Camden First United Methodist Church will celebrate its 18th anniversary Sunday.
The celebration commemorates 18 years as Camden First UMC, but the history of the church goes back nearly 200 years. The first church built on the property where Camden First now stands was where the white Methodist Church worshipped from 1828 until 1872. At that time, the Negroes worshipped in the galleries of the white churches and in fact this was the case until the Methodist church bought property and built a new church on Lyttleton Street in 1872. They allowed the Negro congregation to use the church they vacated; the Negro congregation would buy the church and property from the white Methodists in 1875.
This was the beginning of Trinity United Methodist Church.
The congregation worshipped in this church and this building until 1925 when the church was partially destroyed by fire. Plans began immediately for a new building, with the Trustee board using Wesley United Methodist Church in Columbia as a design, with minor changes, for the new structure. After much fundraising, the new church was built in 1928. Between 1925 and 1928 the congregation was welcomed to worship at Mather Academy and at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
During this time, members and friends from the Kirkland Community wanted to have a church in their area; Macedonia would be built in 1013. Macedonia and Trinity would become the Camden Charged and would be served by the same pastor under the leadership of Rev. James Gadsden. Following Rev. Gadsden, Rev. Granville Hicks became the pastor and it was under his leadership that Trinity Apartments were built.
Years later, under the leadership of Rev. Cassandra Jackson, discussions began regarding the merging of the two churches. Merger committees were formed and after discussions and meetings of the two churches, both congregations agreed to the merger and Camden First United Methodist Church was born.
Rev. Jackson served two more years, followed by Rev. Otis Scott. During his tenure, Camden First Community Development Corporation was formed; its purpose is to assist people in repairing their homes and becoming homeowners as well as other services such as tax preparation. In addition, the church went through a complete renovation was designated a historical site.
In 2008, Rev. Ellis White became pastor of Camden First, bringing more new ideas that impacted the growth of the church and the community. The Camden First Café was established to provide breakfast every Sunday morning before Sunday school. In addition, the United Methodist Women sponsored their first teen pregnancy Walk A Thon and began a Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway event. The United Methodist Men also established a parking lot ministry.
This year, the church welcomed a new minister, Rev. Larry D. McCutcheon, who brings significant experience from different locations in the state as well as positions within the United Methodist Church. He has established a round table/discussion format Bible study and he and his wife, Dr. Gloria S. McCutcheon, professor emeritus of Agricultural Sciences at Clemson University, will introduce a new life style ministry in the near future. In addition, Camden First’s Children and Youth Ministries are expanding, the United Methodist Men have received their charter, and the United Methodist Women continue to have a major impact in community outreach and spiritual growth.
Camden First United Methodist Church celebrates its 18th anniversary starting at 11 a.m. Sunday during regular worship services. Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, president of Claflin University, is the guest speaker. Dinner will be served immediately following the services.