In Elgin, South Carolina
Extracted for the Church Website Using Material
Researched and Written by
Church Historian of Salem United Methodist Church
November 8, 1987
Edited and Expanded on
April 12, 2018
Salem, meaning peaceful, complete, refers to Jerusalem as evidenced by Psalm 76:2 which uses”Salem” as a parallel for “Zion”, the citadel of Jerusalem.
Our Methodist Roots. Before the American Revolution, Methodist itinerant preachers were appointed to form societies, but they were expected by their leader, John Wesley, to work within the Anglican Church, as many were not ordained. With the outbreak of the war, most of the ordained Anglican ministers, along with many who were not, returned to England. Two exceptions were Francis Asbury and James Dempster. Wesley was increasingly concerned that there would be no ordained clergy to administer the sacraments in the colonies so he planned to appoint Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury as co-superintendents. While Asbury began to be looked upon as the leader of the groups, Coke returned to England, and Dempster moved to upstate New York, where he ministered locally.
Bishop Asbury Spreads Methodism to Our Area. In 1784, the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at the Christmas Conference in Baltimore. At the conference, Francis Asbury was elected as the first Bishop. With the Christmas Conference’s unanimous approval, Asbury was ordained and appointed as co-superintendent. He was ordained deacon on Christmas Day by laying on of hands; elder on the next day; and superintendent the next. As the leader of Methodism in America, Asbury attended meetings from Georgia to Vermont. He covered this area on horseback every year preaching and presiding over Annual Conferences and earning the nickname of “Bishop of the Long Road.” Asbury visited churches in Camden area and conducted a baptism nearby at what would become one of Salem’s sister churches, Ebenezer United Methodist Church.
Founding. Information compiled by Dewey Brazell’s history of Salem Church indicates that the church was organized in 1886 or 1887. Other records corroborate these dates. There records of a Salem Church in the Richland Circuit, Sumter District by 1887 so we believe that the church was organized by that date.
Salem Methodist Episcopal Church South was the first title chosen for the church. This name lasted through the first three church buildings. When the present church was built it was named Salem Church of Blaney, later Blaney Methodist Church, and finally the name as we know it today: Salem United Methodist Church. Papers show us that the church was at first in the Sumter District. In 1960 it was changed to the Hartsville District but in 1974 it was again transferred to the Columbia District.
Early Buildings. The original church building was encouraged by a “traveling book salesman” who was also a Methodist Minister, the Reverend Attaway. A few families had gathered together for prayer services each week so they banded together, cut some pine logs, and erected a small church building in 1887. It was about a mile north of the present old Salem cemetery, now within the boundaries of Fort Jackson. After the strenuous feat of erecting the church, “built with their own hands”, it came to an untimely demise when it was destroyed by fire in 1889.
Fire and New Location. However the congregation was not saddened for long. A man named Mr. Ben Dent, who owned a large tract of land in the vicinity, graciously gave the congregation an acre of land one mile south of the first site, on top of a beautiful sand hill above an old mill pond. This site was about a mile south of Highway No. 12 and about 17 miles northeast of Columbia in Richland County. A cemetery was started and the oldest grave dates back to 1893. This church building (the second constructed) remained active for over 20 years until it met the same fate as the first building for it too was ravaged by fire around 1911.
Second Fire. Undaunted by their loss, the congregations decided to rebuild on the same spot. Since the cemetery was already established and the pastoral setting was a beautiful place of hallowed ground, the third church building was erected in 1912. That building was remembered by many people at the time this history was first recorded. There was a fence around the property so no one could put their horse and buggy (later their cars) within the area. A contributor to this history, Mr. Dewy Brazell, remembers stories of his father, Wylie D. Brazell, that tell about his help in building all three of these earlier church buildings. Later on, his father also helped build the Salem UMC of today. It is a rare privilege for an individual to help erect four of the churches attended by that person. St. Paul Church. About this same time, St. Paul’s Church, near the residence of Kenny Miles (a member of Salem as this is being written) was built to accommodate the people in that immediate area. It was built on Old Wire Road. That road was the stage coach line which ran from New York to Miami. Another member of Salem UMC, Fred Miles, remembers his father working on that building. Although only four-years-old at the time, Fred remembers his attempt to join his father while the building was being constructed. But, after trudging through the fields to the church site, young Fred was soon brought back home by one of the workmen.
