the "big barbecue" at Homecoming (and day of his installation) and the beginning of the live Nativity scene which is still displayed each Christmas. The barbecue is well remembered because it made scores of people ill, including Dr. Raymond Wood, president of Synod. Some of the enthusiasm went out of Homecoming as a result of this, and we have never had as large a response since then.

When Pastor Martin left us, we again had to turn to seminarians as supply pastors. This is all right for a short time; but a flock needs a shepherd to visit the sick, bury the dead, and marry the romantic. At the end of that summer, the pulpit committee (Chesley Gilmore, Dan Harvill, and Clyde Smith) paid a visit to Dr. Wood at the Synod office in Atlanta. After hearing him lament at length over the shortage of available pastors, they asked him about the propriety of calling a prior pastor for a second tour. He could not recall that instance having taken place before, but saw nothing amiss about it. It was then we initiated the unusual, and Pastor Seller was contacted. From this point, things moved rapidly and the Sellers moved back into
their old home in Oglethorpe in October, 1962. There were now four of them: the Pastor, his wife Flora, a son, Lloyd, Jr., and a daughter, Wilhelmenia. Thus began another period of hustling and growth. Accomplishments during this time include central air-conditioning and heat for both the church and parish house; and refurbishing of both buildings with new carpeting, Light fixtures, and painting throughout.

It was also a time of social unrest. An incident brought on by the Impatience of some Lutheran pastors outside our parish almost caused Irreparable harm to our congregation. Pastor Seller's firm guidance steered us through this and even strengthened us in the struggle. Meanwhile, he also
made some lasting contributions to the life of plished largely by his efforts. The last of the Elmore sister, Mrs. Pearl Harden, passed away and left the balance of her estate to St. Luke. Pastor Seller suggested that we install a stained glass window in memory of the two sisters; this was done. During these five years, there was an increased awareness of the Lutheran Church as a body-of-the-whole and its form of worship was emphasized.

Dr. Raymond Wood resigned as Synod President and was succeeded in 1967 by Harvey L. Huntley, then pastor of the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Augusta. (Pastor Huntley was the chaplain at the Synod convention attended by this writer and Pastor Phillips in 1966. It was there we first began to know him.) History repeated itself with us when Pastor Seller resigned in February of 1968. We had to call on seminarians again. It was on Easter Sunday that Pastor Huntley came to preach for us. We really put the pressure on him to get us a full-time man. He came up with
the name of a former Methodist pastor who was taking courses at Emory University in preparation for attending the Southern Seminary. (He was required to do this in order to enter the Lutheran ministry.) John Underwood was glad to get a regular pulpit to supply and we borrowed furniture
from various members to put in the parsonage for him. He and his family would come down on Friday night and stay over until Sunday afternoon. It was along here that St. Luke decided to go it alone in calling a pastor. There had been differences of opinion between the two congregations in the parish, and much of the controversy was over the sharing of expenses. Mainly, however, the problem was in talking to prospective pastors. Their interest cooled considerably when we discussed an every-Sunday schedule at both churches. Most thought we were close enough to unite and worship together. It just didn't make sense to them.

Pastor Underwood, his wife and children were well received and moved here for the time he would be in Seminary. He came home each weekend; his wife taught in the public schools here, and they were active in congregational leadership. Their talents came in good stead with our young children, of which we now had about thirty. During that children to Hard Labor Creek State Park for a four-day retreat. Every-one had a wonderful time and it was an outstanding learning experience. Some of those kids now have children of their own in our parish.

As we prepared to receive our next pastor, the current parsonage was purchased. Then came the Lingles. George Lingle astounded us with his preaching. He could excite your interest and cause you to understand what our Lord is all about. His family was a joy and to this day we thank our Lord for letting them come our way. He wasn't a builder of facilities, but he could get people to the church house on Sunday. His incisive sermons got attention; his humor brought love, and his pastoral care brought comfort and joy. His entire family participated and worked in the church...reading the liturgy, singing in the choir, serving as acolyte and lector. Even his son John (already a minister in North Carolina) came for a visit and preached for us. The two girls. Ginger and Angela, were in high school and son. Bob, was in the middle grades. All of them were popular among the local crowd. Mrs. Lingle originated the idea of the Chrismon tree and led the group that made the first Chrismon decorations, some of which are still being used. Pastor Lingle worked among us for seven years.  Attendance grew and membership gained. His health began to fail, and we tried to get him to take it slower. He insisted, however, that he must do his job as long as he was physically able. It was one of the greatest acts of courage and Christian faith that took place the Sunday morning he announced form his pulpit that he had a malignancy, that it was terminal, that his time was short, and that he would carry on as long as he could. We came to an under-standing that his resignation would be submitted at the time of his choosing. It was a heart-rending experience for his flock that day and a heart-breaking one when we had to give up this servant to his Lord in May, 1976.

