In the early 1960s, a Chinese Christian Bible Study Group was formed by several seminarians together with Professor Chu. The seminarians were studying at Columbia Bible College and Seminary, now known as Columbia International University. Professor Chu was teaching at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina. In the early sixties, the majority of the Chinese at Columbia were students or professionals from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. In the late sixties, the size of the Bible Study Group increased to such an extent that there was a growing need for the formation of a church. Therefore the Chinese Christian Church of Columbia (C4) was formally established in 1982. Chung-Kwong Yau, a graduate of Columbia Bible Seminary, was invited to be the first pastor of the church. The congregation was about twenty-five to thirty in size and composed of mostly Chinese families and students and a few non-Chinese American families. The church was established as an independent evangelical church, with a bilingual worship service, meeting at First Baptist Church of Columbia, who graciously let us use several classrooms for about six years.
With a vision to have our own property, the current location on Klapman Road in West Columbia was purchased in 1988 and the residence converted to a church building. The dedication service was held on Thanksgiving of the same year. Initially, the Sunday worship was held in what is presently the library with a capacity of about thirty. The next year, the carport was enclosed and renovated to become the new sanctuary with a capacity of about forty. Reverend Chung-Kwong Yau served as pastor of C4 for nine years from 1982 to 1991.
- Brother Ton Li serves as interim pastor from 1991 to 1993 while studying at Columbia Bible College and Seminary. Upon graduation, Brother Ton Li moved to California to take a pastoral position.
- The “carport” sanctuary was expanded again to its present size to meet the needs of the increasing congregation.
- The Youth ministry begins in 1990 by Nate Lam and Jeremy Hsu.
- The University of South Carolina student ministry steadily grows.
- C4 begins to assist the Chinese ministry in Charleston, SC beginning Regional Ministry.
Growing Pains and Firsts
- Pastor Joseph Chun begins serving as the second pastor of C4 in the fall of 1993.
- The first C4 Annual Mission Conference is held in the fall of 1995.
- C4 Regional Ministry expands to assist the Chinese ministry in Florence.
- By the mid-90s, the C4 congregation exceeded seventy.
- Family fellowship ministry begins in 1998 as more families are attending C4. By the year 2000, the church fellowship groups grow to five or six including the family fellowship, sisters’ fellowship, youth group, and USC student fellowship.
- The first short-term mission team from C4 goes to Ensenada, Mexico in the summer of 2000 consisting of youth group leaders and members.
- By the year 2000, the congregation grows to about a hundred.
- Pastor Joseph Chun resigns in 2001 to take a pastoral position in California
- Ken Phillips, a CIU professor is invited to serve as an interim pastor and eventually becomes C4’s first part-time English pastor, and the English worship service is started.
- C4 purchases the 1.4 acres vacant lot across the street for future church expansion.
- In 2002, the education building is constructed and is dedicated at Thanksgiving.
Enlarging the Tent
- Reverend Kuong-Sii Wong, missionary to Niger, begins service as C4’s Chinese pastor in August 2002.
- In 2004, Augusta is added to the C4 Regional Ministry.
- In 2005, Dr. Phillips moves to Minnesota for another ministry, and Paul Brown, a CIU student serves as interim English Minister.
- C4 celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2007 with special Thanksgiving festivities.
- Assistant Pastor Kirt Thallman becomes the first full-time English pastor in April 2008.
- Tricia Bailey serves as C4’s first part-time Children Ministry Coordinator in July of 2008.
- Carolina Regional Conference (CRC)
- The first South Carolina Regional Conference is held at Bonnie Doone Plantation, Walterboro, SC in April of 2005. Participating churches include the regional ministries of Augusta, Charleston, and Florence.
- The following year, 2006, the conference is held at White Oak Conference Center, White Oak, SC.
- In 2007, C4, in partnership with the Chinese church meeting at Carmel Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC, organize the conference and rename the event Carolina Regional Conference (CRC).
- In 2008, CRC becomes a regular Memorial Day Weekend event. Participating Chinese churches grow to about a dozen with churches from NC, SC, GA, TN, and VA.
- Because of the growth, CRC moves to meet at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC in 2017.
- Assistant English Pastor Kirt Thallman takes a ministry position in Philadelphia in June of 2011, and Pastor Tom Siwicki joins C4 in August as the English pastor.
- In 2012, C4 initiates a ministry to Chinese boarding students studying at the Ben Lippen High School.
- CRC initiates a Sports Day event at Carmel Baptist Church in 2012 as a pre-evangelistic effort. It is a highly successful, but short-lived event as other sporting events began to emerge.
- C4 celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.
- C4 completes and dedicates the new sanctuary building in August of 2014.
- Pastor Wong resigns from C4 to return to mission work in 2014.
- After a year as interim Chinese Pastor, Dr. Kunming Su becomes the full-time Chinese Pastor in January 2016.
- The first elder of C4, Dan Lam, is installed in 2019.
- Nick Liu becomes the first youth ministry director on stall at C4 in 2020.
- The second elder of C4, Chuck Kwok, is installed in 2021
Struggling Through the Pandemic
Just as for everyone else, the Covid-19 Pandemic has been a difficult time for C4. We thank the Lord that although we stopped meeting in person in March of 2020, we have not stopped meeting together online. While it has been difficult to find opportunities to meet together in genuine fellowship, the Lord has allowed C4 to continue to function as a church while continuing to support missionaries, support the community, and still maintain operating expenses.
As the number of vaccinations is increasing and the number of Covid-19 cases is decreasing, we have begun to meet in person for worship and fellowship since February of 2021. We continue to have hybrid worship services for those who are not comfortable meeting in person. However, we hope that soon, we can all be fully engaged as we were before.