The Circuit as a Four-Point Charge. Although Sunday School was held in these churches each week, the minister, having four churches spread wide apart, would alternate preaching to two one week and the remaining two the next week. One Sunday he would preach at Trinity and McCloud (these churches were later moved to the Lower Richland District). The next week he would preach at Salem in the morning and St. Paul later in the day. As a result of his travels, the preacher was often invited to someone’s home for Sunday dinner.
Membership in these churches grew rapidly but for just a few years because, by 1917, World War I took its toll as many families moved away. Both Salem and St. Paul survived with a few faithful families clinging to their faith and their church right up to World War II. In 1939 Salem closed its doors for the last time and St. Paul was forced to cease their services at about the same time.
Fort Jackson and Removal of the Church. When the U.S. government purchased property which was to become Fort Jackson Salem Church was within the military reservation area. The building was targeted to be burned or removed. At Mr. Dewey Brazell’s request the government agreed to the tearing down of the building. Herman Brazell (a member at the time when this was written) remembers helping his father tear down that church. They hauled it away by truck. Their first load was stopped by military police who told them that nothing could be removed from Government property. So a permit had to be secured to establish that they were legally demolishing and removing Salem Church. From then on they were able to complete their work.
Salem’s Old Cemetery. This move left the cemetery to remain within the government’s property. As offer was made to move all the graves to a new site outside of Fort Jackson but that offer was declined. Therefore, a new chain link fence was made to maintain the cemetery. This cemetery was within a field artillery range where bombs or shells could fall. As a result, there was a ban enforced on visiting anyone buried there. The established graves are dated from 1893 to 1942.
In the fall of 1986 Jim Wheaton sought special permission from Fort Jackson’s Post Historian to allow a group of Salem members to visit the cemetery. So, on a Sunday afternoon members were allowed a couple of hours to enter this acre of peaceful, pastoral ground. They felt a significant reverence as they pictured the years when the church building existed on this hallowed site.
Similarly, St. Paul’s Church was demolished by Arnold Porter (father of Salem’s current member, William Porter) and some of the lumber was used to build his house. The cemetery at that site was maintained by Fred and Lula Miles where their family members remain buried.
Merger of Salem and St. Paul. The years from 1887 to 1939 represent 52 years of devotion to building and rebuilding, cutting wood to keep the stove glowing during winter chills, to opening the windows as the natural air conditioning of the day. But, in regardless of these labors, it was unthinkable that these staunch members of Salem Church would forget what Sunday was all about. So services were started at the Blaney School Auditorium with Rev. Mason as the preacher. It was about his time that members of St. Paul merged with Salem.
The proud traditions of these two churches flowed together to form a revitalized church which retained the name of Salem.
West Kershaw Charge and A New Building. At the time that the new Salem Church celebrated its first services on January 1, 1942 the West Kershaw Charge consisted of four churches: Ebenezer, Salem, Smyrna, and St. John (it wasn’t until 1959 that St. John’s Church, Lugoff left the charge). Remembering that M. E. Talmage Bowen had spoken earlier of wishing to see a Methodist Church in Blaney, members contacted him. He readily agreed to assist in various ways. He first gave the land. Then, with another piece of land given by Mr. J. T. Ross, Sr., Salem Church obtained an acre of prime property (blueprints remain documenting this event). With the money received from the sale of the property to Fort Jackson, some additional assistance, and Mr. Bowen’s time, effort, and materials, the rebuilding of Salem began. Our possession of a drawing of Sally Methodist Church in Sally, S.C. looks so similar to our church that we assume many ideas were incorporated from that church. One major difference is that the church had no center aisle.
On January 1, 1942 the first service was held at what was Salem’s fourth sanctuary building. It was an unique blending of the old Salem Church congregation from Fort Jackson land, Saint Paul’s Church from the Old Wire Road, and the newer families in the Blaney community. The pastor, Rev. Kenneth Bedenbaugh, was the preacher on that first Sunday.
Additions and Renovations. The West Kershaw Charge had entered the Hartsville District in 1960 after having been in the Sumter District from 1887 through 1960. During that time and continuing after, physical changes have been many with the addition of a Sunday School wing on one side of the sanctuary, and later a matching social hall and a kitchen on the opposite side. Three were many annual Christmas parties, church suppers, receptions, and meetings of the Women’s Mission circles. The social hall wing later came to be used for adult Sunday school classes, choir rehearsal, and other church meetings. The kitchen has become a minister’s office.
