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 | By Theresa Stratford

Transfiguration Church Celebrates its Silver Jubilee

Located in the exact middle of South Carolina, Blythewood is literally the heart of the state. As a suburb of Columbia and the convenient location for Route 21 intersecting with Interstate 77 to Charlotte, Blythewood enjoys the essence of a small town with a population of about 4,700.

But, as most areas in the Palmetto State are seeing, there is plenty of growth happening here, which is exactly the reason why Transfiguration Church was founded here 25 years ago.

It was in 1998 that a group of parishioners in Blythewood who were attending church at St. John Neumann in Columbia decided that it was time for them to have their own parish, since the population of Blythewood was beginning to increase with more people moving north of Columbia.

Blythewood was and continues to be unique. The parish sees Catholic families from Fort Jackson for regular service and young families who are moving to the area. And then of course, they have their regulars — many of whom have been there since the beginning. They can’t help but notice how the church and town have simultaneously changed and grown together.

For example, with 400 families now active members of the parish, the church has been through a couple of expansions, the most recent of which was three years ago.

Msgr. James LeBlanc, Transfiguration’s pastor for six years now, said they plan to expand even further, doubling the amount of people they can allow in the nave to 600. As they continue to look further into the future, even 50 years down the road, they can expand to 1,000 people because of the large property on which the parish sits. That is, if Blythewood continues to see population growth. Of particular interest is the new $2 billion electric-truck plant that chose Blythewood Industrial Park as its home. Scout Motors will soon employ 4,000 people in the midlands and is set to roll out its first car in 2026. At full capacity, the plant will produce about 200,000 vehicles annually.

All this growth will also bring changes to the infrastructure of Blythewood, and Msgr. LeBlanc said he knows a new church will one day be inevitable. When they do build a new parish, which could be many years down the road, they can utilize the current sanctuary for classrooms and program space.

For now, Transfiguration remains a close-knit community, much like the town of Blythewood. The pastor explained that he loves how every member of the parish pitches in for events, especially how they planned Transfiguration’s 25th anniversary party, which was held Oct. 1.

Everything for the party was done in-house, except for the band they hired.

Deacon John Tempesco has been with the parish from the very beginning and is one of the founding members. He was ordained a deacon in 2016, and a big reason why was because of his love for the Transfiguration Church.

He explained that he first moved to the area in 1995 and was attending St. John Neumann Church. Although Blythewood back then consisted mostly of farmland, Deacon Tempesco said that he and a group of others got together to form a parish.

“Originally we met at a school in Blythewood and then at a Lutheran Church. We later got together at the chapel at the then Providence Hospital. It was me and a few other parishioners who were instrumental in identifying the land for the church to be situated on,” he said. 

The current sanctuary was built in 2004.

With full support from the Diocese of Charleston, they were able to secure a full-time priest back then. Father R. Inna Reddy was the first priest from 1998 to 2001.

Other priests who have served Transfiguration were Father A. Joseph Rayappan from 2001-2005; the late Father James Orumpakatt from 2005-2008; Father Bernardino Yebra from 2008-2011; Father Andrew Trapp from 2011-2017; and of course Msgr. LeBlanc from 2017 to present.

Deacon Tempesco conveyed that he wanted the church to have the feel of a place where “everybody knows your name.”

“I wanted that welcoming feel,” he added. “And I think that is the character of this parish even now. I used to notice this of military communities and that is what I wanted for Transfiguration.”

He explained that there is a certain contagious vibrancy to the parish.

“Everyone is involved. Everyone comes to the Knights of Columbus socials and to the events. And everyone volunteers to help out, too,” he said.

Even as the town of Blythewood grows, Msgr. LeBlanc recognizes that it isn’t just about the number of families joining the church or the expansion of space, it’s about helping all these new members grow in their love of Christ.

In the end, that is what Transfiguration is all about.

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Theresa Stratford is a freelance writer for The Miscellany. She lives in Charleston with her husband and three children and attends the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Email her at