The following are brief profiles on some of the historic churches in and around the town of Summerton, South Carolina:
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 church building was designed and built in 1903.
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.
Andrews Chapel - About 5 miles from nearby Summerton, this small church was organized by Mrs. L. S. Andrews in the late 1790's. 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. Outstanding in the church history was the dedicated ministry of South Carolina's first female Methodist Minister, Mrs. Bessie Parker.
Calvary Baptist Church - About 6 miles from nearby Summerton, this old church may date back as early as 1768, but it has also been reported that it was organized by High Hills Baptist Church some time after 1782. Records show that it was constituted as a church and admitted to the Charleston Association around 1810. The first church building was burned and replaced by the present structure, which resemble the architectural style of the High Hills Church. 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.
St. Mary Catholic Church - 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 a rectory was built on the property behind the church. In 1993 the house next door was purchased and renovated as a recreational center with classrooms. It is the only Catholic Church in Clarendon county and provides Mass for travelers.
Summerton United Methodist Church (UMC) - The church was first officially organized in 1869 as the Summerton Methodist Episcopal Church. The congregation met in the original frame church building until it burned down in 1910. The new brick church building was built in 1910. For more detail, see S.C. Church Archives and an article on the Summerton UMC 100th Anniversary Celebration.
St. Matthias Episcopal Church - A meeting in the yard of The Presbyterian Church, marked the beginning of the establishment of St. Matthias in 1889. 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 officially consecrated by Bishop Capers. The rectory adjoining the church was built in 1903. In 1910, the church was remodeled and rebuilt on concrete blocks and stained glass windows were added. A valuable Felgenmaker organ was installed in 1917. The organ was purchased from the Washington Street Methodist Church and has the date of February 23, 1870, on the bellows. It is one of only two remaining Felgenmaker organs - both of which are in Episcopal churches in SC. A bronze tablet, given by members of the congregation and bearing names of the church's founders, was dedicated on September 9, 1956, by Rev. Richard Patton. Visit the church on N. Duke Street in the heart of Summerton.
Summerton Presbyterian Church - Prior to 1860, the Presbyterians of Summerton worshiped together in the Methodist Church building, loaned to them for that 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 to the church by Mr. James E. Davis. This house of worship was dedicated on June 20, 1875. A new church building was subsequently built and dedicated in 1884. It was later sold in 1905. The present church building was dedicated on October 21, 1907.
Presbyterian Church Manse - Located on Cantey Street in Summerton, the manse 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.
Summerton Baptist Church -The church was first organized in 1859 and met under brush arbor until a rectangular frame structure was built in 1860 on land donated by James H. Tindal in an area called “Taw Caw”. The first pastor of the church was D.W. Cuttino, who served in that capacity from 1859-1870. In 1886, the Taw Caw church building was sold to the black members of the church community for $40. In 1887, the Summerton Baptist Church moved into its new frame structure church building in Summerton. In 1909, the church burned down and all church records were lost. The congregation built a new brick church building in 1910. The building was of gothic design with two steeples and was built to hold 400 people. For more detail, see S.C. Church Archives.
Taw Caw Missionary Baptist Church - The original Taw Caw Baptist Church was organized and founded in 1858 as an offshoot of Calvary Baptist Church. The frame church building was built on land donated by a local planter, James H. Tindal. In 1885, the black congregation of the church bought the building and lot from the Summerton Baptist Church which planned to move into a new church building several miles away in the town of Summerton. Today, the Taw Caw Missionary Baptist church serves a large congregation in Summerton and the surrounding area.
* See list of other Churches in Summerton, S.C.
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