Martin Luther W. @ St. John’s Lutheran Church, Walhalla, South Carolina


History comes to live in a graveyard and the history is richly embedded here at St. John’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) here in Walhalla, South Carolina. Founded by a German emigrant in 1853 (which makes it older than my home state; Colorado was indoctrinated as a State in 1876).

The German Emigrant who founded the church wanted to create a place of worship for new and incoming fellow Germans, I am speculating as a way of integration and for creating a foundation for their lives in the new world (just as my opinion); what creates a better sense of belonging than a community of faith?

According to the historical marker (signs that are posted frequently around the Southeast, which is boundless in its history), the German Emigrant was General John A. Wagener. The history of his efforts and settlements can be read in the photos below.

The one particular headstone that really caught my attention was the one bearing the name Martin Luther Waldt. Why? Well, Martin Luther is the great German Reformation leader, creating what is now known as the protestant Church. While his intention was to reform the Catholic Church, noting such things that we are saved by faith alone (versus penance) and nailing his 96 Thesis to the doors of the castle church door at Wittenburg. His intent was to reform, not to split, but severance of the two did happen, creating the two factions we now know.

A Little Video allows one to hear at least the toll of one bell (I wasn’t quite quick enough to get the full set of bells tolling for 5 p.m.) When I was younger, my parents had taken me and my siblings on a family vacation to Germany (my first time being abroad); I often heard the bells chiming. I asked my mother why they rang so often, and her answer has stuck with me ever since, as I often sang along with the hymns or music that the bells performed. My mother said, Anna, those bells are chiming for you. Every time the bells ring, I can’t help but think they are especially for me, as if magically they knew I was there to hear them. Finding this graveyard created a full circle, so to speak, for me, having German heritage and being Lutheran, this happy happenstance couldn’t have been more perfect.

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