A family of love and talent: The history of Holy Cross Episcopal Church

The history of Holy Cross Episcopal Church is the story of a vibrant, diverse family with an abundance of love and talent to share. With God and with one another, we are achieving great works in a changing and growing community. With God’s help, we will continue to provide a path for those who seek it, offering solutions for daily challenges and spiritual and personal growth. Our hearts and our doors will always be open and awaiting the arrival of those who want to join us and continue their spiritual journey.

Easter-Day-1956-Rotary-Hall-Fountain-Inn-Clyde-IrelandThe Holy Cross story begins in 1955, when there was no Episcopal Church between Greenville and Laurens. The worship alternatives for Episcopalians living in that area were to drive to one of those cities or choose another denomination. The rector of the Episcopal Church in Laurens, the Rev. Clyde L. Ireland, noticed increasing numbers of Simpsonville residents in his church and suggested they organize a mission of their own. This welcomed proposal became the catalyst for an Episcopal church that would serve the entire burgeoning area south of Greenville known as the Golden Strip.

First, they met in their homes. When they outgrew their homes, they met at the Fountain Inn Rotary Hall. In the fall of 1957, several acres of land were purchased on Harrison Bridge Road between Simpsonville and Fountain Inn. On this land was a small, one-story house. This was our first church building. This building would be known as Rabb Hall. Sometime later, a Sunday-school room, which would double as a social area, was added.

The Harrison Bridge Road location served us well. However, Rabb Hall was becoming too small for our growing congregation. On Sunday, April 29, 1973, the final service was held at this location. The little church and adjacent Sunday school building were moved to the corner of Church and College Streets in Simpsonville, which is our current location. The five acres of property was large enough to accommodate a new building, and on March 16, 1975, the new church was dedicated, and Rabb Hall became our Christian formation building. Adult and youth classes continued to meet there for many years.

Twenty-five years of growth later, Holy Cross was once again bursting at the seams. A larger church was needed. In 2009, our latest and most beautiful church was dedicated and can now accommodate more than 300 people. Our master building plan has given us a church structure that can expand as our numbers increase—a brilliant expandable design. Our 11-acre campus now incorporates our church, a full-service daycare facility (Holy Cross Academy), a large multi-room meeting hall, a picnic shelter pavilion with a feature-rich kitchen and grill, a columbarium, an outdoor labyrinth, our St. Francis Garden, and several acres that give us room to grow.

DSCN2395Our bricks-and-mortar presence in the Golden Strip has expanded, based on our needs and the needs of the community. We are now poised to absorb future congregational growth. Our church programs are diverse, and our congregation finds them to be entertaining and rewarding and needed. Our outreach through programs such as our Pumpkin Patch has provided homes for the needy, shelter to those who seek it, food, clothing, money, school supplies, safety, and faith.

Our spiritual programs are providing a fulfilling place for our parishioners, and we have a history of attracting diverse people. We have been, and continue to be, a spiritual home for businessmen and women, educators, authors, members of the military, local politicians, sports figures, attorneys, doctors, craftsmen, chefs, blue-color and white-color workers, deacons and priests, multinational people, an array of ethnicities, families, single people, and diverse cultures—a host of various backgrounds. All continue to be attracted to our church as a wellspring for seeking God.

Over our nearly 60 years of serving the community, we have had the excellent leadership of several outstanding priests. In 1994, the Rev. Michael Flanagan, a young assistant priest at St. Michael’s and All Angels in Columbia, was called to lead Holy Cross. In his mind and heart, Holy Cross had the instant appeal of potential growth and program development with an opportunity to impact many lives—and that is exactly what has happened. Today, we continue to enjoy Father Mike’s leadership, spirit, and insightful sermons. He has built a marvelous staff that positively impacts the lives of many. In 2006, the Rev. Linda Gosnell was called to join Father Mike as our associate rector. Mother Linda continues to provide us with love, hope, caring, energy, new ideas, and wonderful sermons, too.

Looking back, it is clear that we have been filled with life and with God’s love. We have embraced an array of opportunities, cultivating a rich history and changing lives with God’s help—all while constantly providing hope and love to one another and dedicating ourselves to helping the needy. We have also had our challenges, but together, we will continue giving and growing as we make Christ visible in God’s community.

Just look at what we have become. Then imagine what your future looks like with Holy Cross Episcopal Church as your spiritual home. We want to welcome you home. Please come join us.