St. Helena congregation celebrates tricentennial by documenting its history

abredeson@islandpacket.comDecember 22, 2012 

  • St. Helena Island resident Barbara Payne is the editor of a new book called "Amazing Grace: Three Hundred Year History of the Parish Church of St. Helena, 1712-2012." Cost is $40 for the regular edition and $60 for a special edition. Books can be purchased at the church. Proceeds will go to the church. Details: 843-522-1712

Barbara Payne enjoys writing and is fascinated with history, especially local history. So when a woman named Mary Pinckney Powell challenged the docents of The Parish Church of St. Helena to compile an updated version of the history of the church, Payne was happy to get involved.

Payne said "The 1990 History Book" was written in the 1980s and published in 1990. But she said the church had grown by leaps and bounds between 1990 and the early part of the new century. Church attendance grew exponentially with the arrival of rector the Rev. Frank Limehouse. Then he was replaced by the current rector, the Rev. Jeffrey Miller.

The music program has grown, and the mission and outreach program has expanded.

"I just kept it in the back of my mind," Payne said. "And eventually, as I saw our 300th anniversary looming, I knew it would take a few years to write a book like this, so I spoke to our rector and said I'd like to do it."

Over the past three years, Payne led a group of six parishioners in putting together "Amazing Grace: Three Hundred Year History of the Parish Church of St. Helena, 1712-2012." The book is available for purchase at the church.

"This was a real frontier parish when it was established in 1712," Payne said. "Life was not easy at that time. The parish as a whole from that time until now has really lived through numbers of things."

Payne said the 271-page book covers everything from the Yemassee Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and II to hurricanes, an earthquake and the Great Depression.

"(The parish) survived all of that, and its light has never gone out," Payne said. "It's been an inspiration to go back over all these periods."

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