An article from the Methodist Advocate dated November 30, 1961 tells of the renovation of the church at Blaney by Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Bowen in memory of Mrs. Sally Bowen. It read,
The church building was extended to make the sanctuary longer. A completely new chancel was built and the change made from a central pulpit to an open chancel. A new communion table has been placed in the church, with new carpet, altar ware, and beautiful stained glass window depicting Christ at prayer in Gethsemane. The appointments of the church are in walnut stain. The new addition also made possible a choir area for the newly organized adult choir directed by Mrs. L. M. Stover.
Originally Sunday School rooms were I wings at each side of the front of the church. There were solid folding doors that were used to close off these areas when they, along with the sanctuary were still used for Sunday School classes. Long pews now occupy these spaces. They are arranged at right angles to the pews in the nave and are used for overflow crowds. Later when a new Sunday School wing was added at the right of the church the folding doors were removed and used in the construction of the new classrooms. Since the door openings were higher in the new wing, the doors from the old wing required a piece added to the bottom. You can still see the addition on these doors today. Through the years Salem has had a very devoted group of teachers for all ages of our youth. We should always give the Lord thanks for their untiring efforts in ministering to our young people.
Women’s Society and P.A.L. Circles. On November 6, 1952, the first meeting of the Women’s Society of Christian Service was held at the home of Mrs. E. T. Bowen. Mrs. Julius Robertson of Hartsville met with the women of Salem and Smyrna Churches to explain the purpose and organization of a Women’s Society. Through the years much has been accomplished in the mission field by a small group of loyal women. This effort resulted in two circles. The P.A.L. (Peace And Love) Circle has worked diligently to accomplish various projects in the church and community. The United Methodist Women comprise the second circle and they have given unselfishly of themselves through monthly programs which aid various state and world missions. In practice the P.A.L Circle has become the right arm of the Church Council
and its vehicle for accomplishing many of Salem’s nurture, outreach, and witness activities. Fellowship Hall. Through the years the Church was blessed with the assurance that Mr. E. T. Bowen had established an emergency fund to be used if ever necessary. Church members felt that the original social hall was not large enough for church suppers and social gatherings so they suggested an addition or separate building for these purposes. Mrs. E. T. Bowen and Mrs. Sarah Emanuel (Mr. Bowen’s daughter) agreed to the use of the interest of this emergency fund in pursing the goal of a new fellowship building. On June 19, 1983 an agreement was signed with a contractor (Edward M. Watts) to construct a fellowship hall to be completed by September, 1983. It was appropriately named Bowen Hall. After the dedication of September 11, 1983 the building has been the scene of many meetings, parties, receptions, and monthly church suppers.
West Kershaw Charge and The Parsonage. At the time that the new Salem Church celebrated its first services on January 1, 1942 the West Kershaw Charge consisted of four churches: Ebenezer, Salem, St. John, and Smyrna. But by July 1959, when St. John’s Church, Lugoff left the charge, the circuit had three churches and no parsonage. At this time it was necessary to provide a place for the minister to reside until a parsonage could be built. Mr. E. T. Bowen provided a house for this purpose and Rev. F. Oscar Smith, Jr. and family occupied this residence until the new parsonage was completed.
An administrative board of the charge officially voted to build a parsonage as soon as a sum of $4,500 in cash was raised. Records show, “A lot of 200’ x 200’ was donated by Mr. E. T. Bowen as parsonage property. Mr. Bowen and Mr. D. M. Brazell were appointed to supervise the buying of materials and construction of the building.” Construction began on November 15, 1960 and was completed on February 11, 1961. With a $9,000 loan from Wateree Building and Loan Company, Camden, S.C. and the $4,500 raised by the three churches, the parsonage cost was under $14,000.
At an official board meeting at Salem on February 14, 1961 “a rising vote of thanks was given to Mr. E. T. Bowen and Mr. D. M. Brazell for their untiring labor, ability, and energy in supervising the building. The Rev. F. Oscar Smith, Jr. asked that letters of thanks and appreciation be written to these two gentlemen.” A service of consecration on April 15 th was led by Rev. T. E. Jones who was superintendent of the Hartsville District at that time. The West Kershaw Charge had entered the Hartsville District in 1960 after having been in the Sumter District from 1887 through 1960.
Through the Years. We have noted only a few of the many saints of our church. The few members whose names appear are referenced only for the purpose of appropriately dating or verify significant milestones in the life of our church. It would be impossible (and perhaps unfair) to attempt to mention by name prominent members or families who have contributed their time, talent and gifts to our church through the years. If we were to do so, relatives or descendants of those persons accidentally overlooked might feel slighted. To see their names one only has to stroll through our cemetery and read the names inscribed above their resting places. But even then, one must realize that many of those who have richly blessed our church now rest elsewhere.
