St. Andrew was a mission church of the ELCA started in 1986 by local Lutherans who saw the need for a Lutheran presence in Charlestown. We started meeting in homes. Then having outgrown that, we worshipped all over Charlestown in our early years: in the Cross Mills library, St. James Catholic Chapel, and finally the old Charlestown ambulance building. As a community of faith without a home of our own for so long, we worked to create our own house of worship
In 1987, the Lutheran Church of America purchased land on the corner of East Beach Road and US 1 in Charlestown. Members of the congregation cut, chopped, and burned brush and trees to prepare the lot for building. We raised funds through a capital fund drive, hired an architect, and selected a builder. In April 1990, construction began and our church building was dedicated on September 30, 1990. Even though we are located in a beautiful building, we know that the church really is the people and our focus is on the people who gather to find community here.
Around 1999 we did a visioning process that helped us refocus our energy and resources going forward. We determined the need to grow our ministry with children, youth and families. We reaffirmed our desire to offer diverse, progressive, creative worship experiences. And we committed ourselves to active outreach and service to the South County community. So we expanded our facilities by adding preschool space, a youth room, office and meeting space, and a music room. We also added staff to help us grow our ministries and strengthen our connection to the community.
In the summer of 2013, the congregation retired the mortgage on the first building. Funds raised in the final year of the three-year capital appeal were used for building improvements and renovations as well as for seed money for new ministries.
In 2016, in conjunction with the ELCA, we conducted an in-depth analysis of our strengths and weaknesses as a congregation and developed a new purpose statement:
St. Andrew is a Christian Community of Faith and Action
- Rooted in God’s Love
- Growing in Faith
- Serving with Open Arms
Guided by the Holy Spirit we will:
- Welcome others and embrace diversity
- Encourage one another in our faith journey
- Engage our community with hands-on service
- Pray and praise God
In 2018, St. Andrew started welcoming interns as part of their preparation for ministry. We have connected with different Lutheran seminaries [Trinity, United and Wartburg] to create a positive learning environment for interns. We feel like we are sharing insights into doing ministry in this time and also helping shape leaders for the church. The congregation has benefitted from the variety of gifts they bring and loves the energy they bring.
St. Andrew met the challenges of Covid by adapting our food pantry and personal needs closet ministries to help people navigate the economic disruptions of those years. We also began live-streaming our worship service and created an outdoor service to keep us to gather in-person as a community. These innovations continue to shape our life together. We still livestream the second service each Sunday and upload services to YouTube for later viewing. We still love worshipping outdoors for one of our services during the warm months.
As a result, an Outdoor Chapel Team was created in 2022. Working with an architect and landscape designer we developed a plan for an Open-Air Sanctuary. The project includes an outdoor chapel; a labyrinth for meditation and reflection; pollinator gardens and a memorial garden, where the ashes of loved ones may be interred; and a new organic garden to continue providing fresh vegetables for the St. Andrew food pantry.
An Open-Air Sanctuary Capital Campaign Team was also formed. We were amazed at the generosity. of St. Andrew partners, friends and community members who helped us exceed our fundraising goal for the project. Construction will be complete by fall, 2024. We see the open-air sanctuary not only as an extension of our ministry but also as a resource for the whole community.
Because we are still close to our early “mission church” experience, we continue to welcome new people into the St. Andrew community. We have been growing in numbers, generosity and participation . We look to our namesake disciple, Andrew. He was the one who was always bringing friends to experience Jesus by saying “come and see.” We want to keep following in his footsteps.
We invite you to “come and see.” Come and see who we are. Check out what’s happening. Walk the labyrinth. Help in the garden or food pantry. Join the quilting team. Or jump into a weekend community service project. Come, and find your place!