bachmanUnder the direction of southern Lutheran leader, the Rev. Dr. John Bachman, the South Carolina Synod created Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in the small upcountry town of Pomaria, SC in 1830. The first class of Southern Seminary community consisted of 5 students and a professor, all living, learning, and forming together. Throughout its early years, the seminary faced the tragedies of sudden deaths of leaders, wars, and poverty, but the resilience of the seminary triumphed adversity to become the exceptional institution it is today.

After several different moves around the state and the southeast during the 1800s, Southern Seminary found its permanent home in Columbia, SC. The construction of the seminary's first building in 1911 on the highest elevated point in the city, now called Seminary Ridge, provided a building that serve all needs of seminarians. (Read the history of why 1911 was an important year for Southern Lutherans*) With classrooms, dorms, library, and faculty offices, what is now called Beam Hall embodied the community environment still experienced today on Seminary Ridge. Today Beam Hall still serves as a multi-use building, with dorm rooms, department offices, and meeting rooms.

columbia beamWith a permanent home, Southern Seminary thrived in the 20th century. Millions of dollars were raised for the construction of new buildings, from state-of-the-arts classrooms and student apartments, to the heart of the seminary campus, the breathtaking Christ Chapel. The chapel window's colorful depiction of the Pentecost serves as daily inspiration for the community and is portrayed in the seminary's logo.

The learning environment of Southern Seminary has evolved into a community that is welcoming to all. The ecumenical spirit of Southern Seminary has grown with the additions of the Methodist Study program (1979) and the Baptist Study Program (2003). These programs, in addition to other faiths represented, including African Methodist Episcopal, Episcopal, and non-denominational students, have created an environment of diversity, representative of the unity of the whole church.

In the summer of 2012, the seminary merged with Lenoir-Rhyne University, a Lutheran institution located in Hickory, North Carolina.  The seminary is now a part of the university's School of Theology, and operates one of its three campuses (Hickory, Asheville, and Columbia).

voightA beautiful and peaceful 17-acre campus in the heart of a bustling capital city is only part of the history of Southern Seminary. The true history can be found in the lives and communities that have benefited from the leadership of graduates formed at Southern Seminary. God has blessed the seminary with a passion for learning and spiritual formation for nearly 200 years, and with faithful support of students, congregations, alumni, and Christians of all backgrounds, Southern Seminary will prepare leaders for generations to come.

*From the February 2011 SC Synod Supplement of The Lutheran.
For more information on the history of Southern Seminary, visit the James R. Crumley Archive.


eichelburg houseLocations of Southern Seminary

1830: Pomaria, SC
1832: Lexington, SC
1855: Newberry, SC
1868: Walhalla, SC
1871: Columbia, SC
1872: Salem, VA
1884: Newberry, SC
1898: Mt. Pleasant, SC
1911: Columbia, SC



Southern Seminary Leadership Timeline

1830 - John G. Schwartz
1833 - Ernest Lewis Hazelius
1852 - Lewis Fredrick Eichelberger
1858 - William Berly
1859 - James Allen Brown
1861 - Josiah Pearce Smeltzer
1871 - Anders Rudolph Rude
1872 - Stephen Albion Repass
1884 - Andrew George Voight
1933 - Charles Abram Freed
1939 - Edgar Claudius Cooper
1945 - John Lewis Yost
1961 - Fredrick Eppling Reinartz
1970 - Hugh George Anderson
1982 - Mack Carison Branham, Jr.
1992 - H. Fredrick Reisz, Jr.
2006 - Marcus J. Miller
2012 - Clayton J. Schmit




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Contact Us

(803) 786-5150
Fax: (803) 786-6499
4201 North Main Street
Columbia, S.C. 29203