Historic Churches

Andrews Chapel

Mrs. L.S. Andrews organized this little Methodist church in 1796. In 1848, Mrs. Moses Livingston helped erect a building on a plot of land that was later deeded to the church by Ellis R. and Mary A. Richbourg (1880). The Rev. L.L. Bedenbough was the first pastor. The present structure was erected after the original building was destroyed by fire in 1912. Bessie B. Parker, the first woman to be ordained a Methodist minister in S.C., served here 1959-1962 and is buried in the cemetery.

Bethlehem Methodist Church

Founded in 1879 by families who were former members of either Zoar Methodist Church or Gessemine Methodist Church. Gessemine Methodist Church, located halfway between Davis Station and Jordan, was closed in 1878 when most of its members joined Jordan Methodist Church, which was newly built. The charter members were Graham, Richbourg, Brunson, Clark, Shorter and Stukes. These first members obtained the old Gessemine Church Building. They dismantled it and moved it to the present site of Bethlehem. Miss Rebecca F. Shorter donated the 1 ½ ac. of land for the church site. Due to an increase membership, the present sanctuary was erected and dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1896. At this time, additional land was donated to the church by Miss Rebecca Shorter. Since 1906, the church has been on the Jordan circuit. It is well kept and many improvements have been made to the building over the past years.

Brewington Presbyterian Church

Brewington Presbyterian Church was organized in 1812 with 5 charter members. The land for the sanctuary was given by James Evans. The present building replaced the first small building. Closed in 1951, it now serves the community for homecomings, weddings and funerals. Each October descendants of the first settlers meet on this historic spot for a church service and lunch on the grounds.

Calvary Baptist Church

Tradition has it that this old church dates back to 1768, but it has been reported that it was organized by High Hill Baptist Church some time after 1782. Existing records show that it was constituted as a church and admitted to the Charleston Association around 1810. The church is located on Hungary Hall Branch on a 6 ½ acre plot. The first building was burned and it was replaced by the present structure, which resembles the architectural style of the High Hills Church. The doors of this historic church are open each Sunday for worship services, which are attended by a number of descendants of the original members. The first pastor mentioned in the records is the Rev. W. H. Mahoney who served there for 65 years and is buried in the cemetery there.

The First Methodist Parsonage in Manning

Located on the corner of Maple and Rhame Streets in Manning. The parsonage was invaded by Gen. Potter’s occupying forces when they sacked and burned Manning’s business district on April 9, 1865. In later years it was the part-time residence of Julia Mood Peterkin, 1928 Pulitzer prize winning novelist. A bronze plaque marks this building, once facing Brooks St., as the First Methodist parsonage in Manning. It served as such from 1865 – 1897 and was then sold by the church. It was acquired by the county school board and made into administrative offices. It now houses the Forestry Commission.

Horse Branch Original Free Will Baptist Church

In 1859, the 12 charter members first held services in a humble building constructed of logs in Turbeville, S.C. The pews were made of split logs which rested on peg legs. Wild horses used the nearby branch as a watering hole, thus the name Horse Branch. The building, erected during the lake 1800’s, is presently used as the Fellowship Hall. A new church building was erected in 1983 which Talmadge Brown was pastor. Several members have become ministers.

Midway Presbyterian Church

Named because its located midway between Williamsburg Church of Kingstree and Brick Church of Sumter District. In 1802 William McIntosh and Samuel Flemming were commissioned to build the church. This building was completed in two months at a cost of $800. Every board of this original building was hand-hewn on the grounds and put together with pegs. The church was officially organized in the year 1804. The Rev. G. G. McWorter was called to be the first pastor. In 1809, the Rev. John Cousar became the next pastor of Midway and Brewington Presbyterian Churches and served until 1831. In 1939, the Highway Dept. had to move the church back 100 feet from the road. At this time it was remodeled with the addition of a large basement, front porch and steeple. Stained glass windows were added in 1967. The historic gallery is where many slaves were taught the gospel. There are over 200 graves and 5 generations of descendants of the original settlers in this cemetery.

Manning Presbyterian Church

The Manning Presbyterian Church came into being in 1857 when Harmony Presbyterian Church (1855) and Clarendon Presbyterian Church united and moved into the town of Manning. The Rev. James McDowell, the first pastor, preached he dedication sermon in September, 1859. The present sanctuary on Brooks Street., built in 1904, presents an aesthetically pleasing imitation of early Gothic style architecture. The brick structure has two cross-topped spires and three pointed arches across the front, which lend a touch of antiquity to the appearance. A moeller pipe organ was installed around 1920 and completely reworked in 1993. The richly colored, stained glass windows together with their pointed arches accentuate the cathedral ceiling.

