Hallowed Ground: Bethel AME Church, Georgetown

By:Page Ivey


Built in 1882, Bethel AME Church is the home of the first separate African-American congregation in ​Georgetown County.

The congregation was founded in 1865 near the end of the Civil War from the Duncan United Methodist Church, which had licensed Augustus T. Carr to preach.

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.

At one point, Carr took umbrage at the notion that churches in the South were being led by “missionaries.”

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.

The church, at 417 Broad St., holds Sunday morning worship services at 10 a.m.

For tours of the building, which is one of 48 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Historic Georgetown District, contact the ​church office, 843.546.4898.

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