The photographs and text in this gallery come from the 2014 book Historic United Methodist Churches and Places in South Carolina, by James A. Neal. The archives and the author have hoped for years to find a way to share these photographs more widely.
Introduction to the text
At the 2007 South Carolina United Methodist Annual Conference, Rev. Gene Curry suggested that I do a project on historic United Methodist churches and places in South Carolina. Gene knew my passion for anything connected with South Carolina history, but at that time, I was heavily involved with a project related to the American Revolution, so I put his suggestion on hold.
But the idea would not go away. South Carolina has more than 1,000 United Methodist churches. Which churches and places should be included in a project of this nature? What makes a church or place historic? These became key questions as I thought about ways to approach the project. After much consideration, I decided to include those historic churches and places that are currently United Methodist and included on one or more of the following: the United Methodist list of historic sites; the National Register of Historic Places; or the South Carolina Highway Historical Marker Guide, a publication of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.
Using these guidelines, I have included a total of 108 churches and places in my collection of historic sites in South Carolina. To assist the reader, I have listed all sites by county. For those on the National Register of Historic Places or in the South Carolina Highway Historical Marker Guide, I have in most cases used their narrative without edits to describe the specific sites. If a particular church had a web site that included a history section, or if I was able to obtain a written history, I have used their story instead of writing my own. In all cases, I have tried to include simple directions to each site, as well as a current photograph. But, because I am at best only an amateur photographer, I found this to be my greatest challenge.
Winston Churchill said it well: “We shape our buildings; thereafter, our buildings shape us.” I hope you enjoy seeing the buildings and places that have “shaped” Methodists over the years. Missing are the faces of those people whose faith and commitment to serve God led them to envision a church or a college where none had been before. Their legacy lives on in these buildings. In addition, their legacy lives in the thousands of persons throughout South Carolina who are called Methodist. Bishop Will Willimon, in his book Why I Am A United Methodist, writes about those things that made him who he is, saying that “…it is mainly because someone else told me the story, lived the gospel before me in places like McBee Chapel and Buncombe Street Church in ways that made me know that this was my story, my name, my salvation.” (1990)
James A. Neal
July 15, 2014