New Harmony Presbyterian Church

Organized on Nov. 22, 1879, on land given by John C. DuRant. It is located on New Harmony Road between Wilson Road and McElveen Road. It was so named because of its proximity to the site of Harmony Church of former days. It drew members from Concord, Salem, Black River, Brewington, Manning and Midway Presbyterian Churches. A list of twenty-five charter members include the following: DuRant, Bateman, Ingram, Plowden, White and Witherspoon. Although New Harmony remains a relatively small rural church, it is well cared for and continues today as a faithful witness.

Oak Grove Church

According to Dr. James M. Burgess, in his “Chronicles of St. Mark’s Parish”, Oak Grove was one of the appointments of the Santee Circuit before 1838. It is one of the oldest Methodist churches in the area. A recorded deed shows that Henry B. Holladay gave 5 acres of land for the church. Its cemetery is well kept and is still used. The wooded area west of the church and graveyard was used first as a burial ground for slaves. Later, when Clarendon county had a “poor house”, it was used as a burial ground for indigent and aged persons. Their wooden markers have long since decayed. Still standing on the church grounds is the little one-room schoolhouse, Oak Grove School. Both buildings have withstood assaults by both man and nature and hold in their wooden fibers many secrets – both time capsules and monuments to a simpler time. Oak Grove Church has been extensively repaired in recent years and still stands as a monument to the faith of out fathers.

St. Mary Catholic Church

Lebanese men came to small communities such as Summerton to peddle goods brought from Charleston in the late 1800’s. The Shaleulys, Josephs and the Nimmers came to live in Summerton, and for several years their families met in their homes for Catholic Mass. In 1913, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston purchased the property where the church was to be located. The Lebanese people from Georgetown, Camden, Kingstree and Greeleyville, along with the Catholic Extension Society, helped the Catholics in Summerton. In 1914, the church was completed and dedicated. Over time, the columned front porch was enclosed to form the vestibule, a stained glass window was added, the sacristy was enlarged and handmade cooper light fixtures were hung. On January 6, 1952, the renovations were completed and the church was rededicated. Father Anthony Beleski had a rectory built on the property behind the church. In 1993 the house next door was purchased and renovated as the recreational center with classrooms. It is the only Catholic Church in Clarendon county and provides Mass for travelers.

St. Matthias Episcopal Church

In 1899, after church service, a meeting in the yard of the Presbyterian Church. It marked the beginning of establishment of St. Matthias Episcopal Church. The land to build the church and rectory was given by Mrs. R.H. Belser. The church was built and paid for through donations and accumulated funds. On St. Mathias Day, February 24, 1899, the church was consecrated by Bishop Capers. The rectory adjoining the church was built in 1903 at a cost of $1223.38. In 1910 the church was remodeled and rebuilt on concrete blocks, stained glass windows were added. A valuable Felgenmaker organ was installed in 1917. It is one of only 2 remaining Felgenmaker organs – both of which are in Episcopal churches in South Carolina. A bronze tablet, given by members of the congregation bear the names of the church’s prominent founders.

Summerton United Methodist Church (UMC)

In February 1848, Hartwell Spain donated several acres of land for a Methodist Episcopal Church to be built in Summerton. Records indicate the first church building was constructed and in use by 1861. The congregation met in the original frame church building until it burned down in 1910. A new brick church building was built in 1910 that is still in use today. For more detail, see S.C. Church Archives and an article on the Summerton UMC 100th Anniversary Celebration.

Visit the COSI 'Open' Religious Technology & Tools web site.

St. Marks Parish Episcopal Church

St. Marks Parish was created out of the northwest portion of Prince Frederich’s Parish on May 21, 1757. The Colonial Assembly appropriated 700 pounds to build a church. The church was built of brick and stone on Half Way Swamp near the Santee River Road. The original church was burned in the spring of 1781 by British Colonel Tarleton to intimidate the American settlers in the area. The current church was built in 1856 in the heart of the Sand Hills. The original commissioners were: Richard Richardson, Joseph Cantey, Matthew Nelson, Issac Brunson, James McGrit, William Cantey, and John Cantey.

The three main religious groups in Colonial South Carolina were the Church of England, the Protestant French Huguenots, and several groups of other Protestant Dissenters from the Church of England referred to as the Non-Conformists, e.g. Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists. - Reference.Com

Summerton Presbyterian Church & Manse

On June 15, 1975, the Summerton Presbyterian Church celebrated its centennial. Before 1860, the Presbyterians of Summerton worshiped together in the Methodist Church, loaned to them for the purpose. The Civil Way and the resultant financial depression made it impossible to build a church, but Misses Abbie and Eliza Dukes, who had moved to Summerton from Charleston donated a large carriage house which was then moved to a lot also donated by Mr. James E. Davis. It became a plain but comfortable house of worship and was dedicated on June 20, 1875. A list of the twenty-one charter members carries the names of Briggs, Caldwell, Burgess, Dukes, Carson, Rutledge, Ingram, Richardson, Rowe and Pack. On June 22, 1884, a new church building was dedicated. It was later sold in 1905. The present church building was dedicated on October 21, 1907. The church and the manse have recently been renovated.

