More About Illumine

Our Staff


PAStor | kent reeder

I grew up in the Twin Cities (Minnesota) and when I was in 3rd grade, a guy came to my school and talked to the student body about the idea of going into the ministry. That was when I first thought about it - and it never really changed. To that end, I went to high school at Luther Preparatory School in Wisconsin. While there, I began my pastoral studies and (more importantly) met my wife, Alexandra. We both attended Martin Luther College in Minnesota, where I studied Greek & Hebrew along with theology and history. I received my bachelor's degree in Biblical languages and went on to Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. While studying at the seminary, I served an internship for one year at Beautiful Savior in Summerville, SC. 

I thoroughly enjoy playing guitar and piano. I am figuring out how to play banjo & mandolin. Alex and I enjoy hiking, finding new and interesting restaurants, and learning new things about the Charlotte area. We're very happy to be in South Carolina - and we pray that he will use us in whatever ways he has in mind to bless the people of this beautiful state.



Drew has been serving churches as a Worship Coordinator since he was 16. He has served at Living Word in Waukesha, WI, St. Paul's in New Ulm, MN, and has been serving at Illumine since 2015.

Drew graduated from Martin Luther College in 2011 with a BS in Education with a major in Mathematics. While attending MLC, he met his wife Jill. They have been married since 2012 and recently welcomed their first child, Imogen.


Education coordinator | carrie Gaffney

I grew up in southern Wisconsin and was fortunate to have loving Christian parents who sent me to St. Matthew’s Lutheran School from pre-school through eighth grade. After high school, I graduated from UW-Whitewater with a Bachelors degree in Elementary & Early Childhood Education then went on to earn my masters degree in Educational Technology from Lesley University. I have been teaching elementary school since 2006. By God’s grace, I finally found my church home here in South Carolina at Illumine in 2015 and have been blessed to serve the Lord in many ways since then. I am eager to see how Christ will use me in the upcoming years to help build His kingdom.


Fellowship Coordinator | HEATHER SMITH

Heather wants to live in a world where everyone is powered by coffee, children’s laughter, kindness, and Jesus!!

As the Fellowship Coordinator (and self-proclaimed biggest cheerleader of Illumine) Heather assists in almost everything at Illumine. She is at her happiest when she can help you volunteer your time at Illumine. Whether you want to mow the lawn, serve snacks for Sunday service or be the Christmas Kickoff coordinator, Heather will be happy to help you get started. Heather also is the director of Illumine’s Morning with Mommy program.

When Heather is not at Illumine, you will find her caring for her family in Fort Mill. Heather and her husband enjoy spending time with their two daughters Ellie and McKenzie. Their family moved to the Carolinas in 2011 from WI. One of Heather’s favorite part of the bible is Proverbs 31:10-29.

Our Core Values

SALVATION: Illumine exists to find and serve the unchurched and de-churched. Decisions made at Illumine are based not on those who have been here longest, but on those who are not here yet.

PROGRESS: A disciple grows by engaging with God’s promises in worship, education, and community service. Worship yields rest. Education yields wisdom. Community Service yields purpose. Together, they help a person see life better.

SERVICE: Serve until it hurts. In the hierarchy of God’s kingdom, the more people you serve, the higher you are. In the same way, the higher you are, the more people you serve. 

COMMUNITY: We can do more together than we can alone. To measure the value of a church, measure the strength of the community within it.

RELATIONSHIPS: Fellowship is best when lay-led (not staff-led) and organic. Empowering and equipping people to engage one another in genuine relationships works better than enforcing relationships.

PLANTING: More churches make more disciples. As an organization, we must be organized toward multiplication. (Every time a campus of Illumine reaches 50 member families, it is time to start another campus.)

PERMISSION: We give permission for Christians to do what God has called them to do within our contexts of ministry.

GOSPEL: Nothing saves anyone except for Jesus.

IDEALS: Ideals (not abuses) guide vision, and demographics guide details. Tradition is not unimportant, but by itself it doesn’t add value.

Our Christian Heritage

Illumine Church follows the Bible first and foremost. We find that the teachings of the Bible are correctly represented in the Lutheran Confessions (or here). These documents were prepared in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation. Undeniably, life is not the same today as it was in Germany in the 1500s, but fortunately for all of us, God remains the same forever. The truths of grace and love and redemption and the practical wisdom for life that God has given us through his word are just as real and useful as they were when Christians 500 years ago sat down to summarize them so that God's people could see their God better.

Like the Christians of yesteryear, Illumine works to help people like you see life in light of the truth. What God says works, which means that all people, including the people of Rock Hill, can use what God's given them. Half a millennium from now, it's possible that people will look back on the work Illumine does for help in their knowledge of God. Being a part of history is a uniquely humbling privilege - what part will you play?

