CAMERON -- Resurrection Lutheran Church in the Cameron area is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Congregation members and guests gathered to celebrate the milestone on Aug. 27, with a commemorative service presided over by Bishop Herman Yoos. Members and guests of all ages then enjoyed a celebratory meal together.
“We invited all the former pastors who are still available,” said Rev. Eric Little, pastor of the church. “We also sent out invitations to families with connections to members in the area.”
Some who attended are nearly as old as the church itself. The church also has a strong core of younger members.
“We have a wide age range in the congregation,” Little said. “Several congregation members are in their mid-90s. But we also have a lot of kids. For children’s sermon, I may have 20 kids.”
The large percentage of young people among its 348 members makes youth ministry a major focus for the church. During the summer, for example, Resurrection Lutheran serve as the host to a week-long day camp for area children.
“It’s been exceptionally well attended,” Little said. “We had 68 children this summer, our largest ever. People start calling in January to find out when camp will open.”
“It’s not just members, but folks who aren’t members who have children or grandchildren who actively attend,” he added. “It’s been a very successful outreach to the community, and it’s something that we’re rather proud of.”
Little noted that at Christmas, Resurrection Lutheran and Hope Lutheran sponsor an Angel Tree.
“They provide us the names and description of the family and what they might like, and we usually have trouble finding enough room to put all the presents and bicycles and stuff that we take over there," he said.
“So, we’ve been able to contribute in the eastern Orangeburg and Cameron community in that way as well,” Little said. “Those names (listed on the Angel Tree each year) go off the tree very quickly.”
He said the church’s generous spirit quickly became apparent to him when he became pastor in 2015.
“The congregation, when they’re presented with ways to serve that they feel in their hearts they would like to do, they jump in wholeheartedly,” Little said. “The folks in this area just respond graciously.”
“I understand that’s just a Cameron trait,” he added. “When we first moved here, my daughter asked, ‘Why are these people so nice?’ I told her that’s just who they are.”
Little credits the congregation’s caring attitude largely to the deep roots that most members have at Resurrection Lutheran.
“Many are farmers, and they seem to be tied to the land,” the pastor said. “Their children, unlike in many other communities -- although they might go away for a while -- they seem to come back. So, they’re tied to that history and the land, and we’re blessed to have lots who have chosen to raise their children here.”
Resurrection Lutheran Church traces its history back to 1843. The congregation was originally part of St. Matthews Lutheran Church, but growth during the mid-19th century prompted church leaders to create a new church farther southeast.
“The folklore is that they got out a map and decided that everybody that was on one side (of the street that church fathers selected) would stay up there (in St. Matthews), and everyone south and east of the street would come over here (to Cameron),” Little said.
The original church in Cameron was located at the site of Mount Lebanon Cemetery, southeast of the town off Highway 176. The Cameron and St. Matthews Lutheran churches continued to share a pastor then -- and still do.
Planning at the site of present-day Resurrection Lutheran Church began early in the 20th century.
During the years leading up to 1917, the congregation "decided they needed to be closer to the growth of Cameron,” Little said. “They moved down here, and they dedicated the church on Aug. 26, 1917.”
Of course, when the time came to celebrate the church’s 100th anniversary, one cornerstone at the church caused a bit of consternation. The cornerstone in question is dated 1916, and had some wondering whether they would be celebrating the anniversary on the correct day.
But after consulting church records, Little discovered the truth. Although the cornerstone may have been erected in 1916, congregation members did not actually occupy the church until Aug. 26, 1917.
Little said everyone is welcome to visit the church for regular worship services at 11 a.m. on any Sunday morning. He also presides over morning services at St. Matthews Lutheran Church at 9 a.m. every Sunday.