The Presbyterian Manse located on Cantey Street in Summerton is the oldest house in the city limits of Summerton. Approximately a century ago, it was the property of Mary Long Ragin, who conducted a school there for young children. Originally, a two-story dwelling it is now a one-story house with a large attic and a full basement.

Historic Black Churches

Liberty Hill African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church

In 1867, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln, Thomas and Margaret Briggs gave four acres of land to Liberty Hill African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church. The present edifice was designed and built by Peter De Laine circa 1903 under the pastorate of his brother, Rev. H.C. De Laine.

At a meeting in the Liberty Hill church in 1950, parents signed a petition demanding integrated schools. Meetings were held at the church for the selection of petitioners in the complaint that would become Briggs vs. Elliott. The case eventually became part of Brown v. Topeka Board of Education - the 1954 landmark case that struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine concerning the segregation of schools in the U.S.

Rev. De Laine was the principal of Scotts Branch school, (Liberty Hill colored school). The Reverend De Laine and his family suffered dearly. Both his home and his church were burned to the ground. He was harassed with death threats and finally run out of town. He finally relocated in upstate New York.

Mt. Zion A.M.E Church

The church was first organized around 1865. A permanent sanctuary was built soon afterwards. Rev. Daniel Humphries, its first pastor, served both Mt. Zion, and its sister church St. James, from 1865-1879. The original sanctuary was torn down in 1918 and the present sanctuary was built that year with lumber from the old sanctuary.

St. James A.M.E. Church

The church was first organized by slaves in 1864, during the last year of the war between the states. Daniel Humphries served as pastor from 1865-1869, They initially met under a brush arbor. In 1870, church meetings were held in a nearby, old house. Rev. Sam Cantey was pastor from 1870-74. With the help of some of the white families of the neighborhood, a lot was bought and a frame building was subsequently erected. It was torn down 1913 and the materials used to help in putting up a larger building. A 4 acre cemetery is the joint property with Mount Zion.

St. Mark A.M.E. Church

In the 1880's, members from Liberty Hill AME church found it too far to go, so 65 of them withdrew and organized St. Marks AME church with Rev. J.P. Wilson as pastor. A small frame church was initially erected 1885. The present church was completed and dedicated 1915.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

The church was founded around 1869 by Mary Scott “Aunt Mary” Harvin, and held its first services outside. In 1881 church trustees purchased a one-half acre lot from Dr. J.G. Dinkins for $35.00. The present church was built in 1901, then “enlarged and beautified on a very modern style” when two towers, a gallery, and anterooms were added in 1912. This was one of several churches in Clarendon County to host meetings between 1949 and 1954 on the desegregation of public schools. On April 20, 1949, plaintiffs in the suit that became Briggs v. Elliott met here. That case was later part of the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954). By late 2009 Rev. George P. Windley, Sr. had become Ebenezer´s longest-tenured pastor, serving more than 30 years.

Taw Caw Baptist Church

The Taw Caw Baptist Church was organized and founded in 1858 as an offshoot of Calvary Baptist Church. The Honorable James H. Tindal donated the church lot. Due to war conditions, the pulpit, seats, and flooring became a sacrificial effort and in the Spring of 1860 the work was suspended. Wheeler’s men occupied the church building for several weeks during the War Between the States. Due to bad weather, the soldiers attempted to put sand on the floor to build a fire. The efforts were quite harmful. Following the war, their bankrupt conditions prevented the necessary repairs, so in 1885 this black Baptist church bought the building and lot for $400 from the white Taw Caw church, now Summerton Baptist Church. The church serves a large congregation in the Summerton and surrounding area. Building additions have been made over the years.

Trinity A.M.E. Church

The church was founded soon after the Civil War by 50 freedmen and women who held their first services in a stable donated to them by S.A. Rigby. In 1869 the church trustees bought a half-acre lot for a school, and in 1870 they bought a one-acre lot for “the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Manning” on what is now Rigby Street.

The congregation was renamed Trinity A.M.E. Church when its first building was completed in 1874. That building was replaced by a larger frame church, which burned in 1895. The present church, also a frame building, was built that year and covered in brick veneer in 1914. The Central South Carolina Conference of the A.M.E. Church was organized here in 1921.

* Learn about other historic black churches in Clarendon county at http://emilyevaughn.com/clarendonhistories.htm

* Read more about the history of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church.

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