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.
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, located at 417 Broad Street in Georgetown, holds Sunday morning worship services at 10 a.m.