Arsenal Hill Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church began life as a “Mission Sabbath School” outreach of the First Presbyterian Church of Columbia the day before Christmas Eve, December 23, 1883. Its first meetings were held in the main building of the State Agricultural Society, at the old Fair Grounds located on Elmwood Avenue where Logan School now stands. The Mission Sabbath School moved to the home of Dr. Thomas Kinkead before the 1884 State Fair.
By February, 1885 they had built a chapel on Richland Street, near Main. In 1886, the Mission Sabbath School became the Second Presbyterian Church, chartered by the Charleston Presbytery.
In 1892, the church bought the present property at the corner of Laurel and Assembly streets and opened Presbyterian High School, “housed in the little room at the rear of the church,” according to church records. The church members opened the high school because there was no public high school in downtown Columbia at that time. They closed it in 1906.
In 1907, the name of the church was changed to Arsenal Hill Presbyterian.
A hundred years after its birth, May 21, 1983, Arsenal Hill left the Presbyterian Church in the United States, and became a member of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
The present congregation numbers fewer than a hundred members, but maintains regular Sunday School, worship, and Bible study sessions.
Especially strong are its Women’s Ministries, meeting regularly for prayer, Bible study, and support for community charities. Over the years, the congregation has sent numerous members into full– time ministry as ordained ministers and both lay and ordained missionaries. At present, four sons of Arsenal Hill Presbyterian are active in the pastoral ministry.
The staff includes an organist/ choir director and a business manager.
The Rev. Michael Lashley serves as bi–vocational pastor, holding a full– time job as a route manager for Valley Springs Water and Coffee Co., Inc. headquartered in Blythe- wood. “ We are seeking additional ways to reach out to this community,” he says. “We welcome visitors, and would like to bring some younger people into our membership. This church has always given support to downtown ministries such as the Oliver Gospel Mission and the Salvation Army.”
The Rev. Lashley is married to April, and together they have four young children: Alexa, John – Gabriel, Rebekah, and Luke. In addition to her duties as mom, April also works with autistic children.