ORANGEBURG—Trinity United Methodist Church in Orangeburg celebrated its 155th Founders’ Day with five virtual events Jan. 28-31.
This year’s theme, “155 Years of Making Disciples: The Movement Continues,” is informed by Trinity’s noteworthy contributions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and a call to action to address today’s climate of racial injustice. Discipleship is a tenet of Christianity embraced by Trinity.
“As Christians, we become disciples, striving to live according to the teachings of Jesus,” said lay leader and Founders’ Day chair Theresa Davis.
Founded in 1866, Trinity served as the headquarters for the Orangeburg Civil Rights Movement. National leaders—including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Roy Wilkins—visited Trinity for events attended by people across the region. Strategy meetings and training sessions were also regularly held at the church.
Students from South Carolina State and Claflin Universities would gather in the church’s basement, where they were fed and trained on how to execute nonviolent protests. Because of its prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement, Trinity was named to The National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
Trinity’s roots run deep in the community. Davis shared that she and her late husband, Howard, joined the church about 51 years ago. At an early age, Howard was nurtured through such outreach ministries as the Child Care Learning Center and Boy Scouts Troop 190. Trinity remains faithful to those and other outreach ministries. The Child Development Center continues to nurture young children, and Boy Scout Troop 190 continues to develop young men, garnering statewide awards and recognitions.
The church’s edifice, completed in 1944, is being restored to its original grandeur. “The ongoing Restoration Project, once completed, will allow for the expansion of the church’s ministries, and ensure that a sound foundation remains for future generations,” said Davis.
Over the past three years, Trinity has received $1 million in African American Civil Rights grant funding from the National Park Services through the Historic Preservation Fund. Members and friends have contributed more than $100,000. Phase 1 of the restoration has been completed, and work on Phase 2 will begin soon. The total restoration is estimated to cost more than $2 million. All funds donated for Founders’ Day will go to the Restoration Project.
Virtual events included “The Movement from the Pulpit,” featuring excerpts from “God’s Trombones,” a collection of sermons in verse by James Weldon Johnson, on Jan. 28; “The Movement in Pictures,” featuring a tour of acclaimed photojournalist Cecil Williams’ South Carolina Civil Rights Museum, on Jan. 29; “The Soul of the Movement,” featuring a variety of talented performance artists including vocalists, praise dancers, the children of the church and others, on Jan. 30; “The Faith of the Movement,” a Sunday morning worship service featuring a special sermon by pastor Dr. Eddie C. Williams, on Jan. 31, and then later that day, “Re-energizing the Church: The Movement Continues,” featuring a panel discussion about the role of the church with several local pastors.
These virtual events can be seen on YouTube at TrinityUMCOrangeburg.