Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in Orangeburg is celebrating 220 years of being in existence.
The church members said God has brought Cedar Grove from 1800 to 2020 and is still pouring out blessings.
Much of Cedar Grove’s early history dates back to the early 19th century, an era when records were not often kept and factual information is now hard to acquire.
However, since members are a people of African origin, much of their history has been passed down through oral tradition, by word of mouth. Their written history comes from a variety of sources: deed, cornerstone and the experience recalled by some of the older members of the church and the community.
Many years ago, the church was organized under the leadership of the Rev. Jim Devine. The older members had decided to cut bushes to make a “bush harbor.” A bush harbor was a place similar to a shed with bushes laid on top, and was used as a place of worship. As the men of the early church were cutting the grove of cedar trees, they decided to call the place Cedar Grove.
After many years of worshiping under the bush harbor, a church was built. The Rev. Pope was the minister for the new church, and the trustees were the late William Thompson, David Felder, Bill Brown, Willie Robinson, Sam Robinson, Peter Jones and Hoe Streeter.
The edifice remained in existence until the present structure was built in 1927, with trustees being Roy L. Felder, Henry Stroman, James Bonaparte, Joseph Stroman Sr. and Mary Felder. There have been many additional persons who have served the church in various capacities through the years.
During the 1920s, Cedar Grove was a part of the Rowesville Charge. This charge consisted of three additional churches: Forest Chapel, Prospect and Central Methodist churches. Many ministers served Cedar Grove during these periods of growth and change: the Revs. Cooper, Robinson, Marcus, Miller, Amaker, Smith, Gregg, W.B. Dubose, Fulton Edwards, Eugene McCants, McKay, Luonne Rouse, Ellie Hue Jones, Lorenzo Moses, J. Jacob Sanders and George K. Walker.
During the leadership of the Rev. Joseph Abram Jr., the church was blessed with a handicap ramp, new light fixtures, public address system, renovation of the sanctuary, new carpet, Hammond organ, alarm system and central heating and air.
For eight years beginning June 16, 2002, the church was led spiritually by the Rev. Kay Adams Best. The Rev. Frank V. James pastored Cedar Grove beginning July 6, 2010.
Now, under the Rev. Harry Lee Brown’s pastoral care, Cedar Grove renders worship service and Sunday school every Sunday. They are no longer part of the Orangeburg Parish but are now the Cedar Grove-Forest Chapel Charge.
In its 216 years, this was the very first time Cedar Grove has ever had church service every Sunday. Church members are working to renovate the fellowship hall, offer a joint vacation Bible school, designate the fourth Sunday to visit sick and shut members and involve laity in the worship service.
Brown said, “Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.’ This is the time we set aside to celebrate Cedar Grove United Methodist Church’s 220 years of being in existence. It brings great joy to be a witness celebrating this great joyous occasion with people of God at such a remarkable time. As we celebrate praising and worshiping God in Holiness, we count it a blessing. God has brought Cedar Grove from 1800 to 2020 and is still pouring out blessings on the faithful ones who have taken time to help keep such wonderful vision up to this day.
“I am incredibly happy and delighted to be the pastor of Cedar Grove United Methodist Church for the past five-plus years and hoping God will add more years to that. I was told there were times it seemed like Cedar Grove was going under, but the grace of God and some hard-working individuals who did not mind rolling up their sleeves brought Cedar Grove back every time. God has brought Cedar Grove from many old buildings to our present edifice.”
“There has been times they could look through the walls and see the trees, and through the floor and see the ground. Thank God, he never let Cedar Grove members down. Today, when driving up to the parking lot, Cedar Grove looks like a church sitting on a hill, shining like the sun. When walking into the sanctuary, it feels like walking into the gates of heaven. We are enjoying the hard work of our ancestors. We are grateful that we still have hard-working people who are leaving blessings for those coming behind us.”
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