Welcome to Holy Comforter
If you are looking for a traditional church with a warm, friendly, and welcoming congregation, come pay us a visit. We are part of the Anglican Church of North America – biblically faithful and centered on the book of common prayer.
We invite you to explore these pages and discover more about who we are. We are not perfect. Holy Comforter is where the broken can find health, healing, and redemption in Jesus Christ. We have been serving the Sumter community since 1857. We are located at the corner of Main and Calhoun Sts. Downtown, and we pray you will come worship with us soon.
“The changeless faith engaging a changing world.”
Dedication to Evangelism - “Welcome, Love, Strengthen, Send.”
We must be a people who seek the lost. Once we have found them, we must be prepared to welcome, love, strengthen, and send them back out to find and serve others. We believe God is calling us into evangelism in ways we have yet to discover or even consider. A large part of this must be a concerted effort to reach those who are most unlike most of us. The future of Holy Comforter must show a congregation that is far more demographically diverse, both in socio-economic background and age. Ours is a Gospel that transcends race, background, and generation. We must be a church that transcends the same.
Primacy of Mission - "At Home, To all the World, In Every Heart.”
We must be a church committed to charity and mission work in our own community and throughout the world. We must see every heart as a mission field waiting to know the love of Jesus Christ. A central identity of a Gospel-centered church must be her concern for the very least of these. We believe God is calling us to engage in mission work in Sumter, in this nation, and overseas. Through acts of charity and mercy and through seeking every opportunity to serve the world, we must demonstrate that our love of Jesus Christ ignites in us a fire of love for His beloved. We must demonstrate that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to seek and serve Him in every corner of His creation.
Imperative of Legacy - “Building upon a faithful foundation for generations to come.”
We must be a people dedicated to leaving a legacy of faith for the generations that come after us. Building upon the faithful dedication of those who came before us, we must seek ways to create a ministry to and for those who come after. We believe God is calling us to demonstrate concern for those that come after us, even at the expense of our own preferences. Each of us who have called upon Jesus as Lord has done so because someone cared enough about us to mentor us and speak to us where we are. In scripture, we see the beautiful relationship between St. Paul and St. Timothy. Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. As each Christian has at least one man or woman who was to them a Paul, so must each Christian have another who is to them a Timothy. Moreover, as a church, we must be dedicated to leaving a financially sustainable church to the next generation. We must honor the faithfulness of our oldest members while intentionally shepherding our youngest.
Who are we
The Church of the Holy Comforter Church stands for the unchanging truth of the Gospel as centered in the grace of Jesus Christ; we stand under the trustworthiness of biblical revelation, lived out in the historic Anglican tradition; as such, we adhere to the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, and the historic Prayer Books. We seek to glorify Jesus Christ, to be a place where His love and power transform lives, making disciples who make new disciples. It is our unceasing calling to know that in Jesus Christ, no life is too far gone and that God’s love is generous, far-reaching, and forgiving. In Christ, hell has been vanquished, and we can dwell in Him forever. We, therefore, seek to bring every man, woman, and child to know Christ and enjoy a saving relationship with Him.
This makes Holy Comforter a missionary-minded parish, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you” (John 20:21). In humble gratitude, in unending praise for our redemption, we offer our lives to Christ – our time, talents, and treasure – that the Name of Jesus would be glorified through our witness. We are a corporation originally established by an Act of the South Carolina Legislature in 1857; and we are currently a parish within the fellowship of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, so long as the Diocese shall remain faithful to the truth of biblical revelation and our Anglican heritage.
Church of the Holy Comforter Church has the advantage of being visible and centrally located in the vibrant, family-oriented town of Sumter, a charming community of more than 100,000 people conveniently located in the center of South Carolina. Within driving distance of Columbia, SC, Charleston, SC, and Charlotte, NC, Sumter is home to Shaw Air Force Base and, as such, is known as a military community. We at Holy Comforter are acutely aware of the sacrifices that military members and their families make to serve our nation. Many of our members are active duty–some single, some with families; many of our members are also retired military who have returned to Sumter. All understand the calling of duty, sacrifice, and family. Holy Comforter serves as a home–or a temporary home–for all of them while they are here.
Our Congregation has a deep desire to continue to grow in faith and to reach others with the same gospel message that has changed our lives.
What we believe
We believe in a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; three distinct persons co-equal in glory and co-eternal in majesty and of one substantial Godhead, such that there are not three gods but one God.
We believe in the Holy Scriptures as divine revelation, trustworthy, carrying the full measure of His authority, containing all things necessary to salvation, and to be submitted to in all matters of faith and practice of life.
We believe in the One Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ, who in His person is both fully God and fully man; of one substance with the Father as regards to His Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards His manhood.
We believe in the perfect obedience of Christ, His true and actual suffering, His substitutionary and atoning death on the cross, and His bodily resurrection and ascension as the only means given for our salvation and reconciliation with God.
We believe in faith alone as the grounds for the merits of Christ being imputed to us for our justification before God (justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone), leading to good works empowered by the Holy Spirit.
We believe in the consummate return of Jesus Christ in glory to judge the living and the dead and in the bodily resurrection of the dead and their entrance into either damnation or everlasting blessedness.
We believe in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church as those souls that have been redeemed entirely by the work of Christ and called out of bondage into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of error into truth, out of death into eternal life.