At Pastor Lingle's insistence we had started the search for his replacement several months before his passing. We got the surprise of our lives when Gerald Troutman, the Synod president, met with us and gave us the name of Harvey L. Huntley as a prospective pastor. Dr. Huntley had served eight years as president of the Synod, resigned, and had gone to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, for a year as a mission developer. Now he desired to return to his old Synod as a full-time pastor. We considered ourselves extremely fortunate to have him consider our parish. After meeting with him and issuing the call, we arranged for him to arrive here in July, following pastor Lingle's death in May. At his suggestion, we employed a local hauler to go to Arkansas and move his furnishings to Oglethorpe. A series of miscalculations caused the move to result in a comedy of errors. The truck would not hold all of the furniture, so a rented U-Haul trailer had to be pulled all the way from Arkansas by a compact car. The laundry equipment had to travel on the tail-gate and was scratched. An overnight stop, completely unplanned, had to be made and the movers slept in the truck. But worst of all, the rain! When this caravan finally arrived in Oglethorpe on the second night, tempers were frayed and nothing pleased anyone. It was several weeks before it became funny.

The two and one-half years of Pastor Huntley's ministry here were times of new ideas. We had expected a worn-out preacher that would let us coast and take things easy. This was not to be. Dr. Huntley was still a hustler and he got things moving early on. A resettlement Laotian family was brought
in; we adopted the new Lutheran Book if Worship; we tried using the Celebrate (resulting in confusion); we installed the altar rail; we reorganized our council. We also set up a new system for handling tithes and managing the church's finances. The Parish House was partially destroyed by fire and was rebuilt. Perhaps the greatest achievement was motivating us to give; and in so doing, we were among the Synod leaders in the Strength or Mission appeal, a church-wide campaign.

About this time, our young adults began to demand to have more influence in the affairs of the church. The "old folks" did not yet want to give it up. Youngsters aren't afraid of anything and enjoy change; the older ones are quite often afraid and don't want anything to change. Pastor Huntley thought it was time for change. This combination led to one of the most serious times in the history of our flock. Integration became a matter of serious concern and eventually caused the pastor to consider his work here finished. So it was on a rainy missing? membership. His resignation came in January, 1982.

Upon the departure of Pastor McDowell in January, the church council arranged for Pastor Roy Wise to come as a full-time supply. A native of Plains, Pastor Wise had left the active ministry in North Carolina and was studying at Emory University for a change in career. He supplied here at St. Luke every Sunday, a convenient arrangement for both of us. With things now quiet, the search for a full-time pastor began in earnest. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we had a pastor by June. It was truly a blessing that brought John Paul Lingle, Marie, and Paul to us. And another precedent had been set...the son had come to serve his father's last charge. Pastor Lingle's tact, guidance, understanding, love, and
teaching has brought peace, harmony, and church-family love back to this congregation. There is growth and progress. The Brotherhood has become active, a Bible Study group is organized, special services are held for each of the church seasons, quarterly community worship services have begun, a
children's youth group has been organized, and attendance at Sunday worship has increased. Improvements to the church plant include the complete rebuilding of the interior nave, construction of a ramp entry for the infirm, and installation of the five small stained glass windows. But most of all, the Christian fellowship and joy of worshiping together brought about by the efforts of this pastor have to rank as his greatest achievement here-to-date.

In the space allowed in these pages, it is impossible to recall every event of interest and importance in the 75 years of this parish. Those brought to you here are an effort to remind us that the Church, the living body of Christ, is a growing instrument...subject at the same time to the call of our Lord and to our human limitations. And properly so! The joys, the sadness, the totally unbelievable, the life and death, all are a part of our life
together. The joys of so many baptisms, weddings, and anniversaries; the tragic death of three of our young men; the support and love for one another; the suffering and death of pastors and other beloved members; the humorous happenings; and the memory of the saints now-gone-home — all serve to remind us that God has truly blessed us and this house called St. Luke. Our life together is surely one of pain and joy. But our Lord has been with us in every case, and prayerfully will accompany us as we move toward a century of ministry.

Let us go forth in faith. Let us go forth in peace.

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