However, a simple listing of pastors has been provided because, unlike our earliest members and contributing visitors, it can be inclusive thanks to the efforts of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church which maintains well-documented records of all appointments to local churches. For the reasons that follow, the name and dates for each pastor in the list is provided without comment or special emphasis.
But more to the point, church membership specifically, and Christian discipleship in general, was intended to mirror the selfless giving and humility demonstrated by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Therefore, we give praise and thanks to God for each and every one of the great line of witnesses who have contributed to our church down through these many years. We believe that many, if not all, would shun personal accolades and prefer to give all honor, glory, and credit to God above.
List of Salem’s Pastors
Rev. Attaway 1887-1889
Rev. Baily 1898-1902
Rev. Davis 1902-1906
Rev. Mood 1906-1908
Rev. Patrick 1908-1910
Rev. Bethea 1910-1912
Rev. Spires 1912-1916
Rev. Roundtree 1917-1919
Rev. Byrd 1919-1920
Rev. Perry 1920-1921
Rev. Shealy 1921-1924
Rev. White 1924-1925
Rev. Carraway 1925
Rev. Jerman 1925-1926
Rev. Gardner 1926-1928
Rev. West 1928-1930
Rev. Best 1930-1932
Rev. Smith 1932-1934
Rev. Woodard 1934-1935
Rev. Cunningham 1936-1937
Rev. Hardwick 1938-1939
Rev. Mason 1940-1941
Rev. Kenneth Wilson Bedenbaugh 1942-1943
Rev. Lawrence Dekalb Hamer 1944-1946
Rev. Paul Craig Scott 1946-1948
Rev. Herbert Lee Spell 1948-1951
Rev. William Dixon Davis 1951-1952
Rev. Eugene Lawson Farmer 1952-1956
Rev. George Walter Couch 1956-1957
Rev. Bessie B. Parker 1957-1959
Rev. Franklin Oscar Smith, Jr, 1959-1962
Rev. Milton Lee McGuirt 1962-1964
Rev. J. H. Owens 1964-1966
Rev. Quay Wyatt Adams 1966-1969
Rev. Dwight Hill Mims 1969-1972
Rev. Ralph Truman Bowling, Jr. 1972-1974
Rev. William D. Cooper 1974-1975
Rev. Larry J. Henry 1975-1979
Rev. Jerry Eugene Temple 1979-1984
Rev. Martha Anne Hills Andrews Jun-Dec 1984
Rev. Bessie B. Parker Jan-Apr 1985
Rev. Steven Davis Gillespie 1985-1991
Marty Nason Feb 1992-Aug 1993
Bud Boatwright Sep 1993-1997
Cheryl Rhodes 1997-1999
Jackie Connelly 1999-2002
John Williams III 2002-2006
Daniel Flessas 2006-2010
Joanne Lockard-Hawkins 2010-2013
James “Mac” McDowell 2013-2015
Tim Burleson 2015-2016
Stewart C. Kidd 2016 –
A Note from Helen Combie, Church Historian
Salem United Methodist Church, Nov. 1987
My sincere thanks to all who so generously hunted up the pictures and historic papers, and who related the stories that made the past 100 years of Salem Church come to life. Without the loan of these items there would have been slim verification of Salem’s past.
First let me thank Rev. Steve Gillespie for the editing and printing of the “History of Salem”. His typing capabilities were most valuable to me.
And for the record books, papers, snapshots, and precious old tales, I am truly grateful to:
Ida Mae, Delmar, and Cheryl Brown
Marvia and Herman Brazell
Lula and Fred Miles
Carol and Tommy Adams
The Church Records
…and to my husband, Graham Combie.
A Note from the Pastor
I wish to say a very special word of thanks to Helen Combie for her tremendous job of research and writing. She left no stone unturned against difficult odds. Our church records were sparse. She had little to do on. Helen spent the last year sorting out stories, putting together facts, and waiting for folks to go through their attics. The amazing thing is that she has done all of this in the midst of an intense physical struggle.
We all owe her a great deal of gratitude as only the second person to so thoroughly research and write a “History of Salem Church.” Future generations will be thankful for this very intelligent and creative work.
With Helen as our Church Historian and Pam Johnson as the Assistant Church Historian, we hope to make it easier for those celebrating the next milestone in the proud history of this church.
Thank you Helen Combie. Editing and typing were the easier portions!
“Jesus’s resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth t heaven but colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is all about.” — N. T. Wright