We believe that historic Anglican polity organizes the visible Church under the offices of Bishop, Presbyter, and Deacon. Furthermore, the Church exists to worship the Triune God and to lift up the Savior Jesus Christ before all people through the faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel, through prayer, and through the faithful administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
We believe in the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds as accurate representations of the essence of the Christian faith, and affirmation of the (39) Articles of Religion as a coherent and concise expression of Anglican doctrine.
We believe Christians are called beyond membership to the lifelong journey of discipleship, learning to faithfully live what God has revealed about us. (Matthew 7:24-29, Mark 8:34-36, Galatians 5:22).
We believe all people are created in the image of God, who wonderfully and immutably creates each person as genetically male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders reflect the image and nature of God ( Genesis 1:26-27). Rejection of one’s biological sex is in conflict with this createdness and is inconsistent with our beliefs. In the Church, we believe marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in Holy Matrimony, a single, exclusive, lifelong union, as delineated in Scripture (Genesis 2:18-25, Mark 10:1-9). This signifies the mystery of the union between Christ and His Church, reconciling and re-uniting two compliments. God’s good intention for us is that sexual intimacy is to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Corinthians 6:18, 7:2-5, Hebrews 13:4). For the blessing and protection of the bond of marriage, our families, and particularly our children, God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21, Romans 10:9-10, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity; (Mark 12:28-31, Luke 6:31). Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of the Diocese.
In 1845 the City of Sumterville, SC, was incorporated, and in 1853 the name was shortened to Sumter. In the early years, Sumter had only a couple of churches, and no Episcopal church, though early on, there were a few people interested in establishing one. In the mid-1840s, five or six former Episcopalians talked about establishing an Episcopal church in Sumterville and took steps in that direction when they started meeting in other church buildings. They also met in the Court House and businesses, such as the third floor over Mund’s Bookstore. Occasionally, a visiting Episcopal priest would lead worship services, and surprisingly, the small congregation began to grow, receiving financial help from nearby Episcopal churches. One church gave hundreds of dollars, and one gave $10.
Baptisms and confirmations began to take place, and in 1857, the fledgling congregation decided it was time to construct an Episcopal church in Sumter. A lot was purchased on the corner of Main and Bartlette Streets, and Mr. Joseph Long of Charleston was hired to build the church. It would seat 250 congregants, and it would have the tallest steeple in town; it was completed in 1858. Mr. Long not only fell in love with Sumter but also with Miss Susan Darr, and they were the first couple married in the new church.
Unfortunately, during the War Between the States, in the battle of Dingle’s Mill on the edge of Sumter, Mr. Long joined a group of civilians too young or too old to be in the army but who were determined to defeat a Union army of 2,000 soldiers under the command of General Edward Potter. On the way to the battlefield, Mr. Long passed by “his” little church and soon thereafter was killed. It was just a short time before the end of the war.
The small church was a victim of the Union army as well when it entered Sumter because it was the first place of its kind that could be used as a hospital for the wounded. The altar was used as a druggist’s slab, but the marble baptismal font was hidden away and not harmed. In fact, it is still being used. That font is very special since it was given to Holy Comforter in 1859 by the ladies of St. Philip’s Church in Charleston to commemorate the consecration of the Church of the Holy Comforter in the little town of Sumter.
The original wooden church was used for approximately 50 years and then moved to our current location. The tall steeple was removed, and the church was placed on logs and slowly rolled to the north on Main Street, being pulled by mules. The story goes that when the little church was about halfway to its destination by midday on Saturday, the mules and workers were leaving the scene, and a store owner yelled at the foreman not to leave the church in front of his store. The store owner said it prevented customers from shopping with him. The wise foreman said, “Everyone is too tired to go any further, and tomorrow is Sunday. We heard that you don’t go to church, so we brought the church to you. A service will be held here tomorrow morning, and we hope you will attend.” The next morning, the store owner was in the church and later became a member. The original church building served the congregation in its new location until our current church building was built, starting in 1908.
On Easter Day, April 11, 1909, the first service was held in the new church, with the small church having been moved again to be utilized as the Parish House. When the current location was purchased, a home on the property faced Main Street, and it was moved behind the new church, turned to face Calhoun St, and served for many years as the Rectory. In 1957, the Rectory was removed, and Walker Hall was built on that spot and was named for the Rev. Mr. J. B. Walker, our Rector for 32 years.
As time marched on, Holy Comforter’s growth and other physical needs became increasingly obvious, but we were landlocked, with no way to expand the property. The church also needed many improvements, such as more parking, a safe, well-equipped playground, and similar needs. Would we have to move again?
In 1993, our next-door neighbor, a large bank, decided to move, and on December 18, 1998, we took possession of their large building and parking lot. The bank headquarters building was totally renovated to become our Parish House and office building.
From a spiritual perspective, The Church of the Holy Comforter went through a significant period of Christian renewal during the 1990s and into the 21st Century. Through various retreats, conferences, and other renewal gatherings, our congregation grew in Christian faith and in their knowledge of, and reverence for, the Bible as the authoritative Word of God. Thus, when our Diocese in 2012 withdrew its affiliation with the Episcopal Church, our church was one of the large numbers of parishes that joined in that disaffiliation, and we are now the Church of the Holy Comforter, Anglican, resident in the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, a Diocese in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). From the beginning, the Church of the Holy Comforter has proved itself a welcoming, hospitable, and faithful Christian congregation.