ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Williams Chapel AME church has been a force in the Orangeburg community for 150 years.
The church was organized in 1873, less than a decade after the Civil War.
Now the congregation is getting ready for a celebration of their 150th anniversary on March 12.
Its legacy is rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, including in Orangeburg. Former Reverend Chappelle Monroe Davis guided church members in protests during the Orangeburg Massacre.
“We were an integral part of the clerical leadership, joining with the community, and to come together to say we have one voice that injustice is wrong anywhere," said Rivers.
In 1986, the church received a national award for the highest NAACP enrollment and voter's registration in the country. Today, they feed 20,000 meals annually to those experiencing hunger in the community.
The church is part of the Seventh Episcopal District that encompasses 500 churches statewide under the leadership of Bishop Samuel L. Green, allowing its reach to expand beyond Orangeburg.
“One call from Bishop Green can bring all of South Carolina together. One call from the connection, which encompasses 20 districts, can bring the whole world together," said Rivers.
The church plans to continue to meet the needs of the community through housing and daycare assistance.