An Orangeburg church will receive a half-million dollars to help preserve its historical structures that played a significant role during the civil rights movement.
Congressman Jim Clyburn’s office announced that the restoration of Trinity United Methodist Church is one of 44 projects across the United States that will receive a total of $12.259 million in African-American Civil Rights grant awards.
The Historic Preservation Fund grants were provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service.
“As a student participant in the early 1960s Orangeburg civil rights protests, I know personally the integral role Trinity United Methodist Church played in the movement. I am pleased this National Parks Service grant will further the restoration of this historic church and promote its role in this important time in our history,” Clyburn said in a released statement.
The church will be receiving $500,000. In total, the church has received $1 million in grant funding from the National Park Service in the past two years.
According to the National Park Service, “Congress appropriated funding for the African American Civil Rights Grants Program in 2018 through the Historic Preservation Fund. The HPF uses revenue from federal oil leases on the outer continental shelf, providing assistance for a broad range of preservation projects without expending tax dollars.”
Patricia Lott, who is a member of the church’s grant-writing committee, said Trinity’s needs were assessed in 2015.
The necessary fixes, which are being completed by the Boudreaux Group, are estimated to cost $1.7 million, according to Lott.
The $500,000 received in 2018 will be used to do some electrical updating and waterproofing of the walls in the educational wing of the church, install a new HVAC system in the educational wing and address some water intrusion and safety issues, according to Lott.
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The recent grant award of $500,000 will be used to restore and refurbish the windows in the sanctuary of the church, and address water intrusion problems with the church’s exterior walls, Lott stated.
Lott thanked her fellow grant-writing committee members, Tijauana Hudson, Sadie Jarvis and Barbara Bowman, for their work.
Trinity UMC pastor the Rev. Mack McClam said the church and others served as meeting places during the civil rights era.
“I’m grateful for the strong role that Trinity provided during that era, and for those fore-parents of this church for having the vision to erect a structure that could accommodate that movement at the time in this community,” McClam stated.
“This grant will restore Trinity to the place that it has, as far as accommodating the community. It will restore Trinity to that for now, with a view of being available, in a good way, in years to come,” McClam said.
“The history is so rich that it always calls for a backward glance, and that’s a good thing. We’re propelled by that glance into a vision or the future. That’s a better thing,” McClam said.
“It’s a good thing to know where we’ve been and how proud we are of where we’ve been. But, when we look at that, we have to remember what role that played, and where we are and what that means as far as our commitment to doing that and more for those who have yet to come,” McClam stated.
McClam thanked Clyburn and his office for their efforts guiding the church as it sought the funds.
“I’m sure, without a moment of hesitation, that I voice the sentiment of this entire congregation, that we are so grateful to God for the gift that we are receiving through their generosity, and through their concern for maintaining a place in the community where the community can thrive and grow in more ways than one,” McClam stated.
Trinity UMC was founded in 1866 as Trinity Methodist Episcopal. The first congregation occupied a small schoolhouse built by the Freedman's Bureau.
The church’s present structure on Boulevard Street was started in 1928 and completed in 1944. During the Great Depression, the church worshiped in the basement because there had been a lull in construction.
Trinity UMC served as headquarters for the Orangeburg Movement during the 1960s, hosting many civil rights meetings and rallies attended by leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshall.
Students from Claflin and South Carolina State would gather in the basement of Trinity during this time. They were fed and trained on how to execute nonviolent protests.