LAURINBURG — The Lutheran Church of the Living Word will receive a visit from the statewide head of the faith on the occasion of its 50th anniversary on Sunday.
The church’s first pastor, the Rev. Peter Setzer, began Lutheran mission in Laurinburg in 1965, holding the first service on Sept. 19 at the Atkinson Street community center and purchasing the McColl Road church site and parsonage in November.
The congregation was organized as the Lutheran Church of the Living Word on April 24, 1966 with an initial baptized membership of 100. Ground was broken on Dec. 31, 1967 and services were first held in the current sanctuary on Sept. 26, 1968.
Since then, the church has developed traditions from chrismons on the church Christmas tree — first made in 1972 by the church’s ladies group — to the annual holiday craft bazaar, which has raised money to purchase playground and electronic equipment for the church as well as for community service projects and projects in the school system.
The church’s youth sponsor soup collection for Church Community Services, send cards to the sick, and collect a “pickle jar” offering at children’s services to provide financial assistance to those in immediate need.
Linda Nelson, the seventh pastor to lead the church, has held the position since 2005.
On its 20th anniversary, the church received a narthex table from Stuart Foreman and Margaret Harding in memory of Lucille Foreman. For the church’s 25th anniversary in 1991, the ladies of the church made a banner for the sanctuary and communion rail kneelers.
The large cross on the front lawn was given in memory of Richard Harding in 2003, the year of the N.C. Synod’s 200th anniversary.
On Sunday, Timothy Marcus Smith, bishop of the N.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will address the congregation.
Smith was ordained in 1986 by the synod and became its bishop last year. A native of Salisbury, he has led congregations in Startown, Boone, and Atlanta in addition to serving as Appalachian State University’s campus pastor.
Smith hold a master of arts degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and divinity degrees from Gettysburg Seminary and Drew University.