This seal was designed for Martin Luther and is probably the most well-known Lutheran logo.

This seal was designed for Martin Luther and is probably the most well-known Lutheran logo.

Our National Church Body

Illumine is one of many congregations associated with an international church body called the WELS. The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) is a cooperating group of congregations headquartered in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Since 1858, the congregations of the WELS have been working together to do, as a whole, what individual congregations cannot. They train pastors, teachers, and other ministerial staff. They send missionaries all over the world - everywhere from Taipei, Taiwan to Rock Hill, SC. They publish excellent theological and practical resources for the church. They do considerable relief work wherever there is need. Illumine is proud to be a member congregation of the WELS. 


Illumine FAQs

Where do I park?

There's a Starbucks right at the intersection of Celanese Road (Hwy. 161) and I-77. The large parking lot adjacent to that Starbucks - and to Illumine - is exactly where every guest at Illumine should park. It makes it easy to get to church and easy to grab a "Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Chocolate Brownie Iced Vanilla Double-Shot Gingerbread Frappuccino Extra Hot With Foam Whipped Cream Upside Down Double Blended, One Sweet'N Low and One Nutrasweet, and Ice." (Which at one point was the longest drink order Starbucks offered.)


What should I wear to worship?

Honestly, this question is much less important than we tend to realize. Wear whatever makes you and those around you comfortable. If you want to dress up for church, by all means, go for it. If you believe it's judgmental and unfair when we force people to dress up for worship, wear something else. 

The bigger issue is this: if you have issues with the way people are dressing at Illumine, come find Pastor Kent Reeder. We'll talk about it, because there's probably something that needs to be addressed. What exactly that is will get figured out when we talk - and at the end of the day, isn't that why we come to church, anyway?


What do you offer for kids?

Serving the whole family is very important to us. As we grow, we're continuing to expand our offerings for kids.

On Sundays, it looks like this:

  • The whole family is invited to the main worship event at 10am.
  • There are activity bags provided for children during the service.
  • There is a cry room available, adjacent to the worship space.
  • There is a special message just for kids during the service.
  • Sunday School for children of all ages takes place after the service, simultaneous to a class for adults and teens.


What kind of church is this?

Sub-question 1: Is this one of those hipper-than-thou contemporary outfits that prides itself in out-relevant-ing everyone else but won't actually talk about Truth, Jesus, Doctrine, or have a standard for interpreting the Bible?

Sub-question 2: Is this one of those holier-than-thou denominational outfits that prides itself in out-correct-ing everyone else but won't actually listen, care for the community, or accept people who think differently?

Answer to all of the above: Obviously, we don't want to be a stereotype. Illumine has standards for interpreting the Bible so we don't just put our desires and whims into it. We belong to a national denomination headquartered in Wisconsin. However, we're not so arrogant that we think the local church is anything more than the sum of the people who participate in it. Every new person brings adjustment, change, and a fresh voice. 

If you're concerned about Illumine because of some previous experience, get in touch and let us know. We'll address your concerns. We're not too big to care for you, but we're big enough to have great things to offer everyone.


How do I become a member of Illumine?

First, love Jesus. Second, love others. Third, show that love by engaging in ministries at Illumine. Hopefully sooner than later, we'll get you enrolled in a class called "Basics" that will introduce you to Illumine's approach to God and the Bible, and once you've completed the course, you're a member (if you want.) 


What's the difference between Lutherans and other Christians?

First of all, not all Lutherans are exactly the same. Some don't sound like Martin Luther at all. 

Martin Luther (the german pastor from the 1500s, not the American champion of racial equality) led a movement that brought a straying church back to the teaching of God in the Bible. This means that Lutherans (who teach like Luther) teach what the Bible teaches.

  • People aren't "basically good." We are basically selfish. While we were originally created to find a fulfilling purpose in relationships with other people and especially with God himself, in our flawed way of approaching life we think our greatest purpose is to please ourselves.
  • To fix this, and to make it so every life that has ever been lived isn't a complete disappointment, God became a human (Jesus Christ) and lived correctly. He had perfect relationships with everyone around him and with God. 
  • He then GAVE, for free, his perfect life to all people, replacing their disappointingness. We don't deserve this. We don't earn it by being good. It's just there for us to believe in.
  • The great news in the point above is communicated to us, clearly, in the Bible. God delivers that love to us through the Bible and through baptism and communion.
  • Since Jesus' life took away our old and disappointing state-of-being, we have a new and full-of-potential state-of-being in which we can actually have the relationships we were meant to have, fulfilling our original purpose.
  • It's crucial to understand this. We aren't perfect yet, so we study the Bible and hold each other to a high standard. This encourages us to understand what God has done for humanity as completely as possible. 


How do I contact Illumine for event rentals?

It's easy! Just email or call (803)810-9398.