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Hallowed Ground: Bethel AME Church, Georgetown

Page Ivey Page Ivey
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.
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Brick church among trees
Bethel AME Church in Georgetown is still going strong after more than a century.

Bethel AME Church is the home of the first separate African-American congregation in Georgetown County.

The current sanctuary was built in 1882 and remodeled in 1908. In 1980, the church's original wooden façade was bricked over.

The church is working to restore its one-time parsonage, built by local African-American craftsman Sampson Dunmore. That building, which will be used as a cultural and research center, had been home to clergymen, teachers and other professionals.

 

Historical Significance

Historical marker from Bethel AME Church
Bethel church founder Augustus T. Carr was born a slave but purchased freedom for himself and his family.

Bethel AME Church was founded in 1865 near the end of the Civil War when emancipated African-American congregants left Duncan United Methodist Church, South Carolina's oldest Methodist church. Augustus T. Carr, licensed as a preacher by the Duncan church, led the newly formed congregation.

Carr was born a slave but purchased freedom for himself and his family. Before the Civil War, he ran a livery stable in Georgetown. After the war, Carr and his followers - some estimates put it at 3,000 - joined the burgeoning African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Carr later served at AME churches in Charleston and became the presiding elder over the Edisto District of the South Carolina Conference. First lady, Michelle Obama, has ties to the church as her grandparents were members.

 

Services and Tours

Bethel AME Church sign and stained-glass windows
Bethel AME Church welcomes visitors to services and offers tours of the historic building.
Page Ivey
Discover writers share all of the places, activities and adventure that South Carolina has to offer. Read more from some of South Carolina’s locals and discover what’s happening in the Palmetto State.