Religion News: St. James Baptist Church to receive historical marker

May 21, 2011 

St. James Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island will receive a historic marker during a dedication service at 3 p.m. Sunday.


  • Items for Harley's column should be sent at least two weeks in advance of event via fax to 843-706-3070 or e-mail to

St. James Baptist Church -- once a beacon for newly freed slaves -- will receive a historic marker during a dedication service Sunday on Hilton Head Island.

The church, founded in 1866, is the only standing institution representing Mitchelville, a community formed for formerly enslaved people, said Deacon Perry White. It's the second church built in Mitchelville, after First African Baptist Church.

A few years before the Civil War ended in 1865, freed slaves in Mitchelville began organizing communities and churches. St. James is the oldest continuously operating cultural institution remaining within historic Mitchelville. St. James Baptist Church was the center of the community for the newly freed slaves.

"It was a focal point that kept the spirit, the hopes and the drive of the people who were there," said the Rev. Charles Hamilton Sr., pastor of St. James for 11 years.

The marker has been approved by the S.C. Department of Archives and History in collaboration with the S.C. African American Heritage Commission. The dedication ceremony and unveiling is at 3 p.m. Sunday on the church grounds at Beach City and Dillon roads.

The marker represents the journey of the church family and its significance to the Mitchelville community, Hamilton said.

"One of the very first things they did when they settled was to build a church to praise God for the blessings bestowed upon them," Hamilton said.

Emory Campbell, president of the Gullah Geechee Coalition, said churches were an organizing force after the Civil War.

"They were the center of the communities, everything went on from the church," Campbell said. "They were the moral compass of the neighborhoods."

White said the church has special significance to its congregants.

"It represents that history and that time and it ties us back to our ancestors, our spiritual place of worship, and to us it is sacred," White said.

Details: 843-681-4308


The church is accepting donations for flood victims. Items of need include diapers, sanitary wipes, canned goods and dry goods. Monetary donations may be made by check payable to Central Oak Grove Missionary Relief Fund. To schedule a drop off, call Carolyn Campbell, 843-681-6018, 843-422-1225. The church is at 161 Mathews Drive, Hilton Head Island.


The "Tag It and Bag It" yard sale is from 8-11 a.m. today at the church, 600 Charles St. in Beaufort. The sale is sponsored by Touching All Generations, a part of the women's ministry. Proceeds will be used to fund TAG's September event, "Journey to Significance."

Details: 843-524-0792


District Three of the Old Ashley Baptist Association will have its monthly meeting at 9 a.m. today at St. Paul Baptist Church, 22 St. Paul Baptist Church Road in Burton.

Details: the Rev. Joseph McKnight, 843-252-7855; the Rev. Joe Simmons, 843-812-6927


Pastor F.L. Wright and the Youth Ministry will begin the annual Family, Friends and Community Day with a Unity Walk at 7 a.m. today. The church is at 32 Mount Zion Road, Blackville.

Details: the Rev. Freddie Wright, 803-284-2815


The Rev. Dr. Jerry Kramer will deliver his farewell sermon at 10 a.m. Sunday. After almost 45 years of pastoral experience, Kramer is retiring from active ministry. He has been the pastor at Lowcountry Presbyterian for eight years. A reception honoring the Kramers is planned immediately after the service in Fellowship Hall. The church is at 10 Simmonsville Road, Bluffton.

Details: 843-815-6570


The JAM Band Singers will perform at the 9, 10 and 11 a.m. services Sunday. These middle school students attend Providence's Jesus and Me program Wednesday afternoons. The church is at 171 Cordillo Parkway, Hilton Head Island.

Details 843-842-5673


The Men of Valor Men's Ministry will host its third "100 Men In Black" event at 4 p.m. Sunday. The theme is "Project Humanity ... Men of God Bettering Themselves, Their Families, the Church, the Community." Speakers from other ministries may participate.

Details: Elder William Mitchell, 843-694-7546; the Rev. Linda Moultrie, 843-846-6017


The annual Friends and Family Celebration will be at 11 a.m. Sunday. The theme is "The Family that Prays Together Stays Together." Mount Seal Missionary Church and the Rev. Winston Burgess of Lake City will be guests. The church is at 110 Olde Church Road, St. Helena Island.

Details: 843-838-2910


Youth group adviser Rea Colella and teens have put together a youth-led service called "You Might Be A UU If" for the 10 a.m. service Sunday. The church is at 110 Malphrus Road, Bluffton.

Details: 843-837-3330


The church will hold its Spring Revival at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday. The revivalist is the Rev. Sam Spain of Lady's Island Baptist Church, Beaufort. Participating churches are: Wednesday, First African Baptist Church; Thursday, Central Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church; and Friday, Queen Chapel A.M.E. Church. The church is at 209 Dillon Road, Hilton Head Island.

Details: 843-681-6446


The Women's Revival is Thursday and Friday. The theme is "Housekeeping 101" based on Psalm 51: 1-17. The Rev. Penni Sweetenburg-Lee will speak at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday. A revival choir will sing nightly. The church is at 367 Keans Neck Road, Seabrook.

Details: Carolyn Brown, 843-379-1014, 843-846-4742


A healing and restoration service will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Pastor Randy Roberts of Love House Ministries will speak. The church is at 150 Johnson Road, Sheldon.

Details: Patricia Middleton, 843-252-5530; Lenora Singleton, 843-379-0270


A dinner fundraiser will be from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and May 28 at the church's fellowship hall at 1708 Old Shell Road, Port Royal. The menu will include chicken, fish and rib dinners served with sides and dessert. Chicken dinners are $8 and rib or fish dinners are $10. Wing (fried or hot) and fish baskets served with french fries and roll or bread also will be offered. Wing baskets are $5 and fish baskets are $6. Money raised goes to the church's building fund.

Details: 843-524-8589


Angel Food distribution is from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. today at St. John's Lutheran Church, 157 Lady's Island Drive, Beaufort.

Distribution times have changed because of rerouting of trucks. Life House Church in Beaufort is also a host site (843-379-9673). Lion and The Lamb Ministries in Hardeeville is a host site south of the Broad River (843-540-2207). Online orders may be placed at


The church will host the Jake and Ida Martin Scholarship Golf Tournament on May 28 at Eagle's Pointe Golf Course in Bluffton. Tee time is 1 p.m. Registration is open for all levels. A tournament awards cookout will follow at the church, 26 Boundary St., Bluffton. Sponsorship and advertisement opportunities are available. Proceeds support the church scholarship program.

Details: Lamar Burt, 843-705-3883; Claryce Allen, 843-706-3745; Mike Miranda,

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