The historic Ebenezer AME Church, located at 44 Nassau Street in downtown Charleston, commemorated an historic milestone in the celebration of its 115th Church Anniversary June 22-24, 2018. From its humble beginnings in June 1903, when several trustees of the South Carolina Conference of the AME Connection purchased the church from the Presbyterian Board of City Missions in the amount of $1,662.50 to the present day congregation that has two worship services on Sunday and a thriving congregation that sustains nearly 20 ministries, Ebenezer AME Church is recognized as one of the well-established churches in the city of Charleston, as well as in the 7th Episcopal District of the AME Church, which embodies the entire state of South Carolina.
The proud history of Ebenezer Church is filled with several pastors over the years that were successful in taking Ebenezer to the next level at every juncture. Rev. D.N. Wilson had the vision to build a new sanctuary and began the church’s Building Fund, but was called to eternal rest before completing the project. Rev. B.J. Hutchinson carried out the vision of building the new edifice and in 1949, the newly modernized Ebenezer Church was completed at the cost of $97,000.
On Ebenezer’s 55th Anniversary, the mortgage of $12,027.23 was paid off under the leadership of Rev. H.B. Butler. During the pastorship of Rev. B.J. Finklea, the church witnessed a decade of rapid growth, especially that of young people to young adults. With this in mind, an expansion program was enacted under Rev. Finklea’s administration to build an educational building onto the sanctuary. In May 1979, Ebenezer proudly dedicated the new Hunter-Finklea Building as the church’s education and fellowship facility at the cost of $250,000.
Rev. Charles C. McLamore was assigned to Ebenezer in 1985 and was a prolific preacher of The Word. The church grew during his nine year tenure with an emphasis on children and youth ministries. He was followed by Dr. Charles E. Young in December 1994. During Dr. Young’s assignment at Ebenezer, the church grew and established several community endeavors such as The Ebenezer Senior Day Care Center and the America Street Project, which consisted of six homes that were renovated as affordable housing for those families with low to moderate income. Dr. Young also had the vision of a school being sponsored under the name of Ebenezer and established a committee that began the groundwork for what was later to be called the Charleston Development Academy.
Following Dr. Young’s assignment by the AME Church to become President at Allen University in Columbia, SC, Dr. William Swinton, Jr. was assigned to Ebenezer Church. Under Dr. Swinton’s outstanding leadership was the dedication of the Charleston Development Academy Public Charter School, which is still successfully educating and mentoring children today in grades K-4/Kindergarten through eighth grade. The houses owned by the church were renovated, as well as extensive renovations have been completed in the church’s kitchen, fellowship hall, and bathrooms. Also, a much needed additional parking lot was constructed at the rear of the church. In addition, Dr. Swinton and the church are most proud of refurbishing of the pipe organ, which was re-dedicated in 2017 with a special service of Re-Dedication featuring noted pipe organ musicians in the Lowcountry.
Ebenezer, known for its dynamic Music Ministry under the direction of Rev. Rodney Barrentine – Minister of Music, consists of 7 choirs, and 5 units in the Praise Dance Ministry. The YPD (Young People’s Department) is often the top winner in AME Conference programs in attendance, most money raised and scholarship winners.
Mrs. Patricia Grant, Anniversary Chairperson, and the Anniversary Committee worked diligently to present a diverse program of activities for the 115th Anniversary, which included the church revival on June 21 & 22 featuring Rev. Charles McLamore (former pastor) and Rev. Brian Swinton. The Church Picnic was held on Saturday and the Sunday Morning Worship featured guest preacher Rev. Jonathan Baker. At the Sunday morning service, a Proclamation was presented by Mike Whack – Special Asst. to the Mayor on behalf of Mayor John Tecklenburg, announcing June 24, 2018, as Ebenezer AME Church 115th Church Anniversary Day in the City of Charleston.
Ebenezer AME Church has long been the rock and the foundation in the Eastside Community as well as in the AME Church across the state of South Carolina. In August, the church will play host to the Annual Conference for the Palmetto Conference, which will be held at the North Charleston Convention Center. It is noted that in the Bible, Ebenezer translates into “The Stone of Help”. It is evident that throughout the history of Ebenezer AME Church, the pastors and congregations have been a beacon in the community as well as in the AME Church 7th Episcopal District. Congratulations to a legacy truly worth celebrating 115 years!