A Brief History of St. David’s
n 1976, an attempt was made to establish a mission church in Northeast Richland County, SC. Those plans were put on hold, however, because of a lack of residents in the area at that time. Just six years later, in 1982, rapid growth in the same area drew the attention of the Bishop of the Upper Diocese of South Carolina, and the decision was made to establish a mission church. St. David’s Episcopal Church was formed when fifteen families from St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields agreed to assist in establishing the new mission church.
St. David’s first worship service was held on April 18, 1982, in the cafeteria of E.L. Wright Middle School. More than 100 worshipers were present to celebrate the first Eucharist. Another first – a baptism – occurred just two weeks later. St. David’s became “official” when the Certificate of Incorporation was filed on October 26, 1982.
Fr. James A. Patrick was the first vicar of St. David’s and served from June 6, 1982, to September 23, 1984. From February 3, 1985, to June 28, 1987, Fr. Geoffrey Scanlon served St. David’s as priest-in-charge. During Fr. Scanlon’s tenure, slow but steady growth was experienced.
More rapid growth and progress occurred after the arrival of Fr. Robert Michael Jones at St. David’s in November, 1987. Meetings continued wherever suitable space was located, including two schools and a portable classroom. The latter was located on land purchased by the Diocese for construction of a building for St. David’s. Commercial and industrial development in the vicinity of the proposed building site made that location undesirable, and the property was consequently sold to Wal-Mart. Land was purchased on Polo Road in Northeast Columbia, and groundbreaking ceremonies for construction of a sanctuary were held on November 15, 1987.
During the construction of the sanctuary, an 1890 Tracker organ was located in Jacksonville, FL. The organ had been retired by a congregation there, dismantled, and the pieces stored in a warehouse. After a comparatively small investment and restoration, the organ is one of the finest in this area and worth over $600,000. The pulpit and lectern that are being used in St. David’s were salvaged from a demolished church in England.
In August, 1988, communion was celebrated for the first time in St. David’s newly constructed building, and in 1991, the church had its status changed from “mission” to “parish.” Groundbreaking for a second building to house a fellowship hall, kitchen and classrooms was made on May 23, 1993.
Fr. Jones left St. David’s on June 20, 1995, after which time Fr. Frank Smith served as interim from July 1, 1995 to June 25, 1996. Assistant minister, Ellen Hanckel Stallworth, served with Fr. Smith for a period of time, as well as with Fr. Robert L. Chiles who followed Fr. Smith to St. David’s as rector. Deacon Judy Ewing also assisted Fr. Chiles for a while.
St. David’s experienced continued growth and achieved “transitional church” status while Fr. Chiles served as rector. Because of his passion for pastoral care, Fr. Chiles felt called to accept such a position in Greenville, SC, and left St. David’s June 15, 2011.
Fr. William M. “Scotty” Brock accepted a call to St. David’s as priest-in-charge in the spring of 2012. Bishop Andrew Waldo blessed Fr. Brock’s transition to rector after a very short time. In the spring of 2013, Kellie Wilson came to St. David’s to assist as a transitional deacon. She was ordained and continues to serve St. David’s as Assisting Priest.
Today, St. David’s is well positioned for growth. It does face many of the same problems and challenges as other churches and denominations do in a rapidly changing world. St. David’s, however, is blessed with a wonderful church family, a commitment to other ministries, and strong leadership…”A welcoming, loving community centered in Christ.”
Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, was famous as a holy man, preacher, and worker of miracles. He is the only Welsh saint to be recognized widely in the Western church. David is represented in art with a dove on his shoulder, evoking the legend that when he was asked to speak at the synod of Brefi, the ground under his feet rose, enabling him to be seen, and a snow-white dove – his emblem – perched on his shoulder, miraculously allowing his voice to be heard by everyone present. St. David’s Day is celebrated in the church on March 1 of each year.
The shield of St. David of Wales features the descending dove, which reminds us of the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist and of our baptisms, when we also receive the Holy Spirit. The green field at the bottom of the shield represents the mountains of Wales, where St. David was a dedicated and much respected missionary.
For several years, the rounded window above the St. David’s altar contained only clear glass. Then, through generous donations from the congregation and others, the clear glass was replaced with a beautiful stained-glass window, richly designed in liturgical colors and Christian symbols. Sitting in the sanctuary and looking up at the window, one will see in brilliant color at the window’s center, the Greek Alpha and Omega, signifying Christ as the beginning and the end of our faith, surrounded by tongues of flame, symbolizing the sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. There are several representations of doves, also symbolic of the Holy Spirit.