My friend Marilyn Tims invited us to an anniversary celebration at her church. Not just any anniversary, but the 115th celebration at Gold Hill African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Indian Land.
What a wonderful day of celebration and praise.
In the late 1800s, five men – Harvey O’Leary, Jeff Barber, Amos Patton, Samuel Austin and William Sanders – began searching for land to build a church. John E. Black agreed to sell them two acres of land for $25. This land was part of a plantation known as “Stewarts Place” and with the buyer’s knowledge of a nearby gold mine, they named the church “Gold Hill.” They built the church, but in 1900 it burned down and a second church was built in 1902. It was dedicated in 1910.
This church also was destroyed by fire. All of the records of baptism, Sunday School books and financial records were destroyed. Nothing would discourage the congregation, and in 1937 they built a third church that included a bell tower. The heat was supplied by a wood stove.
The church has grown and been blessed to have several members who have been called to preach. Others have became attorneys, teachers, business owners and professional athletes.
As I sat in this 115-year-old church, I was absolutely blown away by the singing and the joyful music. Dr. Deborah Long, an S.C. House Representative, sat next to me and she also was amazed at the wonderful voices and the music. This church has four choirs and one group of praise dancers.
From information that they have obtained, it was indicated that they have had 29 pastors, including the Rev. Robert Allen Morrison, who served as pastor for 35 years. This Gold Hill family is dedicated to helping others who are less fortunate, and they also get involved in their community.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms? What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms.
I came away from there with a sense of renewal and hope, and I thank Marilyn for